Historical Writers Association and a Regency Hamper

Back in April, I wrote a blog about my good fortune in being invited to be one of the judges for the Historical Writers Association Gold Crown Award, and this week I’m writing an update. We have been busy! As soon as I’d said ‘Yes’, dozens of books thudded down onto my doormat, and this is what my study floor now looks like:

My study has turned into an Art Installation of books! There are about ninety Historical novels in alphabetical order, and the books standing upright are there to stabilize them. 

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The e-book launch of ‘Crossing the Tamar’

I’m thrilled to announce that the e-book of Crossing the Tamar is due out on Monday – it’s one of my favourite Elizabeth Hawksley novels – and it did well. Not only was it reprinted, it went into large print both in the States and in the UK, and was translated into German as Jenseits des Stromes by Wunderlich Taschenbuch. I was also invited to talk on Radio Cornwall about it; I had to go to BBC Broadcasting House (exciting!) where I was ushered into what looked like the cockpit of a space rocket  – (scary – it was full of knobs and buttons which I didn’t dare touch) – and  eventually a voice from someone in Cornwall came over the air waves (this was in 1998) to interview me.

E-book cover for ‘Crossing the Tamar’ by Elizabeth Hawksley

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Why Historical Novelists need Dorothy Hartley’s Books

So, who was Dorothy Hartley (1893-1985) and why do historical novelists need her books? Miss Hartley was a highly intelligent, talented, empathetic and thoughtful country woman; she was also a writer, an historian, an artist and a teacher concerned with keeping alive the knowledge of the old ways of running a household, cooking, growing food, preserving it and much, much more. She was a well-respected expert in her subject and an unusually readable one – as thousands of readers have discovered. Her books were praised by professors as well as by critics: a Sunday Times review called Food in England as ‘Food scholarship at its best’ … even though there were no academic footnotes.

Food in England by Dorothy Hartley

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Jane Austen/ Georgette Heyer: Formality and Informality

I’ve just read a fascinating book: John Mullan’s What Matters in Jane Austen? In it, he asks 20 questions – and then deconstructs them absolutely brilliantly. One of them is: What do the characters call each other? And further, how does Jane Austen herself refer to them? Here is an example to show you what I mean.

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

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Launch of ‘Tempting Fortune’ in e-books

I am delighted to announce that my fifth e-book, Tempting Fortune, will come out on Monday 12th April on Amazon.

The cover for Elizabeth Hawksley’s Tempting Fortune in e-books by John Hocking based on the original by Michael Thomas

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Writing Tips: Problems with the Back Story

Almost all novels have a back story. The author will probably have been mulling the plot over for some time: days, weeks, months, even years, and part of the mulling process is to decide ‘Where to start?’  OK, there are some writers who plunge straight in, having little more than a dramatic picture in their mind and content to let the story go where it wants to, but most of us need to know rather more about the story – even it it ends up somewhere different!

Elizabeth lecturing at Caerleon on a topic of writerly interest

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A Red Letter Day

About a month ago, a letter fell onto my doormat which completely knocked me for six. It was from my agent at Johnson & Alcock and I hadn’t heard from them for over 10 years. They hadn’t published a book of mine since Highland Summer came out with Robert Hale in 2003 so why had they written to me now? It didn’t even look like the previous letters I’d had from Johnson & Alcock – the heading was far classier, for a start. For a mad moment, I wondered if it might be a scam.

Elizabeth giving a talk at Caerleon

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My e-book launch of ‘The Girl who Liked Giraffes ‘

Today, I’m celebrating the e-book launch on 1st February of The Girl Who Liked Giraffes which was originally published under the title A Desperate Remedy. I thought of naming this blog A Tale of Two Titles. I had wanted to call it The Girl Who Liked Giraffes; I ran it past my Creative Writing students at the College of Further Education where I taught; they loved the title. I then ran it past my G.C.S.E English Language and my ‘A’ level English students – and they, too, liked it. But my publisher, Robert Hale, didn’t. Mr Hale want Heiress at Risk. I found myself thinking crossly that Heiress at Risk was a one size fits all sort of title – it could apply to a number of my books – Frost Fair, say. Eventually, I pinched Thomas Hardy’s title Desperate Remedies, and offered Mr Hale A Desperate Remedy (fortunately there’s no copyright on titles) and he accepted it.

Cover for my e-book The Girl Who Liked Giraffes. The four giraffes arrived in London in 1836

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Five Writing Tips for Getting Unstuck

Stuck with your novel? All of us get stuck from time to time; so this is for those occasions  when you re-read a piece of writing and you know there is something wrong with it but you are not sure what it is.

Victorian inkwell

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Learning the Language – a short story by Elizabeth Hawksley

I’ve always thought of my parents as lost souls. My mother, age about two, was brought to a British refugee camp in Burma at the end of the war. My father was a year or so older when he was found by American soldiers wandering alone in the ruins of a burnt-out village in Eastern Europe in 1945. Neither of them had names or nationalities; they were just part of the human debris of the war. All that was known was that he was probably Polish and that she might be half-Burmese.

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