Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thursday Treat!

It's Thursday again!  Wow, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

I thought today I'd give you a snippet from Charlotte.  Book 1 in my Pride & Prejudice Continues series.  It's the book that kicked it all off for me, and so you can imagine that I'm very proud of it.  Also, in 2013 it was awarded a BRAGMedallion for excellence.  I was so excited when the president of IndieBRAG told me, as you can imagine.

Because the book is so precious to me, I thought I'd share the entire first chapter with you, my readers.

Have a wonderful day!

Karen xxx

I ask only a comfortable home.  How many times had Charlotte’s words to her friend Lizzy come back to haunt her recently, reverberating round her head, tormenting her?  What price was she paying for her comfort? 
She shuddered as she looked around her sitting room, which Lady Catherine, their patroness, had decorated and fitted out and was not to her own taste at all.  The wallpaper, although expensive and elegant, was heavy and oppressive.  She sat and thought about the changes that she would have liked to make to the room.  After a while, she began to feel more at ease again.
Her sanguine attitude, of which she so confidently assured Lizzy, her oldest friend, had left her long ago.  She often felt dread at the thought of intimacy with Mr Collins and avoided it as much as she could do.  The act often repulsed her, but she knew she had to steel herself for this very night because, as he left the breakfast room that morning, he had given her one of his strange flirtatious waves, a sure indicator that he felt amorous. 
Charlotte knew little of the state of marriage when she had married Mr Collins.  Her mother’s advice to her was to bear it as well as she could do, but this meant nothing to her until her wedding night.  She remembered thinking at the time that if someone only warned young girls of the marriage beds, then they would not marry in the first place.  Perhaps then, it was better that they usually knew nothing and were innocent of such things, or there would be no more marriages and certainly no more children.  Her stomach knotted at the thought of her own experiences.  The thought of their fumbled encounters in bed made her feel uncomfortable, and she hurriedly turned to her new book 'Langue des fleurs'.  She stroked the cover page, and more of her own words came back to haunt her: I am not romantic, Lizzy.  And yet here she was, holding and enjoying reading a book on such a romantic subject.  Charlotte was beginning to realise that she did not know herself at all. 
* * *
Mr Collins had interrupted Charlotte’s walk through the woods that morning by rushing to her to declare the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam at Rosings Park, their patroness’s home.  Why this caused her husband to be in such a flutter, she did not fully understand.  He was waving his hat and bidding her make haste.  She sighed and asked herself if the inhabitants and guests of Rosings Park were to be always her highest priority.  She did not return to the parsonage with the called-upon haste, but instead took her time picking some late wild flowers to study in her book. 
Upon her arrival, she found the house and servants in pandemonium, for all his shouting and flapping, Mr Collins had not produced the haste, which he so desired, but had made all about him unable to discern whether they were coming or going.
She rolled her eyes. “My dear, calm yourself, and explain to me what has happened.”
“My dear Charlotte, I cannot emphasise enough how valuable the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh is to us and the sovereign importance of performing the duty owed to her.  She has written to us and requires us to be present at dinner tonight!  We must prepare ourselves!” He bellowed breathlessly, staring about him as if his wife and their servants all should have understood this perfectly. 
The clock bell chimed in the sitting room, and Charlotte patiently counted each chime taking the time to calm her nerves and temper before she spoke.  “There, as we have heard, Mr Collins, it is only eleven o’clock in the morning.  There is indeed no need of haste and we are in no danger of being late at all.  We may proceed with tranquillity.” 
This, however, would not suit her husband, who flapped his way into the sitting room to examine the clock - because it must have been faulty.  He remained standing there for some minutes, examining in turn the clock and his pocket watch, which both, Charlotte was sure, declared the same time. 
She left him to his activity and retired to her room to rest.  She sat at the table and looked out of the window.  She knew when she met him that he was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been little assisted by education or society.  When she tried to rescue her friend Lizzy from him by inviting him to Lucas Lodge, she knew he had come to Longbourn on a wife hunt and knew him to be awkward and foolish and, subsequently, his feelings for her to be entirely of his own imagining.  He declared such passionate feelings for her as she knew he could not possibly truly feel on such a short acquaintance, but here an opportunity had presented itself.  Charlotte had long felt herself to be getting past her bloom.  She smiled at the thought.  She had never had a bloom.  And she was plain-looking, especially next to her dear friends, the Bennet sisters, although she had the blessings of good sense and intelligence.  She had heartily feared that she would never have a proposal of marriage and that she would end her days a spinster and a burden to her family.  Yet there he had been, standing in front of her, professing an ardent love for her, and in so doing, also unwittingly declaring he was a silly man indeed. 
She had not needed long to deliberate on whether to accept his hand or not.  At twenty-seven years old, and close to being declared a spinster, the decision was easy for her to make.  She had always thought that happiness in marriage was entirely a matter of chance.  That to be ignorant of the defects of one’s future spouse was best.  Mr Collins’ had been her only proposal of marriage, and she was sensible of it and doubted whether she would ever receive another.  With that in mind, and knowing that Mr Collins was an excellent match for her, and feeling a sense of duty and obligation to her family, she accepted.  She consoled herself with thoughts of bringing happiness to her family.  It pleased her to become mistress of her own house, and the thought of having children to occupy her time gave her pleasure.  That is exactly what she did now, regardless of her heavy heart.
* * *
Mr William Collins sat down in his study and looked out of the window too.  He liked that room, his study and book room, as it afforded the best possible view of the road in case Lady Catherine's carriage pass by.  He was acutely sensible of his considerable fortune in his patroness the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Her beneficence and his known connection to her had been invaluable to him.  He felt it keenly.  He could not have hoped for a more propitious living and a better patroness.  He hardly could understand why his wife did not feel it as keenly as he did.  Perhaps she does not have the capacity to feel as deeply as I do, he mused. 
He thought back over the events leading to his marriage to his Dear Charlotte and blushed at the memory of the unfeeling and impolite way in which his cousin Elizabeth had refused the offer of his hand; he could not have borne to stay in that house any longer.  To his vast relief, his dear Charlotte had come along, invited him to Lucas Lodge, and saved him from further humiliation.  Although he had promised never to reproach Elizabeth on the subject again, he could not but feel saddened that none of the Bennet girls would continue at Longbourn and take their mother’s place as mistress of the house upon their father’s demise, when subsequently he took possession of his inheritance.  However, he did congratulate himself on having been saved from an unfortunate match, as he must now view the hoped-for alliance between himself and his cousin Elizabeth since the infamous elopement and subsequent marriage of her youngest sister, Lydia, to the notorious cad and blackguard Mr George Wickham.  Mr Collins was heartily relieved that he had escaped the misfortune of having to call such a man brother-in-law. 
Turning his attention to the pile of letters on his writing desk, his eyes fell once again upon the wedding invitation from Longbourn.  A double wedding.  As exciting and fair a prospect it was for all those concerned in Hertfordshire, he could not but feel deeply the pain and disgrace that Lady Catherine now felt upon the announcement of her nephew’s marriage.  To be married to a woman whose position in society was so far beneath their own upset Her Ladyship so much, she could not even bring herself to utter Elizabeth’s name without shaking and starting to weep. 
“Yes,” he nodded to himself, “as Lady Catherine says, Pemberley is to be thus polluted.” 

He had, of course, driven to Longbourn and sought an audience with both Mr Bennet and Elizabeth,
being sensible of the high standing, which he believed he had in that family, but neither of them seemed to take his kindly meant advice with any seriousness and, in fact, seemed to deem his visit with levity.  He could not understand it. Surely, they would not wish to be the cause of injuring such illustrious families as the de Bourghs, the Fitzwilliams, and the Darcys?  Yet the wedding was to take place, the evidence of which was on his desk before him.  He felt honour-bound, as Mr Bennet’s heir, to attend, but equally duty-bound to Lady Catherine to refuse.  He contemplated his predicament for some time and then, taking his Bible in his hands, drew out his hassock from under the desk, turned, and knelt down, leaning his elbows on his chair to pray.

(Copyright © 2013 Karen Aminadra)

CHARLOTTE is available through all major stockists.
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Character Profiles: Hunter S. Jones' September Ends!

Today I am pleased to have three character profiles from Hunter S. Jones' September Ends to share with you :-)

September Ends is out 1st October!


The art form I create is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I am author and entertainment blogger Hunter S. Jones from Atlanta, GA. Born in Tennessee, I am now an Exile on Peachtree Street, which is the name of my personal blog. I have lived in Tennesse and Georgia my entire life, except for one 'Lost Summer' spent in LA.

I was always a complex kid. Music is my first and true love although I have no musical skills or abilities.. Throughout my life, I have written something/anything. My first 'gig' was for an indie/alternative rock rag in Nashville, Tennessee. Since then I have published articles on travel, fashion, history and art.

My debut novella, Fables of the Reconstruction, was released October 2012. The short story, Magic in Memphis, is included the Moon Rose Publishing anthology, A Celtic Tapestry. Take a peek at my blog for

Find out more about Hunter S. Jones HERE.


September Ends is a contemporary romance with erotic and supernatural elements. It reveals the intricate web of passion and desire which ensnares Liz Snow, Pete Hendrix and Jack O. Savage. The story is told through Liz Snow’s diary, Jack O. Savage’s poetry and insights, and from letters sent across the Atlantic. Traveling throughout the lushness of a summertime in Tennessee and Georgia, September Ends journeys into the elegance of London’s West End and is finally settled in the countryside of Cornwall, England, a decade later.

September Ends is the story of sin, redemption and salvation through love, because love happens when we least expect it.

September Ends is out 1st October!


I am Liz Snow, Elizabeth October Snow, from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Actually I’m from a small town in north Georgia called LaFayette. My grandfather died suddenly when I was young, then I saw my only brother die in a useless traffic accident. So, you see, I’m not your typical girl. Years of anti-depressants, alcohol and bad relationships have damaged me emotionally and I hide myself in my career as a software executive. I never really knew what love was until meeting Peter William Hendrix III of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Or at least that’s what I thought until Pete’s betrayal…


I’m successful, some say handsome, attorney Pete Hendrix of the firm Hendrix, Hendrix & Smith in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. I attended undergrad at Vanderbilt University, graduated law school with honors and returned to Chattanooga to run the family law firm. I live the life my mother always wanted for me and as often as possible, go to my cabin on Walden Ridge. There, I swim in the clear, cool water from the cave, read and spend time in solitude looking onto the scenic Sequatchie Valley, the sacred hunting grounds of the Cherokee Nation before the Trail of Tears. My life is structured and secure. But, I never expected to meet a girl like Liz Snow. I loved Liz with my heart and soul. Then, she discovered my secret…


English poet, novelist, and founder member of The Renaissance Bards trio of spoken word artists, Jack O Savage leapt to prominence on being expelled from Jesus College, Oxford for allegedly plotting an arson attack on the college in which he supposedly planned to 'raise English successist complacency to its foundations', though no charges were ever brought against him. The Sun tabloid newspaper ran a story proclaiming POSH POET GETS CHOP referring to Savage's 'chopper protest' in which he was arrested for 'leaping atop a 17th century oak refectory table and lewdly flaunting his generous masculinity' at a formal disciplinary hearing, a gesture which he later repeated in public and which subsequently went viral on YouTube, receiving over 100 million hits in under two hours.

September Ends is a collaboration with an English Poet.  Click HERE to read about how it came about and was written.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Guest Post: Elodie Parkes - release day!

Today I have the enormous pleasure of  having Elodie Parkes as a guest on my blog :-)
Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy, cool stories and hot love scenes.
Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent, darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.
She has also released titles as an individual indie author.
So here she is….
Hi Karen,
Thank you for inviting me to the blog today to talk about my latest romance release, Jake Snow

The book is the story of Bethany Snow’s brother. Bethany is the leading female character in my erotic romance, ‘The Last Time’ and people who read the book early in its release always wanted to know more about Jake. I had his story in my head and so here it is.

‘The Last Time’ takes place on a movie location and that’s where Jake and Bethany, who are private investigators are sent by their agency to deal with hate mail being sent to a movie star there.
‘Jake Snow’
It’s two years since his sister got married and Jake has been working cases alone. He’s tired and hoping to find love too when we meet him in this book. This time the story takes place in the fashion world and Jake gets caught up in the strange happenings in an atelier.
The idea for the movie location book came to me when I was invited to watch a shoot by an indie film maker. The idea for the high fashion setting for this book was seeded about the same time when I went to watch a fashion show with friends. I was on holiday overseas, with them. We had attended a dance theatre, and then later in the week a fashion show. I knew immediately that I would write a story about the world of fashion. The idea of placing Jake Snow in this world came after I had written, The Last Time.

anotherbiggerjakecoverreal copysmaller
A new romantic mystery from Amazon best-selling author, Elodie Parkes

Jake Snow

Private detective, Jake Snow, has grown tired of working alone since his sister Bethany married, and stopped working on field cases with him. He’s chosen less high-powered cases as he decides against teaming with another partner from the Black Agency. Gradually Jake realizes he wants the kind of love his sister found, and a different job…
When he’s sent on what he thinks is a simple surveillance assignment, just before he’s due to take his requested extended leave, he finds a tangled web of lies, and a fashion designer in trouble…
The question is will he also find love?
With steamy love scenes and a twist of fun, this book is 18+

Read an excerpt G 13+ rated

It was seven o’clock as he lay on the bed. He closed his eyes, and pictured Pixie’s lovely face and her mouth. He let himself think about kissing her. He fell asleep promising himself that he would ask her out.
Jake’s cell phone woke him up. He clawed at it only managing to toss it to the floor instead of pick it up to answer. Fuck it.
He scrambled to the side of the bed and hung over there to reach the phone. It was his sister Bethany calling. She greeted him and he perked up, shuffling to sit up in the bed.
“Hi Bethany, it’s good to hear from you. What’s happening?”
“Jake, I miss you, and every time I hear your voice I think about coming back to work. How is work? Brandt tells me you’ve applied for holidays. That’s not like you Jake, you never take holidays.” Jake could hear a hint of concern in her voice and smiled. He missed her too.
“Work is a bit of a drag to be honest. Partly my own fault though because when Brandt asked me to team up with another detective for some high profile cases, I didn’t want to, so the jobs I’ve been doing lately have been, ‘less interesting,’ I guess you could say.”
“I’d like to see you. Seth would too. Come over here, have some time with us. It’s a beautiful place.”
Jake smiled again. “I’d like to Bethany, I just have a job to finish…it’s a weird one. There’s a young woman involved too…I like her Bethany…she’s lovely.”
“Have you asked her out or let her know you like her? I bet you haven’t. I’d like you to have someone. I can’t tell you how great it is to be loved.”
Jake ran his hand through his hair. “I haven’t said anything to her because it’s early days I only just met her and it’s a bit complicated. We don’t all fall on the client and seduce them the night we meet.” He laughed then because that was close enough to what had happened between his sister and her husband. “Then again it worked out well for you…”


Elodie is giving away a $10 or £10 Amazon gift voucher to celebrate the release of ‘Jake Snow’. Enter via the rafflecopter with a comment on the blog.

Jake Snow, a sweetie, sexy, strong…looking for love and the person responsible for the theft he’s currently investigating.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Thursday Treat!

It's Thursday and apparently the forecast is for a much warmer weekend!
So how about a treat from my work-in-progress to kick it all off?
Please remember this is unedited.  Any comments are greatly welcomed :-)

Wickham was glad to be out of the house and on active duty.  Lydia was driving him insane with her constant whining about being confined to the house.  He simply would not risk another child’s life to her stupidity.  It irked him that she could not or would not see that as more important than pandering to her desire for gaiety and to be out in society.
His regiment had been prepared for action for months.  They were called up twice to join in the fight against Napoléon, but then the orders were cancelled at the last minute.  Idleness was not good for morale and the men grew agitated.  Wickham was among them.  He wanted to be active and useful.  He wanted the heat of battle to make him forget his woes and troubles at home.
They knew the war against Napoléon was heating up and were certain they would be a welcome reinforcement of the troops.  But all they could do was sit and wait while practicing manoeuvres and guarding the French prisoners that were held captive in Scarborough Castle.
He heard that Darcy’s cousin; Colonel Fitzwilliam’s regiment had seen action and taken quite a few casualties.  He also heard rumours that the colonel had been rewarded handsomely for his bravery.  Wickham wanted a slice of that action too, he said as much to his comrades-in-arms.
“Wickham, from what I hear, Colonel Fitzwilliam risked his life to save the Doña de somewhere-or-other.  They were going to hang her for working against ole Boney, apparently.  Is it worth risking your life for a woman on the off-chance that she might reward you with gold?”  Poynter laughed as he dipped his boot brush into the polish and began to apply it thickly to his boots.
Wickham shook his head and laughed with his friend, but yes, to him money was always worth taking some risk.
Turpin slapped him on the back.  “Of course if the woman in question was comely it’d be worth the risk, eh Wickham?”
Although he laughed at the jibe, Wickham was aware of the truth of it too.  They knew what he was like only too well.  They were his closest friends and as they say birds of a feather flock together, and they had fallen in together almost as soon as they met.  Lydia, unfortunately for Wickham, did not like Poynter very much at all.  Wickham knew so from how much she moaned after he visited.  Poynter flirted with her and Wickham was aware she expected to be treated like a respectable married woman and the daughter of a gentleman.  However, Poynter and Turpin knew the Wickham’s history and knew that Lydia was far from being a respectable, married gentlewoman.
Wickham clenched his jaw and not for the first time that day, he wished he were unshackled from the marriage state.  Lydia’s sister, Elizabeth, had been a better prospect, but she was the marrying kind, not the sort to take to bed for a little fun and games at all and Wickham would not have tried it with her.  He was certain that she would have ruined his reputation forever had he laid one single finger upon her person inappropriately.  What made a bad situation worse in his mind was that Elizabeth was now married to Mr Darcy.  He was the one person that Wickham would prefer never to see again.  He knew all about Wickham and had known about him since they were young boys.  There was not a moment of Wickham’s history that he did not know and, now, some of which he was a part of.  To add insult to injury, he was his brother-in-law too.  Darcy had him watched like a hawk.  Wickham knew that if he put one toe out of line then Darcy would come down hard on him, and he feared that.  A man as rich as Mr Darcy was also immeasurably powerful and could make Wickham’s life a real misery should he so wish it.  He had to learn to tread more carefully if he wanted to continue to have his sport.
“Penny for them, Wickham,” Poynter was watching him.
He shook his head bringing his mind back to the present.
“Dwelling on things, are we?”  Poynter laughed again.
Wickham made no bones over telling Poynter and Turpin how the land lay at home.  They knew all about the elopement and the forced marriage, and they were the ones who actively encouraged him to find solace elsewhere, be it at the card table or in the back room of some boarding house or other.
“Worry not.  I hear that a new batch of recruits is being sent this way.”  Turpin grinned.  “Methinks we might have us some larks separating them from their hard earned money over the card tables.”
It was Wickham’s turn to laugh.  “Tommy Turpin, you always know the best ways to cheer a fellow up.”
“Aye, I do.”
“When do they arrive?”  Poynter asked with interest.  “I could do with a few extra shillings in my purse.”
“This weekend.”
Wickham smiled and stretched.  “Gentlemen, I think things are about to look up for us.”  He looked pleased with himself.  “Shall I invite them to my house?  A full belly and a skin full of wine should be all the encouragement they need to join us at a friendly game of cards.”

(Copyright © 2013 Karen Aminadra)

Monday, 16 September 2013

September Ends by Hunter S. Jones

It is my pleasure to introduce to you all a lovely new book by the wonderful Hunter S. Jones - Out October 1st!





Hunter S. Jones 
An Anonymous English Poet


Overweight and dull. That’s how I felt.

My grandfather and brother died. I hid inside a black cave deep in my soul, numbed for a decade on meds, booze, and bad love, married to my glorious career.

My name is Liz Snow, from Atlanta, Georgia, and this is my story.

One hot summer I fell hopelessly in love with successful attorney, Peter William Hendrix III, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We bonded because of Shelley and Keats. Pete introduced me to the works of modern English poet, Jack O. Savage, It was like The Poet was drawing us together through his blogs and poems, like he had a message for my life and my love with Pete Hendrix.
I lived it in my heart and soul.

It all went tragically wrong once I learned Pete’s secret.

As September ends I jet to London, England. I didn't realize it when I went, but it was to be the start of a new life. Pete Hendrix betrayed me big time. There was no time for my revenge. With an unstable mind, and a broken heart - my life was a kaleidoscope of stabbing shards of pain.

London ignored me. Maybe I didn't exist. I was lost and lonely in a flat in Kensington. I hear that Jack O. Savage will make a rare public appearance. I wrangle an invitation to the art gallery where he is reading. I was curious. In some ways, he was the cause of my trouble.
It turned out my fallen rock-star-with-words was even more damaged than I.

Jack O.Savage, The Poet became my friend.
Then, an unexpected kiss at a county fair on a perfect English summer's day changed everything forever. Jack the man became my lover.
My elusive dream of a lifelong love began.
If Pete was what I'd always wanted, Jack was what I always needed.
The mystery unraveled as the kaleidoscope of my broken life evolved and I found myself living a rainbow of perfect bliss.

Sometimes when you believe it’s the end, it’s only the beginning.


September Ends is a contemporary romance with erotic and supernatural elements. It reveals the intricate web of passion and desire which ensnares Liz Snow, Pete Hendrix and Jack O. Savage. The story is told through Liz Snow’s diary, Jack O. Savage’s poetry and insights, and from letters sent across the Atlantic. Traveling throughout the lushness of a summertime in Tennessee and Georgia, September Ends journeys into the elegance of London’s West End and is finally settled in the countryside of Cornwall, England, a decade later.


September Ends is the story of sin, redemption and salvation through love, because love happens when we least expect it.


Find Hunter S. Jones' books on AMAZON

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Follow Hunter S. Jones' BLOG


Thursday, 12 September 2013

My interview with the lovely Judith Arnopp

My interview with my good friend Judith Arnopp!

by Karen Aminadra

It's my pleasure and privilege to interview a wonderful author - Judith Arnopp!  

How did you become an author? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Well, it is something I’ve always done.  As a child I was very influenced by C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and made up stories based on that.  Then, as a teenager I wrote lurid romances, and while my children were growing up I turned to adventures using them as the main characters. Writing has always seemed the natural thing for me to do so I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to do it.  I never let anyone read it until I was in my forties when I did creative writing as part of my studies.  Then my writing group encouraged me to publish but it wasn’t until I’d completed my studies that I turned to writing seriously.

What is it about Welsh history that attracts you?

I think its living here, surrounded by the culture, treading in the footsteps of Welsh heroes. There is hardly a hill you can walk around here without stumbling upon a ruined castle or a stone circle or a hillfort.  My home is quite remote and although modernisms are creeping into the area now it is largely unspoiled.  It is possible to see the past quite clearly in both the architecture and the landscape. I have a thing about earthworks and ancient churches and there is nowhere like a mouldering graveyard to feel the people of the past peering over your shoulder. I sit quietly and listen while they tell me stuff.

Explain a little about Welsh pronunciation in your books.  For example, how do you pronounce Heledd?

I knew the names could be a problem for non-Welsh readers so I included a pronunciation table at the front of The Song of Heledd but, of course, as Welsh isn’t my first language, I could well be miles out although I did consult a Welsh friend. Heledd, I believe, is pronounced Hell – eth.

Tell us a little about the poems Canu Llywarch Hen and Canu Heledd.

The basis of Heledd’s story come from fragments of Welsh poetry known as Canu Heledd and Marwnad Cynddylan. The poem, and others relating to Heledd and Pengwern, can be found in The Red Book of Hergest. The Red Book of Hergest dates from the 14-15th centuries but the poems themselves are believed to have been written in the 9th century, although set in the 7th. The poems were probably part of an older oral tradition, recorded and transcribed in the medieval period.
There are very few female dialogues in the saga tradition and, apart from this poem, women do not speak or appear. Sole survivors of disaster are not uncommon but female survivors are. This dispensing with tradition suggested to me that Heledd’s story could perhaps be a historical event that has passed down through the oral tradition to become legend. The poem itself is historically inaccurate, even in those days literature was written for entertainment not to enter the historical record.
When the poems are read alongside the historical documents of the time, they complement eachother, and this is what I did to come up with a fictional account of Heledd’s life. It is a complicated period of history, largely impenetrable by modern society and to that end I have simplified many place names and the names of the peoples who inhabit it. The Song of Heledd concentrates more upon how it might have felt to play a female role within that society rather than how events really happened. History is an unknown place, full of half truths and many opposing opinions and this just forms my own version of an obscure truth and is a fiction.

Your books also are about the Anglo-saxons and the Normans, what draws you to them?

I became interested in Anglo-Saxon poetry while I was at university and learned about the culture and heroic tradition. Although it was a violent society, they struck me as a noble, very proud people and, compared to the Normans, their justice system was fair. Under the Norman regime ordinary people were oppressed but beneath Anglo-Saxon rule low status people had rights and even women and slaves had a fairer deal.
When I was about seven years old I did a school project on the Norman invasion and fell in love with King Harold. Since then I’ve read every book, fiction and non-fiction, about him that I could lay hands on. It seemed natural to make him part of my first novel. He and Richard the Third are my heroes. I guess I just love an underdog.

Can you explain for our readers what Gruffydd ap Llewellyn means?

The ap in Gruffydd ap Llewellyn means ‘son of’ so it means Gruffydd son of Llewellyn. He was the first leader to rule the whole of Wales but he was never referred to as ‘king’ although that was his role. He is often mixed up with Llewellyn ap Gruffydd, another Welsh leader of similar name who appears in history a few hundred years later. When they named their children they didn’t make things easy for us, did they?

You have 6 books out now, which is your favourite?

Ooh, that is a hard question. I think my favourite is whichever one I am writing when the question is asked. They are all so different but I suppose it is to do with the characters. Most of my protagonists are anti-heroines to an extent. In Peaceweaver, Eadgyth is hugely annoying. We meet her first as a complaining teenager (hormones don’t change) and see her grow into a stubborn, flawed adult. Her journey from girl to womanhood is complete when the story ends in her twenty-first year. In the course of ten years she marries and buries two kings, births five children and her status declines from Queen to exile. She has learned her lessons.
The Forest Dwellers is set after the conquest in what we now know of as The New Forest. The Saxons are oppressed, evicted from their homes and forced to live in servitude but Ælf and Alys fight on against their oppressors, both using very different weapons. Ælf is justifiably angry and will punch anyone who asks for it and Alys has learned to use her pretty face and neat figure to survive. I love the story and although I had a few publishing issues with it to begin with, the whole thing has been revised now and the new edition is much better for it.
The Song of Heledd is a lament for lost things. Heledd has seen her dynasty, her youth, her family destroyed by fault of her own. She has some harsh lessons and she learns them the hard way. The story is set at the transition between the pagan and Christian religion and looks at the resulting confusion and chaos until ultimately Heledd is forced, quite horribly, to admit the new God into her heart. She has the harshest lessons of all I think.
The Winchester Goose, my latest, is more light hearted, although still replete with beheadings and suffering.

Which was the hardest for you to write?

Peaceweaver was the hardest and I will always have a soft spot for it. As you know, when writing your first novel you not only have to learn the formula of getting your writing into book form but the discipline of sitting down every day and just getting on with it. It took me about three years, I suppose. One year of research, one year writing and one year editing and rewriting. It hasn’t taken the world by storm but world domination isn’t really what I’m aiming for. Peaceweaver won me a small group of readers who wait eagerly for my next book and it is their praise that keeps me writing more.

A Tapestry of Time is a collection of short stories, how did that come about?

I find editing my novels to be quite stifling creatively so to prevent myself from going nuts during those periods, I write shorts. I’ve had a few published in various magazines etc but it isn’t easy finding publications that take historical shorts. As my hard drive is stuffed with unpublished stories it made sense to do something positive with them. I think it was a good decision as many Kindle owners read on trains or planes or while they eat lunch and want a quick hit, so short story collections sell well and, at the same time, introduce my work to people that may otherwise have not heard of me. Many of my readers have progressed from the short story collections to my full-length novels.

Do you find short stories easy to write?

Usually, but I do have quite a few that will never see the light of day.  I find once I have a title or a few words on the page, the rest follows of its own accord. Then I put them away and bring them out later to edit when I’ve distanced myself from them. I belong to a local writing group The Cwrtnewydd Scribblers and we are set ‘homework’ once a week. Often something comes of those pieces.

Again Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens is a collection of short stories and a current bestseller – why did you choose to write that?

I wrote Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens in a workshop situation, no research, no plan, just straight out of my head. It just came out, practically as it stands apart from the quotes from letters that were added later. It was so well received by members of the group and online sites that I was encouraged to publish it as an e-book. I didn’t expect it to do anything. It went out free at first and my readers loved it, so instead of pulling it, I kept in on Kindle. It is my best seller by far and is as cheap as I can get it. Historical novelists and historians don’t rate it because it isn’t accurate but most readers love it and, after reading it, go on to buy my other novels. I have had so many requests for it as a ‘proper book’ that it will be available in paperback soon. It is very short, just a pamphlet really but it has caused me the most anguish, some reviewers are very rude which can be hard to take. Constructive criticism is always welcome but insults help no one and say more about the reviewer than they do me. In hindsight maybe I should have polished it up more but it isn’t meant as history, more as an examination of the psychological strain of living with a monster. I do stress whenever I can that I write fiction. If you want to learn history read a non-fiction history or go to classes. My books are intended for entertainment alone.

Your books are often described as ‘un-put-down-able’, why do you think that is?

I’m not sure. Lots of people have said that they flow rather well. Maybe it’s because I write in the first person and involve the reader directly in the action. I write my novels as if I am sitting in a room with the narrator and she or he (I often write as a male) is telling me their story. I am just a sort of medium, I suppose.
Also, again because they are in the first person, they are not overly descriptive. If you were to describe yourself going into your kitchen to make a cup of coffee you wouldn’t give extravagant details of the make of kettle or how the water manages to appear as if by magic from the taps. These things are all familiar to you and you don’t notice them. It’s the same with Heledd and Eadgyth and Ælf. When they move through their world they are used to the decorations in the hall and the way the walls are constructed. I give the reader enough of a picture to know where and when they are but it is the thoughts and feelings and motivations of my characters that are primary.

What hints and tips can you give to aspiring or new authors?

I’m a fairly new author myself so I could do with someone giving some to me – ha ha. I would say, first of all, sit down and write. You aren’t a writer unless you do so. Then I would say, never think your writing is good enough. All writers, even the most successful of us, should strive for improvement so join a writing group and keep going to writing courses. Read the competition and keep writing, writing, writing. It is the best way to improve. There should never come a time when you feel you can sit back and stop trying to develop.

Editing is more important than I can say and you cannot do it yourself. I find uploading my manuscript to my kindle helps me to distance myself from the work and errors and typos then stand out much better. Get your manuscript as perfect as you can before it goes to the editor and then have it edited again before you send it off or self-publish. Once it is out there and you flick through it, you will find typos and small formatting mistakes and, if you are self-published, there are critics that will slaughter you for this. Ignore them and make your next book even better.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is The Kiss of the Concubine about Anne Boleyn.  You may wonder why I chose to write a novel about Anne Boleyn when there have been many other books written about her. She has been interpreted so many different ways but we never seem to tire of her. She holds an endless fascination for us.
Anne is often depicted as ambitious and greedy for power, and some authors have even given credence to accusations of witchcraft. There are endless stories in which she stoops to murder, treason and even incest but there is not one scrap of historical evidence that she was guilty of any of this.
Most of us are familiar with her story, or think we are. She captured the heart of Henry VIII, prompted his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and then failed to produce the promised heir, dying for the lack on the scaffold. But we can never really ‘know’ Anne’s story and, thanks to generations of misinterpretation, it is now almost impossible to reach her.
Since her death in 1536 she has become a synonym for evil; a seductress, an adulteress who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. In my novel I wanted to see if I could come a little closer to the real Anne. She was not a saint, not wholly innocent but certainly not guilty of the crimes she was indicted for. The Kiss of the Concubine strips away the filth that has stuck to her image, to show an ordinary woman. An intelligent girl, bred for a lucrative marriage, eager to use her position to promote church reform, aid education, assist the poor, and most of all, leave a positive mark on the historic record.
Unfortunately, after her death, her enemies painted her in very bleak colours and it wasn’t until her daughter, Elizabeth I, came to the throne that a new Anne began to emerge.

In captivating the king, the course of Anne’s life changed forever. His interest ensured she was out of the reach of other suitors and the chance of respectable marriage was removed. She could either remain chaste, become the king’s concubine – or she could marry him. With her siblings, George and Mary in tow Anne climbed high, misjudged her enemies and fell hard. Perhaps not the arrogant, immoral fortune hunter we are used to reading about but an intelligent woman, caught up in the fluctuating tide of power that surrounded the Tudor throne.

The Kiss of the Concubine will be out soon!

What are your writing plans for the future?

Well, I had better not stop. If I can’t find the time to write I get very growly and not nice to be near so my husband, for his own sake, is very supportive. I am lucky to be able to write full time and hopefully that will continue.
I have nothing planned yet but each of my books have grown from another so I have confidence that, somewhere along the line, an idea will germinate from The Winchester Goose.

Even if I stopped publishing my work, I can’t imagine ever not writing at all. It is the creative process that I love, it’s more important to me than hitting the big time. It is a sad fact that many high earning authors are so pushed around by the publishers that their writing is suffering and readers are noticing this. More and more people in search of well-written, innovative novels are learning that the best place to look is among independent writers. I would like my books to be among them.

Check out the trailer for The Kiss of the Concubine....

It was an absolute pleasure interviewing Judith Arnopp and she is willing to giveaway one of her books - the winner gets to choose which one.  To enter, pop over to Facebook for your chance to win!

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