Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Armitage Authors interview with Nicole Clarkston

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Did you miss us? After a year-long reprieve, The Armitage Authors Network is happy to be back! Our first duty upon our return is to interview fellow Armitage adorer and N&S fiction writer, Nicole Clarkston. If you haven’t already discovered Nicole’s work, then we’re doubly pleased to introduce you to her!

Armitage Authors: You’ve been a fan of Richard’s for a good while. Tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage.

Nicole Clarkston: North and South! I was stripping and refinishing my wood floors one week in the summer of 2011, when my husband was out of town. I had small children and I would put them to bed and work all night, so I needed something for noise while I worked. I had moved all the furniture out of the downstairs, so I dragged my laptop around the house and queued up my Netflix account. I found this miniseries I’d been wanting to watch, and immediately I was sorry that I had waited so long to see it. What a glorious piece of fim-making!

The moment I saw that stern glower from the scaffolding of the cotton mill, I could see that this actor truly lived and breathed his role. He could do more with a flicker of an eyelash than most actors can do with explosive emoting. He is so subtle and powerful that he brought John Thornton to life in a way that I do not think any other could have. He began the movie scarcely likeable, but by the end he had so masterfully filled the part and grown the character that I had ceased all my work just to stare at the screen. I think I may have even been drooling. Just a little.

What character was it that first impelled you to write fan fiction? 

I believe it was Thornton. I found him inspiring because of what he had overcome to position himself at the peak of his world, but he is also so vulnerable when he discovers that he can’t earn his way into what he desires most.

One of the things I loved about Mr Armitage’s portrayal is his artless, honest expressions. I grew up the daughter of a simple, hardworking man who speaks little but clearly, and he reinforces his words with deeds. I learned to value those qualities, and Armitage-as-Thornton possesses such strength and dignity that I instantly felt that his was a character to be trusted and respected.

Atop these other virtues we then add the rare glimmer of his heart-stopping smiles, and we can easily see that this is a character of depth and passion as well. Armitage captures this complex man with both precision and power, recognizing that the industrial titan of a man carried around with him a wound which had never healed and an ache for more from this life.

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One of Nicole’s favorite Thornton smiles

What was your first published work?

The first book I ever wrote was No Such Thing as Luck, a variation which picks up during the time after Mr Hale’s death. Margaret has gone to live in London, and she and Thornton never expect to see one another again. The alteration to this story is Mr Bell’s machinations, setting both Margaret and Thornton off to Spain- coincidentally at the same time.

No Such Thing

While I was working on No Such Thing as Luck, I had also started writing Rumours and Recklessness, a Pride and Prejudice variation. By the time it published a few months after my first book, I was already working on Northern Rain, another N&S story. I seem to like alternating, so The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, another P&P story followed Northern Rain.

I am currently continuing that pattern, of always having both a N&S story and a P&P story in the works. The two worlds reflect well off one another in my mind. Thornton and Darcy are of different characters and backgrounds, but share the same integrity and passionate love. Margaret and Elizabeth are likewise dissimilar in personality, but in essentials they possess a common strength and dignity.

My current N&S story is a format I have never before tried. The main narrative flows concurrently with a series of flashbacks, if you will, mirroring the past into the present and shining light on the depths of these character-building moments. I am absolutely loving getting to know Thornton in his developmental years, and I keep picturing a very youthful Richard in the role. He was pretty cute at age 16, if you ask me!

Were you a writer before you found Richard Armitage?

I suppose that would depend upon how you define “writer”. At age 8 I would lie in bed after watching Walt Disney’s Robin Hood and spin further yarns about the characters in my head. In Jr High I was constantly toting around a notebook full of stories I was writing, but I never allowed anyone to read them. In my freshman year of college, I took a writing class from the most detail-oriented professor on campus and loved every minute of it. By the time I was a young mom, my writing had taken the form of anecdotal emails composed to amuse my family members (usually after some horribly embarrassing parenting episode had taken place and there was nothing left to do but laugh about it). I continued to daydream my own fictional adventures, but though I always had this desire to write a book, I never had the courage to do so.

Perhaps it was Richard’s performance, perhaps it was the timing, but eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer. I kept seeing John Thornton and Margaret Hale’s story playing over and over, in so many different ways, and I was distractingly obsessed with them for well over three years before I finally gave in. The idea for No Such Thing As Luck had been tormenting me for days, until I couldn’t sleep one night, so I crept out of bed and opened up my laptop. I tried to tell myself that I would “just” try writing one book, and I wouldn’t allow any of my friends to read it. I was terrified of showing it to anyone I knew because I was just certain that it wouldn’t be their “thing”. It was better in my mind to present my writing instead to total strangers who already knew and loved North and South.

You must know by now that I have overcome my initial fears. Since that first terrifying night at my laptop, I have published a second North and South inspired novel, Northern Rain, as well as two Pride and Prejudice inspired stories (Rumours and Recklessness and The Courtship of Edward Gardiner). I also have a third North and South story in the works entitled Nowhere but North, as well as a third Pride and Prejudice book titled These Dreams. Both are on track to be published in 2017.

Northern Rain

I continue to refuse to allow my personal friends to read my work because I am such a bashful writer. The joy I have found in other North and South lovers, however, more than makes up for any lack of courage on my part. I have met friends in nearly all corners of the world through the magic of self-publishing and social media, and it has been a privilege to share in their enjoyment of Gaskell’s amazing story and the talented actor who carried the torch.

 Is fanfic just a hobby for you or do you hope to go further with your writing?

I think there is a stigma attached to the word “fanfic” and yes, perhaps someday I would like to write a completely original story just to say that I did it. I write what I love, however, and what I love most right now is these characters. I enjoy spending time with them and reading other works about them, so at the moment I am wholeheartedly devoted to the world of fanfic.

What would you ask Richard Armitage if you bumped into him today?

Oh, my, I think I would be too bashful to say anything at all! I wouldn’t want to pry into his personal life, so if I had the courage to speak, I would probably ask something ridiculous, like, “What it was like to go galumphing across the wilds of New Zealand wearing those massive boots in The Hobbit?” Or perhaps I would ask, “Exactly how many takes were required to film ‘The Kiss,’ and who was the lucky woman who taught you to do that?” Or, in reality, I would probably just offer him a cup of coffee, and would probably spill it on him. He’s probably safer if I never bump into him.

Nicole

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nicole-Clarkston-1730162270587796/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/N_Clarkston

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14175642.Nicole_Clarkst

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Exploring the Creative Process-Part VII: Interview with Charlotte Hawkins

The TempestHere’s a new instalment of our Writing Process Series to inaugurate our 2016 posts. This time we get some insight into the matter from Charlotte Hawkins, the published author of a well-known Gisborne trilogy.

Enjoy and get ready for more interviews in the coming weeks.


What type of environment do you need to write?

 
Solitude and quiet. I find it impossible to work when other people are around, and most any noise breaks my concentration.

How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear? The BARON

 
They just pop into my head. I have to write them down or they vanish.

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do? 

I plan everything as it comes to me. My “Muse” dictates everything, so I rarely have a set path to follow.

Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?
 
Layered stories, for sure. When a story comes into my head, there are so many images and details floating around in my brain that I can’t contain them all in a short story. I just have too much to say.

MY LADYWhich do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

I think I’m much better at writing dialogue. It’s not that I dislike writing description. I love it just as much. But I find that the voices of the characters speak to me in my head. They’re alive and say exactly what they need to. I just write it down.

Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?

 
I don’t think I would ever write mysteries or thrillers. I have little interest in the darker topics those kinds of stories sometimes take. I feel there’s too much darkness in the world already.

What do you do to cure writer’s block?

I wish I had a real cure. Some writer’s have it, but I don’t. I just have to wait it out.

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?Grace

Find a good beta, preferably a fellow writer. Keep your work between the two of you until you feel comfortable sharing. Then, move on to writing groups. You’ll most likely find that your fellow writers are your best cheering section and your greatest sources of advice. After all, they’re in the same boat as you.

What is your favorite book and why? 

 
Jane Eyre, bar none. I’ve never felt such a spiritual connection to another story.

Visit Charlotte’s official blog: https://fromthequilltip.wordpress.com/

Contact her on Twitter or Facebook.

Get her books from AmazonUs or AmazonUK.

Sample the first Chapters of her latest book, The Grace Emancipation, on her blog: https://fromthequilltip.wordpress.com/the-grace-emancipation/ (updates are found on the blog’s homepage).

Exploring the Creative Process-Part VI: Interview with Catherine Winchester

We bid farewell to another Holiday Season with the sixth and penultimate instalment of our Creative Process series. This time we chat  with  bestselling romance author, Catherine Winchester. Cath

What type of environment do you need to write?

As long as my emotions are stable, I can write anywhere.

How do your ideas come to you?

Usually at night. I suffer with insomnia so that’s how I entertain myself until sleep claims me.

Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?

I write the ones I remember in the morning. Often I’ll be thinking about how to continue an existing story though, not a new one.

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?513VLS-pWmL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

I know the beginning, the end, and a few plot points I want to hit along the way, the rest I leave up to the characters. I find that if I plan too deeply, the characters stop talking to me.

Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?

I prefer longer stories, at least 30,000 words, usually closer to 60,000 plus.

Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

I find dialogue easier because my characters essentially write that themselves. I think as a side effect of having a dyslexic mind, I find it hard to write evocative descriptive prose.

Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?512rbiM1BjL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Not much. My bad guys sometimes do things that I personally find distasteful and I won’t be graphic about things like that, I write to entertain my audience, not frighten them, so I don’t shy away from any topic but I hope I handle them with sensitivity.

What do you do to cure writer’s block?

Read. Other people’s writing usually inspires me.

It’s been harder than usual over the last year, I’ve been blocked a few times because I think I’ve been battling a tiny bit of depression after I lost my favourite dog, but I try to make hay while the sun shines. Right now my muse and I are engaged in battle of wills where I refuse to start anything new until she helps me finish a half written book. I’m not sure who will win at this point.

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?51n7-paTHCL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

It’s worth the risk. There are so few trolls on the internet and most people are kind. Plus, it’s the internet so if you’re really worried, sign up for fanfic.net, Wattpad, AO3 or Tumblr under a pseudonym. No one needs to know it’s you writing.

What is your favourite book and why?

I can’t possibly choose one! Some of them though, are

“The Watchers” by Dean Koontz. I love his writing because before I even understood why some authors turned me off and angered me, he was writing complex, strong female characters that I could relate to. This one also has a dog as a main character. How can you argue with that?

22533482“Pride and Prejudice” is a great example of people not changing exactly, but overcoming their flaws. I believe the best relationships make both parties better than they are alone, and P&P is a great example of that with added (rather cutting) insights into the social mores of the day.

“North and South” – again, for similar reasons as above. N&S also adds a layer of social issues to the plot, which gives more depth to an already interesting story. I love the insights into Margaret in the book too. Thornton is open but Margaret is very reserved and I loved the experience of her seeming rude to Thornton not because she looked down on him (although she did a bit) but simply because she had no idea how to deal with him, like tradesmen were some exotic race that society ladies were slightly frightened of. She has to overcome her sheltered upbringing and prejudices, while Thornton has to open his heart to the plight of his workers, and see that Margaret’s point of view is very valid, if slightly misguided at times.51+2mMDeJJL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m sure once I sent this I’ll think of a dozen more but for now, I’ll leave it at 3 favourites.

Visit Catherine’s official site: http://www.cswinchester.net/

You can also find her on Twitter. To purchase any of CatheRine’s works, including her North & South novels, go to AmazonUS or AmazonUK.

Exploring the Creative Process, Part V: Interview with Julia Daniels

We welcome the last fortnight of 2015 with the fifth instalment in our Creative Process series. This time we chat  with  another published romantic author, Julia Daniels.Julia

What type of environment do you need to write?

I have two wonderful teenagers in my house. I thought when they finally reached this age, they would be less needy of my time, but I was wrong! I try to be wherever they are, because I want to be around them as much as I can before they leave home!

So, to avoid distractions and still be somewhat accessible, I wear headphones and listen to music to drown out the noise from their video games and whatever Netflix show my daughter happens to be watching. I create a playlist for whichever book I am writing at the time, with a certain theme to the music. For example, when I wrote Master of Her Heart, I used a lot of British tunes, classical music they may have listened to at the time, or music with lyrics that reminded me of scenes from the book or mini-series. It usually puts me in the right frame of mind as I write, too.master

How do your ideas come to you?

My ideas usually start with the characters. I think about what odd situations I can create for them to fall into. Mr. Thornton is hard to manipulate much, he’s pretty perfect the way he is, but Miss Hale… now she definitely needs her head adjusted from time to time!

My latest idea came about in such an odd way. A friend of mine develops cross stitch, rug hooking and needle punch patterns. She was selected as a finalist in a contest Martha Stewart was running at her website for “Handmade in America” products. Well, my friend didn’t win, but the company that did is a family-run sock manufacturer in a sleepy town in the south. Alarm bells went off in my head and immediately I had Thornton as a sock manufacturer in the south and Margaret a snooty gal from the north. This one will be a contemporary novel. I cannot wait to write it!

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?earl

I started using a new software called Scrivener that lets me skip around. So, on the current book I’m working on for my upcoming Mill Master’s series, I had all these scenes way later in the novel suddenly popping in my head. With this software I can add whatever I want and not get lost in the storyline.

Usually, I have the major plot points and characters in my head from start to finish, but there are often scenes and incidents that suddenly appear as I write, so I have to be flexible to let the characters lead the story!

Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

Good dialogue is the key to a good book! It shows the interaction of the characters, and characters are the driving force of the book. Description, of course, draws the pretty picture of the scene, but without strong characters and snappy dialogue the book falls flat for me.

Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?duchess

I am not a big fan of erotica or sexually explicit romance. That’s not to say there won’t ever be flush-worthy scenes in my novels, but sex for sex sake won’t happen. I’m also not very comfortable with child abuse or graphic incidents of harm to animals or people.

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?

Go for it! I’m hungry for new stories, and new authors. Remember there is no “grade” associated with your submission and the comments I have received are very kind and supportive. Take a risk, you will be really glad that you tried! Just make sure you are willing to keep up with your stories. I get super frustrated when I get addicted to a story and then it’s never updated.

What is your favorite book and why?choices

Oh so many! The Little House on the Prairie Series, Sarah Plain and Tall, Pride and Prejudice and of course North and South (although I do like many of the adaptations better!).

Visit Julia’s official site: https://juliadaniels.wordpress.com

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. To purchase Master of her Heart or any of Julia’s works, go to AmazonUS or AmazonUK.

Sample the first chapters of her latest North & South story, “Milton’s Mill Master: A Variation of North & South”, on Wattpad.

ETA: Julia’s posting a Christmas story that will serve as an epilogue to her North & South novel “Master of her Heart”. You can find it on Wattpad: “A Mill Master’s Christmas”

 

 

Through the Looking Glass

In Einstein’s equation, time is a river. It speeds up, meanders, and slows down. The new wrinkle is that it can have whirlpools and fork into two rivers. So, if time-travel-clockthe river of time can be bent into a pretzel, create whirlpools and fork into two rivers, then time travel cannot be ruled out.
Michio Kaku

A few weeks ago, wholly immersed in the heartbreaking and horrific journey of Richard’s latest creation for the small screen, I couldn’t help but wish I could conjure up H.G.Wells’ proverbial time machine to have grown-up Dolarhyde meet Reba before there was no turning back or to provide baby Francis with the loving and nurting family he was denied.

Let’s face it, how many times during our exploration of Mr. Armitage’s body of work have we asked ourselves “What if?” or yearned to rewrite painful, implausible, sloppy or out-of-character storylines?

Life might not give us a chance to rewrite the past, but if we let ourselves believe, we can pour ourselves a cuppa, sit back and enjoy a good story in which our favourite character gets the lady of his dreams, takes a different path and lives to see the final credits roll.

To get you started, I have put together a list of stories featuring some of Richard’s best-loved creations- and one that is seldom written about. There are both time-travelling journeys and plots where past and present juxtapose and characters from different shows cross paths.

Take your pick and  let yourself be led to the fourth dimension by some of our fandom’s most creative authors.

  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South

Kleindog’s “How Far the World Will Bend”

After having her fortune told by a gypsy, Meg Armstrong moves through a mirror from 1920s England to 1850 Milton–and finds out she has stepped into the shoes of Margaret Hale. She has been sent back in time with a mission to fulfill–to save John Thornton’s life. But will she be able to fulfill her mission without losing her heart?

Longhairedtoad’s “Once Upon a Time”

Based on the classic novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, this modern story of John and Margaret takes them on a magical adventure filled with intrique, suspense, and romance.

John Thornton spends all his waking hours working in the family business. In his leisure time, he hunts for antique books. When one literally falls on him, he is shocked to find the ancient looking text is written about him.

Margaret Hale has no time for love. Having started a bakery with her best friend Tara, she needs to concentrate fully on that venture for now. But at her cousin’s wedding reception, a stranger approaches and explains he is the man she will marry in three months time.

Julia Daniels’ “Master of Her Heart: A Time-Twisted Tale of North & South”

Modern day Margaret Bryce is in a jam. Her graduate dissertation is due in mere weeks, and despite the enormous help her adviser, J. Whitman Bell has provided, there’s something missing from her paper. Dr. Bell decides the best option is for her to travel back in time to a Victorian mill town, so she can better understand the struggles–both economic and personal–people of that era faced. She agrees to his insane scheme, knowing it’s only a joke, a way for her to dig deeper within herself to find the answers. Only, when she wakes up in Milton, and finds the year to be 1851, she knows she’s in trouble…

  • Agatha Christie’s “Ordeal by Innocence”

theearth’s “What if? Philip Durrant”

Philip looked around. He found himself on the bed in the shabby guesthouse from yesterday’s dream. He could feel his body, he could feel his legs! The same old carpet he remembered from back then, faded and wrinkly. Even the stain from the glass of red whine he had knocked over a day before. No, not a day before. In truth he was sitting in his wheelchair in the library of his house a few years later, reading a book. He’d wake up later, but wake up from what? What was that?

  • Robin Hood

Therapne’s “The Tale of the Hologram”

A student takes a step too far when she plays with her friend’s ‘hologram’ and finds herself thrown into a strange medieval world. But that experience is nothing compared to the problems she encounters when she escapes the ‘hologram’s’ clutches and has to face the music with the authorities.

  • Robin Hood/Spooks

VelocityGirl1980’s “A Matter of Life and Death”

Lucas North’s life is unraveling fast and the walls are closing in. Alone and cornered, his flashbacks take on a new intensity, including new visions of a strange time gone by. But he has no time to work out what they mean. He plunges to his end from the Enver Tower, but ends up somewhere else. Full summary inside. Not entirely serious. Mostly RH fic.

VelocityGirl1980’s “A Fate Worse than Death”

A life taken in violence is like a shout in the mountains: it leaves an echo. A life left un-lived cannot pass on in peace, especially when a destiny is as important as Marian Knighton’s. Murdered by a man who would rather see her dead than with the one she truly loves, something somewhere blocks her passage to the dead, and she wakes up somewhere far away.

Smithylass’ “Coming Home”

Set in the Charente valley in France right after the end of Series 8 of Spooks.

(Present Day) Marian Knighton sat bolt upright in her bed, panting for breath. Her emerald green eyes were wide with fear and exhilaration. She was soaked with sweat and shaking in reaction to the dream. It had happened again – he haunted her dreams and she had no idea who he was…

“Hello…” a deep husky voice broke the silence, making Marian jump. She turned at the sound and nearly dropped to the ground in shock. Standing in the doorway was the Domaine’s house guest – Marian stared into the stunningly beautiful face and piercing blue eyes of the black knight of her dream.

time-machine

A/N: The first two stories mentioned on this list are also published novels.

Nancy Klein’s “How Far the World will Bend”

M.Liza Marte’s “More than Words”

Please, feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.