Hi Ros and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Selling up in the UK seemed a huge step in 2005, and so it was. My husband had been ill and needed to take early retirement so I did likewise. I was on my third primary school headship so although it was sad to say goodbye to the children and staff, I wasn’t sorry to say cheerio to all the form filling and other paperwork.
Life in France was very different in many ways but we got the medication and health care sorted and made friends among both the French and English communities in our small village. The pace of life was slower and in the 7 valleys, south of Boulogne, beautiful.
Although we enjoyed our time there, we returned to England ten years later. I missed the family (two daughters and four granddaughters), our huge garden was very hard work and with things becoming more uncertain politically, it seemed the right thing for us to do. No regrets for any of the moves and I love being back here. There are so many things to join and do. We do ballroom and Latin dancing, volunteer work with Guide Dogs, oh, tons more.
When did you first decide you wanted to write and how did you begin that journey?
I wrote a few stories to which young children enjoyed listening when I left school and worked as a teaching assistant. Then, following training, I started a novel, ‘Peace of Time’. My mother was a published author many times over and she was very encouraging. But I had a demanding job and a young family, all the usual ‘life stuff’, and I didn’t finish it.
In France, I took up that original idea and completed it. This was an excellent activity I could do at home, in a place where there was little else to do other than socialising. That was the book I needed to write and I indie published it. I took it down from Amazon as I completed workshops and courses and learned so much more about novel-writing. Whoops!
My second book was ‘Sense and French Ability’ and accepted by Endeavour Press and became an Amazon best seller, so I rewrote that first one and then they took that too.
Has working as a teaching professional helped your writing?
For young children, the skills are significantly different. Language is, of course, key but also the relationship between where on the page the words are placed and the affinity between illustration and writing is also important.
It is a such pleasure after having spent much of my time writing letters, policy documents and essays to have the freedom to write what I choose.
Writing for adults has involved learning about character development, plot structure, the dangers of head hopping, realistic speech, narrative or psychic distance . . . I could go on, and on, and on. It’s a never-ending learning curve. Now I’m the pupil not the teacher.
How do you go about research for your historical novels?
The first book in this series was ‘Flowers of Flanders’. In this, a malicious lie changes lives and sisters learn much about themselves and each other during turbulent times.
As we lived in the major area for battle fields of WW1, we visited key sites and attended evocative and moving commemoration ceremonies many times. This included reburials of discovered remains; absolutely fascinating to find out how their modern-day relatives were traced by the War Graves Commission. We visited Kew records’ office and found my grandfather’s WW1 service via the war diaries for his regiment. That was the inspiration for that novel and although it’s not her story the image on the front cover is my grandmother.
‘Flowers of Resistance’ is set in Vichy France, roughly, south of the Loire. We also have a house near there still, so I know that area well. It’s a sensitive time for French people to talk about so finding information was hard. Nevertheless, accuracy is critical even in a novel so research was difficult but crucial. Period authenticity in daily living is key, too.
‘Delphi’s Dilemma’ is a novella set between these two. People wanted to know what happened to this character from the first book in the series.
Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?
The third in the Strong Sisters series is partly written and is about the third of the original sisters. It features the Cold War. So, three sisters, three times of conflict. However, each book has a strong romantic element and a #feelgood ending.
The first two both won awards. It would be great if this one could too.
I’m also working on a third contemporary women’s fiction novel which is entitled ‘A Bird in the Hand’. The tag line is: . . . but what do you do when you have two, and a third is on the way?
Currently, all things are going in 3s!
You’re holding a dinner party. You’re planning to invite five celebrity guests. They can be living or dead. Who would you choose and why?
Phew! This is hard. OK, in no particular order:
1 James Hilton. He wrote ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ but my favourite book ever, ever, is also by him and it’s ‘Random Harvest’. It’s a love story but has a magnificent twist in the end. I’d love to simply sit and discuss it.
2 Someone from the Vatican archives. I’m not religious in the doctrine sense, but I bet there’s some secrets in there that would make fascinating reading and even more, excellent material for writing.
3 My granny I’d love to pick her brains about what really happened. My mum used to tell stories but she was a writer and she never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Some of the ‘facts’ she gave me . . .well . . .
4 A comedian who would be lively and funny but not such an egoist as to dominate the gathering. Maybe James Ancaster or Henning Wein??
5 Arthur Neville Chamberlain Really? What were you thinking?
Having worked as a head teacher, Ros has been used to writing policy documents, essays and stories to which young children enjoyed listening. Now she has taken up the much greater challenge of writing fiction for adults. She writes both historical sagas and contemporary romance; perfect for lying by a warm summer pool or curling up with on a cosy sofa
Ros is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novelists’ Society.
She has lived in France for ten years but has moved back to the UK with her husband and dogs. While there she gained much information, which has been of use in her books. Her books are thoroughly and accurately researched.
Ros has two daughters and four grand-daughters with whom she shares many heart-warming activities.
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