Welcome to Day 18 of #RomancingSeptember
Our guest today is Daisy Banks with her book Christmas Carols
Where is your home town?
My home town at present is Penkridge in Staffordshire, England. It is a very pretty place, but my heart belongs to Bridgnorth in Shropshire. I am also very proud of my Black Country roots. The Black Country is an area with a massive industrial heritage. The old streets are still paved with blue bricks in places and the people have the strength of metal so many of their families worked with in the past.
How long have you been writing romance?
I’ve been learning to write, writing and continuing to learn for about eight years.
What is your favourite sub-genre of romance?
Tough question as I enjoy several genres. If I was pushed to answer I’d say fantasy tips the scales as my favourite. Fantasy allows my mind freedom and although fantasy has its own demands it is less specific than historical stories. The historical genre demands a lot of research to make the stories feel and sound authentic. Historical stories always take me a lot longer because of the amount of background reading and checking I do. However, when I get a historical story finished I am always thrilled at the sense of achievement.
When and where is your book set?
Christmas Carols is set in the Black Country in Victorian England, 1861. I don’t actually name which Black Country town it is, as it could have been anyone of them in this era.
Introduce us to Alice.
Alice is a widow. Her husband, Cyril, died from wounds sustained in the Crimean conflict. She nursed him at home for two years and since his death three and a half years ago she has lived the very isolated life of a widow with little acquaintance in the town. Alice is in her mid twenties and fearful of any kind of gossip regarding her. Every aspect of her life is tinged with the threat of tittle-tattle. The vicar of her local church has encouraged her to take on the duties of flower arranging at the church as she is skilled at working with flowers.
Tell us about Stephen.
Stephen is the organist at Holy Trinity Church. He is blind and a gifted musician. His compositions and recitals are growing in popularity. He is of independent means with a house not far from the church. He has a man servant who cares for his clothes and other household duties, and he also has a dog that helps him when he is out and about. Stephen is a Cambridge graduate but prefers not to use the title.
How does society restrict Alice?
A woman in deep mourning was not expected to socialise, to go out and pay calls or receive them from visitors. Alice didn’t have that option as she has little local acquaintance. Her only visitor and one other than her doctor, who would be allowed, is the local vicar. Alice’s visits to the church are considered respectable but her attendance at a music recital there is rather suspect to the local butcher’s wife, even though she points out that she has been a widow for three and half years. Such an existence stifled Alice’s spirit and crushed her, which is hardly surprising. As she says herself, “It is not permissible for a widow to sing except in Sunday service.”
The social rules for widows in the Victorian era were very strict. Women of all social classes followed them without challenge because if they broke the rules society could ostracize them. The disgrace they might suffer could also impact on the rest of their wider family. This could mean they may not be served in shops or by local trades people. An example of one of the rules was that widows were expected to wear full mourning garments for two years after their husband’s death. Some widows like Alice continued to wear full mourning after the first two years were up, others might wear a grey bodice with their black skirt and jacket, this introduction of another muted colour was called half mourning. As no gold or silver jewellery could be worn when in mourning, some women wore black jewellery. When Queen Victoria wore jet mourning jewellery after Prince Albert’s death its popularity soared. The mourning pieces were made of Whitby jet, a black stone that could be carved and decorated.
Stephen’s dog has an unusual name, what is it and why?
Stephen calls his dog blue. An unusual choice for a blind man to make, but Stephen see’s the world through texture and touch. To him blue means cool and smooth. Blue is a smooth haired Labrador and as his coat feels so fine Stephen chose the word blue for the dog’s name.
Tell us what you are working on at the moment.
I have two short stories to complete for the end of September for the Sexy to Go compilations and the Halloween special set. I am also working on a Regency romance which is a lot of fun. I am fleshing out the final book in the To Eternity series, Out of Time, which I hope to have finished by early next year.
Where can readers find out more about you?
All my links are below
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/1NWh8gi
Find out more from Daisy in just a few hours from Stephanie’s post http://stephanie-hurt.com/