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!

 

246 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.

  6. I have been waiting patiently to hear the date I can buy Lords of Misrule in paperback form. Are we any nearer on a date? Many thanks Viv.

  7. Stella- I have the Cavalier series since they came out. Do the new paperbacks have the reworking in them that you have done for the ebooks? Is the Marigold Chain the same as it was or has that been reworked? I was thinking of ordering the new design paperbacks as a late birthday present! the old ones are getting a bit worn! Plus i have all of your books on Kindle!

    • The new paperbacks have all the same extensions and changes as the Kindle editions. If you do consider buying them, I’d advise you to put Defiance on hold for a few weeks as I’m in the process of replacing the cover to bring it in line with the e-version.

  8. Are there plans to have your Civil War series in audio? If there are, As someone who likes historical fiction with love stories and who also likes to read audio books I’m sure these would be up my alley in both cases. I’m also going to buy them on Kindle. I In fact, I first saw your name when my Audible recommendations said that I would like one of your books.

    • Yes – though maybe not all of them. Later this year, Alex will be starting work on A Splendid Defiance – my only stand-alone English Civil War novel. The actual R&C series of books are all VERY long – paperbacks run to roughly 620 pages – therefore audio is something to be considered very seriously from my point of view. However, thanks for contacting me and, if you haven’t read any of my work, I’d suggest you give it a go before deciding where to start.

  9. Thank you Stella for all your hard work. It cannot be easy to write novels that give the reader a love story, a mystery/suspense story, and both historical detail and scope. Your story-telling invites the reader to move back in time and live with the characters, and I for one am always reluctant to leave them when the book is finished.

    As much as I’ve enjoyed the love stories and the development of the family dynamics, I’ve found the history completely engrossing and compelling. Your descriptions of both the early efforts at Parliamentary decision-making and the character of warfare at the time of England’s first standing army are fascinating. We are a contentious species, are we not? And the way you write about both kings, allows us to experience them as men and not only a caricature or a simple emblem of kingship. In fact your writing elevates and ennobles most of the characters whether king, merchant, soldier, or war-widow.

    I discovered your books on Kindle and, having just finished “Lords of Misrule”, I have read them all now. I’ve also listened to the Rockliffe trilogy on audio even though I’d read the books in print probably a year ago. I listened because I knew Alex Wyndham would do justice to all your characters.

    Given how complex your books are, I imagine you need a break from writing after completing “Lords of Misrule” but I do hope we will be able to read more from you in the future. I will also watch for more of your books becoming available in audio format.

    Thank you again for spending all the time and concentrated effort it takes to produce fiction that pulls the reader in, twirls us about, then sets us down on the other side both entertained and better informed.

    • Thank you so much for contacting me, Karen. I found your views and obvious insight very interesting – and think others would too if you packaged them into a brief review. However … yes, finishing an R&C book is always a bit of a milestone. A milestone that, in many senses these days, is responsible for my decision to continue with the Rockliffe series. They’re lightweight in comparison and I can write them for fun and my own entertainment. As for Alex, he’s wonderful, isn’t he? Working with him is a privilege and a pleasure – and I’m looking forward to hearing what he does with A Splendid Defiance.
      Thanks again for getting in touch and delighted that you enjoyed Misrule.

  10. I have just finished Lords of Misrule – thank you for any fantastic read (and I will make sure I do another Amazon review for you). I discovered your books as a teenager over 20 years ago and was delighted when you started writing again.

    I am not in the slightest surprised to hear that you are moving back to the Rockcliffe series – I can only imagine the amount of research needed to complete one of the R&C books. However….are you contemplating any more? I would love to see what happens to everyone following the Restoration.

    • Thanks for your kind remarks, Catherine – and also offering to review. That’s always helpful. (Well, nearly always!) At present, my focus is on Rockliffe Four (no title yet as it’s in its infancy) but yes – I think it would be nice to round off the R&C series by arriving at the Restoration. Toby seems to have acquired a few fans … but is he hero-material?

  11. Hi Stella, it’s me again, yes, I do think Toby is hero-material and also young enough to get to the restoration with a womaniser’s reputation, go for it!

  12. Or in my opinion – I rather thought Ned Moulton’s character would be worth exploring – he seemed to have a good time in Misrule. But then Stella, you are doing the writing and one never knows where the story lines will take you. The protagonists in future books may be people we have not yet encountered. I too look forward to Rockcliffe 4 – I so enjoyed Adrian and Caroline’s story. I would like to thank you again for the hours of enjoyment you have given me since I fist bought Marigold Chain in the 1980s!

  13. I am so glad that Lords of Misrule is now available in print. I have ordered it. I can understand you would like a little relaxation now but the thought of more R & C to come in the future makes me very happy! Many thanks for the hours of pleasure you have already given me to say nothing of the pleasure to come. I can now start Book 3 knowing I still have a book in reserve! Viv.

  14. Stella–read Misrule very quickly so need a new fix ASAP! I have been reading the other comments and agree that Toby needs exploring!! As for Rock 4!! I love Rock! Can that nice girl Cassie ( Nell’s friend–I think its Cassie) have a happy ending???

  15. I have just finished The Lords Of Misrule… I never did like Old Wart on His Nose and always have found the internecine squabbling of the Roundheads deeply depressing so many congratulations on making such an entertaining novel out of such a gloomy stretch of history. You cannot leave us in limbo though, we need to get to the Restoration before we bid this series farewell. I have a feeling that might need two more volumes. We need book five about the Sealed Knot and its betrayal…and the then the Restoration. Toby would be an interesting hero but unless he gets involved in Luciano’s banking and shipping interests possibly not politically involved enough for the main character. I should like him to have a happy ending though. Ned Moulton is an interesting thought and I have always wanted to know more about tbe Royalist family Eden was billeted on… Weren’t the children there twins? Another person I have always been curious about was Susanna’s son by her husband. Other than being saddled with Isobel we know notbing about him but he must have potential as a hero witb a tragic past.

    • Not just gloomy, Anne-Marie – but totally lacking in highlights. Truthfully, I found the whole period a struggle and was quite glad to see the back of it. As for all the other points you raise … they’ll take some thought. All being well, I would like to get as far as the Restoration – though two books of this magnitude may be a stretch. However, at present I’m at the opening stages of Rockliffe Four, so all my focus is on that.

  16. Loved the Rockliffe audio books, any plans to write a book about, Cassie, Madeleine, Nicholas, all three would be great characters in a new book

  17. I finished Lords of Misrule just over a week ago (loved it) and immediately read Black Madonna again. It is still my favourite and the start of a long journey for all your fans. A very satisfying finish for Eden and I must agree that a final book in the series would be a real treat. Here’s hoping….

    • So pleased you enjoyed Misrule, Carol and liked Eden’s HEA. It is interesting that British readers (I’m assuming you’re one!) agreed with you and understood that Lydia was the right woman for him – whereas American readers took a very different view. Thank you for your comments.

  18. I read Black Madonna earlier this year and became hooked on the series. Except for A Splendid Defiance, I have the others in quick succession. I finished Misrule this evening. I enjoyed catching up with the Maxwells. Kate and Luciano remain my favorite couple although I like the others as well. Although she was a minor character, I did feel sorry for poor Verity. After saving Nick, she lost him to Phoebe. Perhaps, there will be a happy ending for her yet. I will read Defiance next (I know-out of order) and then check out your other series. Keep up the good work. Finally, could you identify the cover art for these books? I would like to know whose portraits are on the covers. Thanks.

    • So glad you’ve enjoyed the R&C series – thank you for your comments. Re the covers … here goes.
      Madonna – Frances Stuart , Duchess of Richmond. This the only one not perfectly true to period. It’s a few years too late but the gown looked like the one the Queen gave Kate! Painted by Lely.
      Garland – Sir William Compton, school of Lely. Meet Will again and for longer in Defiance.
      Falcon – Mounted Cavalier by Messonier.
      Misrule – unknown 17th century Dutch lady who I felt would pass for Lydia.
      Defiance – Rupert of the Rhine by Jan Mytens, owned by Banbury Town Council. Banbury is where the book is set.
      The Rockliffe series are much lighter and shorter. The audios are wonderful – Alex Wyndham is amazingly talented!

  19. Dear Stella (If I may?)

    I have been loving your books for years – even contacting your then agent JP periodically for news of the next ones back in the 80s – so I am SO glad you are writing again. I’m also loving the revisions (Mesalliance always felt a bit unsatisfying in places – as if pieces were missing – and it is very good to see what they were!). I’m writing now as I went to Smashwords to buy some more and found that Garland of Straw and The Black Madonna are not on there. I am not a fan of Kindle versions (my IT has a constitutional objection to it) so I was wondering if they will ever be on Smashwords?

    Best wishes

    JAne

    • Hi Jane
      I’m glad you enjoyed the revised version of Mesalliance and hope you also liked The Player. Alex Wyndham has done a brilliant job on all 3 Rockliffe audios and will be narrating A Splendid Defiance later this year depending on his schedule.
      Regarding Smashwords, I sell so few books there (particularly the R& C series) I find I’m better off sticking with Amazon – but the new R&C book, Lords of Misrule is available there now for a short time. And all my titles are also available in paperback from Amazon and Createspace.
      Hope this helps.

  20. Hi Stella, I have loved your latest book Lords of Misrule, lovely to see what happens to all your characters as times goes by, Will you ever revisit any of the main characters in A Splendid Defiance? ( the first of your books I ever read and still my favourite ) Thank you for continuing to write🙂

    • Hi Gillian
      So glad you enjoyed Misrule – in many senses, a tricky book to write. As for revisiting previous characters, it’s difficult to say. Sometimes they reappear naturally; sometimes not. At present I’m working on Rockliffe Four. But later this year you’ll hopefully have the opportunity of hearing Defiance performed by lovely (and incredibly talented) Alex Wyndham.

  21. Dear Stella. Thank you so much for the Roundheads and Cavaliers books. I can appreciate how much effort, energy and time has gone into this series from the very thorough historical research you undertake and then how seamlessly you incorporate historical fact with your storyline. Your very deft touch reminds me of Georgette Heyer – are you a fan of hers too? I absolutely love your work – please make it two books and not one on our journey to the Restoration!

    • Thank you Melanie – so glad you’ve been enjoying the series. At present, I’m working on Rockliffe Four whilst also preparing A Splendid Defiance for transformation into audio – so no real thoughts about further R&C books. And Heyer? Yes, many moons ago. Doesn’t everyone respect her work?

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