Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Is your favourite character in a novel always the protagonist?

f03cf68d082763c6d02f2dd29e505a86--s-fashion-edwardian-fashionThis question was posed to me the other day and got me thinking. Even in my own writing my favourite character isn’t always the protagonist.

In ‘Riduna‘ for example, my first novel ~ historical fiction set on the island of Alderney in the Victorian era, Harriet, the protagonist, is key to every part of the story. A quarryman’s daughter, Harriet is the person who binds the others together and, as the author, I know her intimately. I can describe her life from the moment she was born through to adult hood and middle age. I have not killed her off as yet but feel sure that I will know her as an old woman too ~ but is she my favourite character? No, actually she isn’t!

It is Jane who intrigues me most. There is a bit of mystery about her. I only know of Jane’s life as she arrives on Riduna from mainland Britain as a teenager. Having lost her mother she is brought up by her father, who is the island’s doctor. Jane is well educated and intelligent in a mature and thoughtful way. She finds herself in a society where class isn’t as distinctive as back in the UK. As Harriet’s best friend she is a leveler and yet she is also a dreamer. It is she who travels the world in her career as a nurse. She chooses ambition over love, marriage and babies. Is this totally fulfilling for her? At the end of Riduna she begins to take her chosen course, but it is in my second novel Ancasta  that we see her fulfilling her ambitions. We also see her threading back into Harriet’s life. She is always the steady influence, even though their outlook on life is so contrasting.

I am fond of Jane for her loyalty to Harriet and yet she is her own person. A good friend is not one who smothers or submits but is one of mutual respect. A friendship should be supportive but also allow each to be themselves.

Diana Jackson is the author of The Riduna Series which can be found on her Amazon page .Riduna is currently only £1.99 on Kindle.

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Filed under Alderney, Ancasta, Historical Fiction, My books, Riduna, Riduna ebook, Role of Women

Extracts of ‘Murder Now and Then’ and the dangers of writing in the ‘soon-to-be’ future

3Dcover MNATShould I update my opening scene? What do you think in the light of Brexit and Inderef.

I began my murder mystery ‘Murder Now and Then’ with a prologue to set the scene:

“The Prologue

May 9th 2019

‘I wouldn’t kill my husband. How could you think such a thing?’

Joanna sat on the grey plastic bench, her hands in her lap, absentmindedly tearing tiny pieces from a ball of spent tissue and watching them drift down on to the brown tiles; droplets of tears joining the snow-flaked floor.

Even though Joanna was alone, she could feel the glare of DI Norton boring into her, willing her to confess. How easy it would have been to halt his incessant questioning and say ‘Yes, I did it,’ just to silence him? His voice still lingered in her head.

Numb with the enormity of her situation she closed her eyes and sat in a sleepless trance, her hands now motionless and her mind free–falling in a bottomless void.”

So far so good. The novel brought Joanna’s plight immediately to the attention of the reader. Even though it was set in 2019 the passage was fairly timeless.

Next I set the scene of the murder in 1919 ~ notice the change in style for the historical content:

“May 9th 1919

“Sergeant Major Alfred Donald Keith Regmund appeared before the Bedford Division Bench on Wednesday morning. Crowds waited outside Shire Hall to see the prisoner arrive and depart, which he did in a closed cab. Three or four rows of public gallery were filled, as also was the grand jury gallery.

Mr P D Holmer presided, the other Magistrate being Mr A C Greenachre. Superintendant Patterson went into the witness box and gave evidence as follows.

‘On Tuesday May 13th I arrested the prisoner at Haynes Park. He was conveyed to Bedford. On arrival I charged him on suspicion of murdering a girl, Lucille Vardon at Wilshamstead on 9th May. I cautioned him and he said,

‘I understand my unfortunate position, and your justification for arresting me, but I am innocent, and I shall be able to prove my innocence.’

The prisoner was then remanded until 11.15 am on Tuesday next.” 1

 1Bedfordshire Times and Independent May 30th 1919 (names have been changed)

This was a true unsolved murder. The newspaper cuttings were detailed and explicit. Fascinating!

Then I launch into the novel with the up to date murder, but backtracked to July 2017. Confused? When I wrote this in 2013 it seemed a long time into the future, but I realise now that I fell into a trap of making predictions where history has caught up with me:

“July 2017         Joanna and Bob Thomas at Pear Tree Farm

Joanna, a farmer’s wife of forty two years of age, whose youthful make-up-free complexion was more like that of a woman in her early thirties, looked out of the yellowing UPVC faux Georgian windows of their old farmhouse. She smiled at the sight of the small herd of prize Jersey cattle her husband had purchased when Britain had won back independence from the EU. The cows, she felt, were a symbol of that independence since the little island of Jersey had enjoyed self government for centuries.

Britain and the farmers especially, were enjoying the freedom which some couples experience after the break-up of an unhealthy marriage – that of mutually beneficial friendship, without binding ties. Of course all the countries involved had undergone the pain and bitterness of a difficult and lengthy divorce, with complicated legal proceedings stretching both lawyers and politicians to the limits, but now all of that was behind them. In fact, some said that many nations still in the EU, held a silent respect for the British spirit that was willing to believe that it would be best to go it alone.

Still maintaining brotherly and sisterly links within the former British Isles; England, Scotland, Wales and even Cornwall and the South West now enjoyed their own governing body. For England that had been a great victory and each country had celebrated the occasion in style with street parties, the likes of which had not been witnessed since the dear Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee back in 2012. Ireland too now held three councils, one in the north, one in the south and a further umbrella council. This worked much like the Parliament in London had done in the past; a matriarch overseeing the British Isles as a whole.”

Well there you have it. I now have  dilemma. Mind you, parts of the predictions were almost true. The timing was awry though.

What shall I do about it? What do you think? Should I update my kindle version or not. I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter.

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Murder, Murder Now and Then, My books, Writing a novel

To the Supportive Blogging Community – Thank you!

Rewarding, Mutually supportive, fun, uplifting, encouraging, delightful … ~ oh that was so good! In an adjective deprived literary universe it is such a relief to let them flow, especially when talking about the blogging world. An author who ignores this gift of reaching out to other bloggers in the community of writers, deprives themselves of so much … love … yes love!

I’m sure that signing up for a Blog Tour is a good experience too, but there is nothing like reaching out and making ‘on line’ relationships, in the pure sense of the word, with like minded people and the benefits are far greater than selling a few more books – you make friendships which are lasting, often crossing social media to Twitter and Facebook.

My heart-felt thanks today are in no particular order, but here are some very special people whom I’ve been privilege to have ‘met’ over the last couple of years. You can click on the name for a link to their website or blog:

TME Walsh ~ I ‘met’ Tania through mutually sharing the same publishing company for our debut novel. She is now with Carina UK, an imprint of Harlequin – a division of HarperCollins – in 2015 with her DCI Claire Winters Series

Tony Riches ~ ‘The Writing Desk.’ Tony is a writer of Historical Fiction which have been best sellers on Amazon. His latest ‘Owen’ – the first of a Tudor trilogy, has already gained 54 4.5 star reviews! He gives insightful reviews of a variety Historical Fiction.

Karen Dahood who writes book reviews on bookpleasures.com is a writer of murder mysteries – The Sophie and Sam Series series. Karen’s novel features in my October book review above.

Pat Ruppel whose blog Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom has stories to inspire full of empathy and warmth. As far as I know she has not written a novel but I treasure her online friendship for the way she always says just ‘the right thing.’

Adam Croft has written a successful murder mystery series which adds delightful humour to the genre. His latest ‘Rough Justice’ is recently released on Amazon.

Mary Ann Loesch’s Allthingswriting.blogspot.com who is supportive of the writing community with her ‘guest blogger’ spot. Her books can be found on Amazon

Debra Brown for her tireless efforts on behalf of authors and readers of historical fiction on Englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.co.uk. Here’s her Amazon page.

JA Beard’s riftwatcher.blogspot.co.uk has wonderful ‘musings’ and insights for authors. Here are all his book releases

Rachel J Lewis whose humour shines through everything she says and will be releasing her debut novel though Urbane Publishers in 2017. Watch this space. Rachel juggles several blogs, organises a Writers’ Group in Ampthill and chaired the Ampthill Literary festival this year. A very busy lady!

Roderick Hart, a Scottish writer who’s novel ‘A Time to Talk’ ~ a mystery in a memoir style, is delightful in an unusual way.

M J Moore with her fantastic articles and resources for ’emerging writers’ and her novel ‘Times Tempest’ which I reviewed last year.

Andy Baskerville with his Fife Photos and Art is a new blogging ‘friend’ who has a mutual love of the Kingdom Fife. His eye for an unusual photo is not only special but it transports me back to a county I’ve come to know quite well, lived in for a year and have written about on my other blog http://www.selectionsofreflections.wordpress.com.

Oh dear. I’m sure I have missed many wonderful people, but to all of you bloggers who find time for others – many thanks. You deserve success as good karma is spread around the globe.

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Filed under Blogs, Book reviews, Historical Fiction, Marketing your novel, Social Media Networking