Friday 21 June 2019

Author, Virginia Crow, is talking about what inspired her to start writing #HistoricalFiction. Virginia is giving away one paperback copy of her fabulous book — Beneath Black Clouds and White @DaysDyingGlory

Holding Hands Across History
An Author’s Inspiration
By Virginia Crow

It’s great to have this chance to share my sources of inspiration with you all, so I’d like to start by saying a quick but heartfelt thank you to Mary Anne for this opportunity.

No one was more surprised than me when, two years ago, I published my first historical fiction novel.  Throughout my teen years any book in my hand would have featured a fantasy realm with dragons, magic, bows and arrows, swords, and maps of imagined landscape.  And I loved writing that genre, too.

Historical fiction came out of nowhere.

I’ve always loved history.  Not particularly school history, where you study a topic so wide and varied you never get to focus on one thing for more than two lessons, but the history of individuals.  One of the places you had individuals of all backgrounds and classes was on the battlefield.  And, with this interest in battlefields as multi-faceted landscapes, my journey into Historical Fiction writing began.

A military bugle - no further details known.

So, I had my canvas, now I needed my inspiration.  It’s a slippery thing is inspiration.  At a recent event I described it as "like the wind - you can feel it when it hits you, but you can never hold onto it".  I was quite pleased with that as a soundbite, but it wasn’t wholly honest.  You see, I’ve found a way of holding onto it.

The greatest mystery of all - Found shoved up a chimney, a mirror featuring the words of my beloved poet, Byron.

It all began with an auction.  I didn’t go, I was only about seven at the time.  Mum had always wanted an Ogee Chest so, when one came up at the local auction, she bought it.  I don’t know what happened to the chest, it got left behind in a house move and we have a different one now.  Most Ogee Chests have hidden drawers, right at the top, and this one was no exception.  While cleaning out this one, Mum happened across a piece of paper, an old piece of paper with fine writing written across it.  It was a recipe for a drink, but a very specific drink: Drambuie.  So here we are, holding an age-old recipe for the drink created for Charles Edward Stuart.  And my mind began to dance, and my heart beat just a little bit quicker.  I was holding something which had a direct link back to one of the most iconic figures of Scotland’s past.

I’ve never tried to date the recipe.  It doesn’t really matter now if it’s from Clan MacKinnon – who first compiled the secret recipe – or not.  The point is, I had uncovered a well of inspiration.  I could hold an object from history and be a part of that ongoing story.  And that is truly inspirational.  In recent years, I’ve collected several artefacts.  Through them I’ve been able to hold hands with the men who sacked Sevastopol and the widows of the men who died trying; with a lady who was appalled with the behaviour of a gentleman; with a military bugler; and with a scholar from seventeenth century Holland.

An icon taken from Father Soblosky's house in Savastopol.

As a countdown to my latest book Beneath Black Clouds and White, I shared pictures of a few things I’d collected or been gifted which had allowed me to reach back into history and share the stories of these men and women.  Being able to continue their stories in the inspiration they’ve given me, has driven the finer details into my plots.  Many of the objects I’ve gathered have been because I’m writing about a certain event or time, while others have just been too tempting to pass up on.

Last Christmas I was given a parcel of three antique items a notebook and a pen. The note attached invited me to use the three items to write a story. 

I haven’t started it yet – my Masters dissertation is about the only thing I’ve written in the past four months! – but I keep taking them out of the green paper bag with white dots on, and just holding them, imagining all the people who have held them before, listening to their words and, through the objects, feeling their touch.  The characters take my hand and lead me to places they’ve been where I’ll never go, and things they saw which I’ll share in words.  It’ll be an adventure story of everyday people, as all my stories are.  Believable characters doing believable things, a real human story.  Inspired by humanity.

Beneath Black Clouds and White

Despite adoring his family and enjoying frequenting gaming tables, Captain Josiah Tenterchilt’s true love is the British Army and he is committed to his duty. As such, he does not hesitate to answer the army’s call when King Louis XVI of France is executed.

Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah finds his path crosses with a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.

But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.

*Giveaway is now closed.
Virginia is giving away one paperback copy of

Beneath Black Clouds White.

All you need to do is answer this question:

Which era in history would you like to write about and why? 

Leave your answer in the comments
 at the bottom of this post.

Giveaway Rules

• Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
• Giveaway is open Internationally.
• Only one entry per household.
• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
• The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Winner will be announced in the comments.

Pick up your copy of
Beneath Black Clouds and White

Virginia Crow

Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her soon-to-be-serialised books "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!

When she's not writing, Virginia is a music teacher in Caithness. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o' Groats Book Festival which has just celebrated its 2nd year. Hopefully they'll be plenty more to come!

She now lives in the far-flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches.

She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.


  1. I would like to write about the Viking era. So much happened and there are so many interesting historical characters.

    1. Yes, it was a real time of change! There are loads of Viking artefacts, and even a few buildings, in our little corner of the world. :)

  2. I would love to write something on the Mayans or the Aztecs

  3. Competition is now closed. The winner is The Templar. Congratulations! If you could send me your address I will pass on your details to Virginia


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx