Writing Novels & A Giveaway!

If you want to write a novel (are you mad?), Curtis Brown are running a free webinar on 4th November 7pm – 8.30pm on that very theme.

Your Novel: How To Get Started‘ is currently full but they’re trying to ‘open up more places’ (my terminology!), or failing that, it will be available to view on YouTube, as a recording.

Why are they running a free webinar? As well as being a prestigious literary agency (authors on their books include Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes, Lisa Jewell, Adam Kay.. need I go on?), Curtis Brown run lots of writing courses and there’s a good chance that they’ll want to let you know about them, once you sign up for the webinar. But you can always unsubscribe and I’ve never found it too much of a pain. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, (or a ‘free webinar’) as the saying goes.

Here‘s where you can register your interest in the webinar.

They are also running the event to help promote their ‘Discoveries 2022’ scheme, which is free and open to unpublished female novelists in the UK and Ireland. Be warned, last year they received over 2,500 entries for their Discoveries programme, but it’s definitely still worth a go if you’ve got 10,000 words of a novel (finished or unfinished) to send in.

You’ve got until January 2022 to get your submission in. More details here.

Book Giveaway: ‘The Smallest Man’

By complete coincidence, the author of the book I’m giving away, Frances Quinn, is a former student of a Curtis Brown Novel Writing course.

Her debut novel, ‘The Smallest Man’, was published earlier this year and I’ve got a paperback copy to give away, courtesy of the author herself. It’s even signed!

The book is set in the 17th Century and is inspired by the true story of Jeffrey Hudson, court dwarf to Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I.

And here is a painting by Van Dyck of the Queen, with Jeffrey, painted in 1633.

Frances’ main character, Nat Davy, is definitely fictional though and her novel starts with a great couple of lines, that really pull you into the story: “My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story….”

Do you remember in my recent post about editing, I mentioned Frances and her book and how she had to …ouch… scrap and rewrite quite a bit of ‘wordage’ at the end of the book? But of course, it was all worthwhile because the book’s been very well received. I’ve read it myself and really enjoyed it.

There’s another lovely interview with Frances here, if you’d like to know more about her and her second book.

So, if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning this lovely brand new signed (did I say it was signed?) paperback (UK only, folks, sorry!), all you have to do is tell me the title of another historical novel you’ve enjoyed reading.

That way, we’ll all end up with a lovely list of books to read.

The Historical Writers Association, by the way, classifies ‘historical fiction’ as ‘fiction set fifty years before the present time’ (ie: 1971 and earlier) but the Historical Novel Society apparently classifies it as 30 years before the present time (1991 and earlier!).

So, take your pick but it all sounds very recent to me!

I’ll put all the names into the random wheel name picker thing to choose a winner a week today, Monday 18th October at 6pm.  UPDATE: The giveaway was won by Sarah from Stratford. But… horror upon horrors, when I sent the book to her it WENT MISSING! So, we waited and it still didn’t turn up, so in the end I ordered a new one to send to her (which of course, wouldn’t have been signed, but still…) and then, before I could send it, the original turned up! (Her neighbour, who had broken his leg, had taken in the parcel from the postman but hadn’t been able to give it to her – I suppose on account of his incapacity!). So, then I had a spare book, so I did another spin of the random name-picker wheel and the second winner was Fran Hill, so she’s had that book and enjoyed it.

My stepdaughter made me this cake at the weekend. Early birthday cake. Yum!

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32 Responses to Writing Novels & A Giveaway!


    I’ve got 45 pages left of Dictator which is the final book of Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy. Have enjoyed them all.

  2. The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is a historical novel I enjoyed and reviewed. https://suesconsideredtrifles.wordpress.com/book-reviews/the-heretic/

  3. Fiona says:

    The Offing by Benjamin Myers, set just after the Second World War, which is so beautiful.

  4. Sarah Campbell says:

    Thanks for your latest blog.

    This exercise is really interesting, as I would have said that I didn’t read historical fiction, and yet there’s quite a few I’ve not only read but enjoyed! there’s the obvious Bird Song (Faulks) and Wolf Hall (Mantel).

    There’s also the amazing Hamnet (O’Farrell) from last year.

    There’s the brief and packed On Chesil beach (McEwan) and the amazing All the Light you cannot see (Doerr)

    However, by the Historical Novel Society definition, I can include such delights set in the 1980’s, as Fever Pitch and High Fidelity (Nick Hornby)!

    My answer from the above list will be All the Light you Cannot See as it’s a book I wish I’d written.

    Many thanks

    Sarah Campbell


  5. Fran Hill says:

    I’d love to win Fran’s book! I’d say the best historical novel I’ve read recently is ‘Bearmouth’ by Liz Hyder which was inspired by her visits to the sites of old Victorian mines and by the treatment of children who worked there. It’s a really original book.

  6. Kath V says:

    I loved A Net for Small Fishes

  7. Valerie Thompson says:

    I tried entering the Discoveries comp last year. No luck, but will give it another go. As for historical novels – ‘Frannie Langton’ was one I came across by chance. Terrific stuff. Elizabeth Redfern ‘The Music of the Spheres’ was another chance find. Unusual and an intriguing plot. Enjoyed v. much. Kate Griffin & her Kitty Peck books are v. entertaining too.

    • I have ‘Frannie Langton’ on my Kindle, waiting to be read. It does look good. But those others, I’ve not even heard of. Where have I been?! Good luck in the Discoveries comp, Valerie. Worth another go, isn’t it?

  8. Tracy Fells says:

    My recommendation for a historical novel is ‘Little’ by Edward Carey, his imagined early life of the Madame Tussaud. It is one of my favourite books and also features Carey’s own illustrations. He is worth following on Twitter too for his drawings.

  9. pennywrite says:

    Have read The Smallest Man a while ago, and enjoyed it! Love a good historical! One I’d like to recommend is ‘On Wilder Seas’ by Nikki Marmery. It takes a new view of Drake, and is an impressive read.

    Yumm the cake looks excellent…!! (Had to stop making more during Lockdown as the temptations became too great :-))

  10. Sara Kellow says:

    I recently finished All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison set in Suffolk in the 1930s. By chance I listened to the BBC bookclub programme about it today in which she describes her writing process and how she created such an authentic rural setting.

  11. Peter says:

    Thanks for adding the link to our interview with Frances. The book was a great piece of historical fiction with elements of compelling facts. The interview was brilliant and it really is a must-read.

  12. Eirin Thompson says:

    Another very interesting post. Thank you. I’d like to recommend Longbourn, by Jo Baker, which tells parallel events to those in Pride and Prejudice, from the perspective of the servants at Longbourn (the Bennet family home). A great premise and a really good read.

  13. I can whole heartedly recommend The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath.

  14. Lesley Wilkinson says:

    I loved Cecily @anniegarthwaite What an extraordinary woman. Also, just finished Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by @AlisonWeirBooks which was also fantastic! 🙂📖📚

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