I recently interviewed Queensland author, Ellen Read about writing, self-publishing, and what it’s like to undertake research for historical fiction… NLK: How did you first begin writing fiction? ER: I began with reading books. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading and living in a story. As a child I made up fictional […]
My new novel The Dragon Sleeps is set in Victoria, Australia in the 1920s. I recently did a post on women’s fashion from that era.
Men’s fashion was equally as stylish. It was influenced by the new heart-throbs of the silent films, although the term ‘silent films’ wasn’t used during that era. They were called ‘the flicks’ or ‘the pictures’.
Rudolph Valentino liked to set a style.
John Gilbert wears the pencil-style moustache that was popular during the 1920s and 1930s. He was known as The Great Lover of the Silver Screen. The Merry Widow launched him to fame in 1925, and by 1928 he was the highest paid actor in Hollywood.
Benedict Archer in The Dragon Sleeps looks like John Gilbert, or so Edith claims.
Men in the 1920s wore suits and, at least the highly fashionable ones, wore many accessories. There were so many types of hats (here we see fedoras, straw boaters, and Newsboy hats).
Below shows the Porkpie hat that Sergeant Smith wears when he accompanies Alexandra and Edith to the Victorian State Library.
Canes were popular accessories as well as small rings, tie pins, and collar pins. Three-piece suits were also worn – one for every occassion.
Shoes were very stylish, with examples here of brogues, two-tones, white tennis shoes and the exquisite art deco shoes.
Even the working man and boy liked to don hats, ties and jackets.
The Parry and Brady men in The Dragon Sleeps would have worn similar outfits.
I hope you enjoyed looking at male attire in the 1920s.
The Dragon Sleeps is available in paperback or as an e-book on:
I’d love to hear from you. To follow me go on to:
I’m excited to be working on research for book two of The Thornton Mysteries. Next week I’m heading down to Victoria to do research for the location/setting of the story. Thornton Park, as the family home, will still feature but some of the story will be in Daylesford, a beautiful village in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
It was originally my intention to have my newly released novel The Dragon Sleeps as a stand-alone book. As I drew close to the ending, I started to think that I should write a second book. Through all the editing, proof-reading and finally the publishing, I still hadn’t made up my mind. I had another novel I was working on and I really wanted to finish it.
I had no sooner given approval for the printing of The Dragon Sleeps, than I thought, of course I must write a second book!
Since then I’ve decided to write at least two more books. They will be under the series title of The Thornton Mysteries. Each book will have a separate title, with it’s own mystery. The thread linking them will be Alexandra’s personal story.
Thornton Park will remain the focal point of the lives of Alexandra, Benedict, Edith and Thomas, Alexandra’s father. However, the second book will also be in Daylesford, Victoria. Daylesford is a beautiful town located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, approximately 115 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. It’s principally known for it’s spas, and it has many antique stores and art galleries.
The scenery in the district is pure postcard stuff!
I am going to love writing about this beautiful place. My story will be still set in the 1920s and I can’t wait to bring Daylesford to life in this exciting era. To make certain that I achieve this, in January, I’m going to Victoria and will stay at Daylesford to do some research.
I’ll be taking heaps of photos and I will feature some of them here, on Instagram and Facebook.
I hope you’ll follow me on my journey to create the second Thornton Mystery.
The day has finally arrived. My book is released.
It’s available on Amazon as paperback and eBook. Apple iBooks, Kobo and other eBook retailers have the eBook. Paperback will be there soon. The paperback will also be in Australian bookshops soon.
Published on Friday 4th November 2016
in Paperback and eBook.
I hope you’ll enjoy it.
A Dragon statue. An ancient sword.
What treasure is worth killing for?
It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A hedonistic time after the Great War when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. A time when women have more options opened to them.
There is a weekend house party at Thornton Park and Alexandra Thornton thinks it will be a good time to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like him, her grandfather and great-grandfather before her.
Only a small number of people are invited. Amongst the guests are Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton.
Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.
When Edith claims that Benedict is in love with her, Alexandra can’t believe it. In all the time they’d been at Thornton Antiques together, he’d never said a word. Now, Alexandra looks at him differently. Can it be true?
Then a body found in the orchard and, before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen.
Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.
What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park for the last eight years?
I’ve been privileged to know Beverley Lee for only a short time but every day has been a pleasure.
Beverley is a freelance writer currently residing in the south east of England. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media writers’ groups.
I am delighted to welcome Beverley to my blog today to discuss her debut novel The Making of Gabriel Davenport, which is released on Friday 8 April.
You can find out more about Beverley Lee by clicking on the links below:
1 First of all, please tell us about The Making of Gabriel Davenport. ‘One night. One secret.’ It has me already fascinated.
It’s a dark fantasy, set in the present day but with definite ties to the past. I find my inspiration in many places, but one is the indomitable human spirit of courage and hope in seemingly hopeless situations, and I think this applies incredibly well to this story. This is about a normal family and one twisted branch of fate that changes everything. And of course, it’s about secrets, and how one that was buried resurfaces and threatens to tear apart everything Gabriel holds close.
2 What inspired you to write this story?
A long time ago I watched a TV series (I don’t recall what it was!) set in an old house which was a base for a paranormal research organization. I’ve always loved the idea but had never found the right story to do it justice. I’ve played about with it before, but it was only with Gabriel that I found the flow, although snippets of my original do make an appearance.
3 What drew you to the paranormal fantasy genre?
I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of fiction and I like to weave the complexity of human emotions into this. I wanted to create something with layers that the reader could peel apart and step inside. I wanted them to *feel* the struggles all the characters go through, whilst delivering a fast paced, suspense driven story. All my characters have flaws. All my ‘good’ characters have bad points. All my ‘bad’ characters have light. It’s not a typical paranormal fantasy, I prefer to think of it as contemporary, but with supernatural elements.
4 Did you always write in this genre?
Yes. Although I have dabbled in others over the years. This is where I am comfortable, but if the right story came along and nipped at my heels that wasn’t in this genre, I would definitely run with it!
5 I love the book’s cover, especially the font. I know you do too. How did the developing of the cover unfold?
Thank you, Ellen. The wings on the cover were hand drawn by my best friend, who also happens to be a very talented, fine arts trained, illustrator. Originally, the wings were attached to a body, but this didn’t quite work, so this version was chosen, as a nod to the ‘fallen’ element which is apparent in the story. The illustration then went to my cover designer, who sent me numerous fonts to look at (at first I actually discounted this one!) I did a public ‘ask’ session in a café and everyone said they preferred this font. I wanted a cover that was simple yet striking and I believe I found it.
6 I believe you were nominated for the Liebster Award. Will you tell us something about it?
I was! I’m often nominated by lovely bloggers for these kinds of things, which astounds me as I’m probably the worst blogger out there. I have every intention of posting weekly and interacting, but something always seems to take precedence. It was fun to complete though, they always make me think slightly outside of the box, which is a very good place for a writer to be.
7 Where do your ideas come from?
Everything. An overheard snippet of conversation. A song lyric. The strange sense of deja vu in an historical place. The ocean. Starlight. I’m very much a pantster when it comes to writing. I have a beginning and usually a vague end, but the rest is an organic process. It always amazes me how it all fits together in the end.
8 What authors inspire you?
Oh, lots! Stephen King (always The Master), Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice (her older stories), George R R Martin, Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo.
9 What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Apart from being able to work in your pj’s all day? 🙂 Creating a new world with new characters that didn’t exist before you gave them wings. It’s the closest thing to pure magic for me.
10 When did you first start to write? Was there one thing that made you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote the most awful cliché ridden pony stories as a young child. My poor, long suffering English teacher would no doubt attest to this! Words were instilled in me from an early age. I was always a bookish girl. I think most of my formative years were spent in a library. Writing was something that I had to do, a calling, if you will. But I did fight it. In the years where my family grew up I hardly wrote at all, but it was always there niggling away in the background.
11 What are you working on now? I’m sure everyone will be hoping it’s a sequel.
It IS the sequel! At this point the draft is nearly ready to send out to my wonderful band of beta readers. Then comes the hard work of changes and moulding it into something good enough to send out to my editor. I’m hoping to make a start on the last book in the series soon too. I have little bits floating around my head all of the time. Later on this year, I also have a short story in an anthology about ‘doomed love’ with a global band of writers and artists that I’m excited about.
12 I know you are very supportive of other authors. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It is very much a passion. I’ve been lucky enough to have been nurtured by some wonderful writers on my journey, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. I believe in ‘paying it forward’. I’m currently leading a writing challenge group on Twitter for the month – the group that took me by the hand last year at the very beginning. My advice would be to simply write. Don’t edit. Get that first draft down with all of its warts and hangups and then start playing about with it.
13 What is your writing process? How long were you working on The Making of Gabriel Davenport?
Gabriel started off as the first 3,000 words in a short story competition that I never entered. But something wasn’t quite right. I picked it up again in January 2015 and realized what was wrong. Originally, he was a girl, named Erin, and once I changed this, everything fell into place. I knocked out the first draft in three months. Then it went through two more before it went out to beta, and two more before my editor got it. As I said above, I’m an organic writer. I let my characters lead me. Sometimes they put me up against a brick wall but sometimes they give me gold.
14 Where is your novel available for purchase?
It’s available from Amazon as an eBook and Paperback.
15 When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Is there such a thing as not writing? J I spend a lot of time on social media, as you well know, but I do love to read and to walk. It’s where I get a lot of ideas from. If I get the chance I love a good movie or box set I can binge through too.
16 Is there anything else you would like to say to your prospective readers?
I hope you enjoy the journey I’ve taken you on, and that my characters have made you think or have found their way into your heart. I appreciate you more than I can ever say.
I’d like to thank Beverley for joining me today. It’s been fantastic hearing about your debut novel and about you. I wish you all the best with The Making of Gabriel Davenport, and eagerly await your next novel.
I have just finished Stella’s Awakening . It is a well-written erotic love story. I enjoyed it. I’m not a fan of erotic romances but I am a fan of RKRyde’s writing and story. Stella and Conrad are both compelling characters. Both beautiful people. Stella has led a sheltered existence and RKRyde has explored a topic here that I’ve never encountered in a novel before. It was interesting and I felt for Stella and the turmoil she felt as she discovered more and more how much she loved Conrad and how this love was forbidden to her. He is a worldly man from a wealthy family, and has a playboy image. As we all know, images can be misleading. Stella knows there is something in his past but Conrad is not only an experienced lover but is loving, gentle, caring and kind. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next Stella novel. If it had been merely one erotic experience after another, it wouldn’t have kept my interest but this is a good story.
In this short story, Nadia King’s writing quickly brings to life the small, narrow and disappointed existence that is her character Miriam’s life. Miriam’s mother doesn’t really want her. Her conception was a disappointment to her mother, as was her birth. Miriam only recently found out who her father was.
She’s not the most popular girl in school, but she hopes the good-looking Damien will notice her. Miriam is sensitive and, despite her life and living conditions, which she just happens to have dealt to her, she really only wants to be accepted and liked. The story highlights the rejection by peers that so many young people experience.
I like to think that when Miriam crushes the cigarette packet under her heel, it is symbolic that she will aim for something better than her life of disappointment.
DISAPPOINTMENT is published by
I was invited by Legendary Writing on Instagram to do this interview.
- – LW: What tips or tricks do you have for writing romance in a story?
- – Ellen Read: The friendship and respect the characters feel for each other is the basis for good romance. Of course, there has to be attraction between them. The setting of the story can have a huge influence. Some locations just ooze romance. However, overall the romance comes from within the characters themselves
- – LW: What mistakes do you think many writers make when it comes to writing romance and how do you think those mistakes can be fixed?
- – Ellen Read: I don’t like to be melodramatic, which often happens with romance stories. I think a writer has to make certain you are completely inside the head of your character, so that they feel what you feel and you feel what they feel.
- – LW: Where did you get the idea for this story and how did it evolve as you wrote it?
- – Ellen Read: I was inspired by a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I originally wrote ‘Love The Gift’ years ago as a short story set in England. I wanted it set in Australia. Sutton Forest felt just right. I could see Charlotte in her private garden in 1905. I wanted it over two eras – Charlotte’s and the present day. Mark is the protagonist. He’s an artist, and in touch with his feminine side. He visits his friend, Beth, who is Charlotte’s great great-niece and his journey to find his true love starts.
- – LW: What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you overcome them?
- – Ellen Read: The main challenge writing Love The Gift was having a male protagonist. Romances tend to have a female point of view. Although, once I started, getting into Mark’s head was easier than I thought. I overcame this challenge by making Mark an artist, with an artist’s soul. I needed him to love poetry and to see and feel the beauty in nature.
- – LW: What lessons have you learned writing this book that you’ll carry with you into the rest of your writing career?
- – Ellen Read: Because ‘Love The Gift’ had so many changes from the original short story, I learned to go where my characters led me. It’s no use persisting with an idea if it doesn’t work anymore.