In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Monday, 27 April 2020

The start of it all

I wrote Daffodils, the first book in The Katherine Wheel Series, many years ago. The location is loosely based on the village where my children were born in Wiltshire. It took me ten years to write, off and on, as life distracted me many times. It was so long ago when I wrote it that the internet wasn't really up and running and research was a lot more difficult to access. Many times I felt like giving up, especially as I delved into the atrocity of World War One, not a subject I had any previous inclination to explore. There was no getting around it though, as I followed Katy and Jem's lives through that devastating period in human history.  And now I'm doing it again with their children and their struggles through the Second World War!
And yet, as we all face challenges through the lockdown and witness new tragedies happening to families who are victims of this horrible virus, sometimes the dark side of life is inescapable.
I published Daffodils back in 2013 so I was especially pleased to see a fresh review from a discerning reader who posted it on Goodreads. Here's the review:

5 *s *****
"I was given this book by a friend who thought that the WWI setting would appeal to me. It did. But that's only a tiny part of the book's charm.
Daffodils is a powerful book that puts you into the mind and heart of Katy, an inconsequential servant in a grand English house at the start of WWI.
Katy longs to break free of the restrictions and conventions that govern her life and you feel her frustration living in her claustrophobic village. Jem is a gardener on the same estate and has always loved Katy and when she agrees to marry him it seems that their path is set. However, tragedy strikes with a cruelty that threatens their relationship and things take a turn that leads them both into fear and danger.
I felt I really knew Jem and Katy. What happened to them mattered and I wanted to make things better for them. They are rounded, believable characters and their suffering was all the more real as a consequence. There are other, distinctive people in the book -some of them with character failings that make them unpleasant and even dangerous.
Katy does get to travel, but not under ideal circumstances. Her time during the war is written with a clarity and understanding that was wholly convincing and some of the detail concerning field hospitals in France was fascinating.
I loved this book and am now going to buy the next in the series."

Daffodils is currently free at http://rxe.me/BPUQAY4 Daffodils


Friday, 17 April 2020

Thorny matters: Woodbine: Interview with Alex Martin

Thorny matters: Woodbine: Interview with Alex Martin: Woodbine , the latest novel by my fellow author Alex Martin , has just been published and I invited her to talk about it - set in a ch...

Thursday, 9 April 2020

First review for Woodbine - 5 Stars!



Woodbine has its first review and I'm thrilled to report it has gained 5 Stars. It's a comprehensively written review and contains no spoilers.
Here's the review:
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 April 2020

I very much enjoyed the Katherine Wheel series, following the fates of Katy Phipps and Cassandra 
Flintock Smythe at Cheadle Manor through the early decades of the 20th century, so I was delighted
to find that the story continues into the next generation, with Woodbine, focussing on Katy’s son Al
and Cassandra’s daughters, Lottie and Isobel. A triangle involving two young women and one
young man is bound to spell trouble at any time, but the drama in this case is quadrupled
by the setting of World War II. Family and friends are divided by internal disappointments and shocks,
but then they are divided even more by war, with Lottie marooned in occupied France, Al determined 
to fly and Isobel joining the land army. The feel of the times is brilliantly conveyed, in the interminable
boredom of waiting, the moments of panic and the shock of real and sometimes horrific action, all
uncomfortably realistic. All aspects of the story are gripping, with Lottie especially emerging as a 
heroine in heart-stopping scenarios, but we are left at the height of the war, so I desperately await 
the next volume.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Launch of new book: Woodbine! https://rxe.me/R119YD

We're living through a strange time, aren't we? My heart goes out to anyone who is suffering from Covid-19 or has a loved one who is currently poorly, and I send every good wish to all patients with this cruel disease for a speedy recovery. 
However, I do think that books can be a great solace when you feel stressed, frightened or lonely. A book will not answer you back, it is not on a schedule that you may have missed. A book will wait patiently for you to read it, at whatever time suits you. It won't go out of date or change but will be a constant resource to escape the grim reality we each are facing right now.
It is my humble hope that Woodbine can be an escape for its readers. There are resonances in the story with this world war we are all fighting against a silent, invisible killer. World War Two was a tough time too and many people died who didn't deserve to. There were heroes then as well and, as I researched extensively for this new book, I kept seeing similarities between that global conflict and the worldwide struggle we now face. 
Woodbine is Book Five in The Katherine Wheel Series and I was struck how this second World War was really unfinished business from the first one, depicted in Daffodils. (Daffodils remains #free for now) In Woodbine, it is the children of Katy and Jem, Cassandra and Douglas who must battle their way through these difficult years. 

 Woodbine cover

Lottie, her sister Isobel and Al, the man they both love, are on the brink of adulthood and the Second World War in Woodbine, the fifth book in The Katherine Wheel Series.

Trapped and alone in occupied France, Lottie must disguise her identity and avoid capture if she is to return and heal the bitter feud over the future of Cheadle Manor.

Back in England, Al is determined to prove himself. He joins the Air Transport Auxiliary service, flying aeroplanes to RAF bases all over the country.

Isobel defies everyone’s expectations by becoming a Land Girl. Bound by a promise to a dying woman, she struggles to break free and follow her heart.

Woodbine is the penultimate book in The KatherineWheel Series.



Woodbine

Friday, 3 April 2020

New Book, new cover!

Excited to reveal the new cover for my new book, coming out very soon:


As you can see, Woodbine is Book Five in the Katherine Wheel Series.
Ivy, Book Six, will hopefully follow soon as it is part 2 of Woodbine, in a way!


Lottie, her sister Isobel and Al, the man they both love, are on the brink of adulthood and the Second World War in Woodbine, the fifth book in The Katherine Wheel Series.

Trapped and alone in occupied France, Lottie must disguise her identity and avoid capture if she is to return and heal the bitter feud over the future of Cheadle Manor.
Back in England, Al is determined to prove himself. He joins the Air Transport Auxiliary service, flying aeroplanes to RAF bases all over the country.
Isobel defies everyone’s expectations by becoming a land girl. Bound by a promise to a dying woman, she struggles to break free and follow her heart.

I'll keep you posted when it's fully published!