How can a mother just stand by when her daughter is being cozened into sin?
It’s 1360, eleven years since the Black Death devastated all of England, and six years since Emma Ward fled Meonbridge with her children, to find a more prosperous life in Winchester. Long satisfied that she’d made the right decision, Emma is now terrified that she was wrong. For she’s convinced her daughter Bea is in grave danger, being exploited by her scheming and immoral mistress.
Bea herself is confused: fearful and ashamed of her sudden descent into sin, but also thrilled by her wealthy and attentive client.
When Emma resolves to rescue Bea from ruin and tricks her into returning to Meonbridge, Bea doesn’t at first suspect her mother’s motives. She is happy to renew her former friendships but, yearning for her rich lover, Bea soon absconds back to the city. Yet, only months later, plague is stalking Winchester again and, in terror, Bea flees once more to Meonbridge.
But, this time, she finds herself unwelcome, and fear, hostility and hatred threaten…
- Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
No, I have never read any…
- Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
I don’t really recall my parents reading much, though we certainly did have lots of books at home. Perhaps a love of books was more of a habit I picked up from school? I wrote stories as a child, and invented fantastical worlds populated by gods and goddesses (I was very interested in Greek and Roman mythology). You’d think, then, that I might have chosen to write fantasy, so it’s perhaps strange that I haven’t (and I don’t even like to read it)!
- When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
No, I’ve never thought of doing that. I don’t base any of my characters on people that I know. If a character in my novel is going to suffer illness or mishap, then I focus entirely on that character’s nature and circumstances and how the misfortune is going to affect them and/or their family.
- How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I try hard to ensure that the names of my characters were more or less current in the 14th century. I consult a website (Medieval Names Archive, https://www.s-gabriel.org/names/english.shtml), which gives lists of names according to the years when they were popular. Some names were generally very common. John, for example, might have been the forename for dozens of men in a small village! But of course in a novel you can’t have several people with the same name, otherwise it would get confusing, so I choose a range of names. Many of the forenames I choose are still familiar enough today – Emma, Richard, Susanna, William, Tom, Ann – but I do like to choose at least a sprinkling of much less modern names – Hawisa, Amice, Ivo, Fulke, Warin, Mariota – to help underline that these people are not 21st century. Choosing slightly strange forms for some family names too adds to the mediaeval feel: atte Wode, Collyere, Brouderer, le Bowyer, Wyteby. I’m a fan of Susanna Gregory’s historical mystery novels set in the 14th century, and I’ve been struck by her use of this simple enough device of having odd-sounding names, and decided to follow her example.
- Do write other things beside books (and shoppinglists 😉 )?
I have written a number of short stories, in a broadly contemporary genre, and I would like to write more, maybe publishing them at some point in an anthology. I do also write an occasional blog on www.carolynhughesauthor.com/blog. Originally, I wrote a blog post weekly, but I soon found that writing my books had to take precedence and gradually the frequency of my blog posts declined to more like one every month or two. I like to write about two broad themes: the first is to do with writing, and especially writing historical fiction, and the other is to do with the natural world. I enjoy observing the changing seasons both in my garden and in the countryside, and I am also very fond of birds and their behaviour. I do also contribute a post twice a year to The History Girls blogspot, and those posts are all about history in one way or another.
- If your movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
Hmm… Well, I think the latter. I try hard to ensure that the medieval world I draw in my books rings true for readers, and generally speaking they seem to love that world and the characters I have created. So I really wouldn’t want a movie director to change a thing – just to bring it all to life!
- Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I’m sorry to say that I’m not very keen on the idea of interviewing anyone! In common with many, but not all, writers, I’m pretty much an introvert, so choosing to think up questions to ask a stranger – like you have here… – fills me with something close to dread. But I am perfectly happy being interviewed, so thank you!
- Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Yes, I am very fortunate to have found a few historians – who now also act as beta readers – who will let me know of any historical gaffes I might have made, or even just clarify something that doesn’t seem quite right to them. I have also found help from a doctor – who reviewed my first book and went on to read and review the others, and has also now become a beta reader – whom I can ask about anything medical. By which I mean medical issues in general, such as how people’s bodies react to certain traumas or illnesses, and also what was possible in the Middle Ages. To be honest, there’s always something “medical” in my stories, so she’s a very useful person to know!
- Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
Yes! I have a close friend who is a whizz at analysing plots and characters so, when I get into a tangle, not knowing if my plot is coherent, or not being able to work out which of my characters knows what secret, I turn to her, and she will bring clear-thinking to the problem and help me sort it out. Brilliant!
- What is more important to you : a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
Oh, definitely reviewers. Even poor reviews – and, yes, even I do have a few of those! – are useful to a writer, provided they give some insight into what the reviewer liked and didn’t like in the book, or what worked and what didn’t, and don’t simply say the book was terrible. However, reviews and ratings are really meant for readers, not authors, and the newish star rating system on Amazon is great for boosting a book’s social credibility, because lots of 4*/5* ratings does show that lots of people enjoyed reading it. But knowing why someone enjoyed a book – or didn’t – is also very useful for helping a potential reader decide whether to click ‘Add to Basket’ or just move on. So, even a brief comment in a review – it doesn’t have to be an essay – is preferable all round, I’d say.
Thank you, Carolyn Hughes and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
CAROLYN HUGHES was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After completing a degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the government.
She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage in her life. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.
De Bohun’s Destiny is the third novel in the MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLES series. A fourth novel is under way.
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