It was quite a coincidence that over the last couple of weeks I have read two historical novels based on the young Queen Victoria – one was a moth eared paperback I spotted at my mother-in-law’s by Jean Plaidy (made a change from the kindle & it was enjoyable); the other was a first novel by author Linda Finlay, a historical saga published by Penguin, that I downloaded, called The Royal Lacemaker. This novel was equally enjoyable and highly recommended – perfect for fans of Jean Plaidy, Dilly Court and Katie Flynn. So I am really chuffed to welcome to the blog this week the delightful author herself and chat about her book, lace making and of course, her views on fashion! Hi Linda!
Hi! I’m Linda Finlay, an image consultant and novelist with an avid interest in people, what they wear and what makes them tick.
Congratulations on publishing your first novel, a historical saga called The Royal Lacemaker. Where did you get inspiration from to write this novel?
Thank you. The past few months have been very exciting. The inspiration for The Royal Lacemaker came on a visit to Beer in Devon where I saw the sign for Ye Olde Lace Shop. Naturally I had to investigate and so my story was born.
Your novel follows the fortunes of a 17 year old orphan girl and the choices she must make when she becomes part of a secret commission to produce the Honiton lace for the wedding dress of Queen Victoria. I hear you were taught lace making too – was the incentive to do so linked to getting a sense of reality to the story or was it something you’ve always wanted to do and now with your novel in place you was able to indulge yourself?
Research took me to All Hallows Museum in Honiton where I watched a demonstration of lace making. It looked such an intricate craft I had to try it for myself. I like to think my experience added authenticity to the story as I find it hard to believe women used to make lace in their cottages to supplement their incomes, along with the household chores and bringing up their children.
As I’m somebody who cannot knit or crochet and can barely sew despite 3 years of needlework lessons at school, I really admire you! Was lace making hard to learn?
Although I love knitting, sewing is not my forte. Luckily I found a very patient teacher in Colyford, who along with her team of lovely ladies, kept my lace making on track. It really is as hard to go back and re work the lace as I indicated in The Royal Lacemaker. However, if I managed to make lace, you certainly can too!
Ha, ha … we’ll see! Swiftly changing the subject, what made you realise that you wanted to write books? Did you like story writing as a young girl?
I have always loved writing stories. Along with sport it was the only thing I was really any good at in school. Frequently I would lose myself in a story rather than tackle the other subjects I was meant to be concentrating on.
Apart from being an author, you are also an image consultant. What do you like best about both of your jobs?
I love people and helping them to make the best of themselves. It is rewarding to see a client leave my studio confident and smiling. I always try to champion my characters by making the timid grow stronger throughout my stories.
I know that this book has just been published, but have you started to think of ideas for your next novel? Would you stick to the same genre or would you try something different?
My next novel, The Girl With The Red Ribbon will be published in the Spring. It is about lunar gardening and millinery. Quite diverse subjects that are brought together by a common theme. I am now on my third novel.
What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite book or authors?
I love historical romance and stories that teach something of the period without being heavy handed. I find it satisfying to learn through an entertaining story. Phillippa Gregory is particularly good at this.
Obviously living in Devon played a big part in the formation of your novel. If you could visit any place in the world to set your next novel in, which place would you love to venture to?
It would have to be the Norwegian fjords. My imagination could run riot there!
When you’re not writing or running your image consultancy, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?
I love walking the coastal paths and exploring little villages and bays. A story always seems to pop into my head though, so I don’t really switch off – unless I’m shopping with clients of course. Then it’s clothes, boots, shoes and accessories all the way.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I love separates. Pencil skirts, polos, embellished shirts and shaggy gilets with ankle boots and opaques are this seasons must wears for me.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Wallis, Next, Very are all superb for topping up on seasonal fashions. They are always on trend with reasonable prices that don’t break the bank.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A faux fur jacket and faux leather pencil skirt are on my wish list, along with more ankle boots of course.
Boots or Shoes?
Both! They are my absolute must haves and a girl can never have too many! After all they update an outfit instantly.
amazon.co.uk/Royal Lacemaker – Linda Finlay
amazon.com/The Royal Lacemaker by Linda Finlay
Thank you very much Linda – I can’t wait to read your next novels. After reading The Lace Maker, I was partaking in a quiz when a question came up : “What craft uses bobbins and pillows?” I was so pleased that I knew the answer (Lacemaking) which I wouldn’t have had a clue a month or so ago. So, there you go, not only a good feel good read but educational too! Check the book out and let me know what you thought of the book too! I’d be interested to know!
Photos have been published with kind permission of Linda Finlay