Category: Northern Reads

Northern Reads featuring Judith Barrow

It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! I’m chuffed to have fellow historical fiction and saga author Judith Barrow on the blog today with her fantastic Haworth family trilogy, featuring one book set in Lancashire.

Welcome, Judith! Tell us more about the Haworth Family Trilogy. 

The three books are historical family sagas, often described as gritty. Although they are a trilogy set around the same family, each book also stands alone. The first of the trilogy is Pattern of Shadows, set in Lancashire between 1944 and 1945. The story was inspired by Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Lancashire, which was the first German POW camp. Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood. My mother was a winder in a similar mill. I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember: the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden gate;  the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins; the colours of the cotton and cloth. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales. And the sound of the siren, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery, only vehicles coming and going; the only voices would be those of men, with a language and dialect so different. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. There would be no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And the tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres would be replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

I changed the name of the prisoner of war camp to Granville, set in the fictional town of Ashford. The protagonist is Mary Howarth, a nurse in a hospital attached to the camp who holds her dysfunctional family together.

And tell us more about the series. Where does it go from there?

Pattern of Shadows: Mary is a nurse at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs.  Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Mary agrees to walk out with him but he becomes a jealous and dangerous boyfriend when one of the POWs, Peter Schormann a doctor, is  allocated to treat the injured and ill prisoners in the hospital, and he and Mary become friends.

Changing Patterns is the sequel to Pattern of Shadows and begins in May 1950 when Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. In times of war the relationship between Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann was called fraternization. And fraternization was a dangerous and serious offence. After the war, it is looked on by many as equally unacceptable, especially by Mary’s troubled and fractious family. The war is over, but for Mary Howarth the danger isn’t; she is living in Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW and is a Matron of a small hospital. She believes her job will be jeopardised if they find out about Peter. Her best friend Jean is doing all she can to get Mary to leave Peter and return to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her. And then one day, something happens that changes everything….

Blurb for Changing Patterns:

Peter Schormann, an ex-German POW, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth. Reunited they plan to marry. But there are obstacles in their way: the controversy of Mary and Peter’s relationship, the condemnation of her family and the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, ex-boyfriend of Mary’s. Even worse, Peter holds a dangerous secret that could destroy them. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her family, but it is only when a child disappears that they pull together to save one of their own from a common enemy

Living in the Shadows is the last of the trilogy, and is set in 1969, a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower power and free love. Although Mary is still the protagonist, this is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families, forced to deal with the consequences of the past actions of their parents. Granville, the prisoner of war camp, is the backdrop of all three books even as it gradually falls into disrepair. In this last book it becomes the centre of an inevitable tragedy

Blurb for Living in the Shadows:

Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

That’s right up my alley! Where can we get them them?

Purchase Judith’s books here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

photo - book signing (1)

About me:

Judith Barrow, originally from Oldham has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years but returns often to Lancashire. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Her last book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1, the influenza epidemic and the infamous Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.

Judith’s books are published by Honno, a small independent women’s press. Her next book is due to be published in March 2020 and is entitled The Memory.

I have A Hundred Tiny Threads! It’s a fabulous book! Where can we find you on social media and the web?

Social media for Judith:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77

 Website: https://www.judithbarrow-author.co.uk/

Reviewing Website : https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much for stopping by, Judith!

Come back next week as we travel to Manchester with our next author! Thanks so much for reading!

Northern Reads featuring Tracey Scott-Townsend

It’s Friday, which means another edition of Northern Reads! Today we have Tracey Scott-Townsend from East Yorkshire joining us with her poignant novel, Sea Babies. Welcome, Tracey!

What’s your latest book and do you have other work set in the north?

Hi Kellie, my most Northern-set novel to date is Sea Babies, 2019. The story is set between
Edinburgh in the 1980s and The Outer Hebrides in the (more-or-less) present. I have also written other books set in the north of the UK, these include The Last Time We Saw Marion, 2014, Of His Bones, 2017 and The Eliza Doll, 2016, all set between Hull and the East Yorkshire Coast.

Tell us a bit about Sea Babies and why you chose your setting? Has living in the north growing up there influenced your writing?

Talking about Sea Babies, I chose Scotland as the setting, as I’ve had a lifelong affinity for the landscape and people of Scotland. My paternal grandfather, Alexander Wilson, was born in Glasgow, and comes from a line of forefathers also named Alexander Wilson. My dad was always saying things like “Och aye the noo,” and singing I belong tae Glasgow. We visited Scotland when I was a teenager, sought out our family tartan of the Gunn Clan, and I fell in love with the country then, but it was only years after my dad died that I realised how much of Scotland was in the way my dad talked (and sang!).

I also have Scottish roots on my maternal grandfather’s side, but I know less about those. I decided that my character, Lauren Wilson, in Sea Babies, would be born and grow up in Glasgow and I describe a little of her family life as part of a large family living in a tenement house, before she moves to Edinburgh for university.
There she meets Neil MacDonald, a Canadian whose family emigrated from the Scottish Islands during the Clearances in the 1840s, and the turbulent years of their five-year relationship have a massive impact on the rest of Lauren’s life.
I grew up in Lincoln, which is neither here nor there as far as the North and South go, but to anyone lower down the country we were considered “Northerners” and to anyone higher up we were “Southerners.” Thus I found my true identity when I moved to Hull at the age of twenty, and then nobody could deny I was a Northerner. East Yorkshire feels like my spiritual home, and was probably on the path of my ancestors from both sides of my heritage.

Can you give us a taste of Sea Babies?

Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job
as a children’s social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories…
Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a
retrospective choice about the outcome of a recent terrible accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now?
Sea Babies is a potent, emotional psychological drama that explores the harder aspects
of relationships, as well as the idea of choice, responsibility and the refugee in all of us.

Glass of wine and hankies needed then! Where can readers find Sea Babies?

About Tracey:

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent two Sea Babies (May2019) and The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly. She is also a poet and a visual artist.
Tracey has a Fine Art MA (University of Lincoln) and a BA Hons Visual Studies (Humberside Polytechnic). She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children, and spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road.

To find out more about Tracey:

Website: https://traceyscotttownsend.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authortrace
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/authortrace/
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTrace/

Thanks for stopping by, Tracey!

Come back next week for another edition of Northern Reads as we travel over to Lancashire with the lovely Judith Barrow!

Northern Reads featuring Tracey Sinclair

 

Today, I’m beginning a new series on my blog called Northern Reads that will feature writers from the north of England,  fiction set in and around the northern counties, or perhaps a bit of both. 🙂  As many of you know, my Laurelhurst series is partially set in Lancashire and Manchester. So while you are waiting for the fourth book to come out, I wanted to bring you a selection of work from different genres that bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.

Kicking it off is the lovely Tracey Sinclair with her romantic comedy The Bridesmaid Blues, set in Newcastle.

Tell us a bit about The Bridesmaid Blues and why you chose Newcastle as setting? Did growing up there influence you as a writer?

I was born and raised in Newcastle – though I wasn’t living there when I wrote the book – and when I had an idea for a romcom I wanted to set it in my home city, since most romcoms seem to be set either somewhere glam like London or New York, or cosy like a little village. I absolutely love those kinds of books, but I wanted a setting I could relate to, and I thought it would be fun for Northern readers to see a city they knew and a heroine that was very Northern in her outlook. Plus, it was fun to put lots of little Newcastle references throughout!

I’ve moved around a lot and written books based in different cities where I have lived  – I’ve also written a contemporary fiction book (Doll) that is set in Sheffield and a series of books and stories set in London and Scotland (The Dark Dates paranormal series, the short stories No Love Is This) – but I think a strong Northern streak runs through all of them. They tend to be big on no-nonsense women who speak their mind (a bit, um, like me) and plenty of humour, even if it is sometimes a bit dark.

Give us a taste of The Bridesmaid Blues. What’s it about?

Luce knows she should be thrilled when Jenna asks her to be bridesmaid – after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and Jenna is the best friend any girl could have. But it’s hard to get excited about weddings when you’re terminally single and the best man is the boy who broke your heart: Jamie, the groom’s dashing and irresistible brother. How can she face the man who dumped her when she’s still so hopelessly in love? Then again, maybe this is the perfect opportunity – after all, where better to get back together than at a wedding?

So Luce has six months to figure out how to win back her ex, but she has plenty else on her plate – from an old friend returned to Newcastle with an announcement of her own, to a youthful colleague who may or may not have a crush on her and a mother who is acting very strangely indeed… and that’s all before a mysterious, handsome American walks into her life.

Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t all confetti and champagne…

‘A smarter, funnier Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 2010s – great pithy writing and instantly likeable characters’ Cass Green, Sunday Times/USA Today bestselling author of In a Cottage in a Wood

Ooo, now I want it. Where can readers get it?

 

Fabulous, Tracey! I can’t wait to read it!

About Tracey:

author-image-3 (1)

 

Tracey Sinclair is a freelance writer and editor who writes for various online and print magazines including The Stage and Exeunt. She is the author of 8 books, including Doll, The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates series. She recently relocated to her home city of Newcastle after many years living in Glasgow, London and Brighton and writes about that experience at https://prodigalgeordie.blog/

Want to connect with Tracey? Visit her on social media, her blog, or her website:

Twitter: @thriftygal  Instagram: traceysinclair23  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkDates/

Website: https://darkdates.org/

Blog: https://prodigalgeordie.blog/

Thanks, Tracey!  Come back next Friday for a new author on Northern Reads.