I have just finished reading The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall. In between writing my own book and editing out all the words which were not relevant, I managed to squeeze some reading time in between. I found Victoria’s book about the Cornish smugglers to be a fascinating read, which led me to wonder how much research the author had to do to produce this novel.
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers, but young Jenna Cartwright has seen it all before and knows the dangers of the trade, her parents were thieves. She is faced with the same poverty but knows her boundaries. When her ruthless husband is about to be hanged, Jenna takes an extraordinary stance to fulfil a promise not to allow him a lingering death on the gallows. Will her covert identity be found out? We have some very interesting characters as Jenna follows her new life after the death of her husband.
As the story unfolded, I couldn’t help but feel the ‘Poldark’ era, and so I had to find out more. Today I am delighted to introduce you to my guest, Victoria Cornwall. Welcome to my blog.
You certainly kept me reading this book, and as I read on, I realised how well- written it was. How long did it take to write The Thief’s Daughter?
Thank you for having me on your website today, Lin. I began writing The Thief’s Daughter in September and finished it in the following March, so it took about seven months to complete the first draft. Several months of editing followed before I felt happy to submit it to a publisher.
I realised how much research you had to do to make this book into something special. Can you tell us more about your research and any difficulties you may have encountered during the writing stage?
I enjoy learning about the past so the research phase of writing a book is not a chore for me. I spent the prior summer reading about the Cornish 18th-century smuggling trade. I also visited several museums in Cornwall which featured this part of the county’s murky past. Those visits were particularly helpful and provided the little details that you don’t always find out about in books, such as a smuggler’s lantern that has three sides blacked out or the farm implements which were used as weapons.
Are the 1700’s a favourite era or are you a future ‘all rounder’. Do you see yourself writing contemporary romance or will you continue to write historically?
I usually write Victorian romance, so the 18th century was a departure for me, however, I am a Poldark fan, have been since I was a child, so writing about the same era was probably inevitable for me. It was the first book I had accepted by a publisher and they will be publishing my Victorian novels in the near future, so it’s an exciting time for me at the moment. I think I would enjoy writing a contemporary romantic comedy or a thriller, but for now, I am very happy writing in my favourite genre, historical romance.
What do you find intriguing about historical romance? What attracts you to that era?
It is my preferred reading genre, probably due to the fact that my mother loved it and used to pass her books down to me when she had finished reading them. I think I like it because you are escaping the present. Their clothes, environment and problems may be very different; but their emotions, self-doubt and character development are very recognisable and easy to empathise with. The stories are different to the life we live in now, yet not so very different that we do not recognise it.
Can you tell us about choosing names for your characters and how you do this?
Names of characters are so important. I think we have all read books where the hero or heroine’s name is not right and sticks out like a sore thumb. I chose Jenna because it is the Cornish version of Jennifer. As it is based in Cornwall, it seemed appropriate to have a Cornish name. The name also sounds gentle and kind, which is what Jenna is. She is a great heroine and I am very proud to have created her. I chose Jack for the hero because it is ordinary and direct – with no frills, just like the hero. Yet, there is a soft side to the hero, just like the letter J sounds soft when spoken. I think it suits him very well.
How do you plan your novels?
Often, I am inspired by a location, then spend quite a while in a daydream thinking up the basic story. The next step is writing down the time-plan and the basic bones of the story. I also make notes on each character, which include their looks, their motives, the payback they will get if they succeed, the cost if they fail etc. Then I elaborate the story, add sub-characters and plot the storyline. When I have a rough idea of the beginning, the middle and the end, including any twists, I finally sit down and start to write.
During the writing of this novel, did you become emotionally involved with the characters? I know many writers that do. Were you in the story, fighting on the beaches with the smugglers?
I think you have to imagine yourself as the character if you are going to portray them accurately, particularly if you are writing from their point of view. I could identify with Jenna in some incidences, but I also identified with Jack and Silas too.
Do you have another book in progress and what have you learned from writing The Thief’s Daughter?
I have three more books that will be published over the coming months and years, all of which are historical fiction set in Cornwall. The Thief’s Daughter was a story that demanded to be told, however, it needed to be coaxed into the world and did not flow easily. Writing it has taught me to not give up on writing a book if the going gets tough, because sometimes the completed novel is worth the labour of love that went into it.
As you have a book published, what advice would you give to new writers wishing to write historical romance?
Learn about your market as writing for the American market is very different to the UK market. Also, different imprints expect different things so choose which fits best for the sort of historical romance you want to write. Choose what is best for you, as once you are published, you might just be writing the same type of historical romance for a while.
When can we expect to see your next book published?
I am currently waiting for the edits for my next book to come through, so I assume it will be published later this year. However, I can confirm that The Thief’s Daughter will be released as a paperback on 3rd October and is available to pre-order now.
Thanks for visiting my blog and good luck with your future novels.
I have enjoyed answering your questions and thank you, Lin, for having me on here.