Thursday, 31 May 2012

Castonbury Park - Regency Series with a difference

Take eight Regency authors from three countries and ask them to come up with an upstairs/downstairs-themed series and what do you get? CASTONBURY PARK.  The first of this Regency "Upstairs/Downstairs" series is published in August 2012 (with a bonus prequel available online in June).  This was a new and exciting project and I am so pleased and proud to be a part of it.

We spent some time discussing just what we wanted to do. We decided that the house would be pivotal to the series.  It was to be a ducal seat, and the beautiful Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire was quite perfect for our stories. We studied floorplans, some of us even visited the house and reported back, so that we could all visualise the setting.

We decided to set our series soon after Waterloo. The Montague family is in turmoil, the old duke is ailing, his eldest son missing, another killed at Waterloo and the rest of the family struggling to hold the family together and contain the mounting debts.
In between searching for the missing heir, the sons and daughters have their own problems to cope with, including scandalous relationships. We had great fun planning out the lives of this wonderful family and their servants. We had to keep in close contact as we worked on our stories, sharing information, double checking dates and places. The house and its servants feature in every book, although the stories take us as far afield as Spain and India.
So here is the complete list of books – in order:-
Flirting with Ruin (Undone! Prequel) - Marguerite Kaye
 The Wicked Lord Montague - Carole Mortimer
Lady of Shame - Ann Lethbridge
The Illegitimate Montague - Sarah Mallory
Unbefitting a Lady - Bronwyn Scott
A Stranger at Castonbury - Amanda McCabe

My own book - The Illegitimate Montague, is published in December 2012, so watch out for news of this on my website or here on the blog later in the year.

This was a whole new way of working – usually we create our own characters and stories, constrained only by history and our own imagination, here we worked together, bounced ideas around, brainstormed and came up with a whole new Regency world.  We think it is a pretty amazing place – we hope you agree!

Sarah Mallory

Friday, 25 May 2012

A sneak preview

Today I went exploring.... well not exploring exactly, not pith helmet and machete and fight through the jungle type of exploring, more a gentle stroll to see an old house that I had glimpsed many times from the car.  It is inspiration for my latest novel.

I have never before shared information about a book before it is finished, but I am taking a chance that this won't put a jinx on the story for me...only time will tell.

For my current story I have drawn on two places close to my home on the Pennines. If I travel east along the Calder Valley, I pass a turning called Burntacres Lane.  This has fascinated me for years as I wondered why a place would be given such a name. Of course there could be many reasons - I am sure any one of you might come up with a brilliant story about why that particular lane might be so-called. It certainly sparked (please excuse the pun) a story in me, a story featuring an old house that burned down years ago, leaving only a ruin and all the land around it scorched.

Then, if I travel west, I pass the remains of a beautiful old house.  It is Holme House in the village of Cliviger. It is a listed building, and I understand there has been a dwelling on this site since at least the thirteenth century. There is quite a lot of information about this particular property on the web and it has a fascinating history so I don't need to make one up, but  that isn't important, beacuse it is the look  of the house that I need for my novel.

 My story starts a couple of years after Waterloo, when the house (called in my book Moorwood Manor) has been a burned out shell for twenty-five years. It is a tale of dark deeds and revenge, and an element of Sleeping Beauty, too, with the overgrown grounds being cleared and the house restored. It will be a Sarah Mallory love story (naturally) and it will have a happy ending (of course), but there will be tears along the way.

The finished book is a long way in the future, but I will keep you posted about its progress. In the meantime, I believe there are plans to rebuild Holme House. I have yet to pass the house when there is anyone present, so if the current owners read this before I speak to them, I hope they do not mind my posting this photo, and I would dearly love to know their plans for this wonderful old house.

Winner of the RNA's Rona Rose 2012
Sarah Mallory

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Willow the Whippet

 Writerly things have taken a back seat the last couple of days as we have taken in a three-year old whippet that needed a home.  He is beautiful, but of course a little disorientated at the moment. 

We took these pictures yesterday, soon after we brought hime home. He didn't take long to settle in, and the regular walks (or rather, runs) can't be a bad thing for a writer!