Title: Hooks & Eyes: Part 1 of The Ambition & Destiny Series
Genre: Historical Fiction/Family Saga
Synopsis: Mary is desperate to put her troubled past behind her. As a widow with two small children, she is determined to earn enough money to look after her family. When she takes a job making hooks & eyes for the ambitious Mr. Wetherby, she thinks she’s found a solution…
But when Mr. Wetherby decides he wants Mary as more than a worker, she fears his intentions are dishonorable. After all, why else would he be interested in her? Following a misunderstanding, Mary abandons her job, never wanting to see him again.
While Mary prepares to make another life for herself, Mr. Wetherby has other ideas. If his plan works, he could use the children to win Mary’s heart and free her from a life of poverty—once and for all…
Hooks & Eyes is inspired by a true story.
CH: Today’s Guest International Author is V. L. McBeath. As she researched her family history, she decided to write a book. Welcome to my blog, V. L.
CH: Can you sum up your historical novel in 20 words or less?
VLM: An epic saga of one family’s trials, tragedies, and triumphs as they seek their fortune in Victorian-era England
CH: You write historical novels with plenty of family history. Can you tell us how you started writing historical novels?
VLM: It was never my intention to write a book, but I started researching my family history about ten years ago and I uncovered a story I just had to write. It’s been a long journey, as I have not only had to learn how to write fiction, but also I’ve had to fully research the Victorian era and uncover as much of the ‘real’ story as possible. I then filled in the gaps with liberal dashings of fiction.
CH: This book is about love, loss and providing for your children. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?
VLM: The premise for the story was based on real-life events. I found out early in my research that my great, great, great grandmother had been widowed at the age of only 23, leaving her to care for her two small children.
This was in 1840’s rural England and I wondered how on earth she survived without any welfare system to support them. As far as the story is concerned, everything she subsequently did, was always for the benefit of the children.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?
VLM: The backbone of the story, things such as births, deaths, marriages, occupations, locations, are all based on real-life events. Where I used fiction to fill in the gaps, I always tried to base it on events I knew were coming, as well as, how life would have been at the time. It wasn’t easy, and one of the most common questions I had throughout the whole process was Why? Why did they do that? Some things made no sense at all. Because events happened so long ago, I have no knowledge of the actual characters involved and so their motivation was one of the hardest things to work out.
CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?
VLM: Yes. I’ve barely written anything that hasn’t been researched! Not just the overall story, but also how people lived in the Victorian-era. Some days I could spend hours researching something that may end up as half a sentence in the book.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?
VLM: This is a difficult one, but I would say the main difference is that it is based on reality. It’s about real people living real lives. If they succeeded in any situation, it was due to their own hard work and not some fantasy or coincidence.
I would also suggest that unlike a lot of novels, it is not predictable. The series (which will ultimately be five books), covers numerous different topics and hopefully there will be something in it for everyone.
CH: Which character was hardest to write?
VLM: There were two characters that were difficult for very different reasons.
The first was William Junior. He was brought up as the spoiled child of a powerful and influential businessman, who even in adulthood, lived in the shadow of his father. I found it difficult to get into his head to understand his motivations.
The second was a young baby called Arthur. It wasn’t specifically Arthur himself who was difficult, but rather the circumstances surrounding his birth and early life. Without giving the plot away, most of his story is true and around the time he was born was a very traumatic period for the family. Remembering it is based on a true story, realizing what they must have gone through was one of the most difficult parts of writing the whole series.
CH: Which character was your favorite to write?
VLM: This question is easy. The character’s name is Harriet, and although, she makes a cameo appearance in Part 1, Hooks & Eyes, her story really begins in Part 2, Less Than Equals. Her character was inspired by the life of my great, great, grandmother. With nothing to base her real personality on, I portrayed her as a strong woman who was frustrated by the constraints placed on women in the Victorian-era. In the books, she was determined to fight for women’s rights and overcame a lot of obstacles along the way. Unfortunately, as time went on, she upset one particularly dominant male character, which turned out to be a very bad move.
CH: Is there a reason that so many characters were introduced in the beginning?
VLM: As the series is a family saga and as Mary (the widow mentioned above) had to rely heavily on the family, I thought it was important to show her support network early on to set the scene.
CH: Is this your favorite genre to write?
VLM: So far, this is the only genre I have written, and so I suppose the answer must be yes!
CH: Who is your favorite historical author? Why?
VLM: I don’t have a specific author who is my favorite. In most walks of life, including reading, I like variety and so I tend to read a wide variety of authors and genres.
CH: Is there a message in the novel that you want the readers to grasp?
VLM: As I’ve worked through the series, various messages have been important to me, but probably the main two are:
First, sometimes we need to stop and appreciate what we have. When we consider the hardships some of our ancestors faced, we really should be thankful we live in today’s world.
Second, with all the talk about women’s rights today, there is a lot of frustration that we still have a long way to go before women are treated the same as men. If you read this series, and particularly Parts 2 and 3, it shows how far we’ve actually come.
CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?
VLM: The feedback so far has been really nice and I have some lovely reviews on Amazon. Many reflect on the way women were treated in the 19th century (even in Hooks & Eyes), while others comment on how they have become immersed in the story.
I try to be clear that the books in this series form one story and although, I try to resolve as many issues as I can, each book ends on a cliffhanger (some more dramatic than others). For those who don’t like cliffhangers, I’m hoping the box sets, when they are available, will be appreciated.
CH: What is your next writing project?
VLM: I am currently writing Part 5 (the final book) in the series, which I hope will be available around July 2018. After that, I have a couple of options.
One is another story based on family history that would be set in Victorian England. At the moment, however, I have one rather large gap in my research and so it may end up being pure fiction.
The other may be a novel set in 1600’s England. It is also based on family history and for this one I think finding the facts will be relatively easy. As I know nothing about the time period; however, it could take me a while.
CH: How to Find V. L. McBeath:
- V. L.’s website: https://valmcbeath.com
- V. L.’s Amazon Link: http://tiny.cc/08mpry
- V. L.’s Author Page: http://tiny.cc/z9mpry
CH: Where is your book sold?
VLM: At the moment, the eBooks are only available on Amazon and can be read for free as part of Kindle Unlimited. Once Part 5 is published, I may look to expand the distribution to other e-retailers. The paperbacks are also available on Amazon, but should be available at other retailers (although they may need to be requested).
CH: Any additional comments?
VLM: Yes, Only One Winner: Part 4 of The Ambition & Destiny Series was published on Tuesday and will be available for 99c until the end of today and to coincide with that, Hooks & Eyes: Part 1 will be available as a free download until the end of today, also.
CH: Any closing remarks?
VLM: The story starts with Mary meeting a local businessman, Mr Wetherby, which may suggest that the series is a romance. Although there are elements of romance in most of the books; however, it isn’t and I have deliberately not listed it in any romance categories. Instead, the main theme of the series is about family bonds and breakdowns, and focuses on the interactions between family members.
If you only enjoy books with happy ever afters, then this series may not be for you. If you enjoy reading about family relationships and life as it was over one hundred years ago; however, then this series has plenty to keep you going. Thank you, Cheryl, for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on your blog.
CH: Thank you so much, V. L. McBeath, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience. And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book. I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.
Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, V. L. McBeath and Cheryl Holloway.
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