24 June 2019

Author Interview with Deryn Lake, Author of The Prince's Women


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The story of a man of Scottish legend. Charles Edward Stuart was the Bonnie Prince from overseas, risking all to fulfil his people's destiny

I'm pleased to welcome historical fiction author Deryn Lake to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Prince's Women is an account of the life and adventures of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who came out of exile in Italy and landed in Scotland full of the brave intention of getting rid of the Hanoverian King and returning the land to the Stuart kings the Scots people loved so well.

When Charlie’s grandfather – King James II – was removed from the throne of England because of his Catholic views, the family were forced to live abroad. But Charles Stuart decided the time had come to win the throne back and landed in Scotland, his mind full of fabulous but foolhardy ideas to do just that. My book deals not only with that tremendously exciting period and the bloody and terrible battles, but also with the passionate Prince’s love affairs. 

It also reveals some amazing truths based on some tear-stained correspondence lodged in the Royal Archives at Windsor.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My preferred writing routine is to work every afternoon from two till six p.m.    When I was younger I used to write all day – most unhealthy! – but these days I find that the mornings are taken up with household affairs. Do I have any social life, I hear you ask. The answer is that I sneak off to London to meet friends and go out to lunch. I also go to Glyndebourne Opera House which is fairly close to where I live and to the ballet at Covent Garden. Not trendy, I hear you say, and the answer is yes, I am a trifle classically minded.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

For anyone starting out as a writer I have a theory that it’s born in you and that you will see things just a bit differently from other people. Although creative writing courses can help they can’t make spun gold out of a piece of wool. Teach yourself the difference between what is good and what is not in your writing – and just keep going at it until you know it is right. And try to write every day, even if it is only for an hour or two. Make this your special creative time and don’t let anything interfere with it.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

There are lots of ways to raise awareness of one’s books but I must confess that I don’t do much of them. People give talks at libraries, go on chat shows, go to writer’s conferences. But does any of this help? I think in these fast-moving times the only true way is to get something on television. Then the great reading public will make the connection and you will finally have arrived. It hasn’t happened to me yet – but here’s hoping!

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Research reveals masses of things that literally take your breath away. When writing Fortune’s Soldier – the third book in the Sutton Place trilogy – I discovered that two of the principal characters, both actual people, a married couple called Anne and Algernon Hicks, had died on the same day.    She of cancer but he, fairly obviously, must have committed suicide. Strange but true.  Dear old Algernon obviously could not live without his Anne. Unfortunately I did not discover this until after I had finished the book. Woops!  

Another exciting thing I found was that Joan of Arc left a banner on the altar as a votive offering after the coronation of Charles VII of France. It was the device of the Knights Templar, disbanded at a much earlier date. Why? In my latest book about the Young Pretender I found that he had an illegitimate son by his cousin Louise. It died in infancy. Well, well.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I have never written a truly difficult scene.    What I do is read everything very, very carefully once I have finished it, looking for every little mistake, every word repetition, every crass error that is going to stick out like a sore thumb when it is set up in type.  Then, when I finally finish it, I leave it alone. My late great agent – the one and only Shirley Russell – told me that there comes a moment to stop improving what you’ve done – and so I do.

What are you planning to write next?

My next book is venturing into the world of legend and magic and mystery and love.     I won’t say too much at this stage other than to tell you that it will have the title All The Rhine's Fair Children.    And it is not a travel book about the mighty river.    Meanwhile enjoy The Prince's Women – and keep on reading.

Deryn Lake
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About the Author

Deryn Lake started to write stories at the age of five, then graduated to novels but destroyed all her early work because, she says, it was hopeless. A chance meeting with one of the Getty family took her to Sutton Place and her first serious novel was born. Deryn was married to a journalist and writer, the late L. F. Lampitt, has two grown-up children, four beautiful and talented grandchildren, and one rather large cat. Find out more at Deryn's website www.derynlake.com

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