Over on her “Every Woman Dreams…” blog, Regina Jeffers is celebrating the release of A REGENCY CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL. Don’t miss out!
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On Friday, June 28, my friend Prue Batten released a new book. This book, PASSAGE, is a departure for her: this one is contemporary fiction. A gifted writer, she is already well-known for her historical fiction series, THE TRIPTYCH CHRONICLES (3 volumes), and THE GISBOURNE SAGA (3 volumes), as well as her wonderful fantasy series THE CHRONICLES OF EIRIE (4 volumes), and a delightful children’s book WOMBAT. PASSAGE is already receiving acclaim. Today, she is visiting my blog to talk about what inspired this new direction.
The Inspiration for Passage by Prue Batten
I never intended to write a contemporary fiction.
But it is a genre I’ve always enjoyed reading – authors of the calibre of Rosamunde Pilcher and Alexandra Raife in my earlier days and then Cathy Kelly, Joanne Harris, Maggie Christensen, Joanna Trollope, Jan Ruth, Maeve Binchy and others more recently.
The attraction of the genre is the way it deals with the human condition – no writer shies away from the tough or the tender.
So what was the motivation for me? Well, the oddest little thing really…
My last historical fiction, Michael, had been released and I was taking some time out, re-reading Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. In awe of her atmospheric and descriptive writing, I contrived a paragraph about a woman sitting in the sun, trying to give it the Pilcher style. Subsequently I copied and pasted it to my Facebook wall – just for fun.
But then, Juliet Marillier, globally loved writer of myth-based fantasy and also a fan of Rosamunde Pilcher, challenged me to write a contemporary fiction. More particularly, one with a woman in her later years as the protagonist.
I didn’t even think twice (Probably a bad idea. I’ve always been too impulsive.) and thought why not?
So Passage, in the first instance without a title, was born.
My protagonist became a woman on the cusp of her seventies who faces the worst moment of her life when her adored husband of fifty years has a traumatic farm accident. As the blurb indicates, Annie loses Alex and Passage becomes her journey from grievous loss to a gentler existence.
I was determined that it should not be a depressing novel and wanted there to be wry humour and comfort in the reading of this story and so Annie has a crazy little Jack Russell as her companion, along with a dry-witted and kind French woman who is completely Yang to Annie’s Yin.
In addition, Annie converses with her husband. Is she mad? Is he a spirit? Heavens’ knows.
But it comforts Annie and has the approval of her psychologist.
Writing the novel has enabled me to understand grief much more. I now realise that it has its own agenda, its own timeframe and that it can be bridged and that there can be life on the other side.
My dearest wish is that folk will travel with Annie with affection and enjoyment, knowing that grief has many forms and many faces but that all are ultimately bearable…
Thank you, Lauren for inviting me today.
If you would like to read Passage, here is the link. mybook.to/Passage
And if you want to find out more about Prue:
It is my pleasure to welcome author Prue Batten to the blog today. The official release date for Michael, the third book in The Triptych Chronicle, is July 20th. Today, Prue is going to tell us about the journey to this point and a bit about Michael. Enjoy!
As I approach the launch of the last in my historical fiction trilogy, I’m beset with quite a few emotions.
The Triptych Chronicle was a step into a world that I’ve become comfortable with. Like pulling on that favourite sweater – the soft one that cossets on a cold day but which itches if the sun burns too brightly. So this one has itched to be written and then when I sink into the writing, feels as if I’m wrapped in cashmere.
In my own reading experience, and with the exception of Dorothy Dunnett, I had read very few historical fiction books that dealt with the insidious world of trade. Even less were there fictional writings of twelfth century trade which I felt might have been the precursor to vibrant Renaissance trade.
I wanted to read about it, so I wrote it!
Learning about trade has been a journey into gilded danger, excitement and venality as each of the various commodities traded from east to west were sourced. It seems that in writing the trilogy, I was constantly surrounded by fragrance, by glitter or by extremes of colour. It required a far stronger person than I not to be overawed by the beautiful aromas of spices, by the sheer drama of polished and sparkling gems and whispering silks or by the minerals from which the powders and pigments were acquired for great western church art. Nor could I remain unswayed by the mystery of farflung places that were the sources of these breathtaking goods. And then there were the truly fabulous commodities – in the case of my novels, the dye called Tyrian purple and a finely woven silk cloth called byssus.
So, as I approach the release – it’s not like clicking off e-Bay or Facebook. It’s saying farewell to an intrepid group of men and women who dealt in merchandise, and who tried to survive the jealousies and danger that were aroused as they strode through the streets of Constantinople and Lyon.
Which brings me to the greatest emotion of all.
For four years now, the people I write about have been my closest friends and allies. I know every mark on their bodies, every expression, every thought. It will be infinitely sad to say goodbye. The one good thing is that I have only to pick a title off the shelf or open my Kindle to be back amongst them. A relief then, that they’re not gone for good. (Those that survived, that is. Sadly, some of the best did not…)
It’s also a time when I farewell the twelfth century about which I will have written six novels and a number of short stories. Sometimes I wonder if it will be a permanent goodbye or just a gentle ‘see you later’. Whatever the case, it’s a kind of tectonic culture shift. For me, writing about the age was like writing about an early-onset Renaissance. Never let it be said that the Middle Ages weren’t filled with their own beauty and inventiveness.
And of course, there are the range of personal emotions experienced during the four years of writing. My husband’s battle with cancer (which he won), a child marrying, another child moving to the other end of the island, a favourite dog (one of my muses) passing away and the first grandchild on the cusp of being born. Also joining with like minds in an environmental fight against salmon farms. Then my own personal battle with an obscure vestibular condition. The astonishing thing is how each of these events has imbued itself through the novels in the ranges of emotions my characters feel. They are very empathic, those people from within the trading house of Gisborne-ben Simon – the kind one would always hope to have in one’s circle.
Writing a series of novels is a journey. Not just for the characters but for the writer. One comes out the other side older, wiser and all things being equal, ready to do it all again. But then let’s face it – the simple art of writing is a journey into the cryptic corners of rather a lot of souls.
Never let it be said otherwise…
Prue Batten’s The Triptych Chronicle (Tobias, Guillaume, Michael) has won awards, most recently, a Chaucer Award from Chanticleer for Guillaume. Each book is a standalone but each of the characters after whom the books are titled are known to each other, and each story is linked by a thread of a revenge, and each of the men feature in the other’s stories.
Tomorrow, Prue Batten will be visiting the blog to discuss her writing journey and the release of the third novel in The Triptych Chronicle, Michael. Looking forward to an excellent post by a terrific writer! Don’t miss it…