Diana Thompson

Close to Home by Pamela Cook - A Review by Diana Thompson

Our romance writer-in-residence Diana Thompson reviews a new release from Pamela Cook. You can grab a free ebook from Diana right now. Check out her website for more In Close to Home, Charlie Anderson chooses to live an uncomplicated, emotionally stable life. Her career, working as a vet for Primary Industries, is fulfilling, her speciality being the Hendra virus. However her life away from work is lacking and she seems very much alone. When her boss sends her to the coastal village of Naringup to investigate a possible outbreak of the virus, her world is suddenly upended.

Naringup, a coastal farming and horse breeding area, holds many bitter sweet memories for Charlie. Having been sent there as a teenager to live with her only remaining relatives after the death of her parents, she returns to face what is left of her dysfunctional family. She struggles to reconnect with her cousin Emma, who was left behind when Charlie chose to leave for university and Emma carries a huge amount of resentment, whereas Charlie has never looked back. As the government appointed vet, she has her work cut out for her, dealing with the horse and farming community who choose to deny the possibility that the Hendra virus could travel so far south to affect their livestock and livelihoods.

She enlists the help of local park ranger Joel Drummond to help with educating the locals on how to deal with the bat populations that carry the virus and roost in the adjoining National Park. Joel provides a romantic interest and Pamela realistically develops their relationship as the story unfolds.

s-close_to_home_COVERShe portrays the original rundown and ordinary township through Charlie’s memories, and tracks the town’s development into a vibrant village with an influx of city dwellers moving into the area. As the story builds, so does the tension between Charlie and her cousin Emma, fuelled by Emma’s abusive and bullying husband. The undercurrent of familial abuse is carefully woven through the story.

As each chapter develops the divide between the farming community and the scientists fighting to protect them grows wider and more secrets are uncovered about Charlie’s past and her relationship with her family, until the story builds to an explosive climax that nobody could predict.

Pamela writes with great feeling about Charlie’s struggle to overcome the emotional disconnect between herself and Emma and how by overcoming the resentments they both carry from the past, both are able to heal and rebuild their relationship. The characters are well written and the story unfolds and builds easily to the climax, with a few surprises thrown in along the way. An enjoyable read with plenty of emotion woven into the mix.

Check out Diana's website for a free ebook and passionate romance!

Fifty Shades Freed - A Review by Diana Thompson

We sent our resident romance expert and passion fan Diana Thompson off to the flicks this week to catch up on the final instalment in the Grey series, 'Fifty Shades Freed'. Diana is an acclaimed romance writer in her own right, and you can now grab a free ebook from her, plus exclusive discounts to all of her titles!

Finally I have had the pleasure of viewing the much anticipated third movie Fifty Shades Freed in the E L James trilogy Fifty Shades Of Grey.
 
Apart from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses I don’t think any other book has caused quite so much vigorous discussion amongst the population as Fifty Shades of Grey, nor done the unforgiveable and re-invigorated the romance genre as a whole.
Love it or hate it, there certainly seems to be no middle ground. Most haters I have spoken to have only read part of the first book. They haven’t read all three and therefore simply do not get the story E. L. James is portraying. I for one have loved the trilogy and have read every book, seen each movie and have now read the Grey series, which is essentially the same story, but from Christian’s point of view. Quite an interesting concept that as a writer I can fully appreciate.
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Having enjoyed the first two movies, I wondered how the screenplay writers would be able to tie all the plots together within the given timeframe. Well! I can clearly say that the director and writers have done a wonderful job. I absolutely hate watching movies that bear very little resemblance to the written book and I must say that in all three Fifty Shades movies, the picture reflects the story exactly. Very satisfying.
 
Once again the story is beautifully filmed, especially the intimate sex scenes which have a wonderful, sensual quality about them. I may be wrong, however we appear to see a lot more of Jamie Dornan completely naked this time around, which is by no stretch a burden to bear. The important story lines are all covered and tied up nicely by the climax of the film.
 
Much has been written about Jamie Dornan and his portrayal of Christian Grey. Whatfifty-shades-freed we all need to remember is that Christian is not only emotionally damaged but emotionally repressed as well. He needs complete control over every aspect of his life. He has essentially no friends and is surrounded by people he employs from whom he remains emotionally distant. He is emotionally remote from his family and has never cried or enjoyed being hugged. As his brother Elliot states in the movie, Christian marries his first girlfriend - Anastasia. I truly think Jamie portrays Christian well. I mean hell, he isn’t this happy outgoing guy!
 
Dakota Johnson was also a good match for Anastasia. She has an inherent innocence about her and we have watched her grow in strength from the first movie. She really holds the power in the marriage in this last film. Even Christian states in one laugh out loud part that she’s “scary”. There are three or four very amusing parts that had the audience doing exactly that. I loved the montage close to the end of the movie, we the story is wrapped up beautifully. It was a fitting end to an entertaining evening at the movies.
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Hungry for more? Grab a free romance ebook now

Beginnings and Endings - a short story by Diana Thompson

Have you submitted your entry to our short story competition yet? After receiving some new material from some of our authors in the last few weeks (including Peter Yeldham and Dorothy Johnston) we're thrilled to be able to bring you a brand new short story from our romance writer, Diana Thompson. Check out more of Diana's tantalising work in our store

‘I remember the first time I saw you, wearing a figure hugging yellow sun dress, a standout against the deep gold of your summer tan. I'll never forget the brilliance of your electric blue eyes and your messy French braid straining to contain your thick blonde hair. Even then it was difficult to resist tucking the escaping wayward strands behind your delicate ears. From the cute dimples when you smiled at me, to the hot pink toenails peeping from your wedge sandals, in that instant I knew I was a goner. Highly inappropriate, now I think about it, me hiring you to tutor my younger sister Grace in piano, but I took my duties as her appointed guardian seriously after our parent’s untimely death a year ago. Anything to make her days happy and provide a safe and secure home for her.

What I’d expected when I had placed the advertisement was a middle aged schoolmarm, not the drop dead gorgeous vision of you in front of me. I just googled piano tutors and your name was at the top of the list. It was only later that I read your resume and realised you were a child prodigy and had played in concert venues all over the world. I’d hit the jackpot that day. 

I remember trying to control the tremors in my hand as I shook yours and how at that moment I didn’t want to let go of you. Did you know that from that moment, I rearranged my entire working schedule so that I could be at home for all of Grace’s lessons and not miss a minute of seeing you during those few weeks over the summer holidays?

It took me three weeks to work up the nerve to ask you out for a date, and I can remember how I was both relieved and excited when you agreed. I’ll never forget our first shared meal, at the “Boathouse” down on the pier and how we chose the seafood platter, feeding each other the delicious fresh morsels, washed down with boutique beers. I can remember your first time trying an oyster. You smothered it in seafood sauce and when I asked how you liked it, your answer was,

“Well it tasted really nice, except for the fishy slimy bit.”

Do you remember how we talked and laughed for two hours without taking a breath, until the staff threw us out to prepare for the dinner crowd?

I remember taking your hand in mine and walking along the beach, sharing gelato in waffle cones. You weren’t sure about my green tea and lime combo and chose a safer option of raspberry and vanilla instead. I couldn’t help teasing you about your rainbow painted toenails and wondered whether you were making a political statement in your own quiet way. But no, you were simply calling them your happy toes, celebrating their freedom from the constraints of heavy socks and winter boots. I remember as the sun was setting, you shivered in the cooler air and I wrapped you in my jacket and held you against my chest. I remember the steady beat of your heart beneath my hands and the softness of your lips as we shared our first kiss. You tasted of raspberries and vanilla and I’ll never forget your sighs as our kiss deepened and you wrapped your arms around my waist, hugging me close. I knew then that I wanted you to be mine for forever.

Three months, two days and four hours later, I remember dropping down on one knee and proposing to you on the beach where we had our first date and shared our first kiss. You probably didn’t realise at the time that I was terrified that you would turn me down. What could a junior partner in an architect’s firm, with the family responsibility of a younger sister offer a world class concert pianist? You had job offers flowing in from all over the country and I was so proud of your incredible talent and so afraid that I would lose you to fame and fortune. But you proved me wrong once again when you dropped to your knees, took my face in your hands and said a resounding yes.   

The day of our wedding, I couldn’t stop myself from meeting you halfway down the aisle. You looked like an angel. My angel. And when we finally repeated our vows and before the celebrant had time to pronounce us husband and wife, I already held you in my arms sealing our union with a scorching kiss. I will never forget, knowing you were mine now, forever.’

My phone rings loudly, snapping me out of my memories. It’s the office and I ignore the call and let it go to voicemail. I know they’re worried about me and only trying to be supportive, but I can’t face going back to work, not until I can get my shit together and beg you to forgive me. I’ve always been the strong one. Had to be for Grace. But without you in my life, I’m nothing.

My finger hovers over the send button but there is still so much I need to say. I look around our living room at the three weeks, two days and four hours of accumulated garbage. Stacked pizza boxes fight for space in the kitchen with empty Thai takeout containers. Beer and wine bottles fill the overflowing recycling bin. Time I took back control and cleaned the place up instead of wallowing in misery, day after day. Time I cleaned myself up before Grace comes home from college for the holidays. She would be so disappointed in me and even though she wouldn’t voice it, just one look in her eyes and I would see it. I’ve caused enough distress and disappointment to myself and everyone around me. I refuse to let depression suck me any further into its dark void.

The couch has become my only comfort. My safe place in an empty shell of a house. No sounds emanating from the music room as you practice, hour after hour. No delicious baking aromas in the kitchen, from your passion for cooking. Nor the blasting of the sound system playing your eclectic favourite songs, anything from heavy metal to Simon and Garfunkel. Just the never ending silence of my own company.

I return to the keyboard.

‘Sleeping alone in our bed is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Without your body pressed against mine, listening to your soft sighs as you settle in for the night, I toss and turn endlessly. I miss your drugging kisses and your passionate response to our lovemaking. Even the everyday habits that form such an intrinsic part of who you are and who I love. It’s the little things I remember. No sugar in your coffee, but honey in your tea. Dark chocolate - not milk. Filling the vases with fresh flowers every week.  

Your bedtime ritual of applying hand cream to your long fingers and wrists, keeping them soft and supple and callous free from hours of piano practice. The soothing scents of lavender, rose and geranium, all of your favourite essentials oils still linger in our room, reminding me every day that you are absent from my life.

I remember us celebrating the announcement of your concert tour to Europe with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. I’ve always been blown away by your incredible talent and I was so proud of your achievements at such a young age. 

What I wasn’t proud of was my uncontrollable jealousy towards Erik, your new conductor. It was the first time in my life with you that I felt inadequate. I expected an older man, balding with a bit of middle age spread, not a thirty five year old with movie star looks and more talent in his little finger than I could ever hope to achieve. I felt shut out by your shared passion in music and it didn’t take a blind man to see how he looked at you.

 That I could understand.

Every time he took your hand at each concert finale, together bowing to the audience, it cut more deeply into my heart. He was touching what was mine and although you never gave me any reason to doubt our love, my jealousy overwhelmed me. Only able to catch quick conversations on Skype between venues just added to the tyranny of distance. I was missing my other half. 

The final straw was when Erik answered your telephone in your hotel room, late at night and well after the concert had finished. I’ll never forget his exact words.

“Arianna is in the shower right now. I’ll let her know you called.”

The bottom fell out of my world in that instant.          

What I’ll never forget is the terrible argument we had when you came home and the unforgivable accusations I cast at you. I’ll never forget the hurt in your eyes and I’ll never forgive myself for causing you that pain. I can understand why you left. Hell! I’ve regretted every word I spoke since that moment. I know I was projecting my insecurities onto you and pushing you away in the process. Pushing you right into his waiting arms.

I broke what we had and I was too stubborn to listen to what you had to say. Too consumed by jealousy and a hurt so deep, I thought my heart had been torn out.

Arianna, I love you more than life itself. You are the other half of my whole and I hope you can find it within your heart to forgive me. I miss every minute of every day without you and I’ll even stoop as low as pulling the Grace card. 

She misses you too!

All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy, and if being with Erik makes you happy then as much as it will break my heart, I will give you your freedom. But I will never stop loving YOU.’

My finger hovers over the send button. I’ve never bared my soul so openly before, but I can’t hold my feelings inside any more. I’ve had so many regrets over the last few weeks, but it is with relief that I finally press the send button. I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I need to shower and shave. To regain a semblance of myself and face life again. It will be different without Arianna, but what choice do I have?

Sleep still evades me, but at least this morning I have the energy to return to my ten kilometre run down to the docks and back. I’ve missed pounding the pavements, the heat of the sun on my back as it rises and the sweat pouring out of me washing away the toxins. I’ve missed both the physical and the mental benefits from the burn in my muscles to the clarity of thought it brings.

Standing at the sink, a towel around my neck soaking up the sweat, my doorbell rings as I gulp down the last of the orange juice, straight from the carton. Can’t be Grace, college doesn’t end for another couple of weeks.

I open the door and my heart stops beating.

“Hey,” is all I can muster.

“Joshua, can I come in?” Her words are tentative and her body is tight with tension.

I let her pass me and follow through to the living room. I still can’t speak. The memories of our first meeting slam into me once again. She turns.

“Joshua, I have to say this quickly. You were right. Erik was manipulating both of us. I confronted him about your phone call. The one he never told me about. I’ve never had feelings for Erik. We are just work colleagues although he has now admitted he wanted more. You are my husband and the only man I love. Can you ever forgive me for giving you any doubts? You are my other half, my life.” She grabs both ends of my towel and pulls me towards her.

I can see the truth in her eyes and her love for me reflected there.

Our lips meet and I know that my life as I know it has returned.

Six Sensual Suggestions for Writing Sex Scenes

Here at For Pity Sake Publishing, things are getting a little steamy. With Valentines Day fast approaching we’re excited to promote Diana Thompson’s Bowral Romance series, including her latest title Unbridled Passion. We’ve already spent some time with Nick the hunky vet and Jordana, his beautiful lover. Unbridled Passion may just be even raunchier than Diana’s previous work, Winterflood’s Passion (which you can buy here!), and the whole thing has got us thinking, frankly, about sex. Here are some top tips for writing sex scenes, inspired by Diana’s fantastic work.

  1. Vocabulary is everything

There’s a science to describing anatomy. The writer wants terms that are accurate but not clinical. Some romance publishers have strict suggestions on what words can and can’t be used. Variety certainly helps, as the repetition of any single word can be tiring and break the reader’s attention. But similarly, too much variety and the work borders on absurd.

  1. Don’t be afraid of their bits

Describing his ‘member’ is likely to illicit more giggles than just telling us about his ‘cock’. Describing her arousal as a ‘blossoming flower’ is more likely to have the reader rolling their eyes than just telling us that she can feel hserself beginning to become wet. So don’t be afraid to name something for what it is. Balls, breasts, butts, nipples, clits, labias, shafts…when it comes to sex scenes, metaphor and simile can sometimes get in the way of the story.

  1. What does the sex tell us about the characters?

Sex scenes aren’t just about people doin’ it. It’s also about the relationship between the two characters. Sex reveals a lot about who’s in charge, who’s feeling more playful, who’s feeling ashamed, who’s feel confident, and more. The writer can treat sex scenes as a giant metaphor for how two characters interact. Are they quick, fierce and full of passion? Or are they slow, sensual and in complete adoration of each other? Do they flirt at the edge of violence? Does he take control, or does she? Or does it shift at some point? There’s a lot to play with.

  1. Use the environment

Settings are half the fun. Don’t let the characters get so involved with each other’s bodies that you forget the environment around you. Scenes in beds are absolutely fine, but if you’re going for several sex scenes in your work, you’ll want to switch things up. Try outdoors, in different rooms of the house, or anywhere your heart (and loins) desire.

  1. No two scenes are the same

With all of the above, keep in mind that no two scenes should be the same. There’s no real point in making two scenes identical. What’s changed for the characters from one scene to the next? Where are they and how are they feeling? Consider the journey of the relationship and their comfort with each other. Are they more daring? Or more guarded?

  1. If you’re turned on, it’s working

In fact, if you’re not turned on, something’s wrong. Trust that if it works for you, it’ll work for your reader too.

If you can't get enough of Diana Thompson and her steamy romance collection, be sure not to miss her appearance at Muse Canberra this Sunday at 3pm! You'll be able to grab signed copies of both books, and hear all about the inspiration behind Diana's raunchy romance!

Hooked on Romance

I have a bone to pick with Diana Thompson. With her debut novel Winterflood's Passion and the second in her Bowral-based series, Unbridled Passion, Diana has made me into a reader of romance novels!

Before assessing Winterflood's Passion manuscript with a view to publishing it, I wasn't a romance reader. It's not that I disliked the genre - hey, I'd read my fair share of Victoria Holt's and Mills and Boon in my time - but romance novels had never stuck with me as a reader past my teen years. To be fair, neither had any other genre. Crime, biographies, fiction or non-fiction, I was eclectic in my taste and very soon, romance slipped well and truly off the radar...until bloody Diana Thompson.

I've known Di for many years. Our husbands went to school together and I've been a frequenter of her exclusive jewellery store, Briolette, in Canberra on several occasions.  Knowing her in that incarnation, imagine my surprise when on hearing I was starting a publishing company, Di sent me a completed manuscript for her debut novel.

Soon after I displayed my spectacular ignorance of things romance when I asked Di if works of this genre typically contained so many sex scenes. She assured me they did but there seems to be less and less good old fashioned fucking and more and more just plain fucked-up sex in the 'romance' novels of today.  Although I've never read Fifty Shades of Grey, one couldn't fail to miss the hubbub over the controversial, kinky and confronting nature of the sexual encounters in that particular series. I think Diana might be right on that score.

Now there are a couple of questions about this sex thing to my way of thinking - the first being, is a novel really a romance novel if it doesn't contain any explicit and (with any luck) well-written sex scenes? A friend of mine reports throwing Stephanie Meyer's Breaking Dawn up against her bedroom wall (violently enough to wake her flatmate in the next room) because the prick-teasing of the previous three books was seriously unrequited in the fourth and final installment in the Twilight vampire romance series. Readers of romance might well be into foreplay but consummation is clearly a must-have and I can attest that Diana Thompson has that covered in both of her books to date.

Which brings me to my second question - whether artfully written or not, are sex scenes the only draw card to the romance genre? I'd have to say not, and while my evidence is totally anecdotal I've been surprised by the number of people - blokes even - who've told me it's the setting, the story and the characters that really drew them into Diana's work.  One friend said she skimmed the sex bits on the first reading of Winterflood's Passion because she knew she could always go back to them. She was more interested in how things would turn out for the beautiful but lonely heroine, Charlotte Ranleigh, and the unlikely hero, playboy art entrepreneur, Daniel Winterflood.

It's Di's character development and her vivid descriptions of country life in the picturesque NSW Southern Highlands that had me hopping from one foot to the other to read the manuscript for the second in the Bowral series, Unbridled Passion, where the fate of the sexy vet Dr Nick Delaney was to be revealed.  With apologies to Diana's loyal readers, I got the jump on all of you as it was my happy duty to edit the manuscript ahead of the book’s publication last year.  Unbridled Passion was finally unveiled at the inaugural Canberra Writer's Festival in August 2016 to rapturous applause and much voyeuristic gratification that finally, we would learn about Nick's journey to love with a newly introduced character, Jordana Talbot.

As is my wont, and in keeping with my new-found 'romance novel reader' status, I re-read Unbridled Passion recently, marvelling yet again at how Diana Thompson has made me care about the romantic lives of the good burghers of Bowral.  The streets and surrounds of the town were very familiar to me and I warmly welcomed Charlotte and Daniel's intermittent appearances throughout the book as if they were old friends!

The expansion of Nick's story doesn't disappoint either.  Although he seems to have it all - looks, a successful veterinary practice and many loyal co-workers, clients and friends - there's strong themes of abandonment and betrayal running through his life coupled with just plain bad timing in not 'getting the girl' in Winterflood's Passion. The other main protagonist in the story, Jordana, is equally fortunately endowed with looks and talent but like most people in romance novels (or in real life, it would seem) she's also known her fair share of trauma.

Unbridled Passion isn't a sequel per-se and could happily be read as a stand-alone book. But I'd be willing to wager that you'll want to backtrack and read Winterflood's Passion once you're done. If that's the case, save time and buy both books together at a 10% discount when you purchase from the For Pity Sake website. Just type in the coupon code UNBRIDLED at check out and voilà, your Valentine's Day is well and truly covered!

Diana Thompson will be 'in conversation' with Jen McDonald at Muse Canberra in Kingston ACT on Sunday 5 February at 3.00pm.  Tickets are $10 with a free glass of wine and bookings are essential - http://www.musecanberra.com.au/events/.

Six Sensual Suggestions for Writing Sex Scenes

Here at For Pity Sake Publishing, things are getting a little steamy. We’re preparing for the release of Diana Thompson’s new romance work Unbridled Passion, which is now available for pre-order. We’ve already spent some time with Nick the hunky vet and Jordana, his beautiful lover. Unbridled Passion may just be even raunchier than Diana’s previous work, Winterflood’s Passion (which you can buy here!), and the whole thing has got us thinking, frankly, about sex. Here are some top tips for writing sex scenes, inspired by Diana’s fantastic work.

  1. Vocabulary is everything

There’s a science to describing anatomy. The writer wants terms that are accurate but not clinical. Some romance publishers have strict suggestions on what words can and can’t be used. Variety certainly helps, as the repetition of any single word can be tiring and break the reader’s attention. But similarly, too much variety and the work borders on absurd.

  1. Don’t be afraid of their bits

Describing his ‘member’ is likely to illicit more giggles than just telling us about his ‘cock’. Describing her arousal as a ‘blossoming flower’ is more likely to have the reader rolling their eyes than just telling us that she can feel hserself beginning to become wet. So don’t be afraid to name something for what it is. Balls, breasts, butts, nipples, clits, labias, shafts…when it comes to sex scenes, metaphor and simile can sometimes get in the way of the story.

  1. What does the sex tell us about the characters?

Sex scenes aren’t just about people doin’ it. It’s also about the relationship between the two characters. Sex reveals a lot about who’s in charge, who’s feeling more playful, who’s feeling ashamed, who’s feel confident, and more. The writer can treat sex scenes as a giant metaphor for how two characters interact. Are they quick, fierce and full of passion? Or are they slow, sensual and in complete adoration of each other? Do they flirt at the edge of violence? Does he take control, or does she? Or does it shift at some point? There’s a lot to play with.

  1. Use the environment

Settings are half the fun. Don’t let the characters get so involved with each other’s bodies that you forget the environment around you. Scenes in beds are absolutely fine, but if you’re going for several sex scenes in your work, you’ll want to switch things up. Try outdoors, in different rooms of the house, or anywhere your heart (and loins) desire.

  1. No two scenes are the same

With all of the above, keep in mind that no two scenes should be the same. There’s no real point in making two scenes identical. What’s changed for the characters from one scene to the next? Where are they and how are they feeling? Consider the journey of the relationship and their comfort with each other. Are they more daring? Or more guarded?

  1. If you’re turned on, it’s working

In fact, if you’re not turned on, something’s wrong. Trust that if it works for you, it’ll work for your reader too.

Unbridled Passion

Let us tell you about Nick, the sexy vet. Last year, Diana Thompson released her stunning debut romance novel Winterflood’s Passion. Raunchy and immensely readable, the book created a loyal fandom hungry for more. Diana always knew the characters had lives larger than what she provided in that first work. So it is with a great deal of pleasure that For Pity Sake Publishing is able to announce the release of Unbridled Passion, the next book in the Bowral series, arriving on shelves with plenty of time for Christmas.

Readers of Winterflood’s Passion will remember Nick, the unlucky vet who missed out on our heroine Charlotte. Unbridled Passion focuses squarely on picking up his story. Because the protagonists are different from that of the first book, you needn’t have read Winterflood’s Passion to enjoy Unbridled Passion. Indeed, they can be read in any order. But readers of Winterflood’s Passion will be very pleased to know that Charlotte and Daniel definitely make an appearance.

As a hero, Nick is everything a romance reader could want. Sensitive, gorgeous and a keen animal lover. When Jordana Talbot arrives in town, however, their two personalities clash. What happens over the ensuing pages, however, is a must-read for any lover of romance. Unbridled Passion still has all the high drama and intriguing characters of Winterflood’s Passion, but it’s an even raunchier read.

Due for official release late August 2016, you can pre-order Unbridled Passion now and delivery’s on us! Click here.

A Passion for Romance Writing

One of our beloved authors, Di Thompson recently sat down with Barbie Robinson from Artcetera on FM 92.7 Canberra, for a chat to talk all things romance and her plans for future books. Listen below or buy a copy of Di's book here. [audio mp3="http://forpitysake.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Diana-Thompson.mp3"][/audio]

Five Rules for Writing Historical Fiction

With the second season of the Outlander series now gripping the world, and with the re-release of not one but two of Peter Yeldham historical fiction novels only days away, it seems fair to say that historical fiction is now very much in vogue. It seems we’ve monkey-swung from sparkly vampires (Twilight) to titillating BDSM (Fifty Shades of Grey) to re-examining our collective past. In truth, historical fiction never really went out of vogue. Technically speaking, the vast majority of Shakespeare’s works were historical fiction. It could be said even our most basic folk lore (Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, etc.) are a kind of proto-historical fiction that harkens back to a generic fairytale time tinged with nostalgia.

Still, there’s never been a better time to be a historical fiction author, and we’re thrilled to publish quite a few. But before you put pen to paper, you might want to consider a few critical tips that we’ve learned from reading our award-winning authors.

Researching and Reading Research is obviously incredibly important when writing historical fiction. There’s no quicker way to alienate a reader than to make them stop believing in the authenticity of the world you’re trying to create. So research and read. A lot. Read historical accounts of the time, and even dig into other historical fiction that’s focussed on similar eras of history.

Researching and Talking If you’re able to actually talk to living survivors of your chosen historical era, don’t be shy in asking to sit down and have a chat. A minute in conversation can illuminate areas that history books simply can’t tell you. The colour of the wallpaper, or the smell of a place, or the daily, mundane routines that shaped their (and your characters) lives.

Researching and other reading An extremely helpful tip comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as critically acclaimed historical fiction The Signature of All Things. While it’s valuable to read history books, it can be even more helpful to read documents, novels or journals that were written in the specific time period that you’re setting your work in. This will tell you so much about the lexicon of the age, along with the concerns, dialogue and details of your characters.

Know when to stop researching This is the trickiest bit. Some historical novels feel more historic than novel, and can be too dense a read to be truly pleasurable. Always remember that your novel still has to operate under the same laws as any genre, and needs to create a compelling story with intriguing characters. The research will only take you so far. If you’re on the right track, you’ll usually feel a mounting sense of excitement as you’re researching, and there will simply come a point where you’re desperate to write. So write! The research will be there when you need it, and you can always return to hunt for extra details.

Be Authentic to the Politics of the Time …while not being too offensive to modern sensibilities. This is tricky, and most complicated around gender politics. Times past are often incredibly violent places to write about, and women are often treated abhorrently. It’s important to be authentic to this, and not create a rose-tinted version of the past that readers will find too sickly sweet. On the other hand, every reader has a line, and so much of narrative is frequently about the under-dog becoming a hero. Claire in Outlander is a classic example, who is subject to the subjugation of her time, but constantly subverts the gender norms for wonderfully entertaining results. Peter Yeldham often places an under-dog at the centre of the story, who is able to see with greater moral clarity than most of his peers.

Don’t know where to start reading? Why not try Peter Yeldham’s fantastic historical fiction around World War 2 in Above the Fold . Or if you’re in the mood for more sparkly vampires, you might be interested in Jennifer McDonald’s take on how Edward Cullen brought about a spiritual awakening in her memoir Vegetarian Vampires. Then again, you may be more into the Fifty Shades of Grey trend and want some page-turning romance. In that case, try Winterflood’s Passion by Diana Thompson.

 

The Bowral Bodice-Ripper

When I read the first draft of Diana Thompson's just released Winterflood's Passion I dubbed it the 'Bowral bodice-ripper' a name that has stuck much to the bemusement of the author, I'm sure. An article in the Southern Highland News and the program of the Southern Highlands Writers Festival (where Winterflood's Passion was recently launched) both picked up on the term with unfettered glee at having a novel set in Bowral, a jewel of the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales. Who can blame them? It is a beautiful place and a very apt setting for the passionate love affair between the fictional young and beautiful widow, Charlotte Ranleigh and the dashing, playboy art entrepreneur, Daniel Winterflood. The bodice-ripper part is not so easily explained, except to say that, not being an aficionado of the romance genre; I had no idea before reading Winterflood's Passion that there would be so much explicit sex in a romance novel. Silly me! Hot sex is writ large here - and stirring stuff it is too without being kinky, dark or dysfunctional. The bodice-ripper term refers not so much to the timeframe (bodice-ripper inferring an historical or regency theme) but to the unbridled lust and its many earth-moving incarnations of which Diana writes so skilfully in this, her first novel.

It's certainly not my intention to leave you with the impression that plentiful, well-written sex is the only thing that attracted me to this book as a publisher and a reader. Like most things in life it is far more complicated and multi-factorial than that - so please, let me attempt to explain.

Firstly, Diana's work is very descriptive and I found that really drew me in.  From the herbs that Charlotte grows in her garden to the Aubusson rug and Margaret Olley painting in the living room, to the detailed description of the furnishings in Daniel's bachelor lair in Sydney and every meal they consume together - Diana's attention to detail is, dare I say it, very seductive. A vivid picture is painted around the main protagonists, how they look, feel and live, that I found myself quite spontaneously seeing them in my mind's eye – even wondering who might play them on screen.

The second thing I love about Winterflood's Passion is that Diana doesn't push the boundaries of fantasy too far.  Sure there's escapism here - beautiful, wealthy people living in luxurious surrounds with fabulous careers - what's not to like? But in amongst all that Diana deftly weaves in some strong correlations with anyone’s real life - a tragic death, misplaced guilt, thwarted dreams and self-doubt. All of these make an appearance and help to ground what would otherwise be fantasy characters that one only reads about in, well, romance novels.

And finally, the greatest appeal of Winterflood's Passion is the context of true love in which the mind-blowing sex is set. Call me old fashioned but reading about sadistic or violent sexual encounters that are way beyond my understanding or aspiration is not my idea of a rollicking good roll-in-the-hay read. Diana's novel strikes a brilliant balance between the raunchy, wanton, get-on-board-or-get-out-of-the-way sex and exquisite love-making between two people with a very deep connection.

Diana Thompson is a long-time friend of mine and a highly acclaimed jewellery designer in her own right.  To my way of thinking, Di epitomises the person who is strangely compelled to write and who's actually sat down and done it while carrying on with life as normal. She is the very type of writer we had in mind when we founded For Pity Sake Publishing and the fact that our fledgling publishing house has been able to produce her first novel brings me more joy that I can adequately express here.

Bowral bodice-ripper it is.

 

 

Buy your copy of Diana's debut novel Winterflood's Passion here!