Will Elizabeth choose love over duty?
It’s August 1917 and WW1 continues to take a toll. The villagers of Dorcalon, a mining village in the Rhymney Valley, try to keep hope alive; but every day brings fresh tragedy as more of their sons and fathers are killed on foreign battlefields.
Elizabeth Meredith, daughter of mine manager Herbert, enjoys a privileged position in the village, but she longs to break free of society’s expectations.
Falling in love with miner, Gwilym Owen, brings more joy to her life than she’s ever known… until she’s forced to choose between her love and her disapproving family. Seeking an escape, Elizabeth signs up as a VAD nurse and is swiftly sent to help the troops in France, even as her heart breaks at leaving Gwilym behind.
Separated by society and the Great War, can Elizabeth and Gwilym find their way back together again? Or will their love become another casualty of war?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
Anytime from morning until late afternoon is when I like to write. I sometimes write in the evening, but I’m more likely to be doing research then. I usually write in my study, but also like to move around, or go to a coffee shop for a change of scenery. In the summer, I like to sit in the garden.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I might plan what I want to achieve at the beginning of the week, or the beginning of the day, but I don’t have any kind of ritual at all.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
I’m most likely to have a cup of tea or coffee by my side. I never eat when I’m writing and like to take the lunch break off to catch up with publicity, or to give my eyes a rest from the computer.
– What is your favourite book?
Now that is a difficult one. There are so many wonderful books out there in the world! If I may pick two books though (as I can’t choose between them), my long-time favourites, from when I was a teen, are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Herb of Grace by Elizabeth Goudge. The former opened my young eyes to so much injustice in the world. The latter weaves a magical world within a very real one and is beautifully descriptive.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I have already written in different genres. My original novels (not published, though one was shortlisted for the Wells Festival Book for Children award) were Young Adults. After that I wrote contemporary romances. Three of those have been published as DC Thomson pocket novels, and I also have one published by them set in the 1970s (which is possibly now considered historical!). So yes, who knows what I might write in the future?
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Not very often. I think I’m most likely to base my unsympathetic characters on people I’ve crossed swords with in life, though I don’t usually create a complete character from one person, but include aspects of different people. The exception is a cousin of my father’s, who wangled an aunt’s will so he was the main beneficiary and cheated the rest of the cousins. He appeared in a short story I had published, where I put the situation right (though it didn’t happen in real life). It was quite satisfying getting justice in that, albeit imaginary, way.
My lovely great grandmother, Mary Jones, who actually lived in the place my imaginary village of Dorcalon is based on, does have a cameo role in the Wartime in the Valleys books.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Oh yes, I always have a notebook in my handbag. I wouldn’t be without it. I do love notebooks. I think most writers do.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Probably horror. I don’t mind a good ghost story, or a thriller, but out and out horror I try to avoid, however well it’s written.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I honestly don’t know! I’ve always thought it must be difficult to write a book, particularly a fiction one, with someone else, and admire those who manage it successfully. I think it must be frustrating if your partner doesn’t like your ideas, and the same for them if you don’t like theirs!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you choose and why?
It would have to be Italy, and the research would involve the family of my father, who was born in Picinisco in Lazio, in 1915. So far, I’ve written only two or three short stories with some sort of Italian theme, and one pocket novel that was partly set in Rome (where I have been a few times). There is an Italian café featured in all the Valleys novels (unsurprising since I was brought up in a café!). I have got a couple of other ideas, so maybe one day I’ll make them into novels.
Thank you, Francesca Capaldi and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Francesca has enjoyed writing since she was a child, largely influenced by a Welsh mother who was good at improvised story telling. A history graduate and qualified teacher, she decided to turn her writing hobby into a career in 2006. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Each month she writes a competition post for the Romantic Novelists’ Association blog.