The Background to the Book

Many years ago – more than 50 years, to be precise – I started working on the Family Tree. I had a head start, in that my Great Great Grandfather (also called John Jackson) was a Vicar, and Anne, his wife kept and transcribed all his letters, etc. after his death. That gave me a flying start on the Jackson side. I’ve four 4 books full of this sort of stuff!

My father’s family came from poor pieceworkers in the cotton and wool trades, spinning and weaving in their cottages in the area of Pott Shrigley, south of Stockport, and near to Lyme Hall.

The John Jackson above got taken up by the local Squirarchy and sent to Macclesfield School. He stayed on as a teacher, married Anne, who was the daughter of one of the other Masters there and then went to Brazennose College, Oxford, where he read Divinity and became a curate, back in Pott Shrigley, and then vicar of Over, near Winsford in Cheshire.

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When I looked at Mum’s side it really became interesting. Her maiden name was Dumaresq, which is a Jersey name. They were fairly big cheeses in Jersey for several hundred years. They used to own Les Augres Manor, the site of Jersey Zoo, run by the late Gerald Durrell.

Henry Hart Davis Dumaresq was my Great Grandfather. His mother, Elizabeth is the branch that leads back to the Rochforts.(bottom line, middle)
There are none left now in the UK, although there are some in Canada and Australia. (I’ve been in touch with them and met a good few of them), however, it is such an unusual name it is very easy to find.

The Dumaresqs married well – very often to “peer’s younger daughters” etc. and once you do that – it’s easy to connect and trace back.

Thanks to those who have done this work before/ I can go back to Edward 1st. (it’s no big deal – 33% of the UK can, too – including Danny Dyer) BUT – along the way, I came across some really juicy ancestors.

The story that leapt out, as a tale to be told, was the story in Heart of Stone.

There’s plenty more to come!

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A Cover – and a Publishing Date!

I’m delighted to announce that I have both a cover AND a publication date!

“Heart of Stone” will be published by Crooked Cat, on October 24th.

I’m loving the cover – it’s exactly what I wanted. The figure is one of the main protagonists in the story.

For those who haven’t heard, it’s a historical novel, and is based on my 5-great Grandparents, set in Ireland in the years after 1740.

Cover - Front


The picture is of one of the main protagonists in Heart of Stone. It hangs in Belvedere, one of the main sites used in the book, and very much a real place. Although very striking, there is no photo around of a sufficient density (300 dpi) to allow it to be used for a cover. Luckily, I found a photographer in Mullingar who was delighted to go and take a pic, for a very reasonable sum.

The Managing Board of Belvedere were most welcoming, and happy for me to use the pic, asking only for a mention.


A New Site for the Blog

Yes, I’ve moved across to WordPress. It seems a little more ubiquitous than Blogger.

I also hope to update it a little more frequently. I hope any readers will forgive me for the occasional screw-ups as I get used to WordPress’s own vagaries.

First, and most important – the writing!

A Heart of Stone

A Heart of Stone has been accepted for publication by Crooked Cat Books and will be out in October / November. I am waiting to start the edits with a keen sense of trepidation.

For new readers of this blog, it’s a historical novel of 90k words, set mainly in Ireland in the 1740s, and concerns the terrible events surrounding my Great-great-great-great-great-grandparents (really!)

It’s the story of the Belle of the Dublin season, married at 16 to suit her parents, and who falls in love with her brother-in-law.

Her husband, a man of great power, does not take this well.

A Heart of Stone is the story of what SHOULD have happened to them.

Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows is the working title for Book 2. I am 30k words in but have been having some terrible plot problems, which can be summarised as a simple “Why am I writing this book?”

A Heart of Stone is now on hold, pending Crooked Cat’s appointing an editor, and them starting on a cover design. However, time, tide and publishers wait for no man, so Book 2 calls.

Another historical, this time concerning Jane, the daughter of A Heart of Stone’s protagonists, and a right rackety person by all accounts. Family History truly IS the “gift that keeps on giving”.

I have good protagonists, a good opening, some good subplots and minor characters, and it is pretty sound historically, but I was really getting lost in terms of direction.

Along comes Liz Fenwick to the rescue, who recommended Dara Marks “Inside Stories – the Power of the Transformational Arc”. Not an easy read, but well worth it. It told me what I needed to do, and showed me how to fit it into my story. Excellent.

I also found John Yorke’s “Into the Woods: How Stories Work” helpful.

I’ve used some spare time on holiday to map out the story arc, and to shorten the time span, and I reckon that, at last, I know where I am going with this.

In the meantime, Books 3 and 4 are taking shape in my mind……..

Oh, there IS a moral to all this. When you get stuck, ASK FOR HELP. It will always be forthcoming.

The RNA Summer Party.

This year’s Summer Party was another, and all too rare, chance to meet up in person with my wonderful RNA friends. As always, I had a great time, talked incessantly, took a load of photos and STILL didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone.

A highlight was the presentation to Kate Field of the Joan Hessayon Award, for the best first novel published in the last year from a member of the RNA’s New Writers Scheme. This was The Magic of Ramblings (Accent Press). Many congratulations!

Both Kate and Clare Harvey, last year’s winner. spoke amusingly in their speeches.

A very few of my best pics.

Emily Kerr – my fellow Crooked Cat Author
Nicola Cornick, Kate Field, Katie Fforde and Alison May.
Clare Harvey (rocking the hat) and Kate Field who really CAN smile, honestly.
Sue Moorcroft, holding her “Just For the Holidays”, released on Party Day!

Our holiday in Cornwall was wonderful; some great gardens, some new friends, a lovely cottage and we will be back to Cornwall again next year. I feel a Cornish story coming on, somewhere.

And….. when we got back, the hedgehogs were soon coming round for their food.

All or any comments are more than welcome.


Bosahan (6)
Bosahan Gardens, looking out of the Helford River
Mr Snuffles – always hungry.