History People: Alison Morton, a Self-Confessed Roman Nut


Alison Morton (alt)

Author Alison Morton

Have you ever asked yourself, “What if…?” What if Harold hadn’t lost at Hastings, what if Richard III hadn’t been killed on Bosworth Field, what if Hitler had been a better military strategist? Today, I’m thrilled to welcome an author who asked herself the “what if” question and came up with a terrific series of novels set in a 21st-century Roman society. Alison Morton is a leading light in the Historical Novel Society and packs more into a day than most of us do into a month. She tells us about her passion for ancient Rome and where it has led her. Take it away, Alison… Continue reading

History People: Nicola Slade, History and Mysteries



Nicola Slade

It’s a great pleasure to welcome Nicola Slade to the blog today, especially as she has also written a “The House At…” novel! The House at Ladywell was published a couple of days ago and combines historical and romantic fiction. Nicola is a prolific author whose previous books have mostly been historical mysteries. Let’s find out how she got into writing them.

Writing historicals 

My first published book, Scuba Dancing, was a romantic comedy, but from a very young age I wanted to write historical novels and once I discovered mysteries I wanted to write that kind of book too. What better, then, to combine both passions and write historical mysteries?

What period of history was the next question and initially I wanted to write the kind of romantic mystery Georgette Heyer specialised in like my favourites The Quiet Gentleman, The Reluctant Widow, etc. However, the Regency period is pretty well-covered so I thought again, but I didn’t have far to look for a less crowded period. I’ve always loved Victorian novels so it made sense to move the story forward in time.

My mother and grandmother introduced me to their own favourite Victorian writers, notably Charlotte Yonge and Mrs Henry Wood, both best-sellers in their day.  Both authors, whose first books came out around the 1850s, provided me with social customs, costume, speech, etc.

From this background came my Victorian series, Charlotte Richmond Investigates set in the 1850s. (Book 1 of three, ignore the awful cover, not my choice!)

My contemporary mysteries featuring Harriet Quigley, a retired headmistress, and her cousin the Reverend Sam Hathaway, are full of history and as they are set in and around Winchester, the ancient capital of England, I have plenty to draw on. (Book 1 of three)

When it came to writing The House at Ladywell I knew the house’s history was important but couldn’t think how to include it in a contemporary romantic novel until I realised that stories of the family could be slipped into the narrative as interludes known only to the reader, and not the heroine. It’s not time-slip and it isn’t a dual-timeline, both of which genres I did consider.

In fact, there are seven historical ‘echoes’ taking the family story from Roman times up to WW1 and leading to the present day when the house is inherited by a young woman who has no idea that she is the last in the family of strong-minded and resourceful women who, in their day, fought with whatever came to hand, including murder, to keep their family safe.

The House at Ladywell is set in Ramalley, a fictionalised version of Romsey in Hampshire. My novel has a statue in the square too, and it’s very significant to the plot!


Romsey Square, Hampshire

The House at Ladywell is available on Amazon.


About Nicola Slade

Nicola was brought up in Dorset and now lives with her husband near Winchester in Hampshire. She loves to travel and lived in Cairo, in Egypt, when her children were young. She writes two separate mystery series, one set in the 1850s featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young Victorian widow, and a contemporary series about recently-retired headmistress, Harriet Quigley and her clergyman cousin, Canon Sam Hathaway. Nicola’s latest book, The House at Ladywell, is partly contemporary and partly historical.

Connect with Nicola

Facebook Author Page
Twitter  @nicolasladeuk
Email  nicola.slade@virgin.net

You might also like:

History People guest posts
Short Stories inspired by France

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman, Nicola Slade 2017, all rights reserved.

True Inspiration for Fiction #5: the Ghosts of World War I

Armistice Day 2

At 11 am on this day in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Ninety-nine years later, none of the combatants in that terrible war is alive, but the memories still echo down the years. In France, where I live, the smallest village has its war memorial. Often, several men with the same surname appear in the list: death cut a swathe through many families. Few were unaffected. Continue reading

Writers Abroad Free Magazine Out Today


It’s a week for launches: my French Collection: Twelve Short Stories will be out in Kindle and paperback versions on Thursday 9th, but first Writers Abroad’s free magazine, The Third Space, is out today. You can read it online or download a PDF copy. And there’s a quiz on the last page with a prize of 15 euros in Amazon Gift Vouchers. Continue reading

Sunday Sojourn – The French Collection

Jennifer C. Wilson kindly invited me to her blog today to talk about how France has inspired my new collection of short stories, French Collection.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Happy Sunday everyone! So, who is giving NaNoWriMo a go? One idea I heard at the last North Tyneside Writers’ Circle was that, if you don’t fancy giving a novel a go, you can try drafting a short story each day. With that in mind, my guest today is the lovely Vanessa Couchman, to tell us about her new collection of short stories, inspired by France. I’ll be reviewing this soon, but for now, it’s over to Vanessa, to tell us about the collection…

French Collection Cover LARGE EBOOKStories Inspired by France

Thank you for inviting me again to your Sunday Sojourn spot, Jen.

France remains the world’s most popular tourist destination, with a staggering 82.6 million visitors in 2016. This is well ahead of the next-most popular countries, the U.S., China, Spain and Italy. It’s hardly surprising. France boasts wonderful and varied scenery, magnificent châteaux, picturesque towns and villages, stunning art and…

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History People: Margaret Skea, writing about what you don’t know


Margaret Skea

I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist, Margaret Skea, to the blog today. She tells us how she started writing historical fiction – and suggests that it can be a good idea to challenge the rules and write about what you don’t know. You’ll also find a riveting extract from her latest novel, Katharina: Deliverance, about the wife of the Reformation-instigator, Martin Luther. Continue reading

True Inspiration for Fiction #4: Angel Makers

Thiézac Village

Angel makers practised their trade in cities as well as isolated rural villages

In most Western nations, the practice of backstreet abortion has virtually disappeared now that abortion has been legalised. I don’t intend to open a debate here about the moral issues, but rather to look at the historical background, especially in France. Continue reading