Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Victorian

Kate Griffin talks Kitty Peck!

Forgive me a small fan girl moment.

I can’t quite believe I have Kate Griffin on my blog today. Her Kitty Peck series is just brilliant. Not a single word is wasted throughout. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I’d written these books myself!

And what’s more, having had the pleasure of meeting Kate at the Tiverton Literary Festival last year, I can tell you she is a lovely person as well- with great taste in Thai food.

Why not grab a cuppa- possibly with cake- put your feet up for a few minutes, and have a read.

Over to you Kate…

First a big thank you to Jenny for inviting me to contribute and also a huge thank for responding to my Kitty Peck books so enthusiastically. As she also delves into the shady corners of history, her appreciation means a great deal!

Writing a novel is a bit like mountaineering. Admittedly, climbing Mount Everest is a lot more dangerous than sitting in your pyjamas and eating Hobnobs while tapping away at a laptop, but  bear with me because there are definite parallels.

When the going’s good you manage to cover a vast distance in a surprisingly short space of time but on a rough day it doesn’t matter how long you slog away – head down against the wind, digging your crampons into the crumbling ice underfoot – nothing comes right.

Hours can pass and then when you finally look up, snow-blind from the glaring whiteness of the empty screen in front of you, it’s soul-destroying to find that you’ve hardly gone anywhere at all.

Even your ‘footsteps’ – those few feeble paragraphs you managed to hack out – have probably been deleted as you became increasingly dejected, disoriented and unsure which way to go.

It’s as if snow has fallen on your tracks, obliterating every trace of your progress.


On grim days like this a mountaineer stops, pitches camp, brews up something hot and strong and takes cover until the blizzard has passed.

In writing terms, ‘pitching camp’ means admitting temporary defeat. When nothing comes together, it’s best to switch off your computer (or close your notebook if you’re a long-hander) and do something else, preferably something that makes you happy.

A break usually clears the head and clears the way.

But even then, once you’ve gathered your strength, consulted your charts and stepped boldly back on the trail, the way to the summit can still be treacherous and deceptive.

Sometimes you’re so busy concentrating on reaching those far glittering peaks that you don’t notice the bottomless crevasse yawning in front of you. By this I mean the gaping hole in the plot that you never realised was there until you tried to marshal your characters across the final glacier and en-route to the sunlit upland ending of your story.

One minute it was all going so well; the next you have no alternative but to find another route to your neatly planned conclusion.

Sometimes it can take days to retrace your steps to chart a new way forward or around the chasm. In particularly hazardous conditions you might even have to go right back to the beginning, re-stock your supplies and start out again.

More fortunately, just occasionally when you find yourself teetering on the brink of a deep dark void, inspiration strikes and you find exactly the right piece of equipment in your rucksack to enable you to perform a miraculous leap to safety.

By ‘equipment’ I mean your plot or your characters. It’s amazing how helpful and inventive they can be when you put your mind to it!

Then again, your characters can also be difficult, dangerous travelling companions, particularly the pesky independent ones who refuse to listen to your strict instructions and insist on going off by themselves, getting totally lost in the craggy, uncharted landscape – ie, the parts of your story that you never had any intention of writing. All it takes is to allow a character to wander a few steps off the track you’ve planned and that’s it. They can be missing for days!

By the time you realise what they’ve gone and done, it usually takes a major search party (aka a complete re-write) to locate them and bring them back to the trail.

At testing times like these many writers would be thrilled to see a St Bernard lolloping to the rescue with a giant barrel of brandy hanging round its neck. (Or, in my case, gin).

Now, I’m horribly aware that I’ve pushed my mountaineering metaphor to the limit of human endurance, but there’s one last comparison I’d like to make, and for me it’s very relevant.

Kate Griffin with Michael Jecks, Ruth Ware & Chris Ewan at Tiverton Lit Festival

This week, I’m about to embark on the fourth instalment of my Kitty Peck mystery series, published by Faber and Faber.

Kitty’s world is a version of London in the early 1880s. The setting will be familiar to anyone who loves Conan Doyle’s wonderful Sherlock Holmes stories. Kitty’s London, specifically Limehouse, is a place where menace lurks in the swirling mist rising from the Thames and where the rumble of a hackney carriage generally bodes ill. Kitty is the youthful proprietress of three tawdry music halls, but she is also more, much more.

By the end of the year I hope that Kitty and I will have gone on one last journey together.  At the moment, we’re both at base camp. Around 400 snow-blank pages lie ahead and I have to find a way to guide us across that vast and virgin expanse.

I know exactly where we’re going. If I shield my eyes and squint into the far distance I can see the sparkling summit – our final destination.

I’ve spent the last few months planning and researching. I’ve worked out the route and packed essentials for the journey (well, Hobnobs and gin) but, as I explained above, you can never be quite sure what might crop up on the way.

Now as I stare at all that whiteness ahead, I have to admit that I’m excited… and slightly terrified.


If you’d like to catch up, the first two books in the Kitty Peck series have just been released as a single ebook:

The third book in the series, Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow, will be published in summer this year:


What a wonderful blog. Like many writers, I totally equate with the feelings of terror you have described! However, having read the Kitty Peck books to date, I can tell you, you have nothing to worry about!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x




Guest Post from Rachel Brimble: The Victorian Era…Why I Love It

Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend, and fabulous romance writer, Rachel Brimble, to my blog to talk about her new novel.

Over to you Rachel…

Rachel Brimble- cover

The Victorian era…why I love it

Her One True Love is my fourth Victorian romance with eKensington/Lyrical Press. I adore the Victorian era because so much more than the potential for romance inspires me from that time.

All my Victorian romances are set in and around the famous city of Bath, England––which is just a short thirty minute drive from where I live. During the late 19th century, there were many social, economical, industrial and even sexual changes happening. The first whispers of the women’s revolution had begun to circulate…not that many men noticed until around 1903 when The Women’s Social and Political Union was founded.

The leaders and supporters of the group began to cause a stir––marching and petitioning for their right to vote. This is marked as a hugely significant and respected time for women. Men had no choice but to sit up and take notice.

But the actual change in women and how they were viewed started years before the press and public were forced to listen to what they had to say.

The battle for young women to have a happy home, work and social life was a hard one and it is the dilemmas they faced that I love to explore. Each of us is faced with temptations (or decisions) every day and I, for one, am guilty of too often making the easy, expected, even socially acceptable, choices.

My books tend to be about the women who do the exact opposite. What better way to earn a living than to create a woman you would like to be? Someone whom you admire and want to see succeed in her chosen vocation, romance or spiritually satisfying path?

Her One True Love centres around Jane, whose story began in my third Victorian romance, What A Woman Desires. Even though both books can be read stand-alone, whenever Jane appeared on the page, I knew she deserved her own story.

Jane has been a dutiful daughter to her overbearing parents for many years, but when the story opens they have both passed and the family’s estate is being ran by Jane’s sister and her husband.

The time for Jane to finally break free is now. With a raw, unrequited heartbreak fuelling her need to leave her small village of Biddestone, Jane heads to Bath to seek her true destiny…

Royal Crescent

I love writing flawed, complex but ultimately, deeply emotional women striving for more. I hope you like to read about them too!

Her One True Love Blurb:

She Can’t Forget Him…  Jane Charlotte Danes has loved the squire of her idyllic country town for as long as she can remember. He is good, kind, and alluring beyond words… and he chose to marry another. Tired of dwelling on her futile longings, Jane plans a move to Bath, where she dreams of a new beginning. But the man who has so imprisoned her heart is only a few steps behind… He Can’t Let Her Go… Until now, Matthew Cleaves has endeavoured to meet the responsibilities of his position with dignity and good spirits–including his dutiful marriage. But when his wife leaves him for another man, Matthew is at last free to pursue his one true love. Only one vital question remains: will the captivating, stubborn, beautiful Jane allow him the challenge, and the pleasure, of winning her back?…

Buy Links:

Rachel Brimble - Mar 2013


Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had five books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for three more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!






Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers


Thanks Rachel- great blog. I love Bath!!

Happy reading,

Jenny x



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