I am thrilled to have fellow Rose Marin McGinnis here today for a look at her new Victorian and for wonderful insight into the history of the area of England where its set.
Thank you for having me here today, Barbara! I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk a bit about my new release, Secret Promise, and the history of the part of England in which it takes place.
The book is set in Northumbria in Wallsend--so named because it's at the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall--literally a stone wall built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian beginning in AD 122. The wall was the northernmost edge of the Roman Empire, and extended the width of England from Wallsend to the Irish Sea.
My husband, who is a classicist, and I hiked a big chunk of the wall about 15 years ago. Although the picture below is a part of the wall some 35 miles west of Wallsend, it gives you an idea of the countryside. On the day we were there, at the end of March, the weather included snow, rain, sleet, and hail, as well as the odd bit of sun. It was definitely a hardship post for the Roman soldiers stationed there.
Wallsend is famous not only for the ruins of the Segundum Roman fort, but for shipbuilding. Thousands of ships have been built in Wallsend, including the RMS Carpathia, which rescued the passengers of the Titanic.
The photo below (from http://www.wallsendhistory.btck.co.uk/) is probably from the early 1900s, and shows how a Wallsend street, like the one on which my heroine’s tavern sits, might have looked in the 1860s.
In addition to Wallsend, the book also takes place in the coastal town of Tynemouth, where the hero in Secret Promise grew up. Tynemouth sits at the end of the River Tyne, just a few miles from Wallsend. In the second half of the 19th century gained a reputation as a seaside destination, and hordes of Victorian bathers flocked to the village.
Tynemouth has a more interesting history, at least in my opinion. It is the site of a Tynemouth Castle and Priory, built in the 7th century, destroyed by Danish invaders in 800, rebuilt and destroyed several times in the 9th century, and then again rebuilt before the 11th century. The resulting fortress reputedly contains the mortal remains of two Northumbrian kings and King Malcolm III of Scotland. It also gave refuge to the queens of Kings Edward I and II while the menfolk were off fighting in Scotland.
The monastery was abandoned in the 1500s, although it remained in use as a church until the early 17th century.
It was this picture (taken by Chris McKenna and available on Wikipedia) that inspired me, at least in part, to write the end of Secret Promise.
There is something wild and dangerous about it, at least in my own slightly twisted brain.
If Tynemouth inspires you as well, here’s more about Secret Promise, which releases next week from The Wild Rose Press:
Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew.
Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she's not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.
Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.
Buy links: The Wild Rose Press
Edward frowned. “Aren’t you a bit young to be working in a public house?”
“Oh, I don’t work here,” the boy said. “Me mam’s the owner, and Molly didn’t come to work today.”
“The barmaid, of course.” His tone held a hint of derision, as if he thought Edward an idiot for failing to know who Molly was.
“Of course.” Edward was amused. “Well, then, I suppose I shall have the cottage pie, and an ale. And perhaps I could have a word with your mother, when she has a moment?”
“What do you want her for?” The boy’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“I used to live here, many years ago, and would like to speak to someone about…” Edward broke off as a woman emerged from the kitchen, carrying two plates piled with food. She had fiery red hair and a lithe figure, and moved easily through the tables. After setting one of the plates before a man sitting near the bar, she turned and scanned the room. Her gaze alit on the boy first, and she smiled. Then she spotted Edward. All color drained from her face, and the remaining plate slid from her hand, shattering on the stone floor.
“Mam!” The boy raced to the woman and clutched at her skirts, but Edward was unable to move.
“Anna,” he whispered.
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And be sure to visit me at http://marinmcginnis.com!