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Source: MEET REBECCA BRYN
When I began the epic tale of Ella and Jem, I imagined one novel, a journey into my family history to discover the truth of family stories. Did I have relations in Tasmania who owned a shipping line? Did one of my forebears kill a gamekeeper and get transported to the colonies? It was a question that fascinated me throughout my childhood, but it wasn’t until the advent of the world wide web that finding the information became possible.
I still haven’t found any rich relations, but Jem was a real person, my great-great-great uncle, and he did indeed kill John Dunkley, one of Lord Northampton’s gamekeepers. The research into the truth of the matter has formed the bones of this historical series and has taken me from the rural villages of Northamptonshire, in Victorian England, to the convict stations of Van Diemen’s Land and the goldfields of New South Wales, via the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn, and Drake Passage, on convict sailing ships, and the Blue Mountains on a hay cart.
It has been a fascinating journey, and I’ve immersed myself in the world of the convicts and their families for almost two years. Jem and Ella have become more than fictional characters or long-dead relations, they’ve become friends, and saying goodbye to them as I wrote ‘The End’ to ‘On Common Ground’ was almost as painful as I imagine Jem’s farewell to his family and loved ones was in 1841.
I didn’t intend to write a novel where one of the main themes was the lack of women’s rights in England in the 19th century, but Ella’s lack of rights over her life, her children, and her body became inescapable, integral parts of the story. The mass of historical records available astounded me. To see newspaper reports of the committal hearing and the trial, the handwritten records of Jem’s time aboard a prison hulk in Plymouth dock, on board HMS Tortoise, and later at Impression Bay Convict Station was moving and connected me across time and oceans to a man I’ve never met but who I now feel I know intimately. To see the birth, marriage and death records, to find the exact location where he is buried and see photographs of his resting place – it’s a strange feeling and has resolved a long-held question – am I, as my mother once told me, related to a bunch of loose-knickered, murdering thieves? It seems I’m guilty as charged.
Links for ‘For Their Country’s Good’
Fab interview, Sarah!
So I’m not the only author who is terrorised by the very character she created! And what do we get for this? Abuse, boasting, unreasonable demands and every inch of the spotlight with never a thank you to the very writers who created them. My advice to all authors reading this is to kill off your main character at the end of book one and show them who is boss!
Over to Sarah.
I guess if you’ve met Michael from reading any of the Royal Command series you’ll know who really writes “Sarah Stuart’s” books. I plot: he does exactly as he likes, I sort his latest disaster. In Dangerous Liaisons, he gets his daughter, Lisette, pregnant. I, with the help of his wife, Lizzie, hide the birth and contrive a happy ending; it was supposed to be one book.
Oh no! The Diamond Superstar – he has grand ideas…
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Source: MEET SARAH STUART
I trust all these people to do the best job they can.
We’ve all been there, sat at our flickering screens marvelling at our completed first draft. When the stars stop spinning, realisation smacks us square in the face, dampening our joy. What do I do with it now?
I remember, a couple of years past, when I’d completed my first novel. I knew little about the publishing industry, the how to’s, and more importantly, the who to’s. I set about designing a cover, opened photoshop, that program that had sat on my machine since forever, and began to dribble. Yup, clueless. Ohhhhh, look what that button does, no wait, nooooo, I didn’t want to do that. How do I get it back? Bugger, start over. And so it went on … for DAYS.
Someone mentioned ‘editing,’ hmmm, it doesn’t need that, it’s fine, I thought.
Over a year later, I’d edited my novel as best I could.
“It needs a beta…
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