Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The joys of owning an ereader

At last!

I have an ereader courtesy of my daughter who has upgraded her ipod and given me her old one.

I don't mind that it's secondhand. I'm just delighted to have one. It doesn't seem right to be publishing ebooks which I would like other people to purchase and download on to their ereaders if I am not reading ebooks myself.

Now I can! I can tackle my list of books to read before I die list electronically instead of searching the secondhand book shops for the out of print ones and spending fortunes buying new ones from bookstores. Think of all the trees I won't be responsible for cutting down.

Already I've investigated the Amazon catalogue under the historical fiction heading and found enough titles to keep me reading for years. I'll concentrate on anything related to the War of the Roses for the moment as I am half way through the course I'm teaching at the University of the Third Age in Ballarat and contemplating redrafting my children's story Abbie in the Abbey.

Once that is done I will have to decide which direction my historical interests take me. Perhaps I'll go back to the Irish Diaspora theme  of my enovels Brigid, A  Terrible Paradise and The Liberator's Birthday. There's an Irish Diaspora feel about the one I am writing now. But then there is French history and all the great novels which have been written about France and the people who have played a part in shaping its destiny. Or the Tudors! The scope is endless. All I need now is time to read.

Jill's ebooks

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Roses and wars - my current obsession

The War of the Roses - something of a departure from the usual historic themes which have featured in this blog since I started it in february this year. But the forces which drove me to an interest in the Wars of the Roses were the same ones that brought me to delve into convict history, the Irish Australians and the history of the Goldfields in Victoria. I wanted to write fiction set in a particular place at a particular time and I needed to know what was going on in the world my characters inhabited.

Not for me a superficial reading of the time and place. The historian in me demands that I investigate thoroughly, steep myself in the written history and visit the historical sites to soak up the atmosphere.

So what brought me to the War of the Roses?

Several years ago as I sat in Westminster Abbey an idea came to me for a children's story featuring a little girl called Abbie who encountered a ghost in Westminster Abbey. As my time in London was short, the idea had to go on the fiction back burner until I could manage another trip. I did, however, decide that the ghost had to be a child so I made arrangements with the archivist of the Abbey to do some research into the children who were buried there on my next visit. They were very helpful, allowing me access to their archives at the top of a dusty staircase off the cloisters.

Of all the stories I read, none fascinated me as much as that of the bones which occupied an urn in the Children's Corner, believed to be those of Edward V and his brother Richard. As I set about engaging my Abbie in conversation with a haughty thirteen year old king elect, I realised I had to know what had brought him to his early death.

That was in October 2007. Nearly four years later, I know, at least as well is as generally known, what brought him to his tragic end, although like the members of the Richard III society, I don't accept that his uncle was necessarily the instigator of his demise even if he was the usurper of his crown.

The story of Abbie in the Abbey still needs work before it can go in search of a publisher but the history I have learnt is being put to good use in the class I am conducting for the University of the Third Age in Ballarat.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Foibles - We all have them so the characters we create must have them too.

Regardless of the genre of our novels or the themes we pursue, the characters we create are unlikely to be perfectly horrible or perfectly perfect. They will undoubtedly have flaws and depending on the role we are giving them to play, some of these will be major, but even a serial killer can have flashes of humanity.

For those of us who aren't writing about serial killers, the flows in our characters will be more foiblelike, quirks in their personalities, but knowing what they are helps us to emphasise with them as we set them to the task of enacting the plot we have devised. The foibles themselves may not get a mention in the story we are telling but knowing what they are allows us to predict how they will deal with the issues we want them to confront, and the relationships we want them to enter into with each other. if we understand our characters strengths and weaknesses so too will our readers.

Deciding which flaws and foibles to give our characters can be tricky particularly if there is a danger that they will resemble our own family members, the people we work and play with, the neighbours and others with whom we are acquainted. We don't want to be challenged or sued by irate friends and family.

Fortunately people tend to avoid owning to own foibles so they they do not associate themselves with characters who behave as they do. I had a funny experience with the publication of The Liberator's Birthday. I had quite deliberately modelled the publican's wife, a woman who through her husband's good fortune on the goldfields has risen several rungs on the social ladder, on my mother who was a terrible snob. It was with some trepidation that I gave her a copy while I prepared dinner for her one night about the time when the book was first released. It didn't take long before she was in my kitchen declaring that I had 'got that Martha Farrell right!' It seems she was just like my mother's Auntie Jeanie. I took her word for it and we were all happy.

The Liberator's Birthday and Jill's other romantic dramas

Friday, June 3, 2011

Love and Romance

Love and Romance! Themes which seem to force themselves into most novels. Love can be requited or unrequited, glorious or tragic, expressed in furious sexual activity or totally divorced from physical attraction.

Love knows no age limits. It is not confined by gender, race or any other division of human kind. And because it is a human emotion the characters created to act out the novelist's plot will no doubt have experienced love of some kind along their life journey even if they display no evidence of it for the duration of the story being told.

In A Terrible Paradise, which has just been released as an ebook, love is a tragic thing for the main character Elise Cartwright. She feels it pulling at her heart strings over a man she barely knows. It sets her off on a quest to save him from his terrible fate giving the writer the opportunity to tell the reader about the brutality of the British penal system of the nineteenth century, and the corruption and sadism which was tolerated by those in power.

Forbidden love of the young barman Tommy for his Kate colours his relations with his parents and his growing hatred of the Catholic Church in The Liberator's Birthday which is also available as an ebook.
 He despises the dean who cursed Kate's father and drove him to his death, and all those who curry favour with the bombastic clergyman in the hope of gaining advantage in this world and the next.

Barriers of class, education and circumstance prevent Brigid from expressing her attraction to Eamon Darcy in the first of my novels, Brigid, to be released as an ebook, but it is clear that her love was no passing thing. it smoldered unrequited during her life, and allowed her no rest in the afterlife until she could find the means to give it expression.

Now I am embarking on a new project in which the love between two women in nineteenth century Melbourne will scandalise the family of one of them as they listen to the reading of her will.

Link to all ebooks mentioned in this blog