Today my visitor has come from just across the Pennines. For anyone not familiar with UK geography, the Pennines are a range of hills running down the north of England, separating Lancashire and Yorkshire. In the fifteenth century there was fierce fighting between the two counties in the Wars of the Roses. And even today there’s still quite a bit of friendly rivalry between us – especially on the cricket pitch.
But we romance writers don’t care for all that feuding. Give us some tea and a bun and we’ll happily chat for England. So my guest and I are sitting down to a plate of Eccles cakes (a Lancashire pastry, filled with currants) and a big pot of tea.
Welcome to Yorkshire, Sarah Mallory!
Whereabouts in Lancashire do you live, Sarah? I live one thousand feet up on the South Pennines and I love it. I can step out of my front door and be walking on the moors within minutes without even having to cross one road (the bridleway doesn’t count!)
The landscape is so like my own here in Yorkshire. Gorgeous!
Where is your favourite place in the world? Home! I am very fortunate in that live in such a wonderful area. The weather can be harsh but it is constantly changing and the scenery is just stunning.
I totally agree!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Counting coupons in a cigarette factory. It was my first job after leaving school and everyone had to start at the bottom of the ladder. Those were the days when some cigarettes came with coupons that could be saved up and exchanged for goods. I was in the department opening the packages and weighing the vouchers – lots of paperwork because there were no computers in those far-off days. Thankfully I was soon moved into the correspondence room, dealing with queries and complaints – much more interesting! I have never smoked, and working there certainly did not encourage me to do so!
Oh, I so remember the days of Embassy coupons.
What book do you wish you’d written? Oh that’s a difficult one! I think it would have to be a Georgette Heyer, possibly Black Sheep. I love her witty writing style and her command of language and setting.
What’s your favourite song? I don’t really have one, it changes with my mood – it even depends what I am writing! My latest book, Never Trust a Rebel, could be said to have been inspired by Snow Patrol’s “Run”. The hero has fled from England, branded a traitor, but he returns to keep his promise to a dying friend.
I must listen to those lyrics more carefully!
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? I have just finished writing a book set around the Battle of Waterloo and I think it would be very interesting to meet Lord Uxbridge. He was possibly the best cavalry commander of the period, but blotted his copybook during the Peninsula campaign by running off with Wellington’s sister-in-law, Lady Charlotte. Wellington’s brother divorced Charlotte and Uxbridge subsequently married her, once he had divorced his first wife. However, Wellington recalled him to take command of the Allied cavalry and horse artillery at Waterloo, and Uxbridge lost a leg towards the end of the battle. He and Charlotte seem to have been a very happy couple, Charlotte’s letters are full of cheerful anecdotes (she talks of him as if he were a little boy, playing at soldiers) and I would love to sit down with Uxbridge and talk to him about the battle, his campaigns and also – if I dared broach the subject – his love life. Divorce was such a rare thing in the Regency that I would love to know how he and Charlotte coped with the scandal.
What would be a fascinating piece of history. And what an interesting conversation that would be.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? When I was very young we had a caravan near a very quiet beach in Somerset. I used to spend most of the school holidays there, often with my two cousins, who were only a year older than me. I remember miles of flat sand, ideal for making sandcastles, and the muddy water that would discolour any light-coloured swimming costume. There were so few people about that we could spend the week gathering up driftwood for a bonfire without any worry of it being set alight prematurely. I still remember roasting onions and potatoes in the bonfire as the light was fading and with the sound of the sea roaring in. Now that beach is so busy one is never alone there, and I think fires are prohibited, too.
That sounds idyllic. So many of my English guests have happy childhood memories of the seaside. Good times!
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Now there’s an interesting question. As a writer of romantic fiction I spend a great deal of time creating all different sorts of men but while I like to write about the dark, brooding types, they need to have a sense of humour, too, or they would be very difficult to live with! The problem with film and tv is that the actors so often loom larger than the characters they are playing, so I would have to go for someone from a book. It’s actually much easier to say who I wouldn’t want to marry – certainly not Mr Rochester or Heathcliff and (lowering my voice here) even Edward Ferrers sounds like a dull dog. I think, once again, I would come back to Heyer. If I had to choose I think it would be one of her cheerful, capable heroes – Lord Damerel (Venetia), or Miles Calverleigh (Black Sheep), or Mr Beaumaris (Arabella) or Sir Richard Wyndham (The Corinthian)… oh dear, must it be only one? Probably Damerel, then, because of the promise of rose petals (and if you don’t know the relevance of that you must read the book!)
I’ve read the book, Sarah, and love every one of Heyer’s heroes. You’re right, hard to decide on just one!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? That Life isn’t always fair, so don’t expect it to be and don’t waste time worrying about what you can’t change. Use your energy for things you can do something about.
My latest historical romance, Never Trust a Rebel, comes out in September. In 1745 Drew Castlemain fled from England in disgrace, branded a traitor and disowned by his family. Ten years later he returns to England to fulfil a promise to a dying friend to escort his daughter, Elyse, safely to her fiancé. He is honour bound to protect Elyse and has to fight a growing attraction – after all what has he to offer her save a tarnished name and a life on the run?
Never Trust a Rebel is published by Harlequin Mills & Boon and is available in print or as an e-book from www.Harlequin.com or www.millsandboon.co.uk as well as from Amazon. You can find details of all my books, including those written by my alter ego, Melinda Hammond at my website, www.sarahmallory.com
Thanks so much for coming across the Pennines today, Sarah. It’s been brilliant to meet you. I absolutely love the premise of Never Trust a Rebel, and can’t wait to read it. Have a safe trip home!
If you’ve enjoyed Sarah’s interview, or have any questions or comments, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!