I began writing this series of books ten long years ago! I’d been reading a lot about local history and something that struck a chord with me was The Gethin Pit Explosion of 1865. Actually, there were two explosions that caused a loss of life at that particular pit, the other was just a couple of years previously. It got me thinking though, what would it be like for the small village community of Abercanaid losing all those lives, particularly after the second explosion where 34 men and boys died. It was just before Christmas that year, so the village would have been shrouded in grief.
At the same time, I was tracing my family tree and was flabbergasted to discover that one line of my family had been Mormons who were fervent believers. One had even set sail for Utah to live out in Great Salt Lake and helped build the Morman Tabernacle Church.
I read about the treatment of Mormons in my home town of Merthyr Tydfil. They were treated quite badly as people stoned them on the streets as they preached the word.
So I combined my research about the Gethin Pit Explosion and pioneer Mormons in the town to form the fictional story, Black Diamonds. I explain it as ‘a fictional story set around real life events’.
I decided to write the story for the Nano Wrimo Challenge which takes place in November every year. The idea being to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in one calendar month. I achieved that goal and wrote around 58,000 words but hadn’t completed the book. In fact, I abandoned it for around 7 years, not showing it to a soul! Then I started up a creative writing group on Facebook and posted chapters of the book for people to read and comment. I was amazed how people loved the story, so whilst they were still reading early chapters, I got on with completing the book and posting new chapters. Quite soon, it was complete!
You can read my first blog post about Black Diamonds here:
And so, ‘Black Diamonds’ was born. It’s had some really great reviews. One lady told me she went to visit her elderly father one day and was concerned as his curtains were still drawn. It turned out, he’d been having a lie in as he was up all night reading Black Diamonds!!
Following on from the great feed back from that novel, I wrote another called, ‘White Roses’. The story is set further down the line, so it becomes a saga series. In this one, a young woman wants to sing on the London stage but her husband who has just joined the Glamorgan Constabulary forbids it. She is already singing on stage locally and he believes that should be enough for her to contend with. That particular book is set both in Merthyr Tydfil and London.
The third in the series is ‘Blue Skies’ which is about a young nurse working at The Merthyr General Hospital. That book was very emotional to write and is set in Merthyr Tydfil and Cardigan. Two very different settings — whilst one is a heavy, bustling industrial town, the other setting is in a farming community near Aberwystwyth. That’s where my grandfather’s family originated from. I often remember him talking about the ‘Cardis’.
Back in those days women didn’t have much in the way of rights regarding divorce or their own children and property, though an amazing lady called, Caroline Norton had helped bring in a new law which helped women more than in previous times. Divorce was still a dirty word and women were expected to lie in the beds they’d made for themselves.
Writing those particular books has made me realised how difficult life was for women. They were expected to be ‘Angels of the Home’ whereas men were expected to be the ‘Head of the House’ and quite often their behaviour wasn’t challenged at all. Which brings me on to the next book in the series. This one was probably the most emotional of all to write…
The fourth book in the series is ‘Red Poppies’. The story begins during the Great War and actually starts not long after the Battle of the Somme. It’s the story of a young nurse who wants to become a doctor. She meets a lot of opposition along the way. It’s set in Merthyr Tydfil, London, Ypres and Northern France.
I hope you’ll enjoy the series which was very emotional for me to write. Maybe as some of it was close to home with the setting being my home town and the links to my family history and the topics involved. Basically, they are stories about four strong women who battle against the odds in a man’s world.
All books can be purchased here in either Kindle or Paperback formats: