Inheritance Books: Stefania Hartley

This week’s guest on Inheritance Books is romance author Stefania Hartley. Welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa, Stefania. Grab a seat while I put the kettle on. While we’re waiting for the water to boil, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

Stefania Hartley

I was born and grew up in Sicily, then I came over to the UK in my early twenties, for a university exchange programme. I took the ‘exchange’ bit so seriously that I ended up exchanging rings and vows with an Englishman, who’s now my husband of twenty years.

I never thought I would be a writer until, one day, while I was still teaching Science in schools, I submitted an article to a Science magazine and, lo and behold, it was published. At that point, I caught the writing bug and I have been writing ever since. Now I write happy or humorous short stories and romance novels mostly set in Sicily or in other places I’ve lived. My debut novel, a steamy romance entitled Sun Stars and Limoncello, is available for pre-order.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

A book that means a lot to me is La Biblioteca Fantastica, an illustrated collection of fables, tales and legends from all over the world. It’s in Italian, as this is my mother tongue and I was given it by my mum when I was a child. Incidentally, I find it very fascinating and sweet that we say ‘mother tongue’ rather than ‘father tongue’, and in Italian it’s the same(‘lingua madre’). Anyway, my mother used to read this book to me, especially when I was at home sick – Sicily is not just sunshine and summer, but also winter and flu. I spent hours leafing through it before I learnt to read, admiring the illustrations which were sometimes scary (like the Baba Yaga witch in the Russian story of Vassilissa The Beautiful), sometimes heart-rending (like in The Little Matchgirl) and always interesting. 

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

One of the many books I would leave to the next generation is this lovely hardback edition of Little Women. I greatly enjoyed the story when I was a child and I have enjoyed it again recently, when I re-read it after watching the new film.

Little Women

The things that struck a chord this time were different from those which made an impression on me as a child. Being an only child, back then I was struck by the love between the sisters. It was something that I didn’t have. I was also shocked to see Beth die. In my experience, mothers gave medicines and children got better. I had no idea that in the past young people could die so easily. Now, reading it as a grown up and a writer, the parts that attracted me most have been those connected with Jo’s internal conflicts between her artistic and moral integrity and the need to earn money. Very relevant. 

It was also delightful to read the book in its original language. One of the loveliest things about becoming proficient in a new language is being able to access novels in the author’s own voice and to understand the culture where it was born. 

Thank you very much for sharing your favourite books with us, Stefania. All the best with your new book.

Book cover -Flowers over a sea view

You can find out more about Stefania on her website and catch up with her on Twitter (@thescicillianmama) or on her podcast The Sicilian Mama . Her book Sun, Stars and Limoncello is available now.

Inheritance Books: Ainslie Paton

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Today’s guest on Inheritance Books wrote a great series about high class con artists. Welcome, Ainslie Paton. Why don’t you kick things off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I started writing when I was able to hold a pencil.  I was a child playwright mostly, but I also wrote long and boring stories with chapter headings like—An uneventful day.  I very clearly hadn’t learned to start with a bang.  

I converted that interest in the written word into a journalism degree and I work in corporate communications.  I write media releases, marketing copy, advertising, websites and convert complex technical material into readable text during the day.  By night, I write about people living full lives and finding the right person to be with.

One pays the rent, the other is much more fun.

My latest book is One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive, the inspiration for which was the occasion I should have and didn’t meet George Clooney. I did however, write his bio, like the story’s heroine does.  But all similarity stops there. It’s tropey and amusing because we need a little of that right now and escapism is good for the soul. You can read the George story here

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

I don’t come from a family of readers.  I’m the oddball who chose to escape into a book as often as possible.  That’s not to say that no one reads. The sports pages get a thumping. My grandmother read copious copies of women’s magazines, and my mum read popular fiction and now reads crime.  If you knew my mum, it’s slightly terrifying what she thinks she can get away with.

My brother once famously said, “Never buy me a book,” when I made the fatal mistake of thinking he might be interested in a book written by his school friend.

My grandfather had very basic literacy, but he was a great oral storyteller.  He wove the best stories about picnics with chocolate biscuits and furry animals and fire engines.  I suspect my want to tell stories comes from him.  

I grew up reading anything and everything I could get my hands on.  Often with a torch under the covers. Mostly that meant raiding Mum’s shelf and trying not to get caught.  I read a lot of stuff not suitable for an impressionable mind. Hello, Colleen McCullough’s The Thorne Birds.  For a while you made going to Sunday mass so much more stimulating.

Which book would you leave for later generations?

The book reading bug is unlikely to survive me.  Our next generation is big into watching entertainment but not reading it.

When my nephew was away at a school camp for four months, I began a series of letters in the form of a science fiction story to be mailed to him each week.  By week three, he told me he was way too busy to read a story, and could I just send “normal news” instead.

I sent my reply—one word—okay—but in an envelope filled with glitter.  Despite the very clear warning not to open the envelope inside, his whole dorm got glitter bombed.

Right there—the power of reading.

Thank you for sharing your favourite book with us, Ainslie. Best of luck with the new series.

You can find out more about Ainslie Paton on her website, or follow her on Twitter. Her new book One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive is available to buy now.

Inheritance Books: Jac Harmon

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s guest on the Inheritance Books sofa is my fellow BestExperimate (from the Bestseller Experiment Facebook group) Jac Harmon. Hi Jac, welcome to Inheritance Books I’ll go get the Hobnobs, while you introduce yourself.

I was born in London into a family of readers. My nan would read, knit, watch TV and smoke a cigarette all at the same time! Among my earliest memories are being taken to Shepherd’s Bush Market where there were two, huge second hand book stalls under the railway arches. I suspect me and my pram were used as transport for the bags full of paperbacks in the early days. Later, when I could read (and walk), I was given my own little bag to carry and my aunt bought a wicker shopping trolley.
I had my first go at writing a novel when I was about 12 after reading Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy – a truly terrible example of fan fiction which I sadly still have. After that I had several more attempts, experimenting with different genres and finally settling on historical fiction. Having studied medieval history at university I thought that was the period I would go for. Unfortunately, it turned out that my character, once I got to know him, preferred the seedy, criminal underworld of late-nineteenth century London to the fields of ye olde England, and I had to start my research again. The silver lining was that it became possible for me to weave in a lot of old family stories.
I now have a series of 5 books planned (3 written), featuring the criminally inclined Jack Martyn and his on/off love interest the ‘punch ‘em first, ask questions later,’ Charity Knox.
I live in Cambridge with my husband and my cat, Willow.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

The book I inherited is A Many Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin.

Before my Mum met my Dad she worked as an usherette at the Ealing Odeon. In 1955 she saw a movie, she saw it many times. Set in Hong Kong in 1949-50 during the Korean War, it starred Jennifer Jones as Dr Han Suyin, and William Holden as US journalist, Mark Elliott. It was called Love is a Many Splendoured Thing. Mum was always a little bit in love with William Holden after that. Funnily enough, my dad looked a bit like William Holden. I have a very Holdenesque photo of him sitting on a deserted beach in Kenya which could be a still from the film.
Mum came to the book itself late when, in a moment of pure serendipity it fell into my hands. I’d been helping at a Scouts’ Jumble Sale and was packing the unsold books up to pass on to a charity shop when there it was. I was stupidly happy and gave it a hug. Mum was delighted.
A Many Splendoured Thing has to be one of the most beautifully written, tragic love stories, ever. I can only wish that, one day I will write such an opening.

‘Will you write a book about me?’ asked Mark.
It was the hour after love. We lay in the long grass of the hill slope, in the abundant sun.

Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?

The book I would leave to future generations is Possession by A S Byatt

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I bang on about this book. I can’t help it, it has everything I love, and I want everyone to love it too. There’s libraries, hidden letters, poets, secret love, a frosty academic, a flustered researcher, and a dual timeline. At times complicated, at times frustrating, but always atmospheric and perfectly crafted. I won’t say it’s an easy read, but it’s a rewarding one. Like A Many Splendoured Thing, my first copy – not the one pictured – also came to me by accident. It was on a friend’s bookcase and she saw me reading the blurb. ‘I’ve had that ages but I can’t get into it,’ she said. ‘You’d probably like it.’ I took it home, already hooked by the pre-Raphaelite woman on the cover. It was the beginning of the ongoing love affair. I read it every few years, and writing this is making me want to read it again right now.
It’s a book that at times gives me goosebumps, and at others makes me want to jump in and sort the characters out, but it always makes me want to go back to my own work and make it the best it can be. It would definitely be the novel I took to a desert island.

Nobody Knows Jack, the first book in the Jack Martyn series, is due for publication sometime during 2020.

You can chat to Jac on Twitter (@JackEHarmon) or find her on Facebook. She’s going to have a website coming soon.

Inheritance Books: Sharon Booth

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s guest is Sharon Booth, writer of cosy rom coms and books about modern witches. Hi Sharon, welcome to Inheritance Books. I’ve got chocolate Hobnobs, especially. While I go find them, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, Rhoda, and thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. I grew up in Hessle, East Yorkshire, and spent a lot of my time reading. I was a real bookworm and frequently visited the local library which, in those days, was above the town hall. I can still hear the creaking of those stairs as I climbed up to what was then my favourite place in the world — usually in the company of my dad. 

Both my parents read a lot. Mum mostly read Catherine Cookson novels and Dad preferred non-fiction, and almost every evening they would sit in the living room, each absorbed in their current read. I’d be in an armchair, head buried in another book. I’m very grateful that I had parents who loved books. 

Reading was probably the reason I loved school. I was lucky because all three of my schools had well-stocked libraries, so I had loads of material to go at. It wasn’t unusual for me to stagger home with seven or eight library books in my school bag. Once the teacher realised I actually read them all, he helped me search for suitable novels to take home. He knew I was pony mad and scoured the shelves for pony books for me. The shelves were full of them and I was in heaven!

Enid Blyton kickstarted my passion for reading. The first book I was ever given was a Noddy book, which I treasured, but I soon progressed through the likes of Brer Rabbit and Mr Twiddle to the Secret Seven, Hollow Tree House, Mistletoe Farm, Willow Farm, Cherry Tree Farm, Malory Towers and of course the Famous Five. My favourite presents at Christmas were always the three books that my parents bought me. Before long, I wanted to try my hand at writing my own stories, just like Enid Blyton. Who’d have thought it would lead me to becoming a full-time author?

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

I didn’t inherit this book, but it’s one I’ve loved since my primary school days. It’s Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm by Enid Blyton (who else?) and it was the book that sparked my interest in ponies and pony books. I quickly followed it up with the sequel, Six Cousins Again. I just loved the story of two sets of three cousins who, through difficult circumstances, find themselves sharing a home, even though they barely know each other and have little in common. The three country children live on Mistletoe Farm and are appalled to have their three townie cousins thrust upon them. And, to be fair to them, the townie children are pretty awful — particularly Melisande, who thinks her country clod cousins are beneath contempt. The story shows how the six of them learn to get along together, and how each of them gradually changes in some way, becoming more tolerant and understanding of their cousins and their own siblings. The sequel is equally as good. I lost my childhood copies, but I found this edition on eBay and snapped it up. It contains both stories in one volume and I still love them. Reading them takes me straight back to summery childhood days, lying on my bed, sun streaming through the open window, book in hand, lost in the world of Mistletoe Farm, while downstairs Mum was busy cooking and Dad was out in the garden, mowing the lawn. I can almost smell that freshly cut grass. Happy days.  

Oh, I loved the Mistletoe Farm books. To this day, Stir up Sunday makes me think of them.

Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?

I thought long and hard about this, but eventually realised there was only one real contender. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend is, for me, an absolute classic. It was a book that I loved immediately. I knew Adrian! I understood him completely, and I could relate to his family and friends and neighbours. These were people I felt at home with. It’s hilariously funny, but also incredibly moving at times. The things that happen to Adrian aren’t huge events on a global scale, but they affect him deeply and are extraordinary in their ordinariness. His mother’s shenanigans with Mr Lucas, her ardent feminism, the boil-in-the-bag curries, his father’s unemployment, the dog’s frequent trips to the vet, Adrian’s incessant worries about his lack of vitamins and the state of his skin, not to mention his yearning for the unattainable Pandora — it’s perfection. And it’s a brilliant social commentary on working class life in the eighties. Everyone should read the Adrian Mole books!     

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Sharon. Best of luck with your latest book.

You can find out more about Sharon through her various online homes. Her latest book, To Catch a Witch, is the third and final novel in The Witches of Castle Clair series. It will be published on April 28th and is available to pre-order now.

Inheritance Books: Jenni Fletcher

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s Inheritance Books are from romance and fellow cake aficionado, Jenni Fletcher. Welcome to Inheritance Books, Jenni. Have a biscuit. Why don’t you set things off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Jenni Fletcher

I’m from Aberdeenshire, but now live in East Yorkshire with my family. I spent seven years at university studying English and never wanted to leave so becoming a writer seemed like a good solution. I could happily spend every day in a library, although I spent a couple of years working in various admin jobs, writing in my spare time. My favourite hobby is baking and, because I have to do exercise occasionally, I like mountain biking and hiking. I also teach creative writing part-time.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
My mother gave me her copy of Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman when I was fifteen. She was a history teacher so there were always a lot of historical novels in our house, and she knew I liked the Medieval era. It’s all about King John and Llewellyn the Great and I remember being absolutely engrossed, reading until 3am on a school night. Katharine by Anya Seton was the first historical novel I ever read, but Here Be Dragons is the one that made me fall in love with the genre. Fortunately, my mum also had most of Penman’s other novels so they kept me busy for a while. Then we got to have discussions about Simon de Montfort and Welsh history over cake – I was that kind of rebellious teenager!

Picture of Jenni's messy bookshelves

That sounds like a lovely discussion to get into. Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
I’m a bit wary about recommending books to other people because I think we should all read whatever we want, BUT having said that,The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon is one of my all-time favourites so I’d leave it as an example of just how wonderful and thought-provoking a book can be. It’s a combination of historical (it’s set just after WWI and looks at the psychological and practical impact of the war on women), crime (there’s a murder), and romance novel (with a truly gorgeous, but very flawed hero). It also has a sad ending, which is absolutely necessary to the plot and I’m so glad that the author wasn’t forced to write a happy one. I think you can tell when that’s happened and it can undermine the whole book. Fortunately, in this case there’s a sequel (The Woman in the Picture) which allows for a HEA eventually. So this is my ‘you really should read this book, book‘ – I hope to write one just like it someday.
Oh, and if I’m allowed just one other, Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss. It’s my favourite book to read to my children at bedtime and I quote it way too often. 

Oh, sneaky, getting an extra book in! But who doesn’t like Dr Seuss?!

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Jenni. All the best with your new book … and huge congratulations for being shortlisted for a RoNA award with Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess.

You can find out more about Jenni on her website, or tweet pictures of cake to her on Twitter (@jenniauthor). Her latest book The Unconventional Countess is available to buy now.

Inheritance Books: Eleanor Harkstead

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s guest on Inheritance Books is Eleanor Harkstead. Hello Eleanor. Why don’t you take a seat on the Inheritance Books sofa and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Profile picture of Eleanor Harkstead

I’m Eleanor Harkstead. I co-write romantic fiction with my friend Catherine Curzon. We’ve adventured into all sorts of genres: contemporary, historical, romcom, paranormal, romantic suspense… By day I’m a librarian. My interests include family history and the history of forensics.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
When I was about 8 or 9, my dad gave me a book that had been his favourite as a child. Now, my dad’s ambition was to be a lighthouse keeper, and to visit every RNLI lifeboat station in the country. He loves Douglas Reman’s WW2 naval adventures, so the book he gave me, and which I read very carefully because it was clearly precious to my dad, came as a surprise.

It was “The Family from One End Street” by Eve Garnett. And there’s very little nautical action in there at all.

The novel was first published in 1937, and it has gorgeous illustrations. The family struggle to get by, the children have adventures, and by the end of the novel, you feel like they’re your friends. Although the novel was almost fifty years old when I read it, it still had the power to enchant me as a reader because the characters, their adventures and their world were so realistic and engaging.

Eleanor Harkstead's bookshelf!

At the beginning of the story, the mum and dad have just seen John Singer Sargent’s painting “Carnation Lily Lily Rose” and they decide to name their daughters after it. And around the time I read the book, we went on a trip to the Tate (you won’t be surprised to learn we only had time for a quick jaunt round the galleries because we’d spent most of the day at the Boat Show in Earl’s Court) and I saw the painting in the flesh. The light from the lanterns in the painting seems to glow. It’s an astonishing artwork, and had an even greater effect on me as it came leaping out of a book at me too.

The Family from One End Street” showed me that even though fiction comes from the imagination, it’s perfectly okay for it to be rooted in the real world too. And it gave me a glimpse into the world of my father’s childhood. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book anymore – I gave it back to my dad!

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
My niece and nephew love books – they view them in the same way they do their toys, they’re sources of fun and amusement to them. I’d leave them Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch novels. They’ve been overshadowed by you-know-who, that wizard boy, but Mildred Hubble will always be my heroine. Those stories told me that even the kid who struggles, who’s awkward and odd, can triumph in the end, and that’s a powerful message for any child when they’re growing up and all at sea.

We love the books and the TV series in our house. Well met!

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us Eleanor. All the best with your latest book.

Book cover for The Dishevelled Duke by Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon

You can find out more about Eleanor Harkstead and her books on her website, Twitter , Facebook or you can follow her on Bookbub (always a good idea!). Her latest book The Dishevelled Duke is available to buy now

Inheritance Books: Celia Anderson

Welcome back to Inheritance Books! I’m hoping to run this ‘season’ for a year.

Kicking off the 2020 season, here’s Celia Anderson, writer of women’s fiction with all the feels. Hi Celia, welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa. While I go put the kettle on, why don’t you plump up a cushion and tell us a bit about yourself?

Author photo of Celia Anderson

I live in the heart of the Midlands, a long way from the sea in every direction. Like many Midlanders, I love wandering along a beach, and I often write about idyllic coastal places to kid myself I can paddle at the drop of a hat. Although writing stories and plays has always been in my blood, it’s taken me many years to reach the point where I can honestly call myself an author. It wasn’t until early retirement from teaching happened that there was time and energy to have a proper stab at the book I’d always wanted to write and concentrate on finding the right home for it.
When my agent Laura Macdougall (United Agents) and I first met over a cup of tea in the peaceful surroundings of Fortnum & Mason’s café on St Pancras station, it was clear she was the one. I did my very best not to slurp my tea or knock anything over, and it seemed to work. Laura understood exactly what sort of readership 59 Memory Lane was right for, but even better, she knew how to make it really shine. We worked on the book together for some months until she decided it was ready to send out into the world. When Charlotte Ledger offered a publishing contract with Harper Fiction we were both delighted! The sequel to 59 Memory Lane, The Cottage of Curiosities will be published this summer. Both are set in Pengelly, a fictitious Cornish village where all is not as it seems.

I’ve only been to Cornwall once. I thought it was beautiful. I can see why you’d want to set a book there!

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
The book that I’m going to tell you about is one of a very precious and tatty collection left to me by my mum. She loved the author D.E Stevenson (a relative of Robert Louis Stevenson) and I’ve read every one of her treasured set over and over again. They’re all beautifully-rounded stories of relationships, romances and small-town life, often set in the rolling Scottish borders or cosy English villages. My all-time favourite is Miss Buncle’s Book. It tells the tale of single lady Barbara Buncle, who has fallen on hard times and has to make money somehow. Her two options are keeping hens (messy and time-consuming) or writing a book – dead easy. Or so she thinks.
I first read this when I was so young that I thought Barbara must have been in her dotage but it turned out, as I re-read it through the years, she was only thirty something and still had all her own teeth. As an impatient mum-to-be, the next in the series, Miss Buncle Married, got me through a very long night in the labour ward (well, that and quite a few Cadbury’s Cream eggs). You can see from the yellowing sticky tape and brown pages in the photograph how well-loved this paperback is.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
The one I’d like to pass on is a trilogy – it was published in three parts but also as one volume, as you can see by my tattered copy which is now missing its spine. These novels are by Elizabeth Gouge, a wonderfully skilled writer whose talent is still celebrated through an award given at the RNA conference every year for the best short story. I’ve never won it yet. I haven’t given up …
The Eliots of Dameroshey compilation contains three books of such stunning quality that it’s hard to describe their incredible craftsmanship. The Bird In The Tree, The Herb Of Grace and The Heart Of The Family have everything. They follow the Eliot family and their friends through years of ups and downs. Set in Hampshire, you can almost smell the sea breeze from the salt marshes, experience the drama and history of Bucklers Hard and slip into the deep, loamy peace of the woods. Perfection.

It took me a while to decide whether a trilogy is allowable … but since it’s a complication edition, I think it’s fine.

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Celia. All the best with your books!

You can find out more about Celia on her website, or chat to her on Twitter (@CeliaAnderson1). Her wonderful book 59 Memory Lane is available to buy now.

Inheritance Books: Hannah Ellis

Today’s guest on Inheritance Books is Hannah Ellis. Hi Hannah, welcome to Inheritance Books. Have a seat on the sofa. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

Profile pic(1)I was born in Durham and grew up in Sheffield, so despite living in Germany now, I’m a northern lass at heart. I studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Northumbria and then went on to work as a nanny in various parts of the world. I lived in America, Australia and Ireland before I finally settled in Munich, where I now live with my husband and two little boys. As well as writing and taking care of my boys, I also work part-time, teaching English in Kindergartens.
Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?

My inherited book is Alice in Wonderland. It is a beautiful illustrated hardback which was given to me by my grandmother. Even before I could read, I loved this book for the wonderful illustrations. It is such a fantastically bizarre story which transports you to somewhere else entirely. The characters are so very odd but so richly portrayed.aliceinwonderland

I love how this book appeals to both young and old alike and how it has deeper meanings depending on when in life you read it. I think the Cheshire Cat really sums up people perfectly: “We’re all mad here.” I love that line.

Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?

pride and prejudiceThe book I would like to leave to future generations is another classic: an old hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. I found it in a gorgeous little English bookshop in Majorca. The shop had books haphazardly stacked all over the place, like someone had turned the downstairs of their house into a bookshop but hadn’t really planned it out – just crammed in as many books as possible. I think I lost a whole afternoon there and came away with a collection of beautiful old classics in hardback. Pride and prejudice sits on my bedside table and I dip in and out of it. I love the writing style, and I always feel as though I’m being transported to a different era. Austen’s humour is brilliant, and the wonderfully civilised sparring sessions between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are just brilliant. I love everything about this book. It even smells incredible!

Old books do smell wonderful!

Thank you for sharing your special books with us Hannah. All the best for Always With You. I hope it flies off the shelves.

alwayswithyouHannah’s book Always With You is available to buy now. You can find out more about Hannah by visiting her website, on Facebook or Twitter (@booksellis).


Inheritance Books: John Jackson

Today’s guest on the Inheritance Books sofa is a regular at the RNA parties – the historical novelist John Jackson. 

Hi John. Welcome to Inheritance Books. I’ll go put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

JOHN JACKSONI am a retired ship’s Captain, now living in York. I’ve loved historic fiction since I first read Treasure Island, and the romantic side of histfic since I discovered Georgette Heyer.

The history thing got combined with a love of genealogy and a REALLY good mix of ancestors, from the boring and humdrum to the scarily bad! Writing a historical novel, with a strong thread of romance running through it sort of fell into my lap.

After I met some members of the Romantic Novelist Association their siren calls started, and soon the pressure to “give it a go” and try and write something myself became too strong to resist!

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books – Dad spent some years in India as a child; my grandfather was in the Indian Army. I still love the stories, and reread them most years.

Kipling was a writer of his time. Mum and Dad also gave me The Wind in the Willows, and Winnie the Pooh. All still magical favourites!

Dad put me on to Georgette Heyer, and there are three of her books which I have reread many, many times.

Frederica, the complete Regency romance and the longest book she wrote. (I have a first edition)

An Infamous Army, her story of Waterloo. Wonderfully accurate; it was, for many years, in the library at Sandhurst as a textbook!

The Spanish Bride. A fantastic tale of Wellington’s Peninsular campaign, and the story of Harry and Juana Smith (Later the Lady Smith who had the town in South Africa named after her) Also a novel with a stunning, and true, love story running through it.

My Great-great-grandfather had a career very similar to Harry Smith, only without meeting the love of his life on the battlefield. He too joined Wellington’s army as an Ensign, and finished up as a Lt. Colonel at Waterloo. (He will be in book 3 or 4)
I can see you’re having trouble choosing one book. I’ll let you off.
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? 


Swallows and Amazons. We’ve loved them, our children love them, and he was a cousin of mine (Arthur Ransome) Wonderfully evocative for a time gone by. When we lived in the Falkland Islands our girls and their friends had some of the same freedoms that the children of the books enjoyed.

Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials series. A truly wonderful imagination, and brilliantly told.

Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden continue to turn out wonderful historical novels. I’ve included Azincourt and The Lords of the Bow as representative examples of their work.

Thank you for sharing your favourite books (all of them!) with us, John. All the best with Heart of Stone. Hope is soars up the charts.

thumbnail_Cover - 1John’s Book Heart of Stone is available to buy now. You can find out more about John on his website or chat to him on Twitter (@jjackson42) or Facebook.