Categories
Blog Writing Craft

How a cemetery in Bodmin, Cornwall inspired the idea for a Time Travel novel

I’m delighted to introduce Diane Scott Lewis to talk about her new book, Beyond the Fall, and the visit that inspired it.

A Cemetery in Bodmin, Cornwall inspired the idea for a Time Travel

Over a decade ago my husband and I visited Cornwall, England so I could research a novel. In the city of Bodmin we explored the eighteenth century courthouse and the Bodmin church, St. Petroc’s. St. Petroc is the patron saint of Cornwall. He founded a monastery in Bodmin in the 6th century. The name Bodmin, the largest Cornish settlement recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, may mean “Abode of monks.”

A ruin—which could have been the chapel of St. Thomas Becket from the 1300s—was next to the church were a woman in a large hat and loose gown walked through the overgrowth. When next we looked, she was gone. My husband and I laughed that perhaps she was a ghost.

RuinsBodmin (2)

The church, a wonderful gothic structure, dates back to the fifteenth century. We entered the dim, cool interior, where we inspected the twelfth century Norman font, carved with eyes that are supposed to open during baptisms. The effigy of Prior Vyvyan—a Cornish bishop in the 1500s—lies on a chest, both carved from Catacleuse stone and grey marble. Fine woodwork, a rood screen and bench ends were constructed around this time.

To the side of the church was a cemetery of weathered headstones and Celtic crosses, crooked and ancient-looking in the shadows.

Bodmin cemetery (3)

Years later when I looked at the photograph my husband took, inspiration struck. What if a woman researching her ancestors poked through a neglected cemetery, moved a fallen headstone and was whisked back in time to 1789? How would a modern woman survive in the more primitive eighteenth century where women had few rights? Miners out of work, grain riots, and the French Revolution, all happened in this year. Would she be condemned as a spy, or a witch, with her strange ways and odd clothing?

My recently release novel, Beyond the Fall, a time travel adventure, tells that story.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

Blurb: In 2018, Tamara is dumped by her arrogant husband, travels to Cornwall, England and researches her ancestors. In a neglected cemetery, she scrapes two fallen headstones together trying to read the one beneath, faints, and wakes up in 1789, the year of The French Revolution, and grain riots in England. Young Farmer Colum Polwhele comes to her aid. Can a sassy San Francisco gal survive in this primitive time and fall for Colum, a man active in underhanded dealings or will she struggle to return to her own time.

Buy the Book

For more information on Diane’s books, find her on her website: www.dianescottlewis.org

About Diane: Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She now lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.

 

 

Categories
Blog

Launch Day for Hostage to the Revolution by Diane Scott Lewis #18thC

I’m delighted to welcoDianeParkinson1_zpsdcc1a823me Diane Scott Lewis today as she launches her latest book. Diane and I met a few years ago at the Historical Novel Conference in St Petersburg, Florida.

Here’s Diane to talk about how she was inspired to write Hostage to the Revolution.

A few years back I visited Cornwall, England, and toured a Cornish history museum: the Wayside Folk Museum (now closed, unfortunately). The history fascinated me, the struggles of the people on this rugged coast; the tin mining and fishing that sustained them. The museum showcased a miller’s cottage, with cooking and farming implements used in the eighteenth century and earlier centuries. Displays explained farming, mining and fishing in Cornwall. The museum was located in the village of Zennor out on Cornwall’s peninsula that ends in the Atlantic Ocean at Lizard Point.

Megalithic burial chambers are nearby, and the writer D. H. Lawrence once lived in the area.1200px-Zennor_from_trewey_hill_cornwall

Zennor, a cluster of stone cottages, is situated on the rocky cliffs that form Cornwall’s windswept coast.

A story formed in my mind to capture this country, a part of England yet separate in culture. I pictured two sisters, one who ran a tavern, the other a wild girl who brings a penniless refugee to work at the tavern. The refugee would be French and a former Countess, to make her fall from grace that much sharper. The young Frenchwoman, Bettina, who fled from the French Revolution in 1790 under suspicious circumstances, took center stage. Through her I showed the history and culture of the Cornish. Their superstitions and pragmatic, Celtic character. I could demonstrate the lives of fisherman, miners, and the handling of shipwrecks. She confronted prejudice, fell in love with an enigmatic man who might have murdered his feckless wife, and faced brutal revolutionaries who tracked her down, demanding something stolen by her now dead father. Determined to survive and thrive, Bettina becomes one of the “ordinary” people; she learned to cook, sew, and sidestep drunken louts, while she feared more retribution and wondered what happened to her family. The two sisters, so different, Cornish born and bred, also add verve, humor and pathos to the novel.

HostagetotheRevolutionCoverI researched the eighteenth century thoroughly at the Library of Congress, library loans, plus read the Poldark series by Winston Graham, from which I gleaned the flavor of the times. Like Graham I’d set my story on Cornwall’s north coast, and wanted my tale to be realistic: rough and earthy. All this was covered in my first novel, Escape the Revolution.

That novel grew so long, I had to cut the last third, thus Hostage to the Revolution was born, to finish Bettina’s trials and triumphs. After tragic circumstances in the first book, Bettina travels to New Orleans to search for her mother. In sultry New Orleans she forms a new life until her past creeps back in an attempt to destroy it. She is thrown back into a France torn apart by war. Hostage to the Revolution releases today, July 19th.

Congratulations to Diane. To find out more about Diane and her books, please visit her website

Pictures from the author or wikipedia.

Buy the book US  UK

 

 

 

Categories
Blog

Award-winning writer Charlotte Betts reveals her favourite English chateau

9780349404493

 

I have just finished Charlotte Betts’s latest novel, Chateau on the Lake, which is yet another gripping romance from this award-winning novelist. I first came across Charlotte because she has written several books in one of my favourite periods – the seventeenth century, but for this novel we are invited to explore the 18th century and Revolutionary France.

 

After the death of her parents Madeleine Moreau must travel to France to search for the relatives she has heard of, but never met. The meeting proves disastrous and she is given shelter at Chateau Mirabelle, a breathtakingly beautiful castle which is home to the aristocrat Etienne D’Aubery. Of course there is a little competition for Madeleine’s affections, with the handsome Jean Luc, and plenty of dark secrets in the Chateau’s past.

 

Charlotte Betts recreates the detail of the period painstakingly, whilst still providing a pacy and satisfying romance. The sense of the course of the French revolution with all its horrors – the guillotine, the starving peasants, the mob violence – all these are faithfully depicted, whilst never losing the forward momentum of the plot. It is a hard thing to do, to juggle romance against such gritty realism, but Charlotte Betts does it seamlessly.

 

I wondered, after the attractions of France, which was Charlotte’s favourite English chateau in which to spend a quiet afternoon –

Corfe Castle is one of my favourite historical sites to visit. We often holiday in Dorset and I love the way the castle is the focal point of the village. It’s always been sunny when I’ve visited and I like to sit quietly in the sunshine and allow the tourists’ voices fade away. If I close my eyes and listen to the echoes of time it’s almost possible to unlock the secrets of the past. I conjure up a vision of Lady Mary Bankes who, when her husband was away, led the defence of the castle during a six week siege by the Parliamentarians. What a wonderful novel that would make! Perhaps I shall write about that one day.
Charlotte 
National Trust
Corfe

With her talk of English Civil War sieges, I might just beat her to it! (Only joking!)

Find out more about Charlotte Betts on her website

 

Categories
Blog

Ring of Stone by Diane Scott Lewis

Lewis-RingOfStone60

A decade ago, when researching my first novel, I traveled to Cornwall, England. After reading so many books on the West Country, and then seeing the countryside for myself, I became interested in the strange rock formations that the Cornish imbue with mystical powers. That’s when I struck on the idea for my recent release, Ring of Stone.

The Cornish believe there is magic in a stone ring, usually formed by centuries of wind and rain. I used such a formation in my story. A ring that would save one character from evil and encourage another to face her deepest emotions.

However, this mystical aspect is only a small part of the story that portrays a determined young woman in the eighteenth century to strive to become a physician. Women were barred from medical school in this era, though several did practice in the remoter areas of England, usually taking over after a doctor husband’s death.

My heroine, Rose Gwynn, travels to Cornwall from America with her family after her father accepts a position at a bank. In this foreign land, she defies her parents and approaches the village doctor, resolved to ingratiate herself into his practice. Dr. Nelson is hiding a dark secret, and fears Miss Gwynn’s closeness will reveal it and ruin him. While sympathetic to her wishes, he refuses her and sends her away; but the doctor’s trials are just beginning.

Meanwhile, Rose’s beautiful sister becomes engaged to a local peer. Catern Tresidder, who works in the village tavern, was molested by this man—and far more—and she is desperate to warn Rose. But no one wants to believe a former servant, purportedly jealous and out for revenge. Catern must forge a new path in her life and come to terms with her tragic past.

These three characters, Rose, Catern, and Nelson, will collide, helping and hindering one another as the story progresses. The ring of stone behind Rose’s home holds the key to her past and future—and her sister’s life—as the novel concludes on a dangerous, windswept cliffside.

To make my story authentic, I researched the medical practices for the late eighteenth-century and was delighted to find this resource online: http://www.americanrevolution.org/medicine.html. This site has a digitalized version of Dr. W. Buchan’s (a member of the Royal Society in London) 1785 treatise on medical treatment. I was surprised when reading this to discover a modern take on the importance of cleanliness and exercise.

This is the time of the French Revolution, when women were demanding to be educated the same as the men. Rose will also make these demands, though women wouldn’t be admitted to medical schools for another century.

I hope readers will enjoy this journey into the myths and realities of eighteenth-century Cornwall, and the struggles of these characters as they learn to evolve and find their own happiness.

For more information on my books, please visit my website: http://www.dianescottlewis.org