Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sepia photographs and other stories revisited by Sheila Claydon

Eighteen months ago I wrote about a sepia print I found in a box of old photographs and how the beautiful young woman and dashing young man who were its main characters transfixed me. I was so intrigued by their apparent happiness that I tracked down their story and discovered that while it didn't have a sad ending, it didn't have a happy one either. By the end of their lives they were careworn and frail from years of hard work and semi-poverty. Their lives were typical of many people who lived in rural England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  (To read their full story search for Sheila Claydon 14 September 2014 on this website)

Of course research prompts possibilities for a writer and before long I had the beginning of a book. It wasn't the real story of Rose and Arthur, although it borrowed a lot of facts from their lives, it was the one in my imagination.

There were two problems, however. The first was that I was still in the middle of writing Miss Locatelli, my book set mostly in Florence in Italy. The second was that however much I tried to avoid it, Remembering Rose insisted on being  written in the first person, something I had never tried before. It wasn't Rose's voice that was telling the story though, it was Rachel, her great-great-granddaughter.

It took me a while to discover that Rachel wanted to be Rose's mouthpiece across the centuries but when I did I had another dilemma. Time travel! I'd never tried that before either.

There was another problem too. I mainly write contemporary romance, so how was that going to work in a book that was about someone from the nineteenth century?

The end result, after wrestling for weeks with various ideas, is a number of intertwined romances, some contemporary, some historical, as well as a sort of family saga, and of course that elusive time travel. By the time I finished I felt as if I had run a very difficult marathon but it was worth it. I love Rose and Rachel even though they are very far from perfect, and I love their heroes even more.

Writing Remembering Rose has been like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle and although the real Rose and Arthur will never know they were the inspiration for this story, and would probably be horrified at how I've interpreted them, I like to think they would forgive me for playing with their lives if they did.

Sheila Claydon's books can be found at Books We Love and Amazon . She also has a website and can be found on facebook