It gives me great pleasure to welcome author Alison Huntingford to my blog today. I first met Alison at The South Hams Literary Festival last year. Alison is the brains behind the week long festival which she organised and appeared at which is no mean feat!
Firstly a very warm welcome Alison. Let’s jump right in shall we – can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have done many different jobs in my working life, from nursing to shelf filling and everything in-between! Having lived long enough now, I realise that life very rarely goes to plan. My writing is always based on true family history stories which inspire me. I feel the lives of ordinary people can be just as sad, funny, dramatic and interesting as anyone famous. We are all just struggling to survive. In my spare time, when I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband, our cats, rabbits and guinea pigs, listening to folk and world music, going to the cinema and trying to grow vegetables, with limited success!
Oh I can relate to that especially the trying to grow vegetables with limited success part- but that’s a whole other blog post! Tell us a bit about your writing. Do you always know where your stories will end up when you begin writing them?
Yes. My stories are all planned around family history, so I know the main events before I start. Often it is the end of the story that inspires the rest, as in my new novel ‘Dance A Fearful Jig’. However, I’m not always sure how I’m going to get the characters there!
I hear you! Writing is such a magical journey you’re never quite sure how it all come together but somehow it does. Would you say you’re a disciplined writer, by that I mean do you have a writing routine?
I am terribly disorganised when it comes to writing. I have no routine at all, and have to write whenever the words come into my head. I can’t force it. Sometimes I do manage to get myself into the right frame of mind and can push myself to carry on, but I prefer to let it come naturally. It is usually much better when it does. My writing takes place anywhere and everywhere, even whilst sitting in the car. I find driving is a great way to free the mind and inspire the imagination, and I’ve often had to pull over in order to get stuff down on paper. I always write the first draft by hand, as I think better that way, then redraft and amend it as I type it up.
You’ve given me an idea ~ Tales from the M5!Thinking about your writing would you say you have a favourite character?
I am fond of all my characters, and they all have a little bit of me in them! I suppose my favourite is Kate Duffield from my second novel ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’. She suffers so much and yet still carries on. She is very resilient and loyal.
She sounds like a very strong woman, that’s another book for my TBR pile. Talking of books what was the last book you read?
The last book I read was ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn, which I found very moving and insightful.
100% agree with you, The Salt Path is a beautiful book. If you could recommend one book to people what would it be?
For anyone who loves music from the 70s etc, I would recommend ‘The Music Shop’ by Rachel Joyce. (She also wrote The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry). It has such a wonderful feeling for human nature as well as a love of music from that era. It brought back many memories for me. I couldn’t put it down.
Now that’s another one for my ever growing TBR pile. So let’s turn to your latest release, what can you tell us about it?
‘Dance A Fearful Jig’ is set around Norman Cross – a POW camp for the Napoleonic wars in the 1800s and is a tale of friendship and romance in difficult circumstances.
It was inspired by the true story of my 5 x great aunt Rachel Alderman who lived and worked in Peterborough in 1807, as well as the life of one of the camp’s inmates, Charles Le Boucher.
Norman Cross was the first ever prisoner of war camp in Britain and yet its history has been forgotten in the mists of time. It was unusual in that it allowed officers from the camp inmates to go out on parole and mix with the local population, thus leading to many a romantic liaison!
Dance a Fearful Jig sounds fascinating, I do love history and it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to bring it to life for us thank you.
So what’s next for you, what are you currently working on?
I’m working on a novel set in WW2 based on my parents’ childhood experiences. I don’t have a title for it yet as it is very new. It is set in Molesey in Surrey which is where they lived. I have a lot of anecdotes to call on so I hope I can do them justice.
I wish you all the best with that, please come back and tell us how it’s going. If you could offer one piece of advice to any writers out there what would it be?
Join an authors group and get support from other writers.The South Hams Authors Network has been invaluable for me.
Great advice, thanks so much for joining me today and here’s wishing you every success with Dance a Fearful Jig. You can find a link to buy Alison’s book below. Now for a bit of fun. I asked Alison 5 random questions which she had to answer immediately:
QF5 (Quick Fire Five)…
1. Alice in Wonderland or The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe?
CS Lewis, though it’s hard to choose!
2. Sweet or savoury?
Sweet (I think!) I have been vegetarian for many years.
3. Countryside or beach?
4. Pink or yellow?
Neither. I’m more of a blue and green person
5. Quizzes or puzzles?
About The Author:
Alison Huntingford has a degree in Humanities with Literature and has always enjoyed reading, especially the great writers of the 19th Century.
She is an only child of two only children and so has always felt a distinct lack of family. This inspired her to research her family history and has led her to write three full length novels so far: ‘The Glass Bulldog’, ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’ and newnovel ‘Dance A Fearful Jig’ published January 2024.
In September 2021 Alison set up the South Hams Authors Network – an organisation which aims to support and promote the work of Devon writers. This is a free, informal group which meets on a monthly basis and has a devoted and loyal following. This culminated in the much praised Dartmoor Edge Literary Fest in October 2022, which was a free weekend event featuring local authors at community arts hub The Clay Factory near Ivybridge. Since then, Alison has gone on to organise and appear at the acclaimed South Hams Literary Festival, based around the town of Ivybridge, Devon.
Dance a Fearful Jig by Alison Huntingford
What would you sacrifice for love?
Rachel Alderman is a lonely, middle-aged housekeeper to a local vicar. Blighted by crippling shyness, illness and the needs of others, her life is going nowhere. That is, until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger determines otherwise.
Charles Le Boucher is a French soldier captured in the ongoing Napoleonic war, currently residing in the nearby POW camp, Norman Cross. Whilst out on parole, attempting to sell his delicately carved model ships in the marketplace, he meets and befriends Rachel.
With their two countries on opposing sides in a bitter war, should they even be talking to one another? Despite family disapproval, can their innocent friendship blossom into love, and if it does, what will become of them?
Available in paperback and ebook. 230 pages. Published January 2024
Universal buy link: https://mybook.to/DanceAFearfulJig
Contact with Alison: