Friday felicitations to you!
I'm absolutely delighted to welcome my friend, Yvonne Marjot, today since it's launch day for her latest novel The Ashentilly Letters, published by CrookedCatBooks. Yvonne's come with an excellent guest post to share a bit about how the third of her trilogy has transpired, telling us what is fact and what is fiction regarding her as an author and Cas, her main character- similarities and differences. She's also sent along some great images and I'm using them all since they look so good.
I've loved reading the first two books of her series and really look forward to this third one- especially since it has a Roman theme- right up my street and it's now on my kindle! I can easily recommend them as great reading.
With no further ado over to you, Yvonne...
The Ashentilly Letters
The Ashentilly Letters begins at Christmas, a few weeks on from the events in The Book of Lismore . The weather is bitterly cold, hailstones are lashing down (much as they are doing outside my window at this moment) and Cas is in her kitchen, cooking up a storm ahead of Christmas Day. Readers of the first two books (the series begins with The Calgary Chessman ) will already know a bit about Cas Longmore’s relationship with her son, Sam.
After almost losing him (and her own life) at birth, she spent the first five years of his life focused on her child to the detriment of almost everything else, including her relationship with her husband, Drew. At five, Sam’s father took him away to boarding school, and since then she has only been permitted to see her son during school holidays. Now that he’s at university, and his own man, Cas is getting to know him all over again.
Sam has thrown himself into adult life at the deep end, trying to juggle university life (he’s studying Archaeology), his finances (Dad cut him off without a penny when Sam revealed he was gay), and a long-distance relationship with his partner, archaeologist Niall Webster. Niall’s struggling, too, with intense feelings of jealousy and insecurity, which threaten to destroy the relationship.
In The Calgary Chessman, it was Cas’s discovery of a mysterious object on the beautiful Isle of Mull that brought mother and son together, and introduced them to archaeologist Niall, when the object turned out to be medieval in date, and similar to the famous Lewis Chessmen. By the end of the book, Sam had found his vocation, and was determined to study archaeology. The Book of Lismore saw him collaborating with Niall on a summer dig on the island of Lismore. Cas joined them just in time for a furore involving skeletons, a possible illuminated manuscript and a case of kidnapping.
She barely has time to recover before her son and his man turn up for Christmas, and she receives some very bad news about her family back in New Zealand (The Ashentilly Letters).
As a result she has to dash off to the other side of the world, where a very interesting situation awaits her. Her grandparents need her, and she finds them in the company of an old acquaintance, who introduces a whole new element to her life. Sam and Niall, meantime, struggle on through rows and misunderstandings, until they reach the university holidays and can go back to doing what they love most: digging up the past.
The archaeological theme this time is Roman, and Sam and Niall find themselves re-writing the map of the Roman occupation of Scotland. Meanwhile, Cas is beginning to think that her tired and broken heart may yet have the strength to heal.
Nancy says: a Roman theme! I wonder why I'm really looking forward to that! 😜
One of the questions I’m often asked is whether the character of Cas Longmore is based on my life. There are similarities: I am a lone parent living on the Isle of Mull, I did grow up in New Zealand, I am fascinated by archaeology. But Cas is a very different kettle of fish. She’s part of a tiny family (raised by her grandparents, both her parents are dead, and she has only one child of her own) – whereas I come from an extended family so huge that it’s hard to remember everybody’s name. When I was a kid, and chores needed to be done, my mum would just call out names at random, until somebody answered.
Archaeology is the real link between us. When I was around seven or eight, our teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. All the girls wanted to be nurses or air stewardesses. Except me. I stood up and told them all I wanted to be an Egyptologist and I was going to discover the tomb of Nefertiti. They all laughed. I never did manage to make it my career, but I’ve volunteered on quite a few digs, and now I sink all that frustrated enthusiasm into researching and writing my novels.
Over the years, I’ve known many women who were abused by their husbands, or lost their children in terrible custody battles, or who had to suddenly find a way to make ends meet after years of being the unpaid carer of their husband’s family. I do believe that there is a tendency for men to use their wives while it suits them, and then to walk away without consequence when they have had enough, leaving the mothers of their children to bear the brunt of both homemaking and breadwinning. That was certainly my experience, and I can’t help but reflect it in the life of my protagonist. But Cas’s way of dealing with her problems is very different from mine.
I hope that she feels real to you, and that her story is believable. But it’s no autobiography.
So… if you like your fiction to be plausible, with a hint of tension and a little bit of grubby reality, you might enjoy this. If you like your romance to be a little bit steamy, but not too explicit, this could be for you. And if you like a story based on real human history and prehistory, with a solid dollop of archaeological detail stirred in, this will be right up your street.
Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get news of upcoming books, and Crooked Cat is a great way to find out about great writing by a whole range of authors.
Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. She has been making up stories and poems for as long as she can remember, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). Her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and her novels are published by Crooked Cat
The Calgary Chessman (UK)
The Calgary Chessman (US)
The Book of Lismore (UK)
The Book of Lismore (US)
The Ashentilly Letters (UK)
The Ashentilly Letters (US)
Walking on Wild Air (UK)
Walking on Wild Air (US)
The Calgary Chessman on Facebook
@Alayanabeth on Twitter
The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet (blog)
Thank you for coming, today, Yvonne and best wishes for a great launch of The Ashentilly Letters.
ps I see that Blogger now has emjois 😊