JENNY BARDEN: Author Interview: Mistress of the Sea

Jenny (Portrait 1) pix

Jenny Barden, fellow RNA member and Joan Hessayon Award contender, has dropped in today to answer the Novels Now author questions. We’re lucky to catch her as she’s very recently back from Florida.
Welcome, Jenny.
Qu) Like many other great inventions, the e-reader has taken off. Do you read in both electronic and paper mediums? Which do you prefer?

Ans)I have a Kindle but I still much prefer to read a traditional paper book. I find the whole experience of reading much more satisfying with ‘tree books’ – I like the smell of the paper, the feel of it under my fingers, and the ability to flip back and forth instantly to consult maps, glossaries or references to earlier chapters. I find reading from paper much easier on my eyes – I’m not struggling to adjust the light, get rid of shadow or reduce glare. It’s going to take a very special kind of ereader to wean me away from traditional books heart and soul – though my Kindle is very useful for travelling and keeping down weight in luggage! I see the future as being big enough for both, and I think that there’ll always be a place for paper books amongst book lovers and collectors, though I also think that the market for ebooks will continue to grow – they have provided an opportunity for reaching out to more people with more books and that’s got to be good.

Qu) Do you travel to find locations or do you use the ability to go anywhere in the imagination, to do just that?

Ans)I love to travel to the places where my fiction is set, and I will always try my best to get as close as possible on the ground to the locations that form the backdrops to my stories. Of course there are two obvious difficulties with this for me since my fiction is set over four hundred years ago and much of it involves voyages by sea. The identifiable places on land have often changed beyond all recognition from how they used to be in the Elizabethan era, and the precise routes of sea voyages cannot be pinpointed very accurately – indeed, from a storyteller’s perspective, there would be little to gain from doing so (the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Verde looks much the same as the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores!). But familiarity with the ‘location’ of being inside an Elizabethan ship is crucial to me, so I’ve been inside replicas such as the Golden Hinde reconstruction near London Bridge several times (in fact I’ve given talks and signings there) and I’ve had experience of sailing over the years. In researching Mistress of the Sea I travelled to Panama as well as to Plymouth, and I walked the routes that my characters would have taken insofar as I could find them. That meant travelling along stretches of the old Camino Real – the ‘Royal Road’ by which Spanish bullion from South America was transported overland by mule-train across the isthmus. (There’s a piece about that here for anyone interested: ) It also meant taking a boat around the San Blas archipelago: the white coral islands that formed a secret hideaway for Francis Drake and his men before their raid on the Spanish ‘silver train’, and it meant trying to find the site of the old town of Nombre de Dios now lost under sand or swallowed by the sea. I still went there.

Guns of San Lorenzo

Guns of San Lorenzo

<It was important to me to be where the city of my story once stood.

Qu) What is the most important physical sense of your current heroine? (Taste, touch, sight,hearing or smell)
Ans)Sight is of crucial importance to most description and I'd be disingenuous to suggest that it didn't underpin most of Ellyn Cooksley's impressions about her surroundings, but in terms of what really strikes straight at her emotions then I think smell is the sense that has the most profound and immediate impact. There's a scene in Mistress of the Sea in which Ellyn is imprisoned in the small dark attic room of a garrison behind a bolted door with shutters over the window. She can see little but her other senses are heightened. There is one man she fears above all others: Bastidas, the commander of the garrison, and she can smell him in the room because he wears perfume like a woman. The scent of ambergris is far more potent as a threat than the sight of him which comes later…

Qu) Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Ans That's really difficult to answer; if I could have the dependability of Mr Knightley together with the daring-do of Richard Sharpe then that would be my ideal – as long as he had the sensitivity and intelligence of Captain Corelli as well!

You've given us lots to think about there, Jenny. Now, will you share a short extract of your current book/story with Novels Now, please?

Short extract follows (from Chapter 19 of Mistress of the Sea):Mistress of the Sea pbk

Will clasped the little bells in his fist. He did not want them jingling as he brushed by to enter the hut. He could see Ellyn was asleep. So he edged inside; then he settled on a chest from where he could watch her quietly. She sat with her head down, neck arched and turned to one side, eyes closed, lips parted. He took off his cap. He would share a moment with her, and the Cimaroon outside would make sure they were not disturbed. The fort was noisy but, in the place that gave her some privacy, a sense of calm made the hubbub seem less. She had only been on Slaughter Island a few days, and in that time she had hardly relaxed. He was glad to see her resting. Whatever trauma she had been through, rest would help in healing. He was content just to be near her; he would never tire of that.
The pleasure he took in being with her was like waking up in summer time, in England, beneath a bright, cloudless sky. She was a landscape entire. Her body was curved like the coombes and there was promise in her folds. He thought of soft paths through meadow grass leading to field-strips of barley. He looked at her lips, red as poppy petals: lips he had kissed and would kiss again. Merely the imagining was enough to stir him. She was the heartache of home – yearning and joy all rolled into one.
He gazed at her face. No other woman could be as lovely. His blessing was to be with her as she was at that moment, in a time that was his, without sense of its passing. Asleep, her face moved. Her eyelids quivered and her lips curled slightly. She gave a little shudder and took a quick breath. He wondered where she was in her dreams; whatever the place, he would have liked to have joined her. She frowned, rolling her head, and he reached out to calm her. Suddenly she was awake, eyes open and fixed on him.
‘Will! What are you doing here?’
‘Considering you.’ He smiled. ‘Thinking how fair you are.’
‘Flattery will not excuse you. I prefer to invite people into my house.’ She frowned, plainly flustered, and brushed back her hair. ‘What did you see?’
‘You were asleep.’
‘I was pondering.’
‘You were pondering with your mouth open just so.’ He made a little ‘O’ with his lips as if he was blowing a bubble, but he had only mimicked her for an instant before she slapped her hand over his mouth.
‘Will Doonan, you are a heartless, mocking jackanapes. How could you think me fair if I was pouting like a fish?’
He pulled her hand away and kissed it.
‘As easily as I think you fair when in truth you are dark.’
‘So I am not fair?’
At that he reached for her and pulled her to him on his lap.
‘No, not fair at all; so unfair that I expect no justice. You wrong me, sweet maiden.’
‘I wrong you!’
‘Yes,’ he said, kissing her, ‘you do.’ He did not try to put his feelings into words; he doubted that he could, and he feared that if he did then she would only pick whatever he said to pieces. He simply kissed her again.
His reward was her laughter, and her arms around his.
Links are:

•Mistress of the Sea on Amazon:

•my website:

•Blogs are on other sites eg: and :


Review Mariah’s Marriage by Lothian Life’s Suse Coon

Mariah's MarriageSupport from local online magazine, Lothian Life, is really heart-warming. There are now several reviews of Mariah’s Marriage up on amazon and Goodreads, but I’ll share this one. It’s here:

Drop by and check out the rest of this great online publication.


Books, books, books. Wherever you turn in this house there are books. Age appropriate books. Aged books. Ageless books. If you’re looking for it, there’s more than an even chance we’ve got it.
But, it won’t be in the loo.

Al fresco Facilities

Al fresco Facilities

I know lots of you out there thoughtfully provide a basket or a shelf in the smallest room. Those little Christmas stocking books or a magazine or two will be available to while away any waiting time. Not here.
On the other hand, there are books on my husband’s bedside chest, on the floor beside my bed – I got the smaller chest AND the phone – on a shelf above the radiator. There are books in my writing room, in the living room, in the room that was the playroom, in the spare bedroom. The cookery books adorn a shelf outside the kitchen (and a cupboard in the living room, Shh!) while a shelf in the kitchen holds British birds for that moment when an interesting visitor arrives on the wistaria.
There are romantic novels everywhere. The coffee table in the living room, the kitchen table, my handbag… a girl does not want to be caught out and I can easily keep several stories in my head at once, even complicated detective plots. But, never in the loo.
Why not?
Don’t know the answer to that, but I suspect, being as we are a back of the cereal packet household, the queues would be intolerable.


Roman Girls

Roman Girls

My publishers, MuseItUp, have two blogs. I’ve posted from time to time on the regular one when a theme prompted me to share a few thoughts. Now Mariah has been invited onto MuseItHot to show how even in 1822 a girl can become Hot & Bothered. Check out her first encounter with Tobias here:

MEGAN JOHNS – Author Interview – A Shore of Secrets

anne6 Dec (2) 003

My guest today on Novels Now is UK writer MEGAN JOHNS. Megan and I are with the same lovely Canadian publisher, MuseItUp. Although with children now grown, Megan and her husband live with an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and enjoy the antics of next door’s alpacas.




Megan's writing features contemporary romance novels ‘with teeth’. That's why she sums up A shore of Secrets with
‘In all secrets there is a kind of guilt.’ Can Abi learn to trust, and Giovanni to forgive?

I asked Megan the Novels Now questions. Thanks for dropping by Megan.
Qu) Like many other great inventions, the e-reader has taken off. Do you read in both electronic and paper mediums? Which do you prefer?

Ans) E-readers offer many advantages. There is no doubt there are huge benefits in their storage capacities, also their size and portability. For holidays, they are by far the best option in that one can transport a range of otherwise bulky books inside a handbag. At home, however, I still find I gravitate towards paperbacks. Why? Habit, perhaps, although I suspect it runs deeper than that. There is something sensual about physically holding a book in one’s hands, as though you own the words, can touch them, can smell the paper. Hard copies also afford the ability to browse a bookcase at leisure, to admire their covers and dip into them at random.

So which do I prefer? I am quite split on this, but recently I have found e-readers cause less eye strain and I suspect my Kindle may well become my preferred medium in the future.

Qu) Do you travel to find locations or do you use the ability to go anywhere in the imagination, to do just that?

Ans)I tend to write about places I know and with which I feel an attachment. Holiday locations have been a great inspiration to me, although this is a by-product rather than a deliberate plan. I admit to organising family holidays to obscure destinations in the past, possibly with a subconscious intention of researching future writing scenarios. Fortunately, the holidays have all turned out fine, so the fact they have inspired me to write is a bonus. I find that actually being in a place and experiencing the lifestyle means one can get beneath the surface and learn more about what makes the place tick. I admire people who can write purely from their imagination, but for me first hand experience is key.

Qu) What is the most important physical sense of your current heroine? (Taste, touch, sight,hearing or smell)

Ans) Interesting question. I would say sight is probably Abi’s most important physical sense. She loves to admire the beauty of the environment and the hero’s attributes do not escape her attention either! However, taste and smell are close contenders with all the delicious flavours and aromas of Italian food.

Qu) Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Ans) It’s got to be Mr Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. He starts off so arrogant and aloof, but love eventually brings out a more generous side of his nature. We have to go through a lot of pain to get there, however!

Megan has kindly agreed to share an extract from her fresh release A Shore of Secrets with us:

A Shore of Secrets 200x300

She knew she must have touched a nerve. Ordinarily, his feelings were

concealed behind a wall of seamless armour that exposed no tangible signs of emotion. She observed him straighten his back with an air of possessiveness. Only the brows, drawn together over the blade of his nose, hinted at unease now. It was obvious their brief encounter had reached an abrupt end. Without meaning to pry, it was also clear she had taken a step too far. She dragged a deep breath into her lungs. Dealing with Giovanni was like treading on eggshells.

“Well, I mustn’t keep you from your clients any longer.” Clicking his heels, he tossed an impartial smile, adding in a tone of freezing courtesy, “If you have any queries or require any help, I’ll be in the office.”

What was it about Giovanni that troubled her so, she wondered as he left her alone with her tumbling thoughts? Maybe it was her conscience over Francesca at play. Regardless of the guilt trip, it was so maddening how his condescension could reduce her to a helpless child. She was a strong and independent career woman, for goodness sake.

Shaking herself into action, she swirled round on her heels and beamed a practised smile at the jocular holidaymakers. The secondary purpose of her visit was blanked from her mind.

Buy links: MuseItUp Publishing Amazon Kindle U.S. Amazon Kindle U.K.

Venice is exquisite. Nor is the beauty confined to the place. Hotelier Giovanni Renaldi is tall, dark and devilishly handsome. Yet holiday representative Abi seems immune. Crossed in love, she is in no hurry to fall again. Plus his arrogance is so infuriating.

Surely the discomforting feelings he evokes can only be guilt at covering for his naive sister’s secret lover?

When passion finally wins through, the thrill of their lovemaking is soon wrecked. And Giovanni, proud and fierce defender of his family since inheriting the role of patriarch, is enraged to learn Abi has colluded with his sister.

But Abi quickly discovers her secrecy is nothing compared to Giovanni’s. As the family’s closely guarded secrets begin to unfold, she is sucked into their internal wrangling.

Is nothing what it seems in this clandestine community?

And can love triumph over the turmoil of scarred lives?

MEGAN’S LINKS: Megan’s Web Site

Megan’s Blog

Megan’s Amazon Author Page

Megan on Facebook

Megan on Twitter

Megan on Goodreads


Author’s Other Works: ‘The Path of Innocence’, published by Devine Destinies BUY LINK CLICK HERE
Megan’s LINKS: Facebook: Twitter: Megan Johns @meganjohns12 Goodreads:

Welcome New Followers

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

Welcome, Glynis, Gwen, Clover, Cristian, Christine, Elizabeth and Opinionated Man (there may be a more attractive moniker?). You are all recent followers of this blog.
I’ve posted the picture above which is used as the background image behind my Gothic header. She’s rather lovely in real life and stands forever on a hillside in Sicily. It was quite difficult to get her and her alone as there were a lot of visitors around. So I’m posting her to say, Yes, I have more than one follower, but separately you are each very important to me.

I’ve just come home from a tour of local charity shops with a pile of second hand books. (I do also buy new books and e-books. Read a rather racy Catelyn Cash on my kindle last night and may review it on Goodreads later.) The helper in one was kind enough to accept a flyer for Mariah’s Marriage. She said she doesn’t read because it wasn’t encouraged at her school. Activities were more prized/praised. Difficult, I think, because I know I would have done more in life if I hadn’t been a reader. On the other hand, it does broaden the mind in a way no amount of houswork could have done.

Anyone else noticed how the charity shops have spruced up? Chest, Heart and Stroke have colour co-ordinated their window display. Visualise have moved everything, á la supermarkets, around. They all have lots of customers, too. Could be a sign of the times, or perhaps simply of our ingrained love of a bargain. I now come home and think again. If I’m still interested tomorrow, I may go back for the item.

Angela Kay Austin Author Interviews

Novels Now is becoming rather international. Last week my author guest was from Holland and today I’m welcoming Angela Kay Austin from the United States of America. Angela writes romance.

Angela Kay Austin

Angela Kay Austin

Qu: Like many other great inventions, the e-reader has taken off. Do you read in both electronic and paper mediums? Which do you prefer?

Ans: I do read in both myself. Some things I want to hold in my hand. I also still love to get autographs from my favorite authors, and I collect and show off my fav books. At one RomanticTimes convention, I jumped around from table to table collecting autographs 🙂 like a kid pumped up on cotton candy and soda! (I have a shelf of signed books collected at conferences, too)
I don’t think I have a preference. I just want some things electronically, and some in hardcover.

Qu: Do you travel to find locations or do you use the ability to go anywhere in the imagination, to do just that?

Ans: I set my books in places I’ve visited or, in some cases, dream of visiting. I watch video, check out websites, and do whatever I need to in order to know it well enough to pull the reader in.

Qu: What is the most important physical sense of your current heroine? (Taste, touch, sight,hearing or smell)
Ans: I don’t know if my heroine in “Give Me Everything” has a most important sense, but I do think her loneliness may be in part due to the lack of touch. She doesn’t have that closeness with anyone, and that is something she’s purposely done. So, when I think about it, yes, touch. It’s changed her life in many many ways.

Qu: Who is your favourite fictional hero?

Qu: Not including superheroes. I’ve loved different characters for different reasons at different times. My favorites, at the moment, are: Rick Castle (Castle), Michael Weston (Burn Notice), and Jax Teller(Sons of Anarchy). I love the humor of Castle, but I also love the drive of Michael, and the “I will kill you” of Jax 🙂 Overall the commitment to friends, family, and lovers makes them near and dear to my heart.

Angela has kindly agreed to let us read the blurb for her Give Me Everything novel and to share a short excerpt with us. Goodness, she does put her heroine through a lot.

He’d sat on top of the world… the perfect woman, a daughter, and a job that made his father proud. Now, Kendis was divorced, and his daughter wasn’t really his. At least, he has a good job…at Brady and Associates, the firm that sends him to Maryland for their client, Eastover. Eastover, one of Maryland’s largest commercial real estate developers, is on a mission to take over older, outdated malls.

She’d been through the wringer in her personal life, and now LaKia thinks the only thing she can control is her career as Marketing Director for a small commercial real estate company. She’d always wanted marriage and children like her best friend has… but she’s given up on ever finding her own Mr. Right.

Until Kendis. He gave her everything, and she gave it right back.


The solitary inflated tube bounced clumsily down the frenzied river with its four passengers. Cold water from the New River sprayed LaKia Jackson over and over as she dipped her oar into the crystalline water in unison with the others in her raft.

Urgently Terrence shouted, “Nic, LaKia rock…left!”

Terrence and Kendis removed their oars from the water. LaKia and Nichelle dragged their oars in the river and paddled repeatedly until sweat blended with the mist of river water covering their bodies.

“Rock, right!” belted Terrence.

“LaKia watch your right,” repeated Kendis.

Concentrating on her left, she had ignored Terrence and Kendis’ last call. Her oar collided with a rock, snapping and cracking as it ripped from her hands shattering into smaller pieces. Her fingers quivered from the prickly sensations shooting through them. Her heart leapt from her chest when she saw the rock in front of them.

The momentum from her body cast her from the raft.

Kendis caught her around the waist, but his grip slipped.

She fell sideways, rocking the raft, into the water. The vibration inside her helmet as it bounced off the rubber tube rang in her ears. Cold spring water of the New River gorge rushed into her mouth.

Gasping for air, she tried to pull herself back into the raft. Her hands were too wet. A sickening wave of terror welled up in her belly. “Nic-, Terrence help.”

Frantic, her friends’ hands and arms thrashed through the water. They couldn’t catch her as they guided the raft around the rocks. Waves of salty water filled her nose and mouth; she sank beneath the water, but her vest buoyed her back to the surface.

She had been trained for this…what was it again? Point your feet downstream, keep your body limp, and protect your head. How do you keep your body limp, when you’re scared out of your mind?

Her torso ping-ponged from rock to rock banging her arms and back against every stone in the gorge; slowly consciousness began to drain from her body. Choking from the water in her mouth, she gagged as she slipped beneath the water again. The ragged pieces of her vest, shredded by the gorge’s rocks, floated in the water around her.

The arm that pulled her out of the river felt as solid as the rocks beating against her body. For a moment, she thought she wasn’t being pulled from the water and that she had drowned. But, then she felt the warm air of summer brush

across her cold wet skin; her rescuer’s other arm reached down and wrapped around her body to secure his grip. Shivering as she laid on the bottom of the raft, she opened her eyes. Kendis Washington—her enemy, was now her rescuer.

She stirred and awakened as Kendis slid his hands beneath her limp frame. Each shove of her battered body sent a painful shock through her. Fluidly, he scooped her off the rubber floor of the raft and headed toward the dressing tents.

Contact Angela: Website:
Twitter: @AngelaKayAustin
Buy Give Me Everything:


BELLA’S BETROTHAL began life as a first chapter in the New voices competition. It attracted a fair few comments and I thought about them and acted on one or two. Then in November last year, I joined NaNoWriMo and, as you can see from my lovely winner’s badge, right, added another 50,000 words to the re-structured book.

Moving on through copy and line edits for Mariah’s Marriage and I sent Bella’s Betrothal off to MuseItUp, who sent their congratulations.


The first copy edits arrived last night for a possible September release, so I’m introoducing her to you all. She’s feisty, red-haired and living in George Square, Edinburgh. I wander up there and look at ‘her’ house from time to time.

Millie Romano gave me a platform to make this announcement and you can read her inteview here:

Hope you’ll drop by and leave a comment or two.

Lin Treadgold – Debut Novel – Goodbye, Henrietta Street

First time novelist, Lin Treadgold’s debut novel, GOODBYE, HENRIETTA STREET hits the book shelves on 1st July. Lin has an exciting launch tour booked in the Scilly Isles, but you can read a few of her thoughts about location and David Tennant here.

There’s also a chance to win a copy of Goodbye, Henrietta Street and an extract from the book to tempt you. Thanks for dropping in here, Lin. Although we’ve been in touch through the Romantic Novelists’ Association for some time, it was good to learn a little more about you.

9781908208149 - Goodbye Henrietta Street cov

Qu) Like many other great inventions, the e-reader has taken off. Do you read in both electronic and paper mediums? Which do you prefer?

I’m old fashioned I do like a book with a cover, but I also have a Kindle and when I go on holiday the Kindle goes with me. When I am at home, it’s cosy to curl up with a paperback. I think the Kindle helps you to read the book more consistently, because if the phone rings you are always on the right page with Kindle and I can adjust the font to suit my eyes.  A very useful tool.

QU) Do you travel to find locations or do you use the ability to go anywhere in the imagination, to do just that?

After travelling abroad for the last 40 years or more I have visited more than thirty countries.  Finding a location isn’t a problem for me.  I spent many months travelling the world by sea  in the 1970’s and now I live in Holland I travel through Europe.  I tend to stick with the UK because most people know the places well.  In a novella I have in mind, my main character takes a trip to Italy. My father was a prisoner of war in Northern Italy and he left me a pile of war letters from his time in Italian and German prison camps, so one of my novels will surely be inspired by what he wrote.  I was an only child and had to make my own entertainment and I think that helps me make up locations too.

QU) What is the most important physical sense of your current heroine? (Taste, touch, sight,hearing or smell

I think with Pippa Lambton as the main character in my book Goodbye, Henrietta Street, she needs to be touched.  She has gone through so much pain in the past and now she has the chance to move her life forward. She knows it will be a struggle but we find out _MG_4913through reading the book how she copes. So I would say touch is important to her, to feel wanted again. To hear the sounds of the sea and birds helps her to recover from her grief. With Sven around her, she will gain the confidence she needs through his touch.

QU) Who is your favourite fictional hero?


In my book I adore Sven Jorgensen he is every woman’s hero, but in other books/TV etc I would have to say this is a difficult question for me but if I was to be a bit cliché I would have to say David Tennant as Dr Who.  I also like David in his Shakespearean roles, he is a magnificent actor and I especially enjoyed his part in Casanova.   Dr Who is certainly my favourite fictional character, I like Matt Smith  in this role too.

Will you share a short extract of your current book/story with Novels Now, please?

A short extract from Goodbye, Henrietta Street.

Story so far;-

Pippa is on the beach enjoying a quiet afternoon by herself, when Sven surprises her and wants to spend some time with her. From being the local ornithologist and tour guide, his mood changes, and his playfulness soon turns to a more serious tone. What’s really going on his mind? 

Pippa didn’t need to think too much. It must have showed. How could she have a relationship or even have a quick fling with him before going home? She had thought the unthinkable. It was an absolute ‘no’, but going back to Rob? Sven was making it difficult. She gazed at the title of the book she had been reading; she could have secrets of her own and not a soul would know.

Alone, like this, she might be able to accomplish her search for happiness. If she allowed herself to be sucked into this illusion, did it matter? Rob would never know and probably wouldn’t care. She wasn’t sure anymore. Here, she could put her worries behind her, for a short while at least.

She slid her fingers across her lips, back and forth as she watched him washing his feet in the sea. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. With his blonde hair falling over his ears, he was difficult to resist.

On his return, he sat with his legs stretched out, hands patting the wet sand, and his back against the sun-warmed rock, a place he had sat before where thoughts often turned into reality. He saw how she had written her name in the sand and scrubbed out another name—he retraced her writing and with his index finger he wrote SVEN, after PIPPA &.

Pippa realised what he had done and what might be coming next; she had to be prepared, but now was not the right time—and would it ever be?

Goodbye, Henrietta Street will be released on 1st July 2013 with a launch party on the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall.


Your chance to win a copy of Goodbye, Henrietta Street – offer closes 25 June 2013. First correct answer wins!

To order your paperback copy or download go to