Today on Meet the Author we’re talking to Vicky Adin….read on to hear about her love of history, her amazing husband and her fabulous books!
Historical fiction, historical romance, dual timeline, family sagas
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a Welsh-born Kiwi who lives near one of the glorious beaches New Zealand is blessed with; any of which I love to walk along. My best friend and biggest fan is my husband and, thanks to him, I am free to spend hours doing research and writing or talking through the problems I’m having with characters and so much more. He brings me coffee and wine as needed. I love antiques, old photos and genealogy and we own two vintage cars. It’s a joint family trait to love ‘old’ things. I have two adult children and four grand-children who keep my busy.
What inspired you to start writing?
A family mystery: why do the records show six children born on the same day?
While at university as a mature student at the turn of the century (see I told you I was old) a story about the founding father of our New Zealand family started to unfold. By the time I’d unearthed the details of the family tree, straightened out the myths surrounding his life and researched the history of the time I was itching to put the story on paper. His was a tale worth telling. Written as a dual-timeline novel, the story more biographical than any of my others. ‘The Disenchanted Soldier’ follows the life of a soldier turned pacifist from the mid-1860s through to the mid-1920s, as war and dissent changed hearts and minds.
How many books have you written and published?
Six, if you include my latest release ‘The Costumier’s Gift’ due out 24 May 2019, plus a children’s book dedicated to my two grandsons.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
I don’t have one favourite. I have a soft spot for all of them in different ways. Each story comes from snippets of true life stories, which I discover as I research various branches of numerous family trees. None of them are fully the life story of any one person, but are an amalgam of personalities and opportunities. My history is Welsh – hence Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner. I spent my early years in Cornwall and, after finding a newspaper cutting about a long-lost piece of art work attributed to a Cornish artist, I wrote The Cornish Knot. One of my husband’s Irish ancestors led me to write Brigid The Girl from County Clare. I never quite know where a story will come from, nor where it will lead me. I start with a premise and keep going until I reach the end. Many a time, the characters tell me what will happen to them next.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
Some characters almost name themselves – you get a feel about a name. I know fairly quickly if a name doesn’t fit. For my secondary characters, I check which ones were the most popular names of the time period and pick one of those. Or I choose a name from the myriad of real-life people I come across in my research. I have to be careful about repeating names I like, though. I found my secondary protagonist in my newest novel carried the same name as one in an earlier novel. Obviously, I changed it. Names matter if the character is to fully develop.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
That’s a tricky question. My women characters are all strong-minded and determined, so we’d have shelter and the basics of life, but once we’d sorted out the necessities I fear we’d run out of agreeable conversation after a while. Most of them are so much younger than me and they have their weaknesses, which I gave them of course, but to survive you need to debate the issues rather than have someone take over, as they would. So, my choice would probably be Charlotte from The Art of Secrets. She’s a little older than me and was a difficult character in more ways than one. She nagged at me until I’d written her story, but I think there’s a lot more about her than she revealed. I’d enjoy challenging her attitudes and ideas. She’d keep me entertained and up to the mark. Pity she died.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
I read a lot – especially in the dual-timeline and historical fiction genres, and especially any with a family tree connection – so it’s more I have a preference for the style of book rather than one author. I read a lot of indie authors rather than well-known names, but current authors I’m enjoying are Kathleen McGurl, Phillipa Nefri Clarkand Val McBeath.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
A story about an adventure I had while horse riding. I loved horses and riding when I was a young girl and would dream up all sorts of escapades for me and my horse. I remember being asked to read this particular story out to the class, but as I got close to the end I decided I didn’t like the ending as much and tried to change it as I read. I wasn’t very successful and was told off by the teacher for changing it. I didn’t understand why, since it was my story, but I was never asked to read my stories again. I would have been about 7 or 8 at the time.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Where shall I begin? I have a reputation for being a good organiser with an eye for detail and planning. Initially, I did office and secretarial work, then I took time out to be a mother, helping the local country school organise their library, and started to teach craft. After my kids went to school, I ran my own embroidery and haberdashery business for sixteen years, and taught various embroidery skills and styles. When I left the business, I went to university for several years earning a MA(Hons) in English, and during that time also took on the role of Professional Conference Manager for an academic sustainability group. My first book was written during that time and released in 2011. I retired in 2012, and have written full-time since, but managing no more than one book a year (there’s too many other things to do in life). My writing life is the opposite of my working life with my organisation and management skills. I do not plot. I just write and let the words take me where they will.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s the time frame that interest me most. So much happened at that time. The transition from gas to electricity and from horse and buggy to cars changed the way people from all walks of life lived. I particularly love the clothing of that time, which was so feminine and elegant (although I wouldn’t want to have been the maid – far too much work) and the photography of that period allowed people to relax and appear more natural. I also love the craftsmanship of the furniture, silverware and fine china of that time period.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My Welsh great-grandmother Polly who, from what I can discover, had enormous strength of character and made the best of life despite the circumstances.
What are your favourite things to do?
Apart from writing – and reading, of course, I love genealogy and can spend hours lost in the records or wandering around cemeteries. I also love to travel. My OH and I have a caravan and disappear for weeks (sometimes months) at a time and try to discover the off-the-beaten-track hidden gems that the locals know about and revisiting our favourite places. We also love to cruise and have visited some magnificent places but there’s nowhere like home. Walking on the beach is another favourite pastime.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
It’s happened more than once – travelling somewhere and going around a corner and knowing I’ve been there before even when I haven’t – at least, not in my lifetime. It’s a spooky feeling.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Have faith in yourself. You can do this!
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
Only one? That’s a tough question too. I’d choose Gone with the Wind. While today there is controversy surrounding the portrayal of slaves and slave owners, Southerners versus Northerners, and against all the racial and ethnic language and symbolism involved, for its time it was a true coming-of-age story and represented society as it was. That is called history. What once happened is how history should be portrayed and authors cannot put the standards of today on the reality of the past.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My latest release due out on 24 May 2019, is titled The Costumier’s Gift and is the dual-timeline sequel continuing the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, although the story can be read as a stand-alone.
Why does a stranger hold the key to unlocking Katie’s family secrets?
1903 – Jane is the talented principal costumier at Auckland’s Opera House in its Edwardian heyday. She thrives in this place where she can hide from her pain and keep her skeletons to herself – until the past comes back to haunt her. Brigid, her beloved foster mother, and her best friend Gwenna are anchors in her solitary yet rewarding life. As the decades go by, the burden of carrying secrets becomes too great, and Jane must pass on the hidden truths.
Today – Katie seeks refuge from her crumbling personal life with her grandmother, who lives in past with the people in her cherished photographs. All too soon, Katie learns she must identify the people behind the gentle smiles – including the Edwardian woman to whom she bears a remarkable resemblance – and reveal generations of secrets before she can claim her inheritance. She meets the intriguing Jared, who stirs her interest, but she’s not ready for any sort of romance, so is shocked when she learns that he holds the key to discovering her past.
Where to buy: books2read.com/TCGift
Thanks so much Vicky for taking part! What an interesting interview! I absolutely love all the historical elements, and loved researching my family tree too (although didn’t get very far!).
If you’ve got any comments/questions then give us a shout below, or drop Vicky a message on social media.
Enjoy your day lovelies!