Today we welcome historical fiction and romance writer, Rachel Brimble to Novels Alive.
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
I am very much a plotter so, when I first start writing, it is definitely the plot but I have come to accept that the deeper I get into the story, the more the characters take over. I have learned never to argue or disagree with them because what they say or do usually always makes the plot better! Or worse, it becomes clear my plot didn’t have the strength I thought it did, haha…
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The protagonist, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
It would have to be any one of my heroines—I love them all (and my heroes, of course) and live vicariously through them, righting wrongs and giving a voice to the frustrated women of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am passionate about all my ladies…
If you had the power to make any of your books into a film, which would it be and why?
Ooh, I would love my latest series The Ladies of Carson Street to be made into a series because I absolutely love period dramas set in the Victorian period and especially films featuring characters from the poorer classes rather than the aristocracy. A Widow’s Vow and Trouble For The Leading Lady are set in the beautiful historical city of Bath which I think would be visually fabulous onscreen!
Is there a particular genre of fiction that you have always wanted to write, but haven’t yet tackled?
I would love to one day write a crime novel but haven’t found the courage to even try yet—I think it would probably be an historical so that I don’t get too overwhelmed with ensuring all the modern forensics and procedures are right!
If you could meet a literary character or author, who would you most like to meet?
I would love to meet the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist—he has always been my favourite character in the book, and I’d love to know more about him. I imagine listening to his stories and philosophies about life would be as amusing as they would disturbing!
As with the rest of us, you have a real life to live. So, in your most recent book, what was happening in your life and how did it influence your writing?
Well, I wrote Trouble For The Leading Lady during Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns so sometimes I found it incredibly hard to write at all. My head was just filled with concerns and imaginings of what was happening and fear for my loved ones and others.
Thankfully, I managed to write the book and I’m really happy with it—I suppose the way the pandemic influenced the story is that it is darker than the first book in the series with a more serious message. Having said that, there are still moments of humour and, of course, romance!
Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy that you sometimes wish you would have kept?
I write my first drafts from start to finish without looking back and then add/delete in the following drafts—I genuinely do not cut out anything that I am entirely convinced belongs there at the time.
I am also very trusting of my editors and if they think something needs to go, they are more often than not right and the book ends up all the stronger for it. No regrets, I say!
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters.
There is nothing like constant deadlines to prepare an author’s mind! I am grateful to be in the position of having deadlines and editors waiting for manuscripts but sometimes I worry that I am not spending the time I should be listening longer to my characters. Having said that, I am someone who thrives under the pressure of deadlines so I wouldn’t want it any other way!
What book as a child/adolescent most influenced you as a writer?
The biggest influence of my young literary life was Enid Blyton—I discovered her Secret Seven series around the age of eight or nine and instantly wanted to write stories. It was joyous to me to discover that being an author was a real job—I used to write short stories and tie the pages together with ribbon. I wish I had held onto them!
How much research went into your last book?
This trilogy was inspired by my reading of The Five by Hallie Rubenhold—it is a truly fantastic non-fiction book about the victims of Jack The Ripper. Learning more about these women and how different their lives were really propelled me to write a series where the heroines were prostitutes but all from very different backgrounds. The reasons Victorian women and even women today turn to prostitution is wide and varied – it was an honour to research their stories and bring them a voice and deserved happy ever after.
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I am fundamentally a romance author who loves exploring relationships so all of my books have a romantic relationship at the forefront—however, I would say that what defines me is that there is always a grittier side to my stories that take readers into the seedier, darker side of life than most historical romances.
I love spending time with ‘real’ people and watch them fight for their happiness. Oh, and I very rarely resist the addition of a villain!
What is one thing about you that may surprise your readers?
I haven’t had my hair cut professionally since my wedding day 23 ago – It is so curly I can get away with my husband or daughters giving it a quick trim!
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I have just finished the structural edits of the third and final instalment of The Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and it is currently sat on my editor’s desk awaiting line edits. Octavia’s story will be released early 2020 and I can’t wait.
As for the current work in progress, I have just finished writing the first book in a brand new series set in past British royal courts. This one starts with Queen Victoria, the next will be in the court of Edward VII.
The Ladies of Carson Street: Book 1
Publication Date: September 10, 2020
From grieving widow…
1851. After her merchant husband saved her from a life of prostitution, Louisa Hill was briefly happy as a housewife in Bristol. But then a constable arrives at her door. Her husband has been found hanged in a Bath hotel room, a note and a key to a property in Bath the only things she has left of him. And now the debt collectors will come calling.
To a new life as a madam.
Forced to leave everything she knows behind, Louisa finds more painful betrayals waiting for her in the house in Bath. Left with no means of income, Louisa knows she has nothing to turn to but her old way of life. But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms – by turning her home into a brothel for upper class gentleman. And she’s determined to spare the girls she saves from the street the horrors she endured in the past.
Enlisting the help of Jacob Jackson, a quiet but feared boxer, to watch over the house, Louisa is about to embark on a life she never envisaged. Can she find the courage to forge this new path?
A Widow’s Vow is the first in a gripping and gritty new Victorian saga series from Rachel Brimble. You won’t be able to put it down.
Enter to win a $15 or £15 Amazon gift card from Rachel Brimble! Giveaway is open to U.S. and U.K. residents. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street series, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).
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