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Thursday 27 June 2019

ℚ♫ Beneath Black Clouds and White: Tenterchilt [2] - Virginia Crow

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Beneath Black Clouds and White (, Crowvus, 555 pages), a Historical Fiction, book two in the Tenterchilt series and the prequel to book one, Day's Dying Glory.

“This is a beautifully consistent narrative. Constant in tone, consistent in characterisation and congruent in its historical references. So many historically placed novels fall into the trap of a ‘tick list’ reference to times, places and events. Not this novel which has been cleverly and sensitively engineered by Virginia Crow.”

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to fellow Brit Virginia Crow; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start, Virginia Crow has shared with us her music playlist for Beneath Black Clouds and White - enjoy!
What was the inspiration for Beneath Black Clouds and White?
"When I published Day’s Dying Glory two years ago, my readers were very kind and asked for more!  The logical thing to do was write a sequel, after all one of the recurring themes of praise I got was on the strength of my characters.

I’d already written a later instalment, set forty years after in the Crimean War, but it didn’t feel right jumping this enormous gap.  So instead, I took the backstories I had hinted at in Day’s Dying Glory and told them in full.  I knew them all, but I’d only mentioned them in my first book.

Someone asked me recently which the best order was to read them in, and honestly it doesn’t matter - each can stand happily on its own."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"At times, writing historical fiction becomes exhausting!  The sifting through seventy documents to find the perfect one which proves the accuracy of manners or technology available at the time can drive you mad.  So perhaps my stubborn tenacity in terms of attention to detail is the most prevalent aspect of me in Beneath Black Clouds and White!

Researching the medical aspects of the book (the main character is an army surgeon) was a brutal awakening.  Triage did not exist in the British Army, and some of the stories coming out of those early Napoleonic battles were horrendous.  The emotions of my characters became obvious in light of these situations, because they were my emotions, raw and open in my discovery of these stories.  It’s fair to say that writing the book probably influenced me more than I influenced it."
Scene from the Battle of Marengo, captured by the artist. Louis-Francois, Baron Lejeune
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Beneath Black Clouds and White - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"When I took Beneath Black Clouds and White along to the proprietor of our local independent bookshop, he took one look at it and asked me for twice as many.  He hadn’t read it, but as soon as he picked it up he announced “This is a book which will sell”. He’d based that entirely on the cover, for which I have to thank my sister, Clemency.

She compiled the cover based on the two figures in silhouette, a common artistic form of the late eighteenth century when the book is written.  One of the characters is outlined in a smooth line where the other is rough and jagged, and one is meant to be a man and one a woman, but it’s rather ambiguous as to who’s who.  The abolition movement is a central theme in the book and the significance of equality between black and white with this style of art is another brilliant expression on the front cover. 

I love seeing what people take from a book, and how they interpret it artistically.  I think this cover fits it perfectly."
Why should we read Beneath Black Clouds and White and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"This is a really difficult question!  These books are written for readers who love the story of understated heroes.  We have lots of documentation and books based on people who rose to fame or infamy during this period, but we have less about the ones who helped “on the ground”. 

Beneath Black Clouds and White is the story of morally minded people, trying to move humanity into a more civilised age.   Sometimes their morals are frustrating and self-righteous, sometimes they’re heart-wrenching or positive.  Because that’s what life is all about – how our choices and morals impact on other people. 

By the end the book (not wanting to give too much away!) the reader has seen the emotional rollercoaster of a ride these principles have caused, and appreciate that, through seemingly small acts, someone can influence and improve the load of so many others.  The last chapter is called “To Whom We Owe So Much”, which sums it up quite nicely!"
Can you tell us something quirky about Beneath Black Clouds and White, its story and characters?
"John Johnson, the name of the spy, comes from an antique mirror which was found shoved up a chimney!  My obsession with all things Byronic led me to buy the mirror which had a verse of The Destruction of Sennacherib on it [see full poem here].  It also had the names Ann Adler and John Johnson painted on. 

Mirror with inscription: "For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!     And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride; And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf."

I’m still looking for the story behind it, but I wanted to pay homage to this “Mirror Mystery” in some of my writing, so here he is."
Who would you recommend Beneath Black Clouds and White to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"This book is written in an indulgent style.  If you’re a fan exclusively of modern writing you’re probably going to find it difficult to read.  My style has been described as halfway between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and I’m quite proud to have those two on either side of me!  I like to think of myself as something of a wordsmith, so the style of writing is as much a part of the story as the plot.

In terms of content, there isn’t an age limit or anything to rate the book higher than PG. Things are more often implied than they are inscribed!"
If you could / wished to turn Beneath Black Clouds and White and the Tenterchilt series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Richard Armitage is my dream Henry Fotherby – well Richard Armitage about fifteen years ago! I’ve always imagined him when I’ve been writing about Fotherby!

I’d have Toby Stephens as the embittered Peters; Michael Fassbender as short-tempered Josiah; a young Julia Roberts as Elizabeth; Rafe Spall as Philip; and Letitia Wright as Rosanna. Oh, if only they’d agree!!!

This question has definitely taken the longest time to answer!"
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I love writing Historical Fiction.  Being able to submerge myself in research and feel like I’m actually working when I’m enjoying myself is such a great thing!   I have tried writing in other genres, but I tend to return to either Historical Fiction or Historical Fantasy.

In terms of reading, I love both historical and fantasy genres.  Occasionally I can find books in other genres which I enjoy but, as with my writing, it usually heads back to these two!"
What is your writing process?
"Usually I stare at a blank Scrivener page until about ten minutes before I have to do something else, and then I manically type for ten minutes.  I’m an exceptionally slow typer, but perseverance is the key!  I use Scrivener because I like the layout of it, but I’ve no idea what half the programme does.

I also have a set of postcards, and I use them to scribble down plot notes.  The only problem is, I write them in code so that no one knows what they mean, and sometimes I forget the code I’ve used!

I re-read the book almost as soon as I’ve done it, making any changes I spot which need sorting.  Then I hand it over to someone else.  I don’t edit and re-edit – my editor does that – I get to just enjoy the story...  And then weep a little when the editor’s metaphorical scissors appear!"
What is in store next?
"There are two more books in this series in different stages of readiness.  The first is almost immediately after Day’s Dying Glory and begins at Waterloo.  The other is set in the Crimean War.

The third instalment is a little bit different and features a speculative supernatural quality, while the fourth is almost explicitly the story of one individual.  As the rest of my books have a large contingent of characters, this was quite interesting.  In all, the four books span a period of sixty-three years, so there are not too many characters who are in them all.  There is, however, an ongoing storyline across these three generations.

There is a fourth generation which makes an appearance in the final book so, who knows, perhaps there will be a fifth story to tell."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I do, indeed, have a pet.   I have a Sprocker Spaniel called Orlando and he is the boss.  Each morning we walk him up on a stretch of moorland near where we live and, when I’m writing in the morning, he is often laid across my feet.

The spaniel in Beneath Black Clouds and White is based entirely on him!"
Hello gorgeous Orlando! Lots of head-scratches and belly rubs to you :-)

Virginia, thank you so much for sharing this with us!
We hope you are having a great tour :-)

Those who seek the presence of justice are those who must survive its absence

Beneath Black Clouds and White
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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Stomper McEwan said...

Thank you for hosting me on your fantastic blog! Orlando is pleased to have been the star, as he believes he always should be!!!