Tag Archives: characterisation

Challenge ~ Throw a Dice for Memories of a character in a book



When Dot in ‘MISSING Past and Present’ threw a dice, she remembered scenes in her life as if they were pages in her own book. Her back story.

AUTHORS ~ Think of a character in your book, or one of your novels that you are proud of.

READERS ~ Think of a character in a novel you really enjoyed recently.

If a throw of a SIX represents the best day or ‘happening’ in your chosen character’s life and a ONE the worst, can you write down memories from ONE TO SIX.

The challenge is to choose moments in their lives which intrigue a reader into wanting to know more, without giving the whole plot away.

I’m going to begin. Just to give you an idea I am going to chose Jamal. ~an important character in my novel but not the protagonist.

A short character description ~ Jamal is a Syrian refugee who has been living in the UK for over two years. He is intelligent, thoughtful and is a hard worker.

ONE ~  Jamal remembers the moment he lost both his parents in the war back home.

TWO ~ His feelings when arriving in England were bewildering. The only person he had to cling to, who gave him any thoughts of normality was his older brother Ahmed.

THREE ~ Working at his friend Brian’s Dad’s business.

FOUR ~ Learning to speak English at Mrs G’s (Dot’s) kitchen table

FIVE ~ Jamal found Dot.

SIX ~ Jamal fell in love.

If you are an AUTHOR and have a blog then post:

  • your character’s six memories
  • a short description of the character
  • the name of your novel
  • a book cover.

If you are a READER then send them to me and I’ll post them on my blog.

You can do this through my contact page,

email diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk or tell me @Riduna on Twitter

or on my Facebook Page

I will re-post the ones I like best….

It would be great to have a Blog Hop of DICE MEMORIES!

Let me know if you’d like to join and I’ll arrange it.


Filed under Book reading, Marketing your novel, MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Social Media Networking, Writing a novel

The Pull of the Novel – The Pull of the English Pub

This second post makes me laugh when I think of a recent email which likened my murder mystery to Coronation Street. Having never watched a full episode in my life I was a little put out by the comparison. On reflection Coronation Street is an extremely popular soap opera and I have tended to reflect village life, especially the pull of various pubs (echoing the pull of the pints!) Here’s my next in this series to celebrate Bedfordshire – Clophill …

       The Stone Jug Clophill

The Stone Jug Clophill

The village of Clophill is extremely fortunate to have a thriving, truly personal village pub – The Stone Jug. It serves, real ale and cider, traditional home made pub grub at lunchtimes but in the evenings it is reserved for socialising and drinking, with fairly regular entertainment in the form of various singers and small bands. My husband remembers making a hole in the rather low ceiling in his youth, when he played lead guitar in one of his many bands – the last of which continued to perform until recently. Here are the ‘boys‘ in action:

Chris Cole and the Rockets

In the evening the pub seems to have three natural groups which occasionally overlap – there’s the earlies – straight from work, the after supper folk and then the ‘real locals, some of whom were born in the village, who often stay until midnight. Friday night is predominantly men’s night, so my hubby tells me.

You will not see The Stone Jug in the High Street either. My husband can name several pubs which are now private homes including The Rising Sun and The Compasses. There are two establishments around the Village Green. The Flying Horse, known locally as The Fly, is more of a Bistro than a pub, popular for passing trade on the busy Clophill roundabout as well as for locals. There is also The Green Man, which many remember as the place where they played dominoes and darts. These activities have transferred quite naturally to the Stone Jug, known as ‘The Jug’ whereas The Green Man is now a successful Italian Restaurant. We have taken my sister and brother-in-law there a couple of times and, considering they live in Bordeaux and enjoy renowned French cuisine, their praise is praise indeed:

‘I can’t believe that we are eating at such a wonderful place in Clophill, with such good quality wines too!’ my brother-in-law exclaimed.

Back to the Jug – it is situated in Back Street, parallel to the High Street, a perfect location for the majority of people to stroll there of an evening. All three establishments feature in my murder mystery, Murder, Now and Then.

I have been praised for the characterisation in my novels.

‘I could really relate to the characters.’

‘I imagined I was living alongside them.’

‘So believable.’

Then again more recently I have been criticised that they are too ordinary. Surely murder and mystery happens in every-day life as well as to feeble victims by psychopaths.

Murder Now and Then is an ‘intriguing mystery’ set in two time periods with ‘interesting and unexpected twists.’ It is not a thriller, although one reader described it as such. Tension builds, certainly. The suspects lead the plot since you have to get to know then to understand why they are involved.

It is likened in other reviews to Midsomer Murders or Bergerac (with the Jersey connection!) I like that 🙂

Anyway, I’ll let you decide but please let me know what you think.


Filed under Bedfordshire, Book reviews, Murder Now and Then

She’s was a bit of a handful ~ The strength of female characterisation

My initial inspiration for The Riduna series was my Great grandmother, born on the island of Alderney in 1865.

‘Apparently she was a bit of a handful and they shipped her off to live with her aunt on Guernsey when she was fifteen,’ my Dad explained one day, in one of his lucid moments. He is sharing more about family and memories now, but I heard little when I was younger.

‘No it’s not Harriet, it’s Harriet Jane,’ my Aunt once corrected me, and since my Aunt was not evacuated out of Southampton during the war, she knew this formidable lady more than most. My Dad was sent off to Bournemouth for August  and enjoyed a summer by the sea, while Southampton remained under the cloud of WW2 and my Great Grandmother lived with my Grandparents at the time, her husband having returned to Guernsey before WW2.

I digress.

(I have to stress here that I am talking fact here rather than fiction. My novels are fiction. Although there are links with ‘Harriet Jane,’ they do not tell her story, neither chronologically nor physically, but I am known to confuse the two from time to time when speaking, even taking on the persona of Harriet myself. Is that unusual in an author?)

In my series Harriet is the protagonist and in Riduna she is the central figure from whom all her family, friends and acquaintances are linked. Initially a young girl of just sixteen years, although we see flashbacks to her birth, she experiences all the emotions of that of a young girl today, only under quite archaic constrictions. Everyone knew everyone else’s business on a small island like Alderney, and probably still do. In fact it is her best friend Jane, whose story runs alongside Harriet’s, who eventually becomes a nurse. We see her again in Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home, starting work at The Royal Victoria Hospital, described in my last post ‘Spike Island.’

The conflicts of womanhood, which I described in my previous but one post on Feminine Issues, were also apparent in Riduna, as choices were made between career and love. It was rare for a woman to have both. Jane, Harriet’s best friend and confidante in the novel, made her choice at the end of Riduna, but you see in Ancasta that the decision is still challenged from time to time.

Although there were business women in the Victorian age, they tended to be those of independent means, often widows who had the strength of character to make their own decisions or needed to continue the family firm in order to survive. Many excellent posts describe the role of Victorian women succinctly including:

BBC History ~ Women’s Work

As Harriet moves on from ‘Riduna’ to ‘Ancasta’ she is now in her mid 40’s, but she is still a woman who feels the emotions of love and passion, but they are tempered by the maturity of bringing up her family and her recent bereavement. She is the matriarch of the family and yet again every thread leads back to Harriet as we read about the lives of her close family and friends and the parts they play in the war. (The Great War)

Harriet needs to make those very decisions as to how to survive, described in the BBC article. What are her choices? To take in sewing work from one of the local manor houses, which she has loathed all her life, or is there some other way? It is her daughter Sarah, even more headstrong than Harriet, who helps her to decide. Fate plays it’s part too as she is asked by her son whether she could take in paying guests and the idea of a guest house is born.

In Ancasta it is Sarah who takes on the role of pushing the boundaries of womanhood further still. Whereas 19th century born Harriet’s evolution from taking care of the home and family to business woman was thrust upon her by circumstances, we see 20th century born Sarah forever challenging her given role. In all probability Sarah was loved and spoilt as the youngest child and only daughter of the Newton’s, although we are not told this is story, and she was almost certainly more of a handful than Harriet in her youth, since she had far more freedom. I don’t think Sarah’s husband Anthony, recently trained to be an officer in the army, knew what he was letting himself in for as they stepped down the aisle at the end of Riduna.

Throughout Ancasta Sarah is aware of the power shift, the changing roles of women in England and her conflict is whether to be involved with this new movement at the expense of the quality of her family life. Will she regret it if she does? Will it break her or will it make her stronger?

Maybe I will write the story of Sarah’s childhood and post it as a story for free. Let me know if you would like me to.

All of this developed naturally as the manuscripts evolved. I did not plan in minute detail to reflect women in society in this way but I’m glad it happened.

What women in history do you admire?

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Filed under Alderney, Ancasta, Family History, Role of Women