About Me


I hope visitors to my site here on WordPress like the new book-covers and the fresh over-all look my very good friend Carol has worked so hard to create.

This time, in renewing the About Me page, I thought I’d try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. The obvious one to begin with is what made me start writing – and the answer is that same thought that I suspect has occurred to nearly everyone at some time or another. You know the one. You’re reading something dreadful and think ‘I could do better than that.’   (Please don’t ask me what that particular book was – I honestly can’t remember!) But the thought stuck with the result that I decided to find out if I actually could write a book … and so Lucifer’s Champion was born. Born, I should add, but not published – at least not then. That happened later – by which time poor Lucifer had been through so many incarnations it was neither fish nor fowl.  As I’ve said many times, it will not be making a re-appearance in e-format.

But to resume … writing is a sort of bug; the kind that, once you’ve caught it, is quite hard to shake off. So I put Lucifer to one side, got an agent and started a new book – The Marigold Chain – and this time, I got lucky and it was picked up by Fontana paperbacks.

Next came A Splendid Defiance – the first of my Civil War novels and possibly, still, the one dearest to my heart.  I love the seventeenth century and Banbury made the perfect backdrop – a town full of Puritans and a castle held for four years and through an epic fourteen-week siege by the Cavaliers.  It was a wonderful opportunity to tell  the true story of just one English castle and the real men who defended it.  Young Sir William Compton has become such an old friend that I actually own a portrait of him.

Then a change of pace with The Parfit Knight and The Mesalliance.  Why the mid-Georgians rather than the Regency, you might ask.  I could be flippant and say I’ve a fondness for men with long hair … which would be true but isn’t by any means the whole story.  I find the period more robust and less constrained; and the fashions in general – but particularly for the men – were much more flamboyant and, in my opinion, sexier.

But, having written Defiance, a return to the civil war was almost inevitable. This time, however, came a struggle to construct and write something a lot more complex;  and the result was The Black Madonna – the book everyone knows was supposed to be the first of a quartet but which, for a very long time, remained the first of only two.  Perhaps it was naive of me to think I could fit the entire period – 1639 to 1660 into five books but that’s hindsight talking.  Garland of Straw, thanks to the political complexities and eventually the trial and execution of Charles l, was even more of a challenge.  Some readers find it too much one where, for others, it’s a firm favourite.  The problem with writing a sequence of novels covering a period of over twenty years is that I can only work with the military and political realities of the time in question.  The history is not a choice; it exists and can only be re-told.  My task as a novelist is merely to use it as best I can in the story I set against it.

So … why did I stop? There were a number of reasons. Some personal and some professional; but the main reason was that I’d stopped enjoying it. Writing had become a fight, not a pleasure … and one doesn’t do well what one doesn’t enjoy. The book that finally, just a year ago, became The King’s Falcon was about 30% written when I realised that I didn’t know where it was going and had absolutely no desire in finding out.

So I stopped writing and did other things. My husband and I founded and ran a very successful amateur theatre group; I worked for an accountant; I learned salsa dancing; from time to time, I even wrote a few pages of this or that, all of which ended up in the cupboard. Then my husband bought me a thing I’d always sworn I didn’t want. He bought me a Kindle.

And that, my friends, is how and why my back-catalogue gradually became available in e-format … and the sole reason why I blew the dust off The King’s Falcon, re-worked everything I’d already done, re-vamped the plot and wrote on to the end.  The only part of the book that survived more or less intact from the original draft was the Worcester campaign; everything else changed direction.

And The Player? Well, that was written to fulfill a different sort of challenge but also, for fun and relaxation away from serious historical research. Also, in the last year I’ve released all the titles in paperback for those readers who prefer an actual book and am delighted with the quality of the finished product.  I’m even more delighted with the recently produced audio books, narrated by lovely Alex Wyndham – not just exceptionally talented but also a pleasure to work with.

And finally … I’ve spent the last year writing Roundheads & Cavaliers Book Four – now known in-house by its correct title, Lords of Misrule.  I’m currently preparing it for pre-order on Amazon at the beginning of April with a release date set for May.

Happy reading!


206 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I was delighted to get the E mail saying that Lords of Misrule is available for order on Amazon. I was very disappointed to find there was only a Kindle version and I am a book buyer! Any chance of a paperback version before long? There’s no pleasing some people is there!1 Many thanks Viv.

  2. So glad that Eden’s story is coming out soon. I have already pre-ordered on Amazon and can’t wait to see what happens. My favourite is definitely Garland of Straw as I love Gabriel’s characterisation. Can’t wait for May when the book should be delivered.

  3. I have pre ordered the new book as well. I have read the synopsis and was a bit sad that Eden appears to not get together with Phoebe.

    • It would never have worked with Phoebe, Lesley. Her life is at Ford Edge in Yorkshire. If Eden had wanted to be a country gent (which he doesn’t) he has lands of his own in Oxfordshire. But don’t worry about Phoebe. And that’s all I’ll say!

  4. Hi Stella, can’t wait to read Lords of Misrule, is Nicholas Austin getting together with Phoebe? I know I should wait to read the book but I can’t think of anyone else. I have already pre ordered it and I’m loving the Player in audio book. I didn’t think I would like audio books as I prefer the written format but you are right, there is something very special about Mr Whydham. Regards, susana

  5. You didn’t really expect me to give any secrets away, did you Susana? Sorry – but you’ll have to be patient a bit longer. I’m glad you’re enjoying lovely Alex. He has an amazing talent and is a pleasure to work with. All being well, we will be bringing A Splendid Defiance to audio later this year.

    • I knew you wouldn’t so I will have to wait until May. Thank you for your prompt reply and look forward to A Splendid Defiance in audio. Regards, Susana.

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