Tania Crosse talks about the story behind the story.
I’m Tania Crosse, and I’ve been a traditionally published historical novelist since 2004, which makes me feel somewhat ancient! I started off in mass market paperback, long before e-books ever existed. In 2014, I completed a series of ten linked historical novels exploring the rich and fascinating history of west Dartmoor and the surrounding area, and set against the wild, rugged and unforgiving landscape of the moor.
Family circumstances then demanded a break from writing, but I am pleased to say that I am now firmly back behind my computer – or wherever I’m curled up with notepaper and pen, as I always write the first draft of my books in longhand. I am delighted, however, to have embraced more modern technology and signed a four-book contract with dynamic, young digital publisher, Aria, part of Head of Zeus, and I’m really enjoying working with their lovely team.
When I’m asked what sort of books I write, I always say historical novels with a romantic twist. I don’t write rags-to-riches sagas or historical romance. I think both those terms give the wrong impression of my work. My passion is for placing engaging fictional characters into real life historical situations or backgrounds, transporting the reader to a time when life was so much harder than it is today. My books are packed full of poignant drama, allowing my imagination to translate historical fact into gripping, heart-wrenching stories that I hope will keep you captivated long into the small hours.
My previous novels set out to show the harsh reality of life on remote Dartmoor from the Victorian era to the 1950s, and I covered everything from mining, hill-farming and quarrying to the infamous prison and the building of local moorland railways. There’s even a Victorian gunpowder factory set in an isolated spot high up on the moor! My new stories with Aria, however, will see a change of scene, from the South West to the South East and London. But I will be writing in the same way, following my characters as they cope with trauma and tragedy in days gone by.
You might be interested in how I found the inspiration for my first two books with Aria, Nobody’s Girl and its sequel, A Place to Call Home, the story behind the story so to speak. To be honest, I wasn’t looking for ideas at the time. It was more of a case of the inspiration finding me!
We were visiting Winston Churchill’s home of Chartwell in Kent, and soon found ourselves absorbing details of the Churchills’ private lives, including the tragic loss of a little daughter, Marigold. It was when we were in the library, however, that the great man himself appeared to me in a vision. I was a young parlour maid bringing him some refreshment, and in my head, I clearly heard him thanking me in his stentorian voice. You can imagine that I was utterly shocked, but I just couldn’t get the image out of my head. Who was the young maid? What was her story, and why did Churchill appear to be fond of her? Was there a connection between her and their lost child?
My writer’s imagination began to work overtime. Should that weird experience inspire another book? It wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened to me, you see. I’d had similar flash visions years previously at Morwellham Quay in Devon, the Victorian copper port and now living history museum, which had led to my debut novel and the subsequent Devonshire series. Could my encounter with The Greatest Briton lead to a new book?
Well, it did. Two books, in fact. The story has undergone many changes since its inception and covers many topics, but the main theme is the relationship between an older woman and a younger girl who are thrown together by tragedy. It’s set at an imaginary grand residence, Robin Hill House, and the characters are entirely fictitious. But it was most definitely inspired by that one uncanny moment!
As for my other two books with Aria, they are already in the pipeline and have been inspired by my early childhood in a London back street. Have I had any flash visions from then? Well, not really, but my memories of the place are pretty vivid, so perhaps I don’t really need any. And as I’ve recently discovered that a bomb fell in the back gardens during the war, perhaps I could do without re-living that!
But that is for the future. For now, I do hope you will enjoy Nobody’s Girl and will look forward to its sequel. And if you like the way I write, do look on my website where you’ll discover plenty more books to enjoy. I do hope you will feel as passionately when you share my stories as I do when writing them, and that you spend many hours following the characters’ ups and downs of life.
The boom years immediately after the Great War bring nothing but happiness for wealthy industrialist Wigmore Stratfield-Whyte and his wife Clarissa – until tragedy robs them of their greatest treasure.
Many years later, an horrific fatal accident brings young Meg Chandler, a spirited farmer’s daughter, into their lives. Meg wants nothing to do with them, but Clarissa is drawn irresistibly towards the bereaved girl and will move heaven and earth to help her. Will Meg allow Clarissa into her own shattered life, and can the two share a future happiness together? And will Meg’s new acquaintances bring her the contentment she craves – or seek to destroy her?
Set in the Kent countryside in the years leading up to the Second World War, this compelling saga tingles with drama, tension and an overwhelming sense of love.
Delaying her childhood dream of writing historical novels until her family had grown up, Tania Crosse eventually completed a series of published stories based on her beloved Dartmoor. She is now setting her future sagas in London and the south east.