Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcoming to the tearoom Valerie Holmes. Welcome to the tearoom of a chat about your new book, Valerie. but first let’s order our drinks.
Thank you for inviting me, Paula. I’d love a soya latte, please!
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Betrayal is the first book in the Regency ~ Friends and Foes series. At its heart there is a love story wrapped around an adventure. It was inspired by the fate suffered by many governesses during this period.
Often these women came from a higher social class than their employers. Sometimes their family had fallen upon harder times. Alternatively, the male family relations who women depended upon were unable or unwilling to support the unmarried female, their fate was often not a happy one. Governesses were hired only for the period needed to homeschool young boys or to give basic education to girls. With no pension, and a meagre living, they needed solid references to find their next position. They were above the rank of a servant, yet not equal to the rank of a family member, and so lived in a lonely twilight zone inbetween. Miss Georgina Davey is left vulnerable but has a strong and loyal friend in Miss Lydia Fletcher, but a powerful adversary in Lady Constance Bagby.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have three at the moment. A crime novel set in the early nineteenth century, which will be the start of a series.
The final drafts are being prepared for Regency ~ Friends and Foes series Books 2 & 3 to be released in early Autumn and Christmas this year.
Do you write a synopsis first, or write the first chapter or do you let the characters lead you.)
I used to always begin with the first chapter and develop the plot from there. Now, with more than one project to consider I am far more organised and have a ‘CSI’ style board as well as a spreadsheet to keep track of the time-lines and the continuity of subplots. This ensures the characters, story arc developed at a realistic pace.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I love research. It is a continuous process for me: reading fiction, non-fiction within the genre and era as well as visiting places (outside of global pandemics and lockdowns!). Over the years I have absorbed so much information about the eras that I love. The more I research though the more quirky things that I come across, such as, pineapples – even rotten ones – being status symbols as they were exotic and rare, or the facination people had for visiting the scene of a murder or to observe the ‘insane’.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I was a child carer as my mum had Multiple Sclerosis, but it was an experience that taught me some valuable life-lessons very early, such as, the importance of good health, patience, love, determination and to admire those who have a daily fight and struggle to enjoy their life.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books (or stories, play, poem) whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
Yes, that my past life has taught me to be resilient and not to give up – excellent advice for anyone wanting to make a living as an author. I also realised that I have known some very strong female role models, who were loving and caring.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
I used to write between 1k-1.5k per day, but now I tend to set overall deadlines and make sure that I hit those dates and targets.
How many hours a day do you write?
Usually, 3 to 4, but I will work whatever hours I need to to hit targets around family and other commitments. I am rarely bored as I always have something to do. 🙂
I also work as a Creative Writing Tutor, more details are on: www.ValerieHolmesAuthor.com
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I do, and may use another for another genre.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That’s a difficult question to answer now!
My novellas can take two months, but the novels 8 months of writing and edits – longer if you include the research which goes behind each one.
Thanks for inviting me and for the coffee, Paula! It’s lovely to catch up and have a chat.
Thank you for joining me, Valerie. If you would like to find out more about Valerie and her books please click on the link below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.