Welcome Manatee Books author, Liz Taylorson...

A sense of place – The Manor on the Moors.

Many writers will tell you that once they start to write, the characters begin to take over. They act in ways their creator hadn’t predicted, they develop unique and unexpected quirks or a distinctive voice. With me, it’s like that with places; my settings tend to develop a life (and a history) of their own. 

Perhaps that’s why the two books I have published so far both take their names from the setting rather than the characters who inhabit them. In this case “The Manor on the Moors” is at the heart of my story and the house itself becomes a character in its own right!

Misterley Manor (originally “Langbarnby Hall” but almost entirely rebuilt and renamed in the early 20th century by the nouveau-riche Lattimore family) is a place of mediaevalesque splendour:
“[Alice looked at the] … ornate stone-carved balconies and battlements of Misterley Manor, the towers, the soaring arches, the windows – no two of them the same – and the stained glass that glowed like jewels; amethyst, garnet, amber, emerald and sapphire.”

It’s inspired by the late nineteenth century houses and gardens that were built for the Ironmasters of Teesside and in particular Grey Towers, the home of Sir Arthur Dorman (of Dorman Long fame – the steelmakers that built the Sydney Harbour Bridge) which is on my habitual running route. As a child I used to make up stories about this romantic looking house, then empty and unloved, and its abandoned gardens, and so it’s hardly surprising that it found the way into a novel!

At the heart of “The Manor on the Moors” is the relationship that Alice and Caroline, the two main characters of the novel, have with Misterley Manor itself.

The honourable Caroline Lattimore is the daughter of the owner, and she manages Misterley. The responsibility of trying to keep the Manor going for future generations of her family is threatening to overwhelm her. The house might be romantic, but for Caroline there is no place for romance. It’s all about keeping the rain out and trying to find enough money to pay the heating bill. She has become blind to the beauty of her own home and sees it – and most of those who live in or around it, including her ex-husband – as a problem to be overcome. Caroline is often seen “trapped” inside the house – stuck at her desk with the enormous piles of work she has to do.

Alice Goudge is a visiting PhD scholar who is researching the disappearance of the architect Gilbert Fox-Travers a hundred years ago, and she has come to investigate the archives. All Alice cares about is the aesthetic appeal of Misterley Manor and Caroline doesn’t want her to see how badly maintained parts of the house are and tries to keep her at a distance. Alice is a character who doesn’t really know where she belongs, or who she belongs with, she’s often found on the outside looking in – literally, in some of the most crucial scenes in the book! Sebastian, her London-based boyfriend, resents her growing “obsession” with Fox-Travers and Misterley. And then she meets Tom, the handsome assistant gardener, and suddenly everything gets more complicated …

When disaster strikes the Manor it’s down to Alice and Caroline to do what they can to save Misterley. In the process Caroline has to re-envisage her relationship with her home and face the very real possibility of losing it, and for Alice the disaster means that she has to make up her mind whether she should stay and help to save the house or leave Misterley to its fate.

I can’t tell you how their conflicts are resolved – you’ll have to read the book to find out – but I can tell you that Misterley Manor itself plays a crucial part!

The Manor on the Moors – Blurb.

Alice has landed her dream job, searching the Misterley Manor archives for tales of the elusive Gilbert Fox-Travers - life should be perfect, if only she could untangle her complicated love life…

Caroline is desperately trying to keep Misterley from falling down around her ears, and it’s a tough enough job without throwing a stroppy teenager, a difficult ex-husband and a cantankerous father into the mix. 

When disaster strikes, Caroline and her family must pull together to save her beloved family home…Can Alice uncover the mystery of Gilbert Fox-Travers in time to save the Manor? 

Available on Amazon: goo.gl/z49ziX

Biographical Information, Liz Taylorson.

Liz has always surrounded herself with books.
As a child, she was always to be found with her head in one and she still has a bookcase full of her childhood favourites to this day. (She once read The Lord of the Rings thirteen times in a row, cover to cover!) All this reading led to a degree in English Literature, (and another book-case full of books) and then a job as a cataloguer of early printed books for a major university library. This meant spending hours sitting in a beautiful, ancient building looking at antique leather-bound tomes – although as so many of them turned out to be rather boring volumes of sermons, so she wasn’t often tempted to read them! She went on to train others how to catalogue books, and her earliest attempts at writing anything as an adult consisted of instructions on how to work out the correct form of the author’s name to use in a library catalogue.
Children (and then cats and chickens) interrupted her bibliographic career, and having given up library work Liz started writing fiction and hasn’t stopped since, joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme to try to learn how to write novels properly in 2015.  This led to publication of her first novel, The Little Church by the Sea in late 2017, followed by The Manor on the Moors in January 2019, both by Manatee Books.
Liz owes everything to her tolerant and long-suffering husband Ben and her tolerant and long-suffering children, but very little to the cats who are neither tolerant nor long-suffering and keep sitting on the computer keyboard and messing up her manuscript if she forgets to feed them on time.

No comments

Post a Comment