Thursday, 31 May 2012

Interview with historical novelist Karen Aminadra

My guest today is Karen Aminadra (pronounced Amin-ah-dra) who is the author of Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice continues. She also teaches English language. Karen was born in London and grew up in Hertfordshire, 'the land of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice’.
Most of us are familiar with Pride and Prejudice and will recall the character Charlotte Lucas who wed Lizzie Bennet’s rejected suitor Mr Collins.  Karen’s novel follows Charlotte’s story and gives us the chance to be reunited with the characters we came to know and love in Jane Austen’s classic novel.

 Charlotte did not love Mr Collins when she married him but had at least secured her future. However, she soon begins to feel trapped and discontent. The easiest thing to do would be to do as she is told. But Charlotte must decide to remain as she is or to begin a chain of events that will change not only her life but also the lives of those around her forever.

Hello Karen, thank you so much for agreeing to appear on my blog. I really enjoyed Charlotte; Pride and Prejudice Continues but rather than hear my opinions I’d like you to tell us all about it. For instance, what inspired you to begin?

I began to write Charlotte ~ Pride & Prejudice Continues after a conversation about her.  I had always wondered about her, and what her life would have been like after she married Mr Collins.
I think it would be far too easy to be cold-hearted towards Charlotte and say, “well she made her bed, let her lie in it.”  I was never happy with that.

 What was it like to take characters that someone else (and one of our greatest authors too) had originally created and bend them to fit your story?
I wished to stay as true to Jane’s work as possible.  I did not want to change Charlotte’s personality at all.  She is witty, intelligent, and strong and I wanted that to come out in the book, but I also wanted her to grow.
She learns a lot about herself, that she can manipulate her husband a little and that she is not as strong as she first thought.  She battles with emotions, due to her loneliness and that leads her to places she should not be.

 What changes have you implemented as Charlotte matures from a girl to a woman?
I also never believed a word of it, when she said she was not romantic, and that she would be fine without affection in her marriage.  There is not a human being alive who can live without affection.  Charlotte had said that to Lizzy before her marriage, when she was surrounded by friends who cared for her and a large family who must have shown their affection some way or another.
I thought that upon arriving in Kent that she must have felt lonely.  She encouraged Mr Collins to be out in the garden, in the parish, at Rosings or in his book room.  How lonely! 
I also wondered about her need for conversation.  Mr Collins was never shown to be the kind of person you could talk to for hours or bare your soul to, and Lady Catherine would likely bite your head off and scold you for some trifling matter, so who did Charlotte have to talk to?

Charlotte is not perhaps everyone’s idea of a heroine, what was it about her that made you choose her?
Charlotte might not be most people’s idea of a heroine but I was always drawn to her and I always remembered Jane Austen’s own words to her sister Cassandra that every girl should marry for love if possible.  I wanted love for Charlotte too.
And what about Mr Collins?  Who could be married to him and not try to change him in some way?  The least a wife would do is point out his errors or flaws, delicately. 

 Yes, I wanted to ask you about Mr Collins. He is a bit of a toad to begin with, isn’t he? How did you manage to understand how his mind worked?
Jane wrote a wonderful character in him.  He is a real parody of the people she had obviously encountered but I wanted to ask, why was he like that? We all change over the years, and due to things that happen in our lives, could the same happen in the Collins household?

 I can see it must have been quite a challenge. Which of the characters did you enjoy writing the most?
Once I had introduced new characters in the shape of Hunsford Villagers, they took on their own personalities and they were quite entertaining to write.  I personally love Mr Abbot.  I think he is a blend of Charlotte’s own father Sir William Lucas and King George III “what, what!” and possibly one of my husband’s many characters!  I found that those characters also wanted to help Charlotte, so together we hatched a plan!

Well I for one loved Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice continues and I’m busily recommending it to all my friends. I wish you every luck with it. Can you tell us a little about your next project just so we have something else to look forward to?

The new one is begins in 1911 and goes into 1912... and is a historical crime/ mystery.
Driven by jealousy, greed and desire, nothing will stop Gregory Rogers from taking that which he believes is his. He'll do anything to gain money, Bancroft Hall and the power that comes with the title of Baronet. Including murder.
....Until his eyes fall upon the beautiful Jane. Can she rescue him from himself? Will she be the one thing that he cannot ruin in order to have?

Sounds excellent. I will wait with baited breath. thanks once again, Karen, for sparing time for us today and I hope you will be back to talk more about your next one very soon.

Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice Continues is available on Amazon Kindle and will be available soon in paperback.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Star fell from Orion

Lampeter Writer’s Workshop was founded in 1984 and is now one of the most successful writers groups in Wales. It has encouraged and promoted several authors who have won international prizes and published a number of collections.
The workshop is chaired by the internationally renowned writer and National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke.  The group have recently published an anthology of poetry and prose called A Star fell from Orion which reads like a merging of souls. Since the poems describe themselves far better than I could, a few samples are included below.

 Hyperbole Among the Swedes
Charlotte Symons

Write a poem, you said,
preferably featuring a vegetable.
I stare at the page, try to dredge
sparkling simile, dramatic metaphor,
from the fruit and veg aisle of the local supermarket.
Yet, where there should be dark-skinned aubergines,
smooth, and shining as sin,
sceptred artichokes the size of a babies head,
or two-hued cauliflowers, snowy craniums enfolded,
I find only potatoes, cellophaned spinach
and mushrooms in cling-wrapped boxes.
Time’s up, you say, and I have
nothing – only these words, dug
fresh as young carrots from dark loam.

Pas de Deux
Carole Powell

 I catch you in my throat
in the tumble of the castle walls
the elegance of leaves
the trees’ half century of lean

your presence beating ever
in the swan’s slow move
above the curve of river.

(for Jan)
Sue Moules

And what is life
but to look up and see the sky,
marvel still at its intensity.
Moments that will never come again,
time catches the kite tails
of our children soaring in the blue.

We have settled into the silt,
but they have life to fly,
break through the susurration
of leaves, tangle in trees.

They ghost the future for possibilities,
look up at the sky, still sharp and blue.
We are amazed at the adults they are;
still see the children they once were.

Love Potion
Brenda Old

You gave me a glass
the trace of your fingers
warm to my touch.
As you poured
the wine slipped
towards the rim.
I sipped
left an imprint
of my lips.
You took back the glass
placed yours
Where mine had been.

You can order copies of A Star fell from Orion from Amazon.

For click here:

For click here:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Searching For The Reason Why

Available as a paper back or on Kindle

I've had some personal issues lately; nothing major or life changing but they have forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate what it is I am trying to achieve. I write stories, that much is clear and that won't ever change. I didn't think that my reason for writing them had changed either but I find the constant pressures of promotion and marketing sometimes takes away the pleasure of storytelling. I write, I publish, sometimes people read them, sometimes they don't, sometimes they love them, sometimes they don't. I can't please everyone and I don't try to.
It isn't that I don't care whether my books do well or not, it is more a case of being practical and making sure that I stay true to myself.
I am not Philippa Gregory or Hilary Mantel, I am Judith Arnopp and my books are as unique as I am. I don't want them to be like anyone else's. Sometimes I forget that.
When, after several drafts, I thought The Song of Heledd was finished, my editor said it was too short, needed something else so I duly 'added' bits, embellished what was there and sent it to her again. No, she still wasn't  happy, it was still only 50,000 words, a novelette and she advised me that it wouldn't sell. I duly sat down and wrote in a sub-plot. I find it extraordinarily difficult to meddle with my work too much once it is done but I respect her advice and knew she was probably right. The new shiny, much bled over manuscript was finally done.  I left it for a few months before reading it through and to my horror discovered that I hated it.
It was no longer what I had intended it to be. The Song of Heledd is about human folly, childish impulsiveness that brings about a catastrophy so dreadful that the narrator can hardly bear to speak of it. So I sat down and ripped out the sub plot again and, if I learned anything from the exercise it is that taking out a sub-plot is a whole lot more difficult than adding one.  I also discovered that initial plot concepts are sometimes the best ones. Now Heledd stands alone on her hilltop again, lamenting for the loss of her family, the loss of her kin and trying to bear the pain of knowing that it is her fault alone. It is a stark tale of harsh times, a fiction of how one small indiscretion can bring intolerable suffering.
It will probably never make the bestseller charts but that doesn't matter. I needed to write it and can now consider it closed and get on with my next story. The Song of Heledd was published a couple of months ago and is also available on Kindle. Already I have received several emails from readers who have loved it, who promise to share it with their friends and to me that denotes success.  It isn't a lengthy book but if the story of Heledd and Ffreur doesnt affect you, then you must be made of stone. This is why I write, to offer readers a few hours of escape, to make them think a little and it is the readers who enjoy my work and take the trouble to let me know my efforts are appreciated that makes it all worth while. Those readers make me remember what it is that I am trying to achieve.

My other books include:

The Forest Dwellers

Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

I am very pleased to welcome Angela White onto my blog today. Thank you for agreeing to appear as my guest Angela.

Scenes of the Apocalypse#1 - Horrible Struggles for Survival

If no one died, or had to fight to live, it wouldn't be called the Apocalypse. The horrible struggles for survival will happen in every town, big and small, across the world. Even isolated lands will be affected. In heavily populated cities, authority will be overrun and the citizens left to fend for themselves.

During an Apocalypse event, governments will declare Martial Law and depending on the severity, may even reinstate the Draft. Households will be stripped of their men and boys and women will be left defenseless against the hard new world. Such cruelty will result in awful battles for survival and more dead on the streets.

In the aftermath, everyone's previous career will be a highly talked about topic. For those who were military, government or one of the few valued enough to have earned a pass to NORAD, the battles for survival will be harder. Refugees will not be kind to anyone they think is even remotely responsible and most people will lie rather than face the punishment the post-apocalyptic survivors will want to hand out.

Some of the battles will be life changing, such as the one mentioned in the excerpt below. In this scene, Samantha has finally found a refugee camp full of normal survivors, but the hell she had been through has already taken its toll and she's afraid to trust.

'Seven very gifted survivors are destined to rebuild their country after a nuclear apocalypse ...if they can stay alive long enough to find each othere. Impossible to put down' - The Review Blog

Samantha studied his earnest expression. 'I don't talk about it because I don't think I'd be welcome if people knew.'
'I'm not everyone and I'm guessing Adrian already knows. You can trust me. I'd never judge you.'
Same allowed herself to hope. 'I worked for the government before.'
Neil's scowl spread across his face. 'The government?'
'Weather tracking?'
'Seattle EPA.'
His eyes widened in understanding. 'You had a pass.'
Her haunted voice reminded him of Angela's as she confirmed it. 'The chopper crashed, got hit by an EMP, I think. It went down in Northern Wyoming. I was the only survivor.'
Neil's mind raced. 'You made it to the compound?'
Her voice was bitter. 'I didn't get the chance for a while. I had to get away from two painters first. They found the crash site. No one else ever came.'
Neil forced himself to ask. 'How long were you with them?'
'Two weeks.'
Her tense body language said that was the moment in time where she'd needed protection and Neil felt something inside shift. He would have fought for her life the same way he had his father's.
'Then I went to NORAD.'
Neil mirrored her sadness for the once great American icon, but in those blue depths lurked a knowledge of life and death that told the trooper she'd had problems there too.'


Full of realistic and fantasy situations, the Life After War Series is a combination of more than seven genres, so there's a good chance of everyone liking it and learning a few things about survival at the same time. You can get a free copy at the link below, of the first book in the series. It's free for all of this year to celebrate the possible end of the world on 12/21/2012.

By the way, a huge thanks to Judith for hosting me on my Scenes of the Apocalypse release tour. Have you read The Song of Heledd yet? I just downloaded a copy to my kindle. Gonna have a great summer of reading by the time I gather up all these new books!

Adrian's Eagles Three months after the war of 2012, Safe Haven refugee camp has made it to South Dakota and now holds six of the seven special survivors meant to lead the rebuilding of the country - butit cant be done until they find a safe place to settle ...and who can think of peace when there's a huge camp of foreign invaders less than a day behind their group and they only want one thing? Safe Haven and everyone inside the light.

More information about Angela and her books can be found below.

Adrian's Eagles
Angela's webpage  Free - The survivors - The bestselling novel that stared it all.