Today we welcome Josephine Montgomery.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Josephine Montgomery: I am an expat Brit. with a passion for gardening. I created English style gardens around our home, sweeping landscapes of flower filled borders, rockeries, pergolas, rose arbors and a sculpture garden. A 600 lb. gargoyle, I named Fred, sits next to the driveway beneath a pergola covered in English ivy. Another passion is woodcarving, after retiring I studied for many months at a woodcarving school in Austria.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Josephine Montgomery: I have written four books: An Unexpected Adventure. Historical fiction, based on my love and knowledge of fascinating Tudor England, the novel follows the travels and adventures of David and his Grandpa, with entertaining dialogue, during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Fitzgerald Hall, A Summer of Deceit and Hwicce, a historical fiction trilogy set in the world of English aristocracy and the Anglo Saxon era. My imagination took flight when a teenage Anglo Saxon girl was found by archeologists in a meadow near London. She was buried on an ornamental iron bed with a gold and garnet cross on her breast, a very rare find. History has always held a fascination for me; I believe that historical events written as a story, along with well researched fact, are far more interesting than simply memorizing dates.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Josephine Montgomery: I am currently working on Love, Lies and Wicked Secrets, A Tudor romance set in King Henry VIII’s beautiful Hampton Court Palace on the banks of the River Thames near London.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Josephine Montgomery: The most difficult section for me to write was in An Unexpected Adventure. A blacksmith played an important part and I knew very little about blacksmithing, I decided I needed hands on experience with a traditional blacksmith. It was July the air temperature outside was high 90’s F. inside the smithy it must have reached triple digits. Early each morning I lit and stoked the forge, pumped the bellows, heated and hammered red hot iron and learned the basic skills of blacksmithing. I have never been so dirty, or had as much fun as I did under the skilled eye of a master blacksmith. After five days of instruction I knew I could write a blacksmith scene with authenticity.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Josephine Montgomery: I have a personal library based on Tudor and Anglo Saxon England. I also use the web to search for historical facts.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Josephine Montgomery: Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, is one of my favorite authors. His novel ‘Prince Rupert the last Cavalier’ was a brilliant read. Kate Williams’ Ambition and Desire, the Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte, was also a page turner. The author who inspires me is the late Naguib Mahfouz, a Nobel Prize winner; his stories of old and modern Cairo are captivating. I have a great appreciation for his writing having lived and traveled in the Middle East. I also spent two years in Amman, Jordan studying written and spoken Arabic.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Josephine Montgomery: I never needed encouragement to write, I remember getting in trouble for composing poetry on the outside walls of our family home.
Book ‘Em: What would you say your strengths were?
Josephine Montgomery: I have met many interesting characters and can usually rely on one of their characteristics to move a story along. I also believe a perfect sentence matters more than a perfect haircut.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Josephine Montgomery: I write every morning, not because of a strict writing routine, but that is when my focus and imagination is sharpest.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Josephine Montgomery: I have had enormous success writing historical nonfiction, short stories for children. I am a contributing writer for a children’s, 9 – 14 years, magazine in Beijing, China and HistoriCool, a children’s magazine in Australia. I also contribute to travel magazine and in five years I would anticipate allocating more time to nonfiction historical stories and travel magazines.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Josephine Montgomery: If I could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer it would be edit, edit, edit. I recently read a novel by an emerging writer that had a terrific storyline, but was badly in need of a thorough edit. To quote Dr. Seuss:- The writer who writes more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Josephine Montgomery: The best compliment I could receive would be that my books should be on Oprah Winfreys book list.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Josephine Montgomery: Excerpt from FITZGERALD HALL
Large flakes of snow were falling when the plane landed at Heathrow Airport; British Customs officers checked Emily and Anna’s paperwork, stamped their American passports and wished them a Merry Christmas. “British accents are a bit intimidating,” said Anna, “every time someone in uniform speaks to me I feel I ought to snap my heels together and salute.”
“There’s our driver,” said Chloe, beckoning to a man in uniform, “we’ll soon be home and there is no requirement to salute.”
Anna sat bolt upright in the spacious, chauffeured limousine, I don’t think we’re going to a little brick house with a toilet at the bottom of the yard, she thought.
The limousine purred along snowy country lanes until two massive iron gates barred their way. Silently the gates swung open and they continued down a driveway lined with massive English oak trees.
“You live here?” said Anna watching the cream colored stone of Fitzgerald Hall glow orange, pink and red in the fading light of a setting sun.
“It’s as big as Buckingham Palace,” said Emily.
“Four hundred years ago,” said Chloe, “our ancestors built Fitzgerald Hall on land given to them for services to the King. In summer most of the rooms and the gardens are open to the public, we live in one wing of the Hall.”
“I‘d be happy in one room if I could live in such a beautiful place,” said Anna.
“The church, farm houses and thatched cottages you saw as we drove through the village were also built by our ancestors, said Chloe. “You’ll meet the villagers at the candlelight church service on Christmas Eve.”
A tall slender lady, dressed entirely in black with the exception of a white lace collar, came forward to greet them as the limousine glided to a halt in front of an ornate arched doorway.
“Welcome home Miss Chloe,” she said. “I’ll have Betty bring hot chocolate to the library and Benson will take the luggage to your rooms.”
“Lovely,” said Chloe.
Betty poured hot chocolate into three monogrammed china cups, added more logs to the dancing, spitting flames on the stone hearth and asked, “Will that be all Miss?”
“Draw me a bath at five thirty,” said Chloe.
“Very good, Miss,” replied Betty picking up the girls coats from the back of a ch
An Unexpected Adventure: www.tinyurl.com/yd8q9oym
Fitzgerald Hall: www.tinyurl.com/yawcl3px
A Summer of Deceit: www.tinyurl.com/y93hg9vz
Hwicce: Invisible Pilgrims www.tinyurl.com/yd8bjl5q