Tag Archives: Georgia Hill

Visit Lyme Regis through “Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Café” series.

Legacy Armitage fan Georgia Hill has recently released book two of a charming romantic series. She’s excited to share a little background on her latest series with fellow period drama lovers:

Huge thanks to The Armitage Authors Network for inviting me on again!

I’ve been busy writing a series of novellas. They’re about Millie and her battle to save her seaside café business. The newest one is the second in the Millie Vanilla set of novellas:
Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Café Summer Loves. I loved writing these books as I really enjoyed creating the town of Berecombe and its inhabitants. It’s a completely fictional place but is loosely based on Lyme Regis, which is a little seaside town on the south coast of England, in Dorset.

Lyme Oct 029.JPG

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Exploring the Creative Process, Part II: Interview with Georgia Hill

Today we continue our series about the creative writing process by asking author Georgia Hill about how she works.

Armitage Author Georgia Hill with spaniels Bert and Georgie. Click on the picture to go to her author page at Harper Impulse

Armitage Author Georgia Hill with spaniels Bert and Georgie.

What type of environment do you need to write?

It depends what stage of writing I’m at. If it’s the first draft or I’m at the jotting ideas down stage, I can write just about anywhere and using anything! When I get to the second and subsequent drafts (which I always find far more difficult), I have to sit at my desk in my study. I have the radio on very low and hunker down. I have a huge sheet of paper stuck on the wall with a plot outline and a notebook next to me. It reminds me where I’ve got to, how each character speaks, what they look like, their mannerisms, the place names of the setting and other details which I’m inclined to forget!

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

Sometimes ideas arrive in dreams. It’s only when I write them down that they seem too crazy to work. Often a story is suggested to me by the characters turning up in my head. They won’t leave me alone until I’ve written them down. I lived with Rachel and Gabe, Hetty, Richard and Edward in While I Was Waiting for a long time. In my next book, Matt came along more or less fully formed. I know exactly what he looks and sounds like and even what he wears. The heroine is vaguer but, as I write, she’s coming into better focus. I have an image board immediately in front of me, which helps. I have a ton of notebooks full of messy jottings. I don’t let ideas for stories disappear exactly but I’m guilty of writing them down and then forgetting all about them. I found an outline for a story about two sisters at the weekend and really can’t remember recording it. Sounded quite good too!

WIWW final cover copy

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’m most definitely not a planner. It’s my undoing now I’m writing novels with more complicated plots and dual narratives. Hence the notebook and plot outline – colour co-ordinated to show the different time frames. But – I’m writing romance, so I know the beginning and the end – it’s the soggy middle I have most trouble with.

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

I don’t find anything particularly easy to write although novellas take less time – from the first draft through to the final edit simply because there are fewer words to wrangle. I love writing layered, more complicated novels as those are the stories I most like to read. My first draft is almost entirely comprised of dialogue. I add any necessary description in later, when I sit down and attempt the second draft. I often come across notes: ‘Add more detail here’ is usually what I’ve told myself!

Say it with sequins

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

I sympathise. Posting something the first time is terrifying. However, my advice would be to go for it. It took nine or ten years but putting my writing on a forum led to me getting a publishing contract. The first step is never easy but it can develop your writing career – and a reading audience. And, you never know, they may absolutely love your writing.

What is your favourite book and why?

I have lots of favourite books but I suppose my all time fave is Pride and Prejudice. I love Lizzy Bennet, the wit, Jane Austen’s insights into her characters – and the plotting is sublime.

 

Find Georgia’s works at her Amazon author page here.

Amazon UK page here.

Our previous interview with Georgia can be found here.

Armitage Authors interview with Georgia Hill

The Armitage Authors Network is pleased to have Georgia Hill back on the site with us. Georgia shared with us some of the impact of Richard Armitage’s first entrance into the world as John Thornton in our post about the BBC mini-series’ tenth anniversary here.

Thornton

Armitage Authors Network: You’ve been a fan of Richard’s for quite a long time. Tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage.

Georgia Hill: Like many fans, I discovered Richard Armitage when he played John Thornton in North and South. I have to admit to hating the character in the first episode but, by the end of the second, I was in love! I caught the last two episodes on a drama channel recently and it hasn’t lost any of its impact. I loved the book and adored the miniseries.

AAN: Did you write fan fiction for the Armitage fandom? And was it your first attempt at writing fiction?

GH: I didn’t exactly write fan fiction but found I was basing male characters on John Thornton and their physical characteristics were definitely inspired by Richard! Also, I found little details from the television series found their way into whatever I was writing. In In a Class of His Own, Nicky Hathaway has a bouquet given to her and they’re yellow roses of course!

AAN: Oh, I read In a Class of His Own and remember some of the North and South similarities I recognized in the story!

Geogria Hill

Link

If you didn’t write fan fiction, what impelled you to begin writing?

GH:  I had two characters who refused to leave my head. I had to write them down. They became Perdita and the gorgeous Nick Wainwright in Pursued by Love, my first book. I began posting chapters on the website C19 and things have evolved from there. It’s been amazing.

AAN: C19 has helped nurture a flock of budding writers over the past decade. For many of these authors, John Thornton or North and South was a big influence.

GH:  North and South has definitely had a big influence on my writing.

AAN:  When did you publish your first book?

GH:  My first book was Pursued by Love. It came out in 2009 and is about a troubled actor making a new television version of Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen is another huge influence!

AAN:  I know you’ve just released a new book. What is it about?

GH:  I’m so excited about this! While I Was Waiting is my first historical novel. It was just released July 2nd. Rachel moves to a rundown cottage in the country and finds a tin full of letters and diaries. They document the story of Hetty who lived and loved during World War One. Rachel gradually pieces together the details of Hetty’s life and, in doing so, learns how to love the man she’s just met. It’s tragic in parts but ultimately life-affirming. I’m very proud of it. (And, by the way, one of the characters is called Richard!)

WIWW final cover copy

Link

AAN:  I love historical fiction. I’m excited that you’ve entered this genre. You have to love history to write historical fiction.

GH:  I love history and have a degree in it. One of the reasons I love living in my part of the UK is its rich history. A mile away is the remains of a major ancient Roman fort, the village I live in is mentioned in the Domesday Book and a hill not far away is rumoured to be where King Arthur slayed a giant! It’s very inspiring. For my next book, I’ve looked to the Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset. It’s all about family secrets and fossils – oh and a hunky boat-builder. He’s tall and dark-haired. Must be the North and South influence yet again!

Thank you so much for having me on. Happy reading!

 

For a full list of Georgia’s works, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter as @georgiawrites. On Facebook here. And at Pinterest.

#NS10: Going Back To The Beginning

The Armitage Authors Network continues our celebration of the 1oth Anniversary of  North & South this week with a special post from three of the authors we’ve archived: Elizabeth Hanbury, Phillipa Ashley, and Georgia Hill. They recently spent some time exploring Quarry Bank Mill, a site that Elizabeth Gaskell may have used as inspiration for Thonton’s Mill and the Master’s house, and they shared their photos and memories of what the early days of the fandom was like below.

Happy Anniversary!

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the first broadcast of the 2004 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South.

Anyone who has only recently discovered the delights of N&S and John Thornton/Richard Armitage might not know the internet phenomenon that followed its original broadcast. The three of us (Phillipa Ashley, Liz Hanbury and Georgia Hill) were there when it happened and to celebrate this special occasion, we’re sharing our thoughts and recollections of those heady days.

“Quarry Bank Mill – it’s believed that Elizabeth Gaskell would have known the Gregs (who owned QBM) as her uncle was employed as doctor to the child apprentices there and Hannah Greg was a Unitarian and therefore part of EG’s circle. It’s been speculated that EG based N&S/JT/MH on Quarry Bank Mill, Samuel Greg and Hannah Greg.” Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

So let’s begin with a bit of background…

Back in November 2004 there was very little pre-publicity about this new period drama series North & South, even from the BBC. It arrived on British TV screens on Sunday evening, 14th November, relatively unheralded and unannounced. Then (as now) the BBC has a specific area on its website – messageboards – for comments and discussion on TV and Radio programmes. A messageboard for N&S was started shortly after episode one was broadcast. At first these discussions took place on the BBC’s general drama board. The contributions were plentiful but initially fairly restrained because the board was strictly moderated – more on this later. Then, someone asked “Is it just me, or is Richard Armitage hotter than a thousand suns?” and the floodgates opened!

By the end of November, the volume of messages being posted had swamped the general board, so a new board was opened especially for N&S in mid-December which sparked another 5,000 messages. This unprecedented reaction to North and South and the outpouring of emotion caused such a stir it even got a mention in the UK national press.

"Reconstruction of a mill workers cottage, built in Styal village near to Mill." Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury

“Reconstruction of a mill workers cottage, built in Styal village near to Mill.” Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury,

Liz says…

I was desperate to find out more after watching North & South. I’d never had such a reaction before to a TV drama before and to this day I don’t know why this production and Richard Armitage/John Thornton got under my skin as they did. Some people have described it like falling in love and it’s a fair comparison. It was certainly a wonderfully intense response. Having searched on line, there was very little information about the adaptation and even less about Richard Armitage, unless you were looking for the former US Deputy Secretary of State! I didn’t make the connection when watching N&S but I’d actually seen Richard before briefly, on stage, when he played Angus in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Macbeth in 1999.

Eventually I found the BBC drama messageboard where a very long conversation was already going on about North & South. My first feeling was one of relief. I was just pleased to find others had been similarly affected. I thought I was the only one going crazy over it!

I joined and did at least remember to use a pseudonym although the weirdos I’d been worried about finding in an on-line chat room all seemed remarkably intelligent and erudite people, quoting Gaskell, comparing the original text with the adaptation and discussing many aspects of 19th century culture and literature. The atmosphere was heady and strangely comforting for those of us caught up in this extraordinary passion. Discussion was fast, furious and fun with dollops of desire for a certain TDHCMO (that’s short for ‘tall, dark, handsome cotton mill owner’ – we created our own acronyms and phrases for speed of posting and to get around the moderators. For example, ‘South American River’ was used when you wanted to point people towards ‘Amazon’!) alongside sensible literary discussion and analysis.

A campaign was started to get the series out on DVD as only a few lucky souls had had the foresight to record every episode.

The board was strictly moderated, and messages would be removed without warning if the moderators thought we had broken the rules. We never knew who the moderators were. We only knew the two BBC hosts, Ian and Claudia, who occasionally popped up to post in the threads. There were no pictures on the board and no smilies.

Also, the board was only open until 10pm in the evening, so there would often be a mad rush just before then to post messages. It was hard to tear yourself away, such was the intensity of the discussion. One evening I made the mistake of putting on a face pack thinking I’d spend a few minutes checking on the latest postings and news. Three hours later I was still staring at the PC screen, utterly engrossed and still wearing the face pack!

And some of the threads were side-splittingly funny and off-the-wall – there was a Milton Pantomine thread featuring Henry the Horse and a thread which discussed which washing powder Mrs Thornton used to get John’s shirts so white!

It was a magical and unforgettable time and out of it came things I’ll always I treasure: the N&S DVD which might otherwise not have seen the light of day, and which continues to gain the series new fans and incite the same passionate response we experienced back in 2004; some wonderful friendships and plenty of laughter; and indirectly the push I needed to take my scribblings out of the drawer, dust them off and start writing again.

I hope Richard and the rest of the cast and crew of N&S 2004 find it heart-warming to know how many good things N&S 2004 has been the catalyst for, and feel proud to have been involved in something that continues to delight 10 years on, as well as engender a strong sense of community and goodwill among its many fans worldwide.

"Kitchen garden at the Apprentice House – produce from kitchen garden was used to feed apprentices." Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

“Kitchen garden at the Apprentice House – produce from kitchen garden was used to feed apprentices.” Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

Phillipa says….

 I’ve never heard that face pack story, Liz! I’d love to have seen that.

 Whizzing back ten years to that dark Sunday evening in November 2004…

 I’d always loved period dramas and when I saw N&S trailered, I thought I’d give it a go, BUT (please hide behind the sofa at this point) I hated Thornton in the first episode. I thought he was vile when he kicked the millworker and not handsome, but scary. I told my husband and daughter that I might not bother with episode 2, however, they really enjoyed it so I decided to give the series a second a chance.

 Some way into episode 2, I suddenly thought: wow, this is good and wow, this character has a magnetic charisma that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Basically I was completely hooked on the series and on Richard’s portrayal of Thornton and I wanted more of both.

 Internet forums were relatively new back then, so while I was looking for more details on the series I happened upon the BBC Drama messageboard. It was there I saw a thread that said something like: “It is just me or is John Thornton hotter than 1000 suns?”

 The board is where I ‘met’ Liz and Georgia but they had screen names then. It wasn’t until many months later that we finally met in the flesh.

 I have North & South to thank for that, and for introducing me to writing fiction and to my other C19 close friends.

"Inside the mill with machines and cotton dust!" Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

“Inside the mill with machines and cotton dust!” Photo used with the kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

 Georgia says…

Heady is exactly the right word. It was an extraordinary time. I’d gone through something similar with the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, back in 1995. The big difference? No internet! I had to make do with a ‘Making of’ behind the scenes book and a trip to some of the film locations. Although I still harbour a fondness for both television series and Colin Firth (who doesn’t?!) the obsession soon waned. With North & South, I had a access to a community of intelligent, educated and, let’s face it, swooning Richard Armitage fans! It revived my love of 19th century literature and history and introduced me to many books I probably would have otherwise overlooked.

I have very fond memories of the BBC site. I’d never been on an internet chat forum before and it was an absolute delight. Like having a non-stop gossip with like-minded people. We’d begin a thread discussing one thing and it would drift into something really quite different. What began as an opera topic, ended up as a discussion on whether we thought our literary hero was a virgin. There were in jokes galore too. The main snag was, at that time, I only had a dial-up internet connection. This meant not only was the phone ‘engaged’ for hours on end, I quadrupled the phone bill. That took some explaining.

Meeting up in London – for the first time – was scary. It didn’t help that a friend suggested all these women may not be all they seemed. The person who claimed to be a Jane Austen literature expert on the board may be something completely different for real! Thankfully, everyone turned out to be as lovely in real life as on the board – and as easy to talk to. We’ve gone on to have some really enjoyable weekends – to mills, Chawton and to Edinburgh where many N&S locations were filmed. I’ve made some lasting friendships which I treasure. And, of course, it sparked off my writing career.

Great fun and happy memories.

"Tables set out for celebration dinner – complete with yellow roses of course!" Photo used with kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

“Tables set out for celebration dinner – complete with yellow roses of course!” Photo used with kind permission of Liz Hanbury.

 Footnote…

The BBC N&S board carried on until February 2005, when it was shut down in a cost-cutting exercise. Allegedly ;0) Actually I don’t think they could cope with the deluge of posts! Richard Armitage himself posted a message to us the day before it closed and the response caused the board to go into meltdown. It never quite recovered before its final closure the following evening!

One of the members had already set up another board elsewhere for discussion about 19th century literature. When the BBC board closed, she kindly set up some extra boards about N&S for us on the C19 Messageboard, and most of us moved over there.

Copies of some of the conversations we had about North & South on the BBC board in the three months after it was aired can be found in the archive board on C19. A few members had the prescience to save some of the best ones.

And that mention in the UK national press? The Times printed an article about the phenomenon that was the BBC N&S board just before Christmas 2004. You can read it here.

We hope those who were never on the BBC board enjoy reading about that heady time. We certainly will never forget it! Let us know if you have any questions about those early days and we’ll do our best to answer them.

You can find Georgia Hill in our archive here. Follow her on Twitter @georgiawrites. Phillipa Ashley is in our archive here. Follow her on Twitter @PhillipaAshley. Liz Hanbury can be found in our archive here. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Hanbury.