Friday, 29 May 2020

Blinded by Desire - Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 1

            Blinded by Desire

Blinded by Desire

Arabella Sheen

Back Cover Copy

Is Jason ready to give love a chance, and can he capture Beth’s heart?

Jason Andre is a successful billionaire architect who thinks he can get what he wants when he wants.
Beth Ashton is a feisty redhead with an up-and-coming career as a landscape designer. And she wants nothing to do with Jason.
From the outset, sparks fly between them. She excites him and he infuriates her.
When Jason’s light aircraft crashes and he loses his sight, Beth steps in and does exactly what she promised she wouldn’t do…she works for him.

Are Beth and Jason destined to love or is passion and desire the only thing on offer?

Chapter One - Excerpt 1

Beth Ashton was on the point of stepping out of the lodge house when the ring tone on her mobile phone stopped her dead in her tracks. Although reluctant to answer the call, Beth flicked the mobile open, only to find that the caller ID had been blocked.
It had been one of those days when nothing was going her way and everything seemed to be conspiring to delay her departure for Devon.
Tossing back her hair, she put the mobile to her ear, and listened. She was determined to keep the conversation short.
Beth knew she ought to be on the motorway beating the queues of holidaymakers that were heading south. It was a bank holiday weekend, and if she left now, she might be able to miss the heavy traffic.
“Hello, Beth Ashton here,” she answered.
She hoped her voice sounded business-like because she was feeling anything but cheerful.
“Ashton?” A male voice asked with impatience.
“Ah-ha, yes,” she answered.
“What kept you? I was beginning to wonder if I’d been given the right number.”
And you’re lucky I’m answering at all, she almost barked back.
Instead, Beth took a deep, calming breath, and asked, “What can I do for you?”
He was lucky she was listening to him. She didn’t have the time to talk to arrogant, bad-mannered strangers with no phone manners. Whoever he was, he seemed to be in a foul temper. He was obviously foreign, and his accent sounded Mediterranean―but she could be wrong. His English was fluent, almost faultless. And although the deep, husky voice on the other end of the line sounded cool and sexy, it was clear he was very male and very rude.
Beth was in a hurry to get away, so, pulling the door of the lodge house shut behind her, she picked up her luggage in one hand, while awkwardly juggling her mobile in the other, and headed toward the waiting Land Rover.
The deep voice on the mobile bellowed and barked at her again.
“I’d like to speak with your husband. It’s about work. If I leave my number, could you get him to contact me as soon as possible?” Sarcasm and boredom were dripping from the man’s tongue.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think that would be a good idea―”
“Why?” he asked, before she could finish what she was saying.
Her first impressions were right. She had not been mistaken. Whoever he was, he was definitely overbearing and insufferable. She could even imagine him glancing at his watch and counting the seconds for her to put her non-existent husband on the phone. It was this man who was wasting her time, not the other way round.
Beth didn’t have a husband, and although the man on the phone wasn’t to know that, she detested arrogant and assuming people at the best of times. Especially men.
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence as each of them waited for the other to speak.
“Your husband,” he demanded. “This is his number isn’t it?”
There was no way she was going to be spoken to in this manner.
“I’m sorry, but I think you’ve got the wrong number Mr?” Beth stopped and waited for him to give his name. He didn’t.
“I’d like to speak with Ashton…the gardener,” he said. “I’ve recently been shown some work he’s done for Clifton Hall, and I’d like him to landscape a garden for me in Greece. He’s come highly recommended.”
Beth’s last name was Ashton, and she happened to be a landscape gardener but, she wasn’t a man.
“Well?” He was waiting for a response.
She still wasn’t sure who the caller was.
“Look,” Beth said as calmly as she could. “I’m sorry you’ve had a bad day and you’re in a foul mood Mr?”
“Andre. I’m Jason Andre.”
The name sounded familiar but she couldn’t place it.
“Mr. Andre, I’m not here for you to shout at,” she told him. “And again, I think you’ve got the wrong number because I don’t know who you are or what you want.”
She heard him take a deep breath of irritation followed by a long sigh of frustration.
It was almost as if he’d had enough of the conversation, yet was willing to reason with her like he would reason with a four-year-old child to get what he wanted.
He sounded annoyed, and Beth wondered what she’d done to cause such a negative reaction. She hadn’t met the man and already she disliked him.
“No, you’re quite right,” he said. “You don’t know me and we haven’t met…yet. But, I believe you know Sophie and her husband, Charles. They’re the Fitzgeralds of Clifton Hall.”
Yes, of course, she knew Sophie. And because of this, she realised she would have to be polite to Jason.
Beth was staying as a guest with Sophie and Charles in their lodge house while she finished landscaping their gardens at Clifton Hall. It was a convenient arrangement for all concerned. She was on-site and within reach if she was needed.
Hearing Sophie’s name dispelled some of her worries. Jason Andre couldn’t be a total lunatic. Could he? Not if he was a friend of the Fitzgeralds.
Perhaps her first impression of him was wrong and he wasn’t the ill-tempered, discourteous individual she thought him to be.
Putting two and two together, Beth realised where she’d heard an accent that was similar to Jason’s. It was a Greek accent―the same as Sophie’s.
“Yes, I know Sophie.” Beth waited, wondering what was coming next.
And then, Jason explained. “Sophie’s my sister. So, thank goodness we’ve got that sorted, and I’m not talking to the wrong person. Which is it to be then?” he asked. “Does he prefer to look at plans using the Adobe Reader or does he want the blueprint drawings?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Andre,” was all she could find to say. “It’s been a long day and I must be stupid or something because I still don’t know who you are or what you’re asking.”
Slowly, and somewhat wearily, she ran a hand through her hair. She had just completed a hard day’s work on the estate gardens and was tired.
Looking at her wristwatch, Beth was reminded she ought to be on the motorway battling with heavy traffic, and heading for home.
Instead, she was outside the lodge house, wasting time on her mobile.
“We seem to have our wires crossed Mr. Andre.”
“And it seems I’m wasting my time talking to you…Mrs. Ashton.”
There was a dry, disdainful tone in his voice.
“Goodbye,” she said as politely as she could.
“No wait,” Jason called out with urgency. “Let’s try again, and let’s see if I can explain the situation to you so that you’ll understand.”
“Go ahead.” She was unsure if he’d just made a derogatory comment about her intelligence, or not. But she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Sophie knows I'm in need of a gardener, and she’s recommended Ashton Landscaping. She gave me your husband’s number. I’m at the Hall this weekend and I thought your husband and I could get together and look over the plans.”
Beth was beginning to understand the situation. Jason Andre thought Ashton Landscaping was run by a man―her husband.
The husband she didn’t have.
Beth felt her blood beginning to boil. She was fuming. Why did all men assume garden landscapers had to be men?
If she had thought Jason Andre was rude and arrogant before, she now knew he was all those things and more. He was…sexist. If he wanted someone to work for him and check his garden designs for flaws, Beth knew it wasn’t going to be her. She wasn’t doing it.
As much as she liked the sound of his deep, sexy accent, she didn’t fancy working for someone who was a chauvinist.
“I’m sorry,” she said, determined to end the conversation as soon as possible. “I’m afraid Ashton Landscaping is not taking on extra work at the moment. The Fitzgerald project hasn’t been completed and we've other clients on our waiting list. Perhaps you could try another firm.”
Beth was being unusually diplomatic, and she hoped Jason Andre had got the message. She wasn’t interested in the work he was offering and she wasn’t interested in him. But it was as if Jason was deaf to her reasoning. He hadn’t heard a thing she’d said. He simply hadn’t been listening.
“I think it’ll be easier if I got Sophie to phone you,” Jason told her. “Sophie can explain how things are, and I’ll ask her to set up a meeting for this evening.”
Before Beth could tell him she wasn’t available that evening, he had cut her off. She'd been left holding the mobile and the buzz of the disconnected call was ringing in her ear.
Jason had ended the call without saying goodbye or giving a polite thank you. Shaking her head in disbelief, Beth wondered if all Greek men were as rude as the insufferable Mr. Andre.
Beth threw the mobile back into her bag. And with no one to hear her words of frustration, she said, “One thing’s for sure Mr. Andre, you won’t be seeing me this evening.”
Having loaded the luggage into the Land Rover, Beth was ready to turn the key in the ignition, when her phone started ringing again.
“Drat,” she muttered under her breath. “Am I never going to get out of this place?”
Beth reached for the mobile and looking at the caller ID, she saw Sophie Fitzgerald’s name displayed on the screen, and answered.
“Beth darling, it’s me, Sophie.”
Earlier that morning, Beth had spoken with Sophie to finalise some last-minute details concerning Clifton Hall gardens. Beth knew Sophie couldn’t be calling to talk business, but she was wrong. Sophie did want to talk gardening. Only it wasn’t Clifton Hall’s gardens that Sophie was worried about. The gardens Sophie wanted to discuss were Jason’s, and they were in Greece.
“Jason said he’s been in touch with you about his project. He seems to think there’s been some sort of a mix-up between the two of you, and he’d like to get together tonight, and talk things over.”
That was exactly what Beth didn’t want to do. She wanted nothing to do with Jason, and she felt herself beginning to dig her heels in. She would be happy if they never met.
Beth didn’t like others to make decisions for her at the best of times, and for some reason, Sophie seemed intent on arranging a meeting with Jason.
“Jason’s coming to stay for the weekend,” Sophie said. “He’s on his way and is driving down from London now. I thought it would be a good chance for the two of you to finally get together. Why don’t you come over to the house...tonight? Charles and I would really like it if you came to dinner.”
The more someone wanted Beth to do something she didn’t want to do, the more she tended to rebel. And something seemed fishy about this dinner date.
Once before, Sophie had tried to get Beth on a date with one of Charles’s friends, and it had been a disaster. Now Sophie was trying to arrange a dinner with Jason. And having just spoken to the man, Beth couldn’t imagine anyone she’d rather not have dinner with.
“It’s kind of you to ask me, Sophie, and at any other time, I’m sure I’d be delighted to meet your brother, but right now, I’m on my way to Devon.” And to demonstrate the fact she was in the car and heading for home, she honked the horn on the Land Rover.
But Sophie was persistent.
“Jason’s an architect with Andre & Marsh. I thought his firm might be able to use your landscaping services. Beth, to be honest, I’ve more or less promised you would look over his garden designs. You see, Jason wants someone to plan his gardens in Greece, and I’ve recommended you.”
Beth now knew why the name of Jason Andre had sounded familiar. She’d only just put two and two together. Jason was the Jason Andre of Andre & Marsh Architects.
Everyone in the building development trade knew the name of Andre & Marsh. It was a multi-billion pound organisation with an annual turnover beyond her dreams.
Andre & Marsh employed thousands and subcontracted all over the world. There was no comparison to her business. Ashton Landscaping and Jason’s company were in different leagues. Jason was simply out of her orbit.
Jason Andre was always in the public eye. He was constantly pictured on the front cover of some newspaper or tabloid magazine and there was always a glamorous, alluring woman on his arm.
His reputation was that of a ruthless man, both in and out of bed. He was a sexy billionaire who handled his business and personal affairs mercilessly.
In business, there was none better than Jason. His reputation was excellent. Not only was he known to be one of the best architects in the country, he also had a name and status that had spread worldwide. But in affairs of the heart, it was another matter. He was known to be one of Europe’s wealthiest, jet-setting elite, but he was first and foremost a womanizer and playboy.
Jason worked hard and played hard. He discarded women like a man with a cold would discard used tissues from a box of paper handkerchiefs.
A relationship with him would get you nowhere. No…Jason was very much out of her league and very much not her type.
Beth knew from what she’d previously read about him that if Jason wanted something, he always got it. But he wasn’t getting her.
“It’s nice of you to consider me for Jason’s project in Greece, and normally I’d love to stay and meet your brother, but as I told you earlier, I’m travelling to Devon this evening. I’m going to be away for the weekend.”
“Somehow, whenever Jason’s visited, you’ve always missed one another,” Sophie explained. “And it would be nice if you two could finally meet.”
“Normally, I’m sure it would be a pleasure to meet him, but…” Beth diplomatically left unsaid what she really wanted to say.
In reality, she didn’t know how she kept the irony out of her voice.
Having just spoken on the phone to Jason, she doubted meeting him in person would be any sort of pleasure.
Beth was horrified at the prospect of having dinner with him, and after an exhausting week working on the gardens at Clifton Hall, all she could longingly think about was reaching her farmhouse in Devon.
She imagined herself sitting in front of a roaring fire having just taken a relaxing bath. There would be nothing for her to do except watch television the whole weekend. And it would be blissful.
But when Beth realised what Sophie was really offering was a business meeting with the renowned architect Jason Andre, she began to have second thoughts. It would be stupid to turn down such an offer, and she was on the verge of caving in.
As an established landscape gardener and businesswoman in her own right, at twenty-five, Beth wasn’t yet in the secure position to refuse offers from new clients. Especially clients like Andre & Marsh. She knew she would be a fool to refuse such a job opportunity. Anyone or any company linked with the name Andre & Marsh was automatically pulled along with them and would travel on the tidal wave of their success.
If she was to work for Jason on his project, Beth would more or less be on the road to realising her dreams. But in the process, she might lose her individuality and independence. If she joined his team, she would have to merge with the other smaller businesses he subcontracted to.
“This weekend, you could get together with Jason,” Sophie persisted. “Show him the work you’re doing at Clifton Hall and take him around the grounds. Especially the new lake.”
There was a brief silence while Sophie let Beth mull over the possibilities.
“What do you think, Beth?”
Sophie sounded as if she was offering a treat, but in reality, it was a treat Beth didn’t want. Could she run the risk of snubbing an offer that came from the almighty, all-powerful, Jason Andre? He could crush her fledgling business with one negative word. And it was beginning to look as if a meeting with Jason Andre was becoming more and more inevitable.
Eventually, and with great reluctance, Beth gave in.
“Yes, of course, I’ll come to dinner,” she said, before she had the chance to change her mind.
Switching off her mobile and turning off the Land Rover’s engine, she sat with her head held in her hands, wondering if she’d made the right decision. Would it be a decision she would come to regret?

Blinded by Desire
Copyright © 2012 by – Arabella Sheen
ISBN: 9780957569829
Publisher: priceplacebooks
Electronic Publication: May 2012
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs

eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

About Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen - Author

Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Welcome to Fantasy Author - Jessica Thorne

I’m delighted to welcome Jessica Thorne to my blog.

Jessica Thorne - Author

Hello Jessica – Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, today. I’ve been looking forward to hosting you and uncovering some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your latest release, Nightborn, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.

Arabella: Are there any organisations, writing, or reader groups, you belong to? And, how do they support or help you in creating such wonderful, inspirational novels?
Jessica: I’m an enthusiastic member of the Romantic Novelists Association and have been for some years now. I am also one of the organisers of the Irish Chapter which meets quarterly for informal chats and a social afternoon. I find the RNA to be enormously supportive. The annual conference is a highlight of my year and it was such an honour to be nominated for the annual fantasy award this year for The Stone’s Heart (writing as Jessica Thorne). I work within a couple of informal writing groups too, my friends and fellow authors who are endlessly helpful. We chat more or less every day. I’m also involved with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community in Ireland and since we had Worldcon in Dublin last year, internationally.

Although writing is largely a solitary occupation, it’s really important to have the support of those around you, and those who understand what you’re up to, and also those who are just happy to cheer you along. It’s fantastic to have groups you can turn to if you have business or creative questions, or even if you’re just worried about something. No writer really works alone.

Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Jessica: Honestly? Wherever I can. I got into the habit when my kids were small or grabbing every moment I could to read and write. I was once reading Peadar Ó Guilín’s very scary The Call in the car outside my daughter’s school and was so caught up in it that when she opened the door I screamed out loud. Nowadays it’s a bit easier – I love to read in the garden, or curled up on the sofa and I usually read in bed before going to sleep.

Arabella: In your latest release, Nightborn, who is your favourite character and why?
Jessica: That’s a tough question. Nightborn is the sequel to Mageborn and all the characters from that are back. I am incredibly fond of all of them, the good and the bad. But in Nightborn we also get more insight into some of the minor characters and I think Ellyn, the wisecracking, badass, best friend and teammate of my main character Grace, is still one of my favourites. We learn more of her history in Nightborn, and see more of the secrets she keeps. She doesn’t suffer fools and is always quick to defend those she loves. And her lovelife is about to get quite complicated.

Arabella: When writing a novel, how do you work? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Jessica: I used to always be a pantser but in recent years I think it’s fairer to say I fall between the two. A Plantser perhaps. I tend to need some idea of where the story is going, but not how it is going to get there. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, I have some key scenes in mind. But I try to leave things very flexible. I’m not very good at producing a synopsis in advance and in fact if I do I always have to add the warning that it’s more like guidelines. I try to write something every day and keep a very strict record of wordcount. I have a spreadsheet that calculates how much I’ve written each day, how much I have left overall and the percentage done which I find very helpful. The main thing I find is to allow myself to be creative and to listen to the characters in the story. If I ever find myself blocked it is usually because I am trying to force them to do something that doesn’t fit. The most magical thing is when the characters seem to take on their own lives and I’m just following along, writing up the incident report. This is a sign that my subconscious is more aware of what’s going on that the rest of me. There’s something of an instinctiveness to storytelling and when that happens, I know we’re going in the right direction.

Arabella: Which would you prefer to do: 1) spend a morning vigorously working out at the gym, 2) be pampered from head to toe at the spa and beauty salon, 3) indulge and pile on the pounds with a romantic dinner for two?
Jessica: Number 3 all the way. I love my food and I love spending time with my other half.

Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must read for you this season?
Jessica: Helen Corcoran’s Queen of Coin and Whispers, O’Brien Press, June 2020. It is an absolutely amazing YA fantasy full of intrigue, danger and romance. When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster—who took the job to avenge her murdered father—they realise all isn't fair in love and treason.

Arabella: Which would you rather wear: beach shorts and top, a long evening skirt and blouse, or pyjamas and slippers?
Jessica: Pyjamas and slippers all the way. I love my comfort.

Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?
Jessica: I have nothing immediately planned – it has been a very busy couple of years. But that said, while I’d love to say I’m taking a break, I know my writerbrain would never accept that. I like to be writing. I love the creativity and exploring new worlds and characters. I’m hoping to do something a bit different next. Not sure what just yet. But I’m always looking for a new challenge or a new way of looking at things. I have an enduring love of folklore and fabulism so I may see where that takes me.

Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Jessica. Your latest fantasy release Nightborn sounds amazing. I’m also intrigued by your spreadsheet that calculates how much you’ve written, how much has still to be penned and the percentage done. Where can I find such a marvellous app?
Best wishes and here’s hoping Nightborn makes it into the charts.

About  Jessica Thorne

Jessica Thorne - Author

Jessica Thorne watched too much Sci-Fi and read too much fantasy at an impressionable age. And it was amazing. Now she writes fantasy, sci fi, and everything in between.
Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long.

Twitter @JessThorneBooks
Instagram JessThorneBooks

Book Blurb   Nightborn

Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.

Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.

In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.

Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?

Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?

Combining sizzling romance, courtly intrigue, and heart-in-your-mouth action, this dark and addictive fantasy series is perfect for fans of Graceling and Emily R. King.
Release Date 26th May 2020

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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Welcome to Author - Jan Baynham

I’m delighted to welcome Jan Baynham to the blog.

Jan Baynham - Author

Hello Jan – And thank you for taking time out from your busy writing schedule to join me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat today. It was lovely to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association where a plethora of experienced authors and affiliates are often ready and willing to assist those in need on their writing journey. But before we discover more about your debut release, Her Mother’s Secret, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you…

Arabella: Authors can release books, making them available to readers in various ways…via an agent, or working directly with a traditional publisher, or they can even go the self-publishing route. Which method of publishing do you prefer, and why?
When I started writing, I could only dream of becoming a published novelist. By the time I’d joined the RNA’s wonderful New Writers’ Scheme and completed my first novel, I knew from the very start I wouldn’t have the confidence to self-publish and am full of admiration for those who do so successfully. That left two options available to me if I was going to fulfil my dream. At the RNA Conferences I have had one-to-ones with both agents and editors of publishers where you submit directly to them. When two editors gave me very encouraging feedback on the first 5000 words of ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ and asked for the complete manuscript, that was the route I took. Neither offered a contact in the end but I worked on the helpful detailed advice for improvement I received from them before submitting again. I was delighted when Ruby Fiction offered me a contract for three books shortly afterwards. Working with my editor there has been a very positive experience and I love the support that working with an editor has given me.

Arabella: A slice of Chocolate Cake, a piece of Fruit, or Burger and Fries?
I eat a lot of lovely fruit but if there’s a piece of chocolate cake on offer, as a self-confessed chocoholic, it would be my choice every time. Mmm!

Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your debut release, ‘Her Mother’s Secret’?
The novel started out as a short story, entitled ‘Whispers in the Olive Trees’. At the time, I’d been reading a novel where the rustling in trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of ghosts of the people they represented. Combining both ideas, I asked myself what if the whispering could show the presence of a past family member. Always fascinated by family secrets, I knew I had the basis for a story. In both the story and the novel. I leave it to the reader to the reader to decide what the whispering represents. I believe that bond between mothers and daughters is a very special one and often continues after a mother has passed away. Even if there is no such thing as a ghost, I think a mother’s presence can still be felt. I liked the idea of my main character writing all her secrets and thoughts down in a diary and locking them away. 

Arabella: If the person of your dreams, (husband/wife/partner/or superstar), were to take you out for the night, where would they take you and what would you do?
If I could go out for the night with anyone, it would be with my husband. We first started going out with one another in grammar school and he would know exactly where to take me. It would be to a gourmet restaurant where we could sample a range of beautifully cooked food and different wines with each course. Like the one in Madeira that we love, there would be live music from a classical pianist and soprano singers. After our espressos, we would finish with double amarettos with lots of ice. It would be a balmy evening and our table for two would be outside the restaurant overlooking the sea.

Arabella: Currently, what is your most favourite T.V. programme, and why?
I enjoy a cosy crime series, especially those with stand-alone stories each week. For me, ‘Vera’ fits that bill. The wonderful Northumbrian setting, the quirkiness of DCI Vera Stanhope played so brilliantly by Brenda Blethyn and a murder that’s always solved in the end make it easy viewing without giving me nightmares. Not many actors can pull off shambolic and effective, but Blethyn can do it with a single, penetrating glance from beneath that hat. Guardian Review.

Crime Series - Vera

Arabella: When writing a book or chapter, which do you concentrate on first: plot, character, or setting?
I try to plan my novel in as much detail as I can. It often changes as I write but I do like to have mapped out the main events and know roughly how it will end. However, after that, I concentrate on getting to know my characters, writing character sketches and outlines. For example, I knew I wanted Elin to be an artist from the beginning in ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ and so I spent time working out her back story, what she was like as a person, what she was like as a daughter, a wife and a mother. Most of this hasn’t gone into the novel itself but I wanted to get inside her head in order to know why she acted the way she did. In this novel, the Greek setting plays a very important role, I think, so although it wasn’t the first thing to concentrate on, when I was actually writing I did try to bring the setting alive. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Arabella: How do you research your novels and characters?
I tend to make notes as I write the first draft and come back to trying to resolve those issues later. In ‘Her Mother’s Secret’, there was a part where I needed details of taking LSD and the effects of a bad ‘trip’ so I used Google to start and found personal accounts from people who had experienced them. A friend also supplied me with interviews she’d done with students as a project back in the 60s which was helpful. I first visited Greece in the late seventies and could draw on my own experience of that but I had to check that any ‘facts’ were relevant ten years earlier. However, my next two novels go further back in time. For novel two, I researched the black market, prisoners of war and conscription using archives, newsreel footage and personal accounts. A visit to the country house in mid-Wales on which Greystone Hall is based was particularly useful. Now open to the public, it gave me the layout of the house especially of the kitchen and servants quarters where my character, Rose, worked. Once the present situation is over, I’m hoping to undertake some first hand research in Northern France before creating one character who worked for the French Resistance in novel three.   

How would you describe your style of writing or your chosen genre?
It’s women’s historical fiction; I seem to be going back further in time with each novel I write. I like to explore the way the past often informs the present in family relationships and how social history has changed. My novels are not time slips in the way that two narratives are woven together throughout the book but they tell two stories that are linked in some way.

Arabella: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their writing journey?
My main advice would be never to give up on your dream. Get yourself a pair of broad shoulders and learn from any feedback you get. Be open to all the help you are offered. Members of the writing community have been incredibly supportive and I would advise becoming active on social media. I’ve learned so much from being with other writers, attending events and workshops, especially the annual RNA Conferences. 

Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Jan. I’m sure your readers enjoyed discovering a little more about your personal life. Your research sounds daunting and also adventurous. Travelling to Greece, Wales, and Northern France all in the name of research! Amazing…
Good luck with your debut release - ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ and wishing you lots more happy-ever-after writing.

About   Jan Baynham

Jan Baynham - Author

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and short listed in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Set in the last year of the 60s, ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter.

You may find out more about Jan here:
Twitter: @JanBaynham
Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer

Book Blurb    Her Mother’s Secret

A secret left behind in the summer of ’69 …
It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …
Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

Buy Link:
‘Her Mother’s Secret’ was published on 21st April and is available on Amazon:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

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