I'm delighted to welcome author Mollie Walton back to Jaffareadstoo
|Photo credit: Hudson and Rose Photography|
Firstly, congratulations on being one of the finalists in the RNA Romantic Saga Category for your novel A Mother’s War.
Thank you so much! I’m so delighted to have been shortlisted. I have tremendous respect for the RNA and they do so much to help writers and represent our genre positively to the world. I’m over the moon to be a finalist and really don’t mind who wins! I’m just thrilled to be in the final five!
A Mother’s War is the first in a trilogy of historical sagas, where did you get the first flash of inspiration?
In the summer of 2020, I took my daughter on holiday to Raven Hall Hotel in Ravenscar, not far from Scarborough and Whitby. We needed to escape from the house after the lockdown, so the cliff-top location of the hotel looked ideal to feel that sense of space we’d been missing.
Around that time, I was working on ideas for a new WW2 saga, yet hadn’t decided on a location yet. When I arrived at the hotel and saw the incredible view of Robin Hood’s Bay and the farm and moorland tumbling down to the cliffs, it took my breath away. And it almost instantly came to me: this is where I want my WW2 story to be set, in Raven Hall itself.
|Robin Hoods Bay|
Without giving too much away what can you tell us about A Mother’s War?
It’s the story of Rosina, a mother of five daughters, who is a widow and has raised her children more or less single-handedly in Raven Hall. We meet them all at the very beginning of WW2, when she gathers her daughters by the radio to listen to Chamberlain’s speech in September 1939. From there, each novel in the series follows one daughter and also Rosina, through their wartime experiences. A Mother’s War is the first book in the series and we have the eldest daughter Grace’s story, as she becomes a Wren and is trained to be a wireless telegraphist, listening in to U-boats.
When you started writing did you always intend this to be a trilogy of novels? And if so, do you now know where the journey will end?
Yes absolutely – it was a three-book deal, so I knew I was going to tell the first three daughters’ stories. The second book is out next month and I’m writing the third book at the moment. We shall see if some more books are coming in this series...I certainly have an arc worked out for all the characters. I’m an obsessive planner as a novelist, so I always have a lot planned out in advance, although this often changes during the writing itself.
In your research for A Mother’s War did you discover anything which surprised you about the people or the area?
I was delighted to discover more about North Yorkshire, as I’ve been a fan of that area for many years, having visited Whitby a few times when I was younger. It’s a gorgeous landscape with a great sense of history. I was particularly fascinated to discover there had been a secret listening station on the moors just above Scarborough and that’s where Grace’s story came from. There, they listened into communications from U-boats and other German navy vessels and these messages were then sent immediately down to Station X i.e. Bletchley Park. Many now know about Bletchley and the codebreakers, but this was an essential part of the story I felt was far less known about. It inspired me to have my character become a secret listener.
A Mother’s War features strong female characters; do you have a favourite character and why?
Ah, that’s such a difficult question, like choosing a favourite child! (I only have one child, so I never have to think about that though!) I identify with all of them in different ways: I understand some of Rosina’s dilemmas as a lone parent; I also feel that Grace’s somewhat introverted ways mirror some of my own interior preoccupations at that age. Then there’s Nancy, the maid who becomes a Wren and a wireless telegraphist – her self-confidence and ambition is quite different from myself at her age, so I admire her hugely! So, I’m equally fond of them all, to be honest.
Your writing is always very authentic, have you always had an interest in history?
Thank you so much for saying that. That’s certainly what I always try to do. Whether I’m writing as Rebecca Mascull or Mollie Walton, it’s always been really important to me to get my facts straight. My aim has always been to create fictional characters, yet to place them within realistic historical settings. Sometimes I’ve had real people come and go from the stories, yet the main set of characters are always fictional for me. Even if the events of my stories may sometimes seem unusual (or even unlikely), my goal is always to ensure that my research backs up my plots i.e. even if it didn’t happen, it very well could have happened. I love reading about history and visiting places where historical events have happened; I sometimes get ‘history shivers’ when I think about certain events or visit such places, where the past suddenly feels very real and present. I love that feeling and that’s what I’m always trying to aim towards when I’m writing, so that the reader is transported and yet feels it’s as real as today’s world.
As a tantaliser, what can you tell us about the next book in the series?
Ooh, well, readers don’t have long to wait, as it’s out in less than a month! A Daughter’s Gift, the second book in the Raven Hall Saga, follows the second daughter Evvy, as well as Rosina’s life at the hall. Evvy goes to London and joins the Auxiliary Fire Service just before the Blitz begins in earnest, while Rosina has to contend with the army requisitioning the hall. We catch up with the other sisters too, while we follow Evvy and Rosina through their own trials. I can’t wait to share it with readers – it’s out in hardback and ebook on March 2nd, with the paperback coming in August. The third daughter, Connie, is having her story written right now! And her book will be out in March next year. I’m loving this family and these five girls and I hope readers enjoy their stories as much as I do.
Mollie, thanks so much for being a great guest, its always such fun to have you on the blog.
Thanks so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog, Josie. Great questions, as ever. 😊
You can find Mollie Walton on social media:
ABOUT THE ROMANTIC NOVELISTS’ ASSOCIATION
The Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) is a professional body primarily for writers of romantic fiction. Founded in 1960 to provide a voice for romance authors and to be a network for writers, it continues to raise the prestige of romantic fiction and encourage romantic authorship. Their 1000+ membership includes writers across the spectrum of commercial and women's fiction, along with publishing industry professionals, booksellers, and book reviewers. In addition to organising annual publishing awards, they also host arange of workshops, talks, networking events, a three-day annual conference, and provide support to unpublished authors through their New Writers' Scheme.
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