Tag Archives: Hazel Osmond

Exploring the Creative Process-Part VIII: Interview with Hazel Osmond

We’re bidding farewell to April with a new instalment in our Creative Process Series. This time it’s Hazel Osmond’s turn.

hazelWhat type of environment do you need to write?

It doesn’t have to be absolutely quiet, but it does have to be non-distracting. So somewhere with background noise is OK as long as it’s not too loud. If there’s music playing, it either has to be such a familiar song I’m not really tuning into it, or have no words at all.

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

In that time between waking up and being fully awake, I often get ideas come to me and usually I have to write them down, having learned that otherwise they flit away.  I like to go out for walks too because there’s something about the rhythm of walking that generates ideas or helps me sort out plot niggles. Those walking ideas stay with me till I can get to some paper.

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

wolfe

I plan, but not too tightly. So I’ll rough out chapters and know how the story will end and the major events along the way. I’ll also make sure I get any timelines right at this stage, so for example, if there’s a seventeen year old appearing in the present day story, I make sure I have birth dates and conception dates right. But it’s loose scaffolding rather than a tight plan. If I plan too much, when I come to write the whole thing, the freshness is gone. Often as I write, new twists and turns develop so there’s room for me to surprise myself.

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

faceI don’t know if there is such a thing as an easy, quick story! I’m going to say that as a short story writer I do like the snapshot of a life it offers and the way it makes you use every word to the greatest effect. On the other hand, there’s something satisfying in drawing all the different threads of a complicated plot together … Sorry, I can’t decide!

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

Definitely dialogue. I’m always eavesdropping on conversations to make sure I get the rhythms right.

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

I would find it hard to write about child murder or violence against the vulnerable – I became much more sensitive to anything happening to children once I had my own.

What do you do to cure writer’s block? What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories? 

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew appears courtesy of Hazel Osmond

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew appears courtesy of Hazel Osmond

Just try to keep writing in the hope that something good will emerge. Because I have spent years as a paid advertising copywriter, I have learned that you can’t wait for inspiration to show up, you just have to get the words on the page and work from there. Having said that, I had a break from writing last year following a number of deaths in the family – I needed the break from mining my own emotions to create emotional stories. Luckily it has passed and I’m writing again.

To new writers – if you’re really scared to post, find a good beta reader who can help you get your story in the best shape and then go for it. And then, well, try to put your fear in perspective … most people are kind and supportive and those who aren’t are really few and far between. And really, should you let what ‘might’ happen stop you from expressing yourself? No … do it!

What is your favorite book and why? grace

‘Vanity Fair’ by William Thackeray. Layered, complex plot; intrigue; love; battles and an amoral female protagonist in Becky Sharpe. A huge, witty, satirical blockbuster of a book!

 

 

 

Visit Hazel’s official site: www.hazelosmond.co.uk

Contact her on Twitter

Get her books from AmazonUs or AmazonUK.

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Love Is In The Air: To Sir, With Love

I kind of came into this fandom sideways, through fan fiction. I’d seen the proposal scene from North & South but hadn’t watched the whole thing and while I knew who Richard Armitage was I didn’t really engage with the fandom at all until I read a Guy of Gisborne fan fiction at FanFiction.Net. Tall, dark, and broken is a trope that really appeals to me so I sought out more fic and then the source material, the BBC’s retelling of Robin Hood. The fic that I read that night and the author who wrote it are long gone but I’d like to thank that writer for pulling me in.

Guy isn't really sure if he's thankful or not.

Guy isn’t really sure if he’s thankful or not.

Guy of Gisborne is not an easy character to love but it’s certainly fun to try. The bad boy who might be redeemed by the love of a good woman is nearly irresistible and when he’s wearing leather? All bets are off, especially in the hands of these writers.

Grant What I Wish by Nancy Klein at Wattpad. Marian recovers and heads back to Nottingham.

Love Is A Wound by Hazel Osmond at Wattpad. Guy becomes enamored of a woman who is decidedly not Marian.

A Lady’s Nightly Vigil of Love, a Sir Guy Ficlet by Gratiana Lovelace at Wattpad.

Manna From Heaven by Zee’s Muse at An Archive Of Our Own. NSFW Time travel involved with this one. Zee recently started posting a companion piece, Aside From Heaven.

The Dragon of Throxenby by Melanie Goldmund at the author’s website. All knights have to face a dragon sometime, right?

Sloth Fiction by Fedoralady at Wattpad. Is Guy really dead? Not if the amount of junk food disappearing from Fedoralady’s pantry is any indication. Multiple characters but she loves Guy best.

Remember by lillianschild at Wattpad. Remember the time Nottingham was going to be burned to the ground? Guy does.

How The Sheriff’s Guard Got their Feathers by Whatcatydidnext at Dreamer Fiction. Very silly. 🙂

Wolf’s Head by corrielle at LiveJournal. Follows Guy’s story from when he takes over Locksley Manor.

Second Chances by Nyphette at An Archive Of Our Own. Alternative Universe where Meg survives. WIP, at fifty-eight chapters.

So what’s your favorite Guy of Gisborne fan fiction? Leave a link in the comments and don’t be shy about linking your own work. One piece of housekeeping: the winner of The Tempest and My Lady Gisborne by Charlotte Hawkins was Jennie Colleen Newbrand, congratulations!

 

Love is in the Air: The Best Love Stories Ever Penned

It’s the season for hearts and flowers and The Armitage Authors Network has asked a few of our own talented romance authors — Elizabeth Hanbury, Nancy Klein, Hazel Osmond, and Charlotte Hawkins — to share which written tales of  love are most dear to their hearts.

Discover some traditional favorites and maybe one or two you haven’t read yet. What are your absolute favorite stories of true love?

vod01

 

Elizabeth Hanbury:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I love Darcy and Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice but Persuasion resonates with me more. It’s a deeply moving, against the odds story of two people who get a second chance at love. It’s also about Anne’s personal journey. Anne is a slightly older heroine who is also the overlooked middle sister at everyone’s beck and call. During the course of the novel she realizes she is the best judge of what will make her happy, and learns how to live her own life and stand up to her family and well-meaning friends. You feel for Anne (and Captain Wentworth, the self made man who never stops loving Anne through the intervening years they have been apart) in such a visceral way you can’t put the novel down.

Favourite scene: When Captain Wentworth ‘placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time’. ‘It’ is one of the most beautiful love letters in literature:

‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan.’

Le Sigh.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

One of Heyer’s most tender romances. No spoilers but due to circumstances Sir Anthony (Fanshawe) and Prue (Merriot) spend a lot of time alone. This is different from many of Heyer’s other novels—society at the time didn’t allow unmarried young women to be in a man’s company without a chaperone present.

Prue and Sir Anthony’s romance is also very tactile; Sir Anthony touches Prue on the shoulder or on the hand a great deal.

Georgette Heyer wrote The Masqueraders early on in her own marriage so perhaps that had some bearing on the restrained yet heartfelt passion. The high stakes plot also heightens the intensity of the romance.

Favourites scenes: Sir Anthony fighting a duel on Prue’s behalf (it’s complicated but trust me it’s incredibly romantic), the ‘ride through the night’ and ‘the proposal’, where Tony makes his feelings and desires for Prue very clear.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

There can be only one! The classic love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale, beautifully imagined by the 2004 BBC adaptation and Richard Armitage’s broodingly powerful yet subtle portrayal of John Thornton. You have to look ‘ard ;0) for the romance in the novel but it’s superbly done.

Devil in Winter by Linda Kleypas

The rake/wallflower romance is a well-worn plot but Devil in Winter is brilliantly executed. The characters are three-dimensional, the pace and sensual tension don’t let up for a moment and the sex scenes are steamy yet also romantic and moving. A modern classic.

Favourite scene: When Evie decides it’s time to end Sebastian’s restraint and helps him lose his bet. Keep your fan ready to cool your blushes while enjoying the heroine taking control.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

the far pav

Not only a wonderful romance but an epic adventure and a story about identity and belonging, set across the class, cultural and race divides in 19th century India.

Ash and Anjuli’s romance is heart wrenching every step of the way. You doubt they can ever be together given who they are (he is a British Army Officer, she is an Indian princess). When Ash has to escort Anjuli to her wedding in another state thousands of miles away, their turmoil is almost unbearable to read.

Favourite scene: Ash and Anjuli in the cave during the sandstorm. Exquisitely written and never have two characters deserved their moment of physical and emotional release more.

 

Elizabeth writes “wickedly captivating” Regency romances. See our interview with her here. 

 

Nancy Klein:

What are my three favorite love stories? Now, that’s a tough one—I have any number of romantic novels that I will revisit over and over. Putting aside North and South, which is a given, my three favorite love stories, in no particular order, are Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Marion Meade’s Stealing Heaven, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

I prefer my love stories to have a large element of angst—I believe it adds suspense to the story, depth to the characters, and longing to my soul as I read. Persuasion is such a perfect story of a couple who loved, lost, and came together again; Captain Wentworth harbors bitter feelings while Anne Elliott deeply regrets turning him away. The way in which Austen brings them together is quite lovely, and the story holds a great deal of foolishness and fun which I expect from Austen.

Stealing Heaven is a novel I stumbled upon in college when I saw a production (don’t even remember the name) of two actors reading the love letters of Heloise and Peter Abelard. The acting was dreadful, but the words stuck with me. I tracked down their tragic story and stumbled on this novel which portrays their lives and love perfectly. For those who know the story, the novel is a must-read. For those who don’t, the novel is a must-read.

stealing heaven

Finally, I find myself revisiting Outlander over and over again (both in novel form and in the excellent STARZ series, which returns in April—hooray!). This time travel gem catapults a nurse from post-WWII Scotland via a circle of standing stones back to 1700’s Scotland—and into the arms of one of the best modern romantic characters ever written, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Their story has been told to date across a series of novels, but the first one remains my favorite.

Nancy’s romantic fan fiction stories of both Guy and Thornton are legendary. We reviewed her published N&S story here. 

 

Hazel Osmond:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to discuss a few of my favourite love stories …

It’s funny, when I started thinking about those love stories that have really ‘got’ to me, I realised that most of them don’t follow the trajectory of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins her back again.’

They are more ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl forever’ or ‘loses her and might get her back, we’ll never know’.

I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe I like the yearning, will they/won’t they element of these type of love stories? Maybe I find it satisfying that the doomed love affair will forever remain intense and unsullied – the couple will always remain true to each other and they will never have to navigate their way through the practicalities and niggles that creep into a life-long relationship? I mean, much as I love Pride & Prejudice, don’t you just wonder how well that love story continues? I can’t help suspecting that Darcy’s brooding intensity might hack Lizzie off three years down the line on a wet Sunday evening when they’ve been arguing about her family yet again.

No, the love stories that I come back to are not the happy ever after variety. One Day, Anna Karenina, a lot of Thomas Hardy’s books, Me Before You, The Fault in Our Stars… you’re probably getting the picture.

And if you can throw in one or both of the couple sacrificing their prospect of happiness for a noble cause, well, I’m hooked.

Here are two of my favourite love stories in novels – they don’t end happily but to me they are satisfying in a bittersweet way – the characters are battered or even defeated by what fate throws at them, but they continue to love each other. Timeless, all- transcending love, who can resist it?

‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy by Philip Pullman

I remember reading these to my daughters when they were still quite young. As I reached the last few pages of the final part of this trilogy where Will and Lyra decide that for the greater good they have to part and return to their separate worlds, I started to cry – the tears streaming down my face variety. I remember my daughters looking at me as if were mad. What was all the fuss about?

Fast forward a few years and my eldest daughter revisited the books and appeared in the kitchen red eyed and sniffing. She was old enough to understand the emotional kick the book delivers. I still cannot think of the gentle, noble Will and the fearless Lyra’s pact to sit on the same seat, albeit in different worlds, every Midsummer’s Day and remember how much they love each other, without dissolving into a pile of mush.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement

Oh my. The exquisite cruelty that McEwan inflicts on the reader in this one. Robbie is bright, funny, honest but wrenched away from the love of his life, Cecilia, for a crime he did not commit. She waits for him and they are reunited after much adversity. Except they aren’t … we find out the happy ending has been created by Cecilia’s sister the novelist, to atone for the fact that she played a huge part in the misunderstanding that ruined their real lives. The news that Robbie died at Dunkirk and Celia in a bomb attack on London, having only met once since he was taken away to prison, is devastating.

When I read the book the first time, I remember the shock of realising that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending. I felt cheated of it, but now I think the lack of one actually makes Robbie and Cecilia’s story much more poignant. In a story that goes from a dream to a nightmare, they endure as honourable and true.

Sigh …

Hazel has written several contemporary love stories. Her ‘Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe’ was shortlisted for Romantic Comedy of the Year 2012 by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She’s also written a Guy of Gisborne fanfic that gets raves. Find out more about her and her works in our interview here.

 

Charlotte Hawkins:

The Armitage Author Network contacted Charlotte via Twitter and she gave the following short summary.

AAN: Tell us your two favorite romance books and why.

CH: My two favorites are Caught in the Act by Betina Krahn and Outlander, book one.

Caught in the Act is set in Elizabethan England. It’s about a rogue entering into an arranged marriage in order to pay off his debts. His bride is a naive but very intelligent beauty who tries to get rid of her intended groom. Of course, they fall in love. But …

The story is anything but typical. It’s clever, witty, and romantic. And very sexy.

Caught in the act

As for Outlander, I love it because of the characters. Jamie and Claire are fantastic. The story is wonderful too, and it’s sexy as hell.

AAN: But you are also a big Jane Eyre fan as well, aren’t you?

CH: I wasn’t sure if Jane Eyre would be considered a romance novel, since it’s a classic piece of literature. But yes!

AAN: And you love Jane because….

CH: I am Jane. I feel her experiences and words are mine. Although I’m still waiting to find my Mr. Rochester!

AAN: Thanks for your answers.

CH: Thanks for having me!

 

Charlotte is well known for her very romantic Guy of Gisborne series of books. For more about Charlotte and her work, see our recent interview with her here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Armitage Authors Network Interview With Hazel Osmond

One of the best parts of running this blog has been “meeting” writers whose work we’ve loved reading from the fandom and this week we had a chance to talk to one of our favorite writers, Hazel Osmond. Her most recent book, The Mysterious Miss Mayhew, was released on November 6 and we asked her about writing fan fiction, her love for Guy of Gisborne, and what she’d say to Richard Armitage if she had a chance.

Armitage Authors Network: Thank you for joining us today. You’ve been a fan of Richard’s for a long time. Can you tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage?

Hazel Osmond: I wasn’t one of the people who spotted him in North & South right from the start. I don’t know where I was, or what I was doing when the series was on, but I missed it completely.  It was the BBC’s take on Robin Hood that first brought him to my attention. Who was that tall, brooding man in leather? A little bit of Googling later and I was heading for the North & South box set. I discovered that as well as being able to brood he could play an honourable and vulnerable lover to perfection. I was hooked.

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew appears courtesy of Hazel Osmond

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew appears courtesy of Hazel Osmond

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

HO: I wrote two fan fictions – both based on his Guy of Gisborne character. While I loved the Thornton character and the way other writers portrayed him in fan fiction, it was the essentially “bad” nature of Guy that interested me, especially when it came to having love redeem him. It was more of a challenge for me to get him to give up his pursuit of power and money for a woman he loved.  (I also, I’m slightly shamefaced to admit, wrote a spoof of the series because I found the scripts more than a little far-fetched at times. I called it “Robin Hood- the Am Dram Version” as I’m into Am Dram myself. You can still find it on C19).

Yes, it was my first concerted attempt at writing fiction. I had written a couple of short stories before, but I’d never experienced that overwhelming drive to write and entertain which happened because of Richard Armitage.

AAN: What impelled you to begin writing?

HO: Well I suppose it was a massive crush. So instead of constantly trying to bring the conversation round to the object of your affection like you do in real life, I translated it into writing about him. What kept me going was the way I felt when I was writing, as if I’d “come home” to something and I loved the feedback, good or bad.

Armitage Author Hazel Osmond

Armitage Author Hazel Osmond

AAN: What was it that made you decide to make the transition to writing original stories?

HO: I was aware that several of the people on the website I visited had started out via fan fiction and gone on to write books and find publishers. One of those, Phillipa Ashley, was kind enough to read the first chapter of my first fan fiction “Guy Meets His Match” and say I should have a go at writing a contemporary romance. I didn’t really consider what hard work that would be, just launched straight in to a story set against a backdrop of an advertising agency because that was the world I knew. A case of “Fools rush in …,” definitely.

AAN: What was your first published work?

HO: Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe? and it went on to be nominated for Romantic Comedy of the Year by the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  The hero, Jack Wolfe, is 80% Thornton and 20% Gisborne. Writing fan fiction also gave me the courage to try my hand at more short story writing and my confidence got a further boost when I won the Woman & Home short story competition sponsored by Costa.

AAN: Can you give us any hints as to what you might be working on next?

HO: I have three projects on the go at the moment, but I’m playing my cards close to my chest about them all. I have this theory that the more you talk about your works in progress, the less fresh they seem to you when you sit down and write them. I can tell you that love and comedy will play a big part in all three, though.

AAN: What would you say to Richard Armitage if you bumped into him today?

HO: Ah, I am one of those people who would turn around and walk away without saying anything. I went with some friend to see him in The Crucible recently and did not stay afterwards to meet him. I’m too shy in that context. Plus I’m happier admiring from a distance and keeping fantasy as fantasy.

However, what I would say should I have an influx of courage is THANK YOU. Thank you for lighting the blue touch paper on my writing. For giving me the model of a romantic hero who will always, in smaller or larger form, appear somewhere in my writing. For introducing me to a place where I could giggle and be risqué, a bit like when I was a school kid at the back of the bus. Most of all, thank you for letting me find friends via the websites who have enriched my life and who I know will be with me until we all shuffle off to the next place.

Yup, I’d have lots to thank him for before I stumbled, clumsily, into the gutter, mumbling incoherently.

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew is available on Amazon here. Her wildly popular Guy of Gisborne tale Love Is A Wound is available at Wattpad here. You can find her website here. Find her on Twitter @hosmond and Facebook here .