New Historical author Jenni Fletcher visits the blog to talk about her debut book Married to Her Enemy!
If people ever ask me how I came up with the plot for my first book, Married to Her Enemy, I have two answers – a short easy one and a long convoluted one. Just to warn you, this blog covers both.
The short one sounds corny, but I promise that it’s true. I dreamt it. It was January 2014 and I woke up with the story and characters all there in my head. I remember my children scampering around the bed and knew that I had to get up and write it down before I forgot.
The long answer is that it spent about twenty years rolling around my subconscious before finally turning itself into a coherent story. Because at fifteen I first discovered historical romance and knew that I’d found my genre – not just for reading, but for writing too.
With hindsight, I can identify the whole process. I’ve always loved history, but the first historical romance I ever read was my mum’s copy of the 1954 classic Katherine by Anya Seton. Because I enjoyed that, my mum then lent me her collection of Sharon Kay Penman’s Medieval novels, and then… well, then I went to my local library one day and randomly picked up a book called Sapphire in the Snow by Mills & Boon author Carol Townend. I borrowed and read it in one sitting, gradually realising that I’d just discovered a whole different type of historical novel, one that wasn’t based on real people and so wasn’t bound by facts, yet maintained the same feeling of historical authenticity. It had a great plot, a sympathetic heroine, a wedding, a massacre, a lost jewel, a genuine baddie, and a hero I may still be in love with. Edmund. Sigh….
That was the moment I knew what I wanted to write, though at fifteen, I also knew that I wasn’t remotely ready. I made a few attempts, but I felt I needed to serve a kind of literary apprenticeship first. So I studied English at University, doing a BA, an MA and then a PhD because, honestly, there wasn’t anything I wanted to do more than read books and write about them. I specialised in women’s fiction, psychology and Victorian literature (before you ask, the Victorians loved the Medieval period too), but I always stayed loyal to Mills & Boon. I’ve never understood why some people think reading romance is incompatible with reading, say, Henry James. All kinds of literature can be inspiring, and they can all potentially change your life. Historical romance definitely changed and inspired mine.
I started writing about twenty years ago (though it took me another decade to finally complete a full manuscript) so I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer. It’s taken me a long time to achieve my dream of being a published writer, but sometimes you just have to wait until you and your story are ready.
The fifteen-year-old in me is just so happy she finally made it.
Married to Her Enemy is out now!