A Look Back at The Deserter's Daughter

Posted on 30th November, 2023

I've been having a clear-out of the Blogs folder on my computer and I came across a Q&A I did for a book blogger ages and ages ago at the time of the paperback publication of The Deserter's Daughter. In the end, the Q&A was never published online, so I thought I'd let it see the light of day here. I hope you find it interesting.


What attracted you to writing historical fiction and specifically to the early 20th century?

My favourite subject at school was history and it was natural to gravitate towards reading historical fiction – Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and especially Victoria Holt, whose gothic romances I loved. For years I wrote Victorian stories, but when I decided to write with an eye to publication I looked at the saga market and realised that 20th century sagas had taken over from the Victorian stories I loved; so I moved – reluctantly, at the time, though now I love it – into the 20th century.


What drew you to writing sagas?

I suppose that like many writers, I wrote what I wanted to read. I love strong, dramatic story-lines peopled by well-rounded, believable characters who develop and are changed by what happens to them. For me, the cherry on the cake is the historical setting. I am fascinated by social and domestic history and the disadvantages women faced simply because they were women.


What are the challenges of writing sagas?

You have to be true to the historical context while appealing to the 21st century reader. Carrie, the heroine of The Deserter’s Daughter, is very much a girl of her time and her class, in that she has grown up wanting marriage and children; so it is important that, in her own quiet way, she is shown to be spirited, capable, and able to make and act upon her own decisions, so that the modern reader is happy to identify with her.



Who is your favourite character in the novel?

Tricky question. Some readers have told me they particularly enjoy Evadne’s story because of the way her character develops and the lessons she learns along the way. Others tell me that they love Carrie because she endures so much but never gives in; and others have said that Ralph is a truly frightening individual. My own favourite? To be honest, I don’t have one. I wrote five drafts of the book before it was published and I feel that I have done justice to all the characters.


What did you enjoy most about writing The Deserter’s Daughter?

One of the best moments was when I met my agent, Laura Longrigg, for the first time and she said, “Why is the book so short? It needs to be 20,000 words longer.” I had previously been advised to keep the book under 100,000 words, which was a struggle, because it has a big plot. Being given permission to expand the original was wonderful. I was able to add more depth and detail. The finished book is 126,000 words long.


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Link to The Deserter's Daughter on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited



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