My Friday Reads this week is The Magic of Ramblings by fellow Accent Press author, Kate Field. RNA member Kate, writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire, where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive kitten. The Magic of Ramblings is her debut novel.
Running away can be the answer if you run to the right place…
When Cassie accepts a job as companion to an old lady in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she wants is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers…
Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for over thirty years and now Barney is hiding away there, forging a new life after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too
As soon as she saw the advert, in one of the magazines she was paid to dust, not read, Cassie knew it had been written for her.
‘WANTED: Female live-in companion for independent lady in isolated Lancashire village.
Own room provided. Must not chatter. References required.’
Isolation and silence – underlined silence. It was perfect.
Carrying the magazine to the study, careful not to crease any pages, Cassie found a scrap of paper and copied out the advert. Her pen hovered over the final two words. References?
How was she going to manage that? Then her gaze landed on the computer, and the letter-headed notepaper lying beside it. No one would notice one missing sheet. The password for the computer was taped on the inside of the desk drawer: she hadn’t cleaned here three times a week for the last three months without finding that out. It would take barely five minutes to conjure something suitable. And surely her boss at the cleaning company, who had employed her without references and without questioning why she had no ID in the name she’d given him, wouldn’t scruple to give her a reference in any name she wanted?
Her conscience protested, but conscience was one of the many luxuries that Cassie could no longer afford. Her fingers trembling, she switched on the laptop and typed out a letter, recommending herself as an employee in terms she hoped were too good to refuse. She had to get this job. It was time to move on.
Want to read more? Buy the book here:
I asked Kate to tell us more about herself
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always made up stories. At primary school, we had those old-fashioned wooden desks where the lid opens to provide room for books, and my friends and I used the space to create homes and adventures for Munch Bunch pencil tops. Does anyone else remember those?!
I hoped that one day I would be a published writer, but never actually believed it would happen. Books have brought me huge pleasure over the years, and I used to tell myself that if one person read a book that I’d written and enjoyed it, it would make all the effort worthwhile. I’ve grown greedy with old age. I’d quite like more than one person to enjoy The Magic of Ramblings now!
Has any author inspired you?
My first two books were Regency romances, inspired by devouring Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer novels through my teenage years. This was in the long ago days before internet access made research easy, and when I thought that writing formal speech and throwing in a reference to a barouche and a pelisse were all it took to bring the period alive!
Regencies weren't as popular then as they are now, and I was advised to try writing contemporary romance instead. I’d never read contemporary romance at the time, and so went to the library and picked up one book by Katie Fforde and one by Trisha Ashley. That day completely changed my reading and writing habits! I’ve been a huge fan of the genre and those authors ever since.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I’m definitely a pantster, and that works for me, although it does mean that I sometimes finish a chapter and grind to a halt as I have no idea what is going to happen in the next one! I usually find that an idea pops up in a day or two.
What do you like writing most?
So far I’ve only tried writing novels that have a romance at their heart. I’d like to try a time slip one day, if I can overcome my aversion to planning!
Do you have a special place for writing?
No, I write the first draft with pen and paper, and so can normally be found slumped on a sofa or chair somewhere with my notebook on my knee.
I am fussy about what pen I use, though: the ink needs to flow smoothly, and when it starts to run out I have to change it. I used to use only blue ink but the last three books have been written in black – I wonder if there’s some significance in that!
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
It hasn't been so far, but the characters in the book I wrote last year did visit Cornwall and New York, both places that I travelled to that year! The Magic of Ramblings actually inspired me: in the book, Cassie starts a community library at Ramblings, and after writing about that I volunteered to help at the community library in my village hall. Based on that experience, I should be writing gritty thrillers as they are the most popular books by far!
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m trying to write another book based around Ramblings, but I’m easily distracted and am also mulling over what to write next. I can't choose between two ideas!
What inspired you to write this book?
When I’m thinking about a book I usually start with the heroine, but this time it was all about the hero, Barney. He has been in my head for a long time, waiting for his story to be told. One of his main virtues is that he’s caring – he simply can't help himself – and much of the story was built around that. While I was writing the first draft, it took a long time to be convinced that Cassie was good enough for him. I was probably about half way through before I thought ‘yes, she’ll do’!
I think the idea of Cassie coming to work as a companion to Frances probably came from my love of Regency romance. The stories where the seemingly meek companion wins the heart of the handsome Duke are possibly my favourite after the ‘marriage of convenience’ plot. Perhaps I should try one of those next! Now that’s three ideas to choose between...
What time of the day do you write best?
I have to fit writing around a day job and family life so I don't have the luxury of choosing a particular time of day to write. I think I’m probably more productive in the morning, or after a glass of wine!
What advice would you give to other writers?
Make contact with other writers. I think that’s the single thing that's made the most difference to me. Being able to share the ups and downs with people who understand is invaluable.
Great advice, Kate. A writer's life can be a solitary one so it's important to get support.
Thanks for dropping by, Kate. Wishing you lots of success with your book.