I already had two books, set in modern times, published before I wrote my first historical novel. I wanted a change and to see if I could do it But primarily because I loved reading them.
From the Victorian age through to post WW2 has always been of interest to me. It was just over a hundred years of such immense social changes which fascinate me. There was the increased mobility of the population – the exodus from the land to the cities during the industrial revolution. The speed with which their lives altered with new inventions had never been seen before. And then there is the transformation in women’s lives – nothing would ever be the same again.
The chasm between rich and poor, the social hypocrisy, the rigidness of the class system gives endless potential for a novelist.
I was living in Cornwall at the time, in a thatched cottage overlooking the sea on the cliffs at Lands End – so Cornwall was the logical setting and its generic title was Daughters of a Granite Land. I intended to write a single novel but it insisted on becoming a trilogy - a saga.
Fortunately for me, during the war, I lived at Lanhydrock House a Cornish stately home. My mother had been in service there and was invited to return to help with the evacuees billeted there from London.
The house is a complete time warp, frozen in Victorian times, as were the Viscount and his two spinster sisters. I lived in the servants’ quarters, where cook and butler held sway, but I was also allowed to wander the other side of the green baize door. I was privy to a lost time and small child that I was I soaked up the atmosphere and filed away the information. So when I wrote that first historical I simply remembered my life in that lovely house, how the inhabitants spoke, their manners, their attitudes. It was all there for me. In many of my books there is a large house and it is always Landhyrdock.
Subsequently I have written nine historical. Now I shuffle back and forth between them and modern novels. I would be hard pressed to say which I prefer doing – I suppose the honest answer is the one I’m working on when asked.