Tag Archives: SilverWood Books

‘Kitty’s Story’ is published!

Kitty’s Story, Book 3 of The Voyagers trilogy, is finally published! What a labour of love it’s been. If I’d known it was going to take 12 years to write this trilogy I would never have started it. (I did write two or three books in between and ran a business part of that time!)

Book 1, Annie’s Story, and Book 2, Juliet’s Story, began life as one book called The Voyagers. I’d enjoyed writing Annie’s chapters from 1913 spanning to 1930, and weaving in Juliet, the granddaughter, in modern times. But as a saga with two protagonists the book became too long at 150,000 words and no editor or agent would touch it even though I’d got close to being traditionally published. ‘You’ve jammed two books together,’ they advised. ‘Split them into two separate but linked stories.’

By this time I was writing Kitty’s Story, thinking it would be the sequel. I couldn’t make such a radical change. It would be a mammoth task to separate the two. Almost in tears I rang my trusty critique writing partner, Alison Morton (Roma Nova series).

‘Take their advice,’ was her immediate reply. ‘Get the damned thing split and Kitty becomes the third of The Voyagers trilogy.’ She never minces her words.

But as soon as she said the magic word ‘trilogy’ it cheered me up and I began to tackle the big separation. It was more complicated than I’d thought, plus the fact I’d thought the two women’s stories were evenly balanced. Taking them apart I had Juliet at 100,000 words – the right length – but Annie was a novella at 50,000 words. Reading Annie separately I realised she was worthy of her own fuller story. It turned out to be 120,000 words but I was so glad I’d done it. And then I had to finish Kitty.

Writing Kitty’s Story turned out to be a cathartic exercise. Something very sad had happened in my own life decades before, and I never knew why the relationship (of course!) had gone so terribly wrong. I poured a lot of my deeply-buried emotion into the novel and as a writer had the power to create a happy ending. Being in Kitty’s head (I wrote it in the first person) somehow allowed me to lay my personal story to rest and I wonder if other writers have ever felt the same.

On a more positive note Kitty does something I’m sure I would have jumped at had I been a teenager in the Second World War – she is determined to sing to the troops like her idol, Vera Lynn. Joining ENSA in 1941 she travels to Cairo and fulfils her dream. Only things don’t turn out quite as she expects – in fact, just like real life!

Kitty’s Story is available through all good bookshops and from (amongst other retailers) from Available now from  Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo  iBooks  B&N Nook

Media interviews? Yes, please!

golden_mikeIf you’re ever invited to be interviewed by a journalist, TV or radio presenter, my advice is always to say “yes, please”. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said it’s better to be talked about than ignored. And it is rare that the interviewer is out to trip you up, though be prepared for the personal angle. They love to know why you wrote the book you did and what has happened as a consequence, rather than you rabbiting on about the story.

Lately, I’ve given two radio interviews. The first was for my non-fiction book: Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business. The presenter was the lovely Sian Murphy, and the programme is called Women in Business Radio Show. Sian’s aim is not for me to sell lots of books (darn it!) but to give businesswomen as much information as possible about every aspect of running a business. However, she kindly repeated the title of my book a couple of times. It was an hour’s live show which might sound nerve-wracking but was the greatest fun. These presenters know how to put you at your ease.

Denise on Women in Business radio showThe bonus for me was that she was very interested in my novel, Annie’s Story (published 2015) and the way it had saved my sanity whilst writing it, when I was going through the nightmare of having sold my precious business to a couple of charlatans. I explained the reason I sold the business was to write full-time, and my dream was to write the novel.

She has since asked me to write a blogpost about growing a business, and would I give another talk about self-publishing but using a professional service provider (I used SilverWood Books) as opposed to DIY. She says so many people in business are writing non-fiction, and if the book is published it gives them real credibility for their knowledge.

Of course I said yes, I’d be pleased to.

My second interview was on Talk Radio Europe by another charming presenter, Hannah Murray. The listeners are ex-pats over the whole of Europe. The conversation was conducted on the telephone in my writing cabin – subject: Annie’s Story. It lasted 25 minutes where she wanted to know the reason why I chose the period (1913), and loved the story of my grandparents emigrating to Australia that inspired me to write this trilogy. She also asked what research I’d done to ensure the accuracy, and I was able to tell her I’d gone to Australia where my heroine went, and had come across an authentic journal of a family who had made the same trip as my grandparents only months before on the same ship, the Orsova.

Talk RadioEuropeHannah wants to invite me back when Juliet’s Story, Book 2 of The Voyagers trilogy is out (25th January 2016).

So you see, interviews are a wonderful opportunity to bring your books to the public’s attention, and the audience can often be wider than you might normally reach through the ‘normal’ channels. Do give it a go and please let me know how you get on. I always love to hear.

Now where are all those TV presenters?










Publication Day!

champagne1I may have mentioned this in a previous post but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. I began The Voyagers trilogy a whole decade ago. Mind you, in that time I wrote and had published two non-fiction books, ran a business, sold a business, bought it back three years later, sold it again last June, and drafted the whole Voyagers trilogy, each novel being around 125,000. So I haven’t been idle. But all those events in my life didn’t take me to the one thing I wanted more than anything – to see my novel in Waterstones’ window.

Until now. The first book in the trilogy called Annie’s Story, is out today! And it’s in Waterstones’ window in Tunbridge Wells! It’s enough to give the author (moi, Fenella Forster) the shivers.

Writing a novel rarely flows from the writer into a wonderfully cohesive storyline with well-developed and interesting characters who conflict with one another, and have enough bad stuff thrown at them that the reader wonders how they will cope, or get out of a scary situation, or pull a relationship together. The only obvious exception might be Barbara Cartland, and even she must have developed her indomitable confidence and storytelling from the first shaky beginning!

What I’m saying is, it hasn’t come easy. It all takes time. You can’t rush the process.

Many times I almost gave up. That’s where your critique writing partner, writing buddy, tutor – call her or him what you will – comes in with words of encouragement and sometimes even uses shock tactics to force you to get going again. I think this might have happened to me when I’d finished my first draft and had no idea if it was any good or not.

But at least 25 drafts later – yes, I know you’re thinking that sounds obsessive, but I’ve read that many well-known writers redraft up to as many as 50 times – I finally knew it was ready for the editor, then the copy-editor, and several proof-readings by me.

In between these stages, the cover designer was busy, and the thrilling result definitely spurred me on when I realised my dream was turning into the most wonderful reality.

Annie's Story coverI’ve commissioned a PR consultant to help readers become aware of Annie’s Story – discoverability, I believe it’s called, and I’ve had postcards, business cards and a banner printed, all with the image of the cover. I think these advertising props are crucial in spreading the word.

There is so much more at stake when writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction. You’re judged on your imagination rather than facts. That’s pretty personal. And I know it’s going to wound if I get a bad/or even just a mediocre review. I’m just hoping that Annie’s Story will touch readers’ hearts, and if they are kind enough to give me a good review you will see me dance with joy.


Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster is now available (ebook and paperback)
Order through any good book shop or online
Amazon UK      Amazon US

Cover revealed – Annie’s Story!

My heart was beating as fast as one of my romantic heroines as my fingers hovered over the keyboard to open Bron’s attachment. Bron is one of the production assistants at SilverWood Books, who will be publishing Annie’s Story in April 2015 (this month!).

Did the cover designer get it? Had she read the book so she understood the character of the heroine: her appearance, her expression, her innermost thoughts? A tall order, perhaps. Would the design give the flavour of the period so a reader would instantly know they were picking up a historical novel of the Edwardian era? Would she have found a ship similar to the Orsova, the one my own grandparents sailed on to Australia in the same year as Annie; 1913? Would I like the overall design? No, more importantly, would I love it?

Annie's Story cover

This was it. Only by pressing the damned key would I be able to answer such a string of questions. I pressed. And gasped as the cover slowly unfolded under my eyes. It was stunning. In every way. The girl, the most prominent of the design, was so beautiful and so ‘Annie-like’ I had to blink back tears of joy. She was dressed in the right period – a little too grand, perhaps, for a housemaid, but after all, it was her wedding outfit. And her head tilting downwards, her expression so serious, was the perfect stance for Annie who had no idea what she would be facing in an unknown country.

I looked at the cover closely. How clever the designer was to pick a ship which looked so similar to the Orsova, with its characteristic two funnels. There was some faint lettering on the prow. I peered nearer to the screen. The ship had the same number of letters as the Orsova. And what a coincidence: this one also started with an ‘O’. And then I realised this was no fake. The designer had sourced the real ship and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see a piece of my family history on the cover of my debut novel.

It was a sepia background and the wine-red lettering, Annie’s Story, was bold and sweeping, just like the sweeping saga I hoped the readers would love amongst the pages.
I wanted to kiss her for getting it so perfect.

Of course when the euphoria had died a fraction I found a few nit-picks to alter.
‘That’s fine,’ Bron assured me. ‘I’ll send it off to Canada with your comments. It won’t take long.’
‘She lives in Canada?’
‘Canada, yes, but ‘she’, no,’ Bron answered. ‘Your designer is a guy.’

My mouth dropped open. A male actually ‘got it’ in bucketloads. What I see as being a woman’s novel. Well, hush my mouth. But on second thoughts it’s always a pleasure to kiss a hunky chap. It must be the romantic writer in me!

Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster will be published 20 April 2015
Available for pre-order on Amazon (ebook and paperback) 

Research coincidences


Melbourne 1912

I find when I tell people I’m writing a novel that not only are they intrigued but they become amazingly helpful. I hinted in my previous post that I needed to know the route my grandparents took when they emigrated to Australia in 1913, as my heroine, Annie, and her new husband are on that same ship – the Orsova, bound for Melbourne.

I tapped in ‘Orsova’ on Google and up came an article about the Duckles family, a married couple and their little daughter, Florence. They had sailed on the Orsova to Australia only a few months before my grandparents. The mother was called Amelia and the article gave some interesting information about what happened when the family arrived in Melbourne, but only briefly mentioned the voyage.

However, I emailed the author, Barry York, who is a journalist, historian and writer who’d posted the article, telling him how excited I was to read about a real family going on the same ship to the same country as my grandparents within the same six months. He wrote straight back and said how interested he was to read about my family and also the novel I was writing. He ended the email by asking if I would like to be put in touch with Amelia Duckles’ great niece who lives in England.

Would I? I think so…

An email came winging over from a lovely lady called Carol who has her own stained glass business in Bristol. After exchanging a couple of emails she wrote these magic words: Would you like me to send you a copy of Great-Aunt Millie’s diary of the voyage?
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this. The small package duly arrived and I was almost beside myself with excitement. Carol had photocopied the pages from her great-aunt Amelia’s exercise book which she’d kept on an almost daily basis, except when she was overcome with seasickness; there was the route they took and the ports at which the captain allowed them to disembark for a few hours. It was exactly what I needed to know. And more. Tiny details that you could never get from the internet or in most books. What a gift for a novelist.

I couldn’t thank Carol enough, that she trusted a stranger not to abuse/plagiarise her great-aunt’s precious notes. All Carol asked was that when (not if) my novel was published I would acknowledge her and her great-aunt. I said I’d be only too happy.

Bristol museum

Bristol Museum

Last year she and I actually met in Bristol and we immediately clicked. I was interested to know why her great-aunt had emigrated in the first place. Carol told me that Amelia, known as Millie, had had TB, and two of her siblings had died from the same disease. Her doctor had told her that her only chance was to live in a warm country such as Australia, and so she and her husband made the life-changing decision. It must have worked because Carol thought her great-aunt had been in her seventies when she died.

After our lunch and glass of champagne Carol gave me a tourist’s look at Bristol. We promised to keep in touch. I’ve been to Bristol again very recently (it’s the home of my publishers, SilverWood Books), and caught up with her over tea in a boat café. She was delighted Annie’s Story is to be published in April. I hope she’ll be pleased to see that I’ve given her, and, of course, her great-aunt Amelia, whom she never met, a very grateful acknowledgement.