Wednesday, 6 May 2015

'My Lovely Blog' Blog Hop

I’ve been invited by friend and fellow author Louise Turner to join the ‘my lovely blog’ series - which asks writers to answer a few questions about themselves under the six headings below.  You can check out Louise’s own excellent blog here.

Me loving my cousin Sue
First memory

I remember being in my big pram in the hall waiting to go out with my mum. It is a very vague collage of scents and tastes and sounds. If I close my eyes I can see the light shining through the net curtains, taste the rusk I had for breakfast, hear my mother singing in the kitchen, and my big sisters cooing and fussing over me. They don’t do that now – lol.


There were lots of books in our house when I was small. I remember a colour picture book of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and another picture book about Toys who came to life in the cupboard and had adventures – the pictures were fabulous, really vivid and detailed. This was combined with Winnie the Pooh, then Enid Blyton, Robert Louis Stephenson as I got a bit older. As a teenager I began to read historical fiction which has been my favourite genre ever since. When I began to write seriously it was the obvious genre choice for me. The author I most admire now is Hilary Mantel; I love the way you are in the room with her characters, part of their lives, the reader comes to understand them so much better. I also love the classics, going back to Chaucer because of the sense of the past they provide. Chaucer was the source for my Joanie Toogood when I wrote The Winchester Goose.
 Libraries or bookshops?

Bookshop in Much Wenlock UK
Both please. I use a library for research, my home is stuffed with books, mostly non-fiction but a good deal of fiction too. When I was a teenager I was in the library every weekend (I know, geeky). We need to save our libraries; it is short sighted to close them down. Books inform and shape people; education is the way forward and libraries are a source of free education accessible to everyone.  
I buy a lot of books, my shelves are bulging. I do use Amazon for convenience but still like to get lost in a book shop and can never help buying something. Bookshops are lovely. I love how they smell, how quiet they are. There is nothing like a bookshop for making you lose track of time. I hate shopping but bookshops are something else. Readers need them, writers need them, people who have yet to discover the joy of a good book need them, our children need them and booksellers need them – keep them open. Open more.


I was the first in my family to go to university but I didn’t go until I was forty.  I loved school but in the seventies working class girls were not encouraged to enter further education. We were pushed into becoming typists or shop assistance. Neither of those things were for me (although the touch typing comes in very handy.) I was married at eighteen and a mother by the time I was twenty. I have four lovely children and three step-children. I enjoyed bringing them up but when the youngest became more independent I was a little bit lost. With a friend’s encouragement I enrolled at the University of Wales and my life changed completely. I stayed there for six years, taking a BA in English and Creative Writing and an MA in Medieval Studies. It was a fabulous part of my life.


Tretower Court, Powys
It is something I’ve always done. Those infant school ‘news’ stories evolved into short stories, poems, romances. When I went to university my Creative Writing lecturer (playwright Dic Edwards) encouraged me to do more with it. It was hard going at first. I wrote a couple of novels that will forever remain in my bottom drawer and then Peaceweaver was published in 2009. Since then I’ve written seven and am now working on my eighth.
If I don’t do any writing for a while I get very cranky. I like to hide myself away, imagine myself in one of the lovely castles/manor houses that we've visited and the story just flows from that. The Tudor world is a comfortable place for me, far nicer than a modern shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon.

 What's your passion?

Me at Raglan Castle last year
Lots of things. History, writing, my husband John and our family, my garden, my new-born grandson, walking, castles, the environment, nature, animals, trees ...even my daft little dog. Sometimes I combine all those things like when we go to Raglan Tudor Weekend (May 24th -25th this year). I also like crafts, painting, photography, sewing and working with wool but, apart from my vast and lovely family, writing comes top. There is nothing like sitting down in the morning with a blank page and coming away at lunch time with the bones of a good story. I get to experience every medieval danger imaginable without actually coming to any harm – hopefully my readers do too. Writing historical fiction is, for me, escapism and I am so fortunate to earn a living indulging in my passion.

Now, I 'd better get back to it. Margaret Beaufort awaits!
Thanks for inviting me, Louise!  In my turn, I pass the baton on to two more historical novelists:  Sheila Dalton and Wendy Steele.

Judith Arnopp is the author of seven historical fiction novels, four set in the Tudor period and three in the Anglo-Saxon/early Medieval. She is currently working on the life of Margaret Beaufort. All are available in paperback and on kindle. Click here for more information.


Winnie the Pooh cover -  "WhenWeWereVeryYoung" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
Bookshop: "Bookshop in Much Wenlock" by MichaelMaggs - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
All other photographs copyright Judith Arnopp

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read, Judith. Thanks for tagging me.