The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Welcome historical romance author, Fenella Forster...

 Today I am happy to welcome fellow RNA member, Fenella Forster to my blog! Hi, Fenella, it's great to have you here. I'm looking forward to learning more about you and your work! Let's start with my questions...

Hello, Rachel. Thank you very much for having me as your guest. It’s my first time!

1.    What is the strangest talent you have?
I had to think long and hard about this. None of my so-called talents seem particularly unusual, let alone strange. What about this one: I am quite good at impersonating Patsy Cline singing Country with a southern accent!

2.    What is the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?
Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever worn one. Not having children, I don’t go in for dressing up. The nearest I came was when I was at a job interview in my twenties. It was to be the secretary to a cartographer. He mentioned that he was also an illustrator of children’s books. ‘So would you be willing to dress up as a snail?’ I shot out of that office, leaving a silvery trail behind me.

3.    Are the titles of your books important?
I think most authors feel as I do, that titles are extremely important to get right. They have to attract a reader instantly, give a flavour of the content, and preferably be memorable. I love the double pun in my non-fiction title when I worked in a sanatorium in Bavaria as a veggie cook: from Bad to Wurst. Most people know that wurst is sausage, but don’t always appreciate that Bad is spa. When I translated for my witty writing friend, he said, ‘Oh, I get it, Den: from Spa to Sausage!’  
The title for my trilogy was always The Voyagers. The three heroines all go on ships to faraway places, but unbeknown to them they are also on an inner voyage of discovery and maturity. I kept the three individual titles simple: Annie’s Story, Juliet’s Story, and Kitty’s Story.
I have a fabulous title for my romantic comedy I’m in the middle of writing but I won’t disclose it until I’m further along in the publishing process. I’ll just say that the book hardly needs to be written – the title says it all!

4.    If you’re struggling with a scene or difficult character, what methods help you through it?
I have to think myself into the scene, or think myself into the character. But first I need to visualise the setting. Then I can usually create the scene. As settings are often difficult for me, I’m better if I can actually visit the place and absorb the atmosphere. Of course that’s not always possible – Kitty’s Story is set in Cairo and that’s not such a good part of the world to be at the moment. I don’t have a problem with characters. They come half formed at the beginning, and develop almost of their own accord. I really do picture them and hear their voices and listen to what they say. (I don’t always take notice of them – they need to realise I’m in charge!)

5.    Do you prefer dogs, cats, or none of the above?
I love all animals – I don’t eat them! My first job was a kennel-maid on a greyhound race track where I had to look after 40 dogs! But I’m a cat person through and through – adore them. I have a rescued pure white moggie with golden eyes, named Dougal (husband’s name is Ted), and he’s gorgeous. I love having a cat around. He comes to my writing cabin most days and sleeps on his special chair for hours. When he thinks it’s time for his dinner he strolls along my worktop, drapes over the current manuscript, sometimes tossing it to the floor, picks his way delicately over the keyboard, and generally makes himself a nuisance, purring and nuzzling, until I take notice. Fabulous!

6.    Who’s your favourite author? Why? For a life-long reader who reads widely and avidly, this is the hardest question to answer. For classical, I love Mark Twain, both fiction and non-fiction. He’s so funny. The Bill Bryson of his time. For modern, I’m choosing a relatively new author – Hazel Gaynor, who wrote: The Girl Who Came Home (about a Titanic survivor) and A Memory of Violets (about two orphaned sisters who are flower sellers in London). Her writing is lyrical without being pretentious and you become totally absorbed in the period. Her research is meticulous. I can’t wait for her new one: The Girl from the Savoy, due out September 2016.

7.     Do you have a pet peeve: Yes, a huge one! I can’t stand people in the cinema crackling their sweet papers and popcorn. They seem to have to work their jaws right the way through the film. When I saw Suffragette recently I could hardly hear for the constant noise. After 10 minutes I stood up and asked them to please be quiet. Someone shouted back, ‘We’re not at school!’ No, and had they been, their sweets would have been confiscated. It’s not always the young ones, either. Am I turning into a grumpy old woman?

8.    Do you remember your dreams when you wake up in the morning? Frequently. They probably don’t mean much, though I recently dreamt about the hero in Juliet’s Story, Book 2 of my Voyagers trilogy, a Jack Delaney. He’s tall, dark and arresting, with hazel eyes flecked with gold. Phwar! What a fantastic lover!!

And on that note…I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, Rachel. Thank you so much for having me as your guest.

Blurb for Annie’s Story
We’re going to Australia to better ourselves, Annie…’ 

Hearing those words from the lips of her fianc√©, the dashing Ferguson, housemaid Annie’s heart is filled with both excitement and trepidation at the thought of leaving England and her family to sail with him to a new life on the other side of the world. But Australia doesn’t turn out to be the land of Annie’s hopes and dreams when she discovers that those closest to her have betrayed her. A betrayal devastating enough to destroy all of their lives.

Then Annie unexpectedly encounters Alexander Townsend again, the handsome doctor she met on the voyage to Melbourne. Although she tries to deny it, when Annie looks into Alex’s eyes she can’t help wishing there might be a second chance of happiness for her. But she’s a married woman with a secret nobody must uncover…least of all, Alex.

Blurb for Juliet’s Story

Can secrets destroy love? 2005 - Whatever the risk, businesswoman Juliet Reece grabs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands. She's been given the freedom and time to sail to Australia to trace her emigrant grandparents' story back in 1913. But buried under the surface is a more compelling reason - a secret she has held close since she was a vulnerable sixteen-year-old, which only her grandmother, Annie, shared - and whose answer may lie in Australia. When Juliet boards the 'Alexandria' at Tilbury she doesn't count on meeting the enigmatic Jack Delaney. But is it wise to fall for a man from the other side of the world who seems to be carrying dark secrets of his own?

Bio of Denise Barnes                November 2015

Denise Barnes has travelled the world, unpacking her suitcase in a score of countries and working at more jobs than she cares to remember.  Mentionable events include selling lipstick in a Denver department store to top English model of the day, Jean Shrimpton; typing on a French keyboard for the UN Narcotics Director in Geneva, chauffeuring a lonely Swiss multi-millionaire lawyer in Zurich, being the first fashion model in Atlanta to dance to pop music; working as a PA to a film producer and delivering a film script to Richard Harris in Rome and not recognizing him (he was not amused); and cooking in a vegetarian sanatorium in Bavaria, which gave rise to her first hilarious memoir: from Bad to Wurst: Bavarian adventures of a veggie cook.
     Back home in England, Denise reluctantly began training as an estate agent – and loved it! Juggling the running of her chain of eight offices in Kent with taking an Honours Degree with Open University, Denise had difficulty finding the time to pursue her life-long passion for writing.
     To give herself the freedom to write she sold her business after 17 years, but unfortunately to the wrong buyers, namely a couple of tricksters, which resulted in a second, more serious, memoir: Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business. Buying back the business and selling it once again, she is now able to resume her love of fiction writing, under the pen-name, Fenella Forster.

Personal links are:

Twitter:  @denisebarnesuk
FB:         Denise Barnes Writer

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