filed under Writing Historical Fiction.

Something strange and alchemical happens when I have an idea for a book and I start writing; it’s as if the universe gets behind me and wants me to keep writing. It puts things in my path that I can’t help but discover, and which never fail to make my books better. It makes magical moments of serendipity happen. I have written about some of this before. Visiting a flower-work atelier in Paris and deciding that the main character in The Paris Seamstress, Estella, would not be an ordinary seamstress but would practice flower-work and then going to the Met…

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filed under Writing Historical Fiction.

One of the most common questions I get asked at author talks is about the research I do for my books. It always gives me quite a thrill when readers and reviewers praise the research in my books; it’s so important to me that the characters and the story and setting and the feel of the book all give the reader a sense of being in the right time and place. So, this week, I thought I’d talk about the less glamorous but equally important side of novel research, the desk-bound as opposed to the Parisian research trips! Making a…

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filed under For Writers: Writing Tips, Writing Historical Fiction.

Besides the structural edit, which is a process that adds new meaning to the word difficult, the hardest part of the writing process for me is writing the first draft of a novel. Other writers I know love the first draft and hate the redrafting. We’re all different. And everyone writes their first draft in a different way. As I’m about 90,000 words into a first draft of my 2020 book, which has a working title of The Dior Bequest, I thought I might talk a little bit about how I write first drafts and why I find them so…

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filed under For Writers: Writing Tips, Writing Historical Fiction.

I was asked this question during the week. And I laughed. The other alternative was to cry. Because I am not yet the kind of writer who can turn in my first draft to my publisher. I know some writers do this. How I envy them, that they can produce a first draft that is readable, coherent, and not something to be ashamed of. I can, hand on heart, say that I can’t see myself becoming the one-draft writer for a very long time, if ever. So, why do I do so many drafts? Let me tell you. I Don’t…

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filed under For Writers: Writing Tips, Writing Historical Fiction.

Because I’ve been blathering on so much about my recent research trip, I’ve had quite a few people get in touch to ask how to go about their own research: where to start when researching a novel just seems so overwhelming. Here are my tips. Daily Life in Another Era – Newspapers, Catalogues and Magazines For those researching a historical novel, one of the big concerns is getting the detail of the era right. What underwear did people wear in the 1910s, how much did the average person earn in the 1920s, when were doorbells invented, what did people eat…

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filed under The French Photographer, Writing Historical Fiction.

For anyone interested, here’s a rundown of what I did on my recent research trip to Europe. I was finishing up a last bit of research for The French Photographer (2019 book) and researching the seed of an idea I had for a 2020 book, which has now grown into much more than a seed! I started in Paris, staying at the Hotel Scribe in the Opéra district. The hotel was built in the 1860s and was used by the Allies as their press headquarters after the fall of Paris in WWII, so it features in my book. I headed…

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filed under The French Photographer, Writing Historical Fiction.

I’m off to Europe in late September for another historical fiction research trip so I thought it might be fun to share what I’ll be getting up to. And it’s a nice excuse to talk about the fabulous trip I have planned! I’m finishing up the last bits of research for The French Photographer (2019 book) and starting the research for the germ of an idea I have for a 2020 book. Paris I’m starting in Paris, where I’ll be staying at the Hotel Scribe. This hotel was used by the US Army as their press headquarters in WWII and…

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filed under Her Mother's Secret, Writing Historical Fiction.

I’ve said it before, but I love the research. I think, to write historical fiction, you have to. And the research I did for Her Mother’s Secret was fun and fascinating so I thought I’d share with you what I did to make the book come to life, as well as give you an insight into how an author goes about researching historical fiction. This is Part 2 in my series taking you behind the covers of Her Mother’s Secret. You can find Part 1 here. The Cosmetics Industry As the book is about the birth of the cosmetics industry…

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filed under A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, For Writers: Writing Tips, Writing Historical Fiction.

For me, getting the heroine right in my novels is the most important thing of all. The heroine is the heart and soul of my book, she is the way readers connect with the story, she is the thing that hopefully lives on in the reader’s mind after they’ve closed the pages. So I thought I’d write a 3 part blog series all about heroines in fiction, starting with why compelling heroines are so important, moving on to how I write them, including tips for writers wanting to get engaging heroines into their stories, and finishing off with my favourite fictional…

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filed under Writing Historical Fiction.

So, I’m back from my amazing trip to Paris and New York where I was researching what I hope will be my 2018 book, The Seamstress from Paris. The trip exceeded all of my expectations and if you’re not sick of hearing about it, I’d thought I’d share some info about what I did and why I think it was such a success, including my 5 tips about researching a novel. Researching the Topic My book concerns the fashion industry in Paris and New York in the early 1940s. So, in both cities, I organised a one on one fashion…

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