30 January 2022

Special Guest Interview with L. K. Wilde, Author of Queenie of Norwich

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

I was born Ellen Hardy in 1900, dragged up in Queen Caroline's Yard, Norwich. There was nothing royal about our yard, 
and Mum was no queen.

I'm pleased to welcome author L. K. Wilde to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

Queenie of Norwich is based on the true story of Queenie Read, my great grandmother. Queenie was born Ellen Hardy in 1900 and spent the first few years of her life living in the Norwich yards. At six years old her mother sold her to the traveling fair. All Queenie was told was to wait on the corner of the street for a lady named Julia. She didn’t know who Julia was, where she was going, or why she had to meet her. 

Queenie stayed with the travelling fair until she was fourteen, when the death of her ‘adopted’ father and the outbreak of WW1 forced her back to the city of her birth. She returned to care for the mother who had abandoned her, scraping by on her earnings from work at a munitions factory.

In 1924 Queenie met Barny Read, a man involved in the illegal world of off-course betting. She became Barny’s ‘bookies runner’, riding round the city on her bicycle, collecting debts. Queenie gained her name when a local newspaper reported- ‘Police Raid on Betting Shop, Queen Bee Escapes’! Queenie and Barny married, but her longed for children never came, and she was diagnosed with a heart-shaped womb. Queenie’s dreams of motherhood were fulfilled when, after the death of her sister, she adopted her niece Barbara. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

I fit my writing around various other jobs, so it’s usually a case of wherever, whenever I can. I set myself the goal of writing 500 words a day, sometimes it turns out to be a lot more, sometimes it’s all I can do to squeeze out 500 pesky words. But it keeps me going and ensures whatever book I’m writing keeps its momentum. I have a desk set up for writing, but more often than not sit on my bed, propped up with pillows, my laptop on my knees!

What advice do you have for new writers?

Practice makes perfect, whether that’s writing, editing, or marketing. Take time to learn the many skills you’ll need to get a book into the world, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. There’s a supportive writing community out there ready and willing to encourage, listen and offer advice- make use of it!

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

I’ve found social media to be a really useful tool. I recently had a journalist contact me through Instagram which has resulted in a double page spread about my book in a local paper. Having said that, word of mouth is also an excellent way of letting people know your books. I’m hopeless at telling people about my books, but thankfully I have very supportive friends and family who do that for me! I’m also trying to learn the ropes of Amazon ads; I’ve not yet mastered it but hopefully I’m getting there.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research. 

My greatest discovery was tracing the couple who had bought Queenie and adopted her into fairground life. It took days of cross-checking newspaper articles and fairground names with the ancestry website, but eventually I found records of a Julia and Henry Westrop who owned a shooting gallery. On one census they registered a daughter, Nellie Westrop, and further investigation confirmed she was the girl I was looking for. It was such an exciting discovery I actually screamed with joy!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

This is a tricky question as there were so many! I was writing as Queenie, in the first person, so the whole thing was a very emotional experience. The scene that stands out though was when Queenie finally gets a home with a proper bathroom. I never thought I’d weep over a bath, and I know that sounds strange, but if you read the book, it should all make sense!

What are you planning to write next?

I’m currently working on a book about a famous 19th century Cornish murder. It’s written from the perspective of both the victim and murderer’s wives, as I felt women are often overlooked in the reporting of such events. It begins with the murder, and follows the wives as they navigate through the trial, execution and their lives as widows. Cheery stuff! 

L. K. Wilde

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About the Author

Author and musician LK (Laura) Wilde was born in Norwich, but spent her teenage years living on a Northumbrian island. She left the island to study Music, and after a few years of wandering settled in Cornwall with her husband, where she raises her two crazy, delightful boys. Dreams of writing started early for Laura, and she carried a note book round at school, scribbling stories whenever she could. During her teens Music took center stage (excuse the pun) and she applied her love of writing to song lyrics. In her 20's, a full time teaching career meant any dreams of becoming an author were put on hold. In 2018 she embarked on an ambitious Music project with Cornish folk band The Rowan Tree, unearthing and retelling forgotten stories of Cornish miners in India. The project involved a substantial amount of writing as well as music, and her dream of writing a book was rekindled. Eventually, with a great deal of encouragement from family near and far, she began writing her first novel. Silver Darlings was released on Amazon in early 2021. Laura's second novel Queenie of Norwich was released in February 2022. Find out more at Laura's website http://www.lkwilde.com/ and find her on Twitter @lkwilde

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