Loving Judah…

Over the last few weeks I have shared excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter who traces his  family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.

Over the next month I am  sharing excerpts from my other novels; this is the opening chapters of ‘Loving Judah’:

YORKSHIRE

ONE

They sat at the kitchen table, the flame from the candle flickering slightly in the draught. It was a round, fat creamy coloured candle set in a saucer between them. It was very cold, the range hadn’t been lit or had gone out or… but who cares. They stared at the flame as if hypnotised, utterly silent, absolutely still. There was nothing to say and there was little point in doing anything.
Aislin shivered suddenly and Peter glanced up, startled. Aislin’s teeth started to chatter audibly and she realised that her ankles were cold. Peter stared at her expressionlessly. His face was shadowed and gaunt and he looked more like his father as his father looked now. Peter looked as he would when he was eighty.
“I think I shall go to bed,” said Aislin. “Can I get you anything before I go up? Would you like a cup of tea? Or anything else?” Her smile was a mechanical contraction of muscles in her face, it took a deliberate effort.
“No, thank you,” Peter answered coldly, as if offended.
Aislin didn’t ask what the matter was. They had buried Peter’s son today, her step-son.
She stood up and her chair scraped on the tiles. Peter winced and frowned slightly as if she’d done it on purpose.
“Sorry, Pete,” she was contrite, squeezing her eyes to stop the tears.
She got the lantern from the dresser; the matches kept going out and she burnt her fingers before the wick lit.
“I’ll leave it at the top of the stairs so you can see your way up,” she said.
It was a bizarre thought but should she kiss him? Of course she should, but when she tried to kiss his cheek he turned his head sharply and her nose bumped against his ear.
He wasn’t rejecting her, of course he wasn’t; his grief was making him fragile, the slightest chink and he would shatter completely.
At the door, she looked back at Peter; the swinging lantern cast strange looming shadows round the chilly kitchen. He was staring at her aggressively.
“You shouldn’t have encouraged him to go,” he said in a low voice. “If he hadn’t gone to Kashmir he would still be alive. You shouldn’t have encouraged him.”
Aislin was stunned, shocked out of the daze in which she’d floated all day. Poor Pete, poor, poor Pete. She had loved Judah, she was riven with the pain of his loss, but Peter was his father, Peter had seen him come into the world, had been the first to hold him. Judah was his son.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I am so, so sorry.”
Pete looked at his hands, cupped on the table before him.
Aislin waited but he said nothing more.
She turned and almost slipped between the joists, forgetting there were no floorboards in the hall. The heel of one shoe hooked against a timber and she tumbled forwards, by luck arriving on all fours, her bottom ludicrously in the air, the lantern fallen into the crawlspace. An inappropriate laugh bubbled, but she choked it back for fear it would bring her even nearer to tears. She glanced over her shoulder as she regained her footing, still crouched on the joists. Peter hadn’t moved despite her broken off cry, still staring at his hands, either lost in thoughts or deliberately ignoring her.
Aislin knelt on the timber to reach the lantern which amazingly had landed on its base; the rough edge of the wood dug into her shin and as she got up her tights snagged and tore.
She was suddenly angry; angry that she’d hurt her shin and ripped her tights, angry that she’d twisted her wrist when she tumbled, angry that there were no floor boards and no electricity, angry that Judah was dead.
She’d managed not to cry at the funeral although she’d nearly broken down when embraced by one of Peter’s cousins, a younger woman she hardly knew. Now sorrow and grief boiled inside, seething like pain and she wanted to scream, howl and cry her anguish.
She looked back at Peter.
She climbed the stairs.

Here is a link to ‘Loving Judah’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LOVING-JUDAH-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00A4LJW7C/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1482529601&sr=8-9&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here is a link to my other e-books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

Thinking about blurbs…

Apparently, and I may have mentioned this before, the word blurb dates from 1906 and was invented by Brander Matthews – meaning the notes on the inside of a book jacket. Well, sadly, as yet, I have had no books actually published as real actual tree-books with jackets – only self-published as e-books. However, I am not complaining, I have been very pleased, delighted and somewhat surprised at the success I have had in my own way! I am in control (which may be a good or not so good thing) and do the covers and write the blurbs.

Blurb writing for your own work is really difficult – it sounds a bit big-headed to say how wonderful your own work is, how exciting, interesting and the best thing a prospective reader should choose… but on the other hand, sometimes one should look at what one’s achieved and be proud of all the effort, and look objectively and see that it has merit.

This is what I wrote for my first published book, Farholm:

Devastated by the death of her young husband, Deke Colefox is determined to find out all she can about the man she married, Niko Nicolaides and decides to go to his family home on Farholm Island. Dr Michael Cabus has his own secret reason for visiting the island; he too wants to find the truth about a beloved stranger.
Deke and Dr Cabus arrive on the same ferry as a beautiful girl who then disappears. The islanders fear the worst as two other young women were horrifically murdered the previous year.
Deke and Michael each have a personal interest in finding the missing girl, and finding her before she meets the same fate as the other two. Their desire for answers leads them to face uncomfortable truths and their lives are put at risk in an unexpected and terrifying way.

Because the two main characters I was anxious that people shouldn’t think ti was going to be a romance; it isn’t – Deke and Michael become friends, but no more. There is a romance in ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘, but it is very much a suibsidiary story-line, so I didn’t mention or even hint at it:

Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.

The title of ‘Loving Judah‘ might lead a reader to think it is a love story – well that is a strong part of the book, but Judah is the main character’s step-son, who dies before the book even starts:

The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.

night vision‘ is about relationships – between Beulah and her husband, and the childhood relationship of him and his brother:

Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.

Flipside‘ is set in the 1990’s and is about PTSD; I had to write a blurb which didn’t give away too much, but yet had something which would entice the reader to read it:

Jaz has moved from Bristol to be with her recently widowed brother; she is a teacher and she has moved from a high-flying head of faculty post in a top school to take a lowly temporary position in a challenging school in the north of England. She is up to the challenge, but she does not expect to find her life is in danger from a man who has already butchered three women; she has met the love of her life, but is he, could he possibly be, the murderer?
She discovers some brutal truths about her beloved brother, he seems on the verge of a breakdown, convinced there is a conspiracy surrounding his wife’s death… but where does he go on Fridays, and what does he do?
“I was alone, utterly alone. I thought I’d been brave running away from my life in Bristol, my friends and familiar places; I was pleased to be so daring and impetuous, and so certain of my love for David when our eyes had met in the Lees Spa Hotel. But I hadn’t taken him home and made love to him in order to enter a violent world of fear and hate and danger.”

Then came my Radwinter series; I had never intended to write a sequel, let alone a whole series, but after the first book about Thomas Radwinter, his story just seemed to continue naturally:

  1. Radwinter: Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history.
  2. Magick: Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
    His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
    Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…
  3. Raddy and Syl: Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
    He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
    Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
    During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
    Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.
  4. Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
    In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
    His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago.

The blurbs are getting longer… is that a good thing? My other book is ‘The Double Act:

Easthope is a quiet, slightly old-fashioned seaside town; nothing ever seems to happen, and Genet McCauley and her friends lead lives almost unchanged since they left school. Genet, married to mercurial Lance and running their small hotel, sometimes feels trapped and often feels bored, but she loves Lance and in most ways is content. Their friends call them the great double act; Genet without Lance? Lance without Genet? Impossible!
But then the McCauleys take on new tenants in a bungalow they own; is it a coincidence that as the enigmatic Dr Herrick and his disabled wife arrive in the small town, a series of acts of vandalism and arson is committed? At first they are, small, petty events, which seem to centre on the group of friends; however, before long they escalate to violence and attempted murder.
When the Herricks come to Easthope, Genet’s life and that of those closest to her, changes for ever. Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.

… and my most recently published book, Lucky Portbraddon:

“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it, was a favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…
A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do.
However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music.. .
One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”

If you have any thoughts, comments or kindly criticism of my blurbs I would welcome them – if you read my books, I would really love to have your opinion of them!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_11?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsden%2Caps%2C150&crid=LWT3KKEA48CN&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Alois+elsden

 

Blurbs… enough but not too much

Blurbs are the most difficult thing to write! To entice your prospective readers, to draw them into your book but without giving anything away! To hint at plot lines and narrative twists without spoiling surprises, it’s a fine balance between saying enough but not too much.

I’ve self published quite a few books now, and it doesn’t get any easier… in fact perhaps I think too much about it now and make it more difficult for myself!

Here are a selection:

  • Farholm – Devastated by the death of her young husband, Deke Colefox is determined to find out all she can about the man she married, Niko Nicolaides and decides to go to his family home on Farholm Island.
    Dr Michael Cabus has his own secret reason for visiting the island; he too wants to find the truth about a beloved stranger.
    Deke and Dr Cabus arrive on the same ferry as a beautiful girl who then disappears. The islanders fear the worst as two other young women were horrifically murdered the previous year.
    Deke and Michael each have a personal interest in finding the missing girl, and finding her before she meets the same fate as the other two. Their desire for answers leads them to face uncomfortable truths and their lives are put at risk in an unexpected and terrifying way.
  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
    Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.
  • Loving Judah – The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
    Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.
  • Night Vision – Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.
  • Flipside – Jaz has moved from Bristol to be with her recently widowed brother; she is a teacher and she has moved from a high-flying head of faculty post in a top school to take a lowly temporary position in a challenging school in the north of England. She is up to the challenge, but she does not expect to find her life is in danger from a man who has already butchered three women; she has met the love of her life, but is he, could he possibly be, the murderer?
    She discovers some brutal truths about her beloved brother, he seems on the verge of a breakdown, convinced there is a conspiracy surrounding his wife’s death… but where does he go on Fridays, and what does he do?
    “I was alone, utterly alone. I thought I’d been brave running away from my life in Bristol, my friends and familiar places; I was pleased to be so daring and impetuous, and so certain of my love for David when our eyes had met in the Lees Spa Hotel. But I hadn’t taken him home and made love to him in order to enter a violent world of fear and hate and danger.”

Reading them through now, there are certain little tweaks I would like to make, certain things I would like to emphasise more, or refer to in a more subtle way, and a couple of things I think I should have included… maybe…

If these tempt you, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

Are my heroines me?

I’m thinking of pulling together and publishing a guide I wrote to writing – originally for my students when I was teaching and preparing them for their exams, and more recently for my adult friends in my creative writing groups.

As well my little guide to writing, I am thinking of including some of the posts I have made here on WordPress about writing, and my personal writing.

This is one of the posts I think might be interesting to include:

Are my heroines me?

Sometimes people ask if the main character in my novels is based on me… well no; I might wish I were like some of them, as brave and as fearless, but others of them put up with situations I wouldn’t tolerate. None of them look like me, although some have dark hair as I do, and I’m not really sure I would like to look like them either, even though they are mostly taller and slimmer than I am!

  1. Deke Colefox in Farholm: Deke and her sister Blaine have a book-shop and deli. Deke has been changed by the loss of her husband, and she appears in the book  as someone angry and bitter and wild with grief. She is prickly and aggressive, and yet she is also tenacious and brave.  I don’t think I would have reacted like she did in her situation, when she finds that her husband had lied to her so profoundly; I might have been angry but I don’t think I would have been so wild… although maybe when I was her age, who knows how I would have faced what she did?
  2. ‘Rosa’ Czekov in The Stalking of ‘Rosa’ Czekov: ‘Rosa’ has an art gallery, and is not a particularly noticeable person, although her husband Luka fell in love with her the first time he met her when she was a chubby fourteen year-old. She has brown hair, is plumpish, has no great interest in fashion or style, and likes to fade into the background. She is an observer, a watcher, and may seem passive and accepting, but behind her beautiful grey eyes there is a much more complex person. She shocks everyone, including Luka by her actions when faced by a gunman during a botched bank raid. I’m not passive like she is, although I do sometimes sit back and observe others; I like to be with the crowd, unlike ‘Rosa’, although I’m quite happy on the side-lines too.
  3. Tyche Kane in The Stalking of ‘Rosa’ Czekov: Tyche is not a bit like me, except she is sometimes – well quite often, quite zany. She is slim and blonde and very athletic and strong; she runs miles, she trains at the gym and works out every day. She is the sort of person who everyone would notice, she really would stand out in a crowd by her blond hair, blue eyes and wonderful looks. Just in case someone doesn’t notice her, Tyche is a show-off who does everything she can to draw attention to herself  This is not a bit like me… although I do have my crazy side, it’s on a much lower level than Tyche’s. She is an absolute one-off, but people really have no idea what her real character is and have a tendency to underestimate her. This is a mistake; Tyche is every bit as courageous as her cousin and has a core of steel. I think maybe in the past people have underestimated me, especially when I was a teacher I nearly always achieved what I wanted but by quietness and subtlety.
  4. Aislin McManus in Loving Judah: like me Aislin is a teacher, and some of her experiences in the classroom are similar to mine. I think of all my characters she is most like me, but she is also very different. I don’t think I could have married someone like her husband Peter Whitamore; I think I would have found him frustrating and his hobbies would have driven me mad… on the other hand, the presence of his wonderful son Judah was the clincher when it came to becoming a couple. Superficially Aislin might have looked a little like me, except more athletic, and a different build to me, but she too has dark hair.
  5. Beulah Cameron in Night Vision: Beulah is actually very good-looking, tall, slim, dark hair, flashing eyes, but her real charm is that she doesn’t realise it. Again, like me she is a teacher, but she teaches adults at a college in Manchester. Everyone likes Beulah, she is just a really nice, loving person, full of character. I wouldn’t be so immodest as to say I’m like her, and I am definitely unlike her in the way she has tolerated her husband over the years. He adores her but he is very controlling; I don’t think I could have accepted that, but maybe it just developed as the years of their marriage went by.
  6. Jaz (Jaswanti) Paul in Flipside: another teacher and with a similar career to mine, working in supposedly rough schools. Jaz is half Indian and is stunningly beautiful; she has a tendency to end up with the wrong men and has a terrible history of unfortunate relationships. Jaz tends to subdue her personality as she struggles with accepting who she really is, but she has a stubborn streak which doesn’t allow others to ride over her. She stands up for what she believes, and defends those she loves…  I guess that might be me too, although I don’t think I would be quite as out-spoken as she is.
  7. Genet McCauley in The Double Act: Genet has long rippling red hair and a sprinkle of freckles ‘like pale tea leaves’ across her nose, so physically she is nothing like me at all. She was brought up by an aunt and married her husband Lance when she was eighteen and they have a small seaside guest-house. He is a larger-than-life character and she is in his shade. She is passive, meek, timid, and when her group of friends are talking about each other’s characters, who is the cleverest, who is the funniest etc. she is described as ‘nice’ which secretly horrifies her, ‘nice is nothingy, nice is wishy-washy’. However like my other heroines people are wrong to underestimate her… when things get tough, when horror and mayhem disrupt her life, she proves to be strong, resilient and courageous. I think Genet and I are very dissimilar, although I think she would be a good friend if she really existed!
  8. Mal Stirling in A Strong Hand From Above (unpublished): Mal is an artist and illustrator and is a dreamy but independent person. She is quite happy to love her life with or without attachments, maybe because she was orphaned at an early age and brought up by a kindly step-father. She is maybe a little too trusting and falls into a situation where her life is at risk. I think I’m probably more cynical and hard-headed, and definitely am a person who likes to be with other people and in a steady relationship.
  9. Erin in The Story of Frederico Milan (unpublished): Erin is small with dark hair which shows some premature grey. She lectures at what was Strand Tech, and is the best friend of Frederico. She is a person who keeps her private life very private, even from Frederico. Although she could be described as ‘sensible’ she does make unexpected and perhaps irrational decisions, and has an almost self-destruct mode when it comes to relationships. Erin might seem superficially similar to me, but in fact she is completely different – except perhaps in loyalty to her friends and having a best friend who is a bloke.
  10. Ismène Verany in Lucky Portbaddon: Erin’s father was French/Vietnamese and she has inherited his dark hair, shape of face and features. She was in a difficult marriage for many years and is very tough and resilient, but her divorce and the death of her mother has changed her; now she is full of adventure and fun and ready to live life to the full, catching up on her missed years. I think I may have become like her if my life had been different, but I’m no good at dancing and don’t have lots of men falling in love with me!

The title of this post is ‘Are my heroines me?’ but the person who I write about who is most like me isn’t a heroine at all… he’s a hero – a male character. Just looking at his character, nothing at all to do with gender, Thomas Radwinter really is the most similar to me of all my ‘leads’… so I shall include him on my list:

11. Thomas Radwinter in Radwinter, Magick, Raddy and Syl, Beyond Hope and Earthquake (unpublished): Thomas is fat, ginger, bearded, and a man – so in that sense he is not at all like me! However he has different sides to his character, unbelievably shy and lacking in confidence  (an aspect of myself when I was much younger); he is absent-minded and gets in muddles, but actually through a natural wit and good luck, he succeeds in the end. He’s often laughed at which he works to his own advantage, and is much tougher than anyone would guess. People do tend to underestimate me, and think because I am so forgetful and get in muddles, that I won’t or can’t achieve my purpose. Well, like Thomas, in my muddly way, I do usually get where I want to be and I hope like Thomas I’m loving and kind and generous.

 

Settings and sets

At the weekend we visited Montecute House in south Somerset; this magnificent Tudor mansion which many people will know without realising it, as it’s been the setting for so many films. This beautiful old place built from honey-golden Ham stone and still with much of the original glass in the windows (four hundred year old glass!) was built in 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips; his family had lived in the area for nearly a hundred and fifty years. They were farmers, yeomen farmers, but Edward became a lawyer, then a member of parliament, then the king’s serjeant and  he was knighted in 1603.  He played an important part in the politics of the time and in fact he was a prosecutor during the trial of those involved in the Gunpowder Plot. His great-grandfather had bought the site of the grand house so it had been in the family for decades before the first foundation was dug or brick laid.

MONTACUTE AUGUST 14 2016 (17)

You might have seen it in the following films:

  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)
  • The Libertine (2004)
  • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Tottington Hall in the film was based on the house, 2005)
  • A Jubilee Bunt-A-Thon (Wallace and Gromit short film, 2012)
  •  Wolf Hall (2014)

I sometimes wonder about my own novels and stories… supposing they were ever by some miracle made into  films or TV series? Who would star in them, where would they be set? Only one of my novels, ‘Flipside’ is set in a real location, Oldham in Lancashire. it was set a bout twenty years ago, so much of the town centre has changed or vanished through redevelopment; however most of the action takes place in the village of Lees, and that is pretty unchanged, and Saddleworth Moor where other scenes take place is as beautiful as ever!

Another novel is loosely based on Yorkshire Pennine towns and villages, Holmfirth and Marsden mainly and so I’m sure any filming could take place there – I know often completely different locations are used pretending to be somewhere else, but even so, there are places just ready in case anyone should ever take up my novel ‘Loving Judah’.

All my other novels are set in my fictitious coastal area and the city of Strand and the towns of Easthope and Castair, and Camel Wood, an ancient woodland. Strand is completely made up but it has a promenade, an old harbour which is unused except by a few fishermen, and a new harbour which is where the ferry to Farholm Island docks. Farholm is very loosely based on Rathlin Island off the Antrim Coast. The seaside near my town of Easthope is similar to Portballintrae, also in Antrim, but Castair which is up on the moors, has more in common with some of the Pennine hill towns.

I’m sure if anyone ever should want to film my books, I would be so delighted and thrilled I would accept wherever they set them!

If you haven’t read my novels, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Lois+elsden

 

 

 

Five days to go

It’s five days until November 1st… five days to the 50,000 word writing challenge of the National Novel Writing Month – no prizes except self-satisfaction of completing it! I first entered in 2013, but I had thought about doing it the year before… this is what I wrote about it on October 22nd 2012:

I’ve read about it before but never more than vaguely contemplated doing it. However, having decided that ‘Loving Judah’ will be published on October 31st, maybe I should set myself a new challenge for November. I have decided my next published book will be ‘Night Vision’… but that comes from my stable of unpublished but completed work. Maybe I should actually start to write creatively again rather than editing and refining something I already have?

I have plenty of ideas… I  even have three characters, brothers, actually… I have been practising my writing here on the blog since March, and before that 750 words, which is like a private blog to yourself  but with an aspiration of writing those seven hundred and fifty words every day for a month!

I did it for about a year – not completing every month, but it was a terrific inspiration and really got me back into writing with verve again after a couple of years of labouring in the shadows while my day job and family commitments were to the fore.

Now… how about a new challenge for myself… how about it? I wonder if I could… surely it would be fun… surely it would be worth trying? Nothing ventured, nothing gained and a load of other clichés?

I successfully published both ‘Loving Judah’ and ‘Night Vision’ and it’s interesting that I was already thinking about a story with three brothers – the three brothers became Marcus, Paul and John Radwinter, and they were joined by a fourth who became the narrator, Thomas. I’m also interested to see what I thought about my writing then, and I had completely forgotten what I owe to 750 words!

This still takes me no nearer to deciding what I’m going to write about on Sunday!!

If you haven’t read ‘Loving Judah’ or ‘Night Vision’ here is a link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois%20elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alois%20elsden&oqid=1445802005

Powdering noses

I was looking back over some old posts and came across this which I wrote while working on my novel, Loving Judah.

I was thinking of phrases which have disappeared… at one point in ‘Loving Judah’ Aislin says she needs to ‘powder her nose’, a phrase her grandma used for visiting the bathroom. Bavol who is younger than her, doesn’t understand what she means, because of course I’m not sure how many women do powder their noses any more, especially with all the new cosmetics which are available now, but also we would usually be more frank about a need for a comfort break than our grandmas would!

Are children still called ankle-biters? Is a smack a tuppeny one now we call two pennies two p? Our coins are just called whatever their face value is, we don’t have thruppeny bits, or tanners, or bobs, and I think quids might be dying too. Do people pour gyppo on their Sunday roast or is it only gravy… or maybe jus? Do people still have elevenses or are we so continually grazing on ever available snacks that we don’t need to break mid-morning.

And going back to powdering one’s nose (and what did gentlemen do?) even if we did say spend a penny, there aren’t toilets with the coin slot on the door for a penny; you might have to pay 20p or 50p at a turn-style at a station to go into the Ladies toilet.

I guess in London there still is a vestige of traditional rhyming slang, but I think it has probably died out int the rest of the country; my dad Donald always went for a pint of pigs’ – pigs ear+ beer, would often have loop-de-loop – soup and would wear his whistle at weddings – whistle and flute = suit; he would have a butcher’s at something – butchers hook, look, use his loaf – loaf of bread, head, and always enjoy going out when the currant bun was shining!

By the way, if you haven’t read Loving Judah, here is a link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/LOVING-JUDAH-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00A4LJW7C/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1439366192&sr=8-9&keywords=lois+elsden