Welcome to another weekend, although the days all kind of feel the same at the moment, don’t they? Except, there is no home schooling at the weekend, hurray! And it’s also time for my favourite feature of the week, Friday Night Drinks. This week I am delighted to be sharing a tipple with author… Linda Tyler.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Linda. First things first, what are you drinking?
Thanks very much for inviting me. I’ll have a G&T, please. Could I also have some cheesy bits, as the G&T will make me peckish? Slainte mhath!
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
A walk with the dog on the beach of a tiny village I know by the sea, with a single street light on the sea wall to ensure we could see where we were going. The village inspired my debut novel, Revenge of the Spanish Princess, a swashbuckling adventure set in the late 1600s. Afterwards, we’d find a warm and welcoming café still open and drink hot chocolate.
If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Lord Emsworth – famous, if fictional. I refuse to think of him as dead. I’d like to meet up at his place, Blandings Castle, where I hope as many of the castle inhabitants and visitors would be able to join us and Lord Em. His feckless and amiable son Freddie, his bossy sister Constance and the efficient yet flowerpot throwing secretary Rupert Baxter come immediately to mind. Interestingly, Alex MacDonald, the Laird in my lattest novel, is also a fan of PG Wodehouse.
My other choice would be Lady Hester Stanhope, aristocrat, adventurer, antiquarian and one of the most famous travellers of the early 1800s. Beautiful and clever, she lived with her unmarried uncle, the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, and acted as his society hostess and political private secretary. When he died, she embarked on her travels. In Athens, the poet Lord Byron dived into the sea to greet her, en route to Cairo she was shipwrecked off Rhodes and she crossed the Syrian desert dressed as a Turkish male, carrying a sword and riding an Arab stallion. What a woman.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’m working on a time-slip novel, set in Scotland in the present day and in the 1950s. I’ve recently finished writing a medieval Highlander romance and my husband is having fun competing with the bare-chested, tattooed warrior. In March I have a My Weekly Pocket Novel, Summer Intrigue, coming out, with a very different type of hero – polite, charming and sensitive, but still decidedly masculine.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment was when I wrote the dedication to my debut novel. It was to my first grandson, ‘who loves pirate stories’, even though he’s far too young to be able to read the book.
Getting published in the first place has to have been the biggest challenge. Most authors must send their work out countless times before receiving that wonderful email.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
To write the most amazingly successful novel set in a hot climate, have it made into a film and be invited to watch the filming on location.
What are have planned that you are really excited about?
A stay on the isle of Mull, postponed from last year because of lockdown. As well as looking forward to the unspoiled scenery, I’m also hoping it will prompt an idea for another book. Clearly, the novel set in hot climate is a little way off yet.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I’m so lucky that in my previous job as a lecturer I was able to visit some wonderful countries, including India (I’ll never forget emerging from the airport into the heat, noise, colour and chaos of a Delhi night) and Australia (a pillion ride on a motorbike round Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne was thrilling), but I have to say my favourite holiday was when my husband and I splashed out (excuse the pun) on a Caribbean cruise. I loved every minute of it, including the catamaran trip a few of us made off St Lucia and the exotic sea life seen when snorkelling.
There are still so many countries on my bucket list, but top at present is to spend a month on a family-run vineyard in Tuscany. That’ll be the novel set in a hot climate…
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’ve been driven on a vintage bus by Prince Michael of Kent. My husband was presented with an award by HRH for the restoration of a railway carriage and afterwards Prince Michael drove us round Brooklands Museum. It’s on the site of the old race track in Surrey – but we travelled at a suitably stately pace.
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
There are far too many books I love! But if I must choose one, it would be Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. The novel is a parody of rural melodramas which were popular in the 1930s. It has erotically boiling porridge, an Aunt Ada who once saw ‘something nasty in the woodshed’ and the cheerfully efficient Flora who takes the Starkadder family in hand. Reading this attracted me to passionate pastorals!
When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex.
At the aptly-named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years. But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand.
A hilarious and ruthless parody of rural melodramas and purple prose, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.
You’ve picked my favourite novel of all time! Number one pick in my Desert Island Books feature last year. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I honestly don’t drink enough for this to happen. But Jeeves swears by whisked together raw egg, Worcester sauce and red pepper. I might try it if absolutely necessary.
That sounds suitably vile! A good enough reason not to over-indulge if that is what you’d be faced with drinking next day. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A long country walk with the dog and in the evening an open fire, a game of Pictionary or Articulate with friends and wine with an excellent dinner – cooked by someone else, as I’m no cook.
Thanks for having me!
Sounds fabulous. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to join me, Linda, I have had a delightful evening.
Linda particularly excited about her latest release, The Laird’s Secret, as it’s her first pure romance. Her debut novel and the book to be published in March are romantic adventures. The Laird’s Secret is based on her experiences when she moved to the north east of Scotland – although she stresses the novel isn’t autobiographical! She loves the wild beauty of the Aberdeenshire coastline and living in an old farmhouse. The book is set in 1953 and tells the story of Christina Camble who gives up her photographer’s job and her flat in London and moves to Scotland. Her expectation of a peaceful life is thrown to the wind when she meets handsome but reserved Alex MacDonald, the Laird of Craiglogie, a man physically scarred and emotionally wracked by his experiences in World War Two. As they cautiously get to know one another, Christina finds herself living in his house and involved in his life. She soon becomes friends with Alex’s sister, Fiona, but discovers she has made an enemy of glamorous Helen, who wants Alex for herself.
When trust has been destroyed, could you learn to love again?
In 1953 life is getting back to normal after the war and Christina Camble is one of those looking to the future. But her trust in men is destroyed when she discovers her fiancé has a wife and child. She gives up her job and flat in a bid to escape London and moves to Scotland, where she hopes to get her life back on the right track.
Christina’s expectation of a peaceful life is interrupted when she meets handsome but reserved Alex MacDonald, the Laird of Craiglogie, a man physically scarred and emotionally wrecked by his experiences in World War Two. As Christina and Alex cautiously get to know one another, she soon finds herself embroiled in his life and living in his house.
Christina discovers she has made an enemy of family friend, Helen, who wants Alex for herself. As Helen sets her sights on Alex, she succeeds in driving a wedge between him and Christina.
Will Alex and Christina find their happy ever after, and is it possible for two damaged people to ever learn to love and trust again?
The Laird’s Secret will be published by Bloodhound Books on 18 January as an ebook and a paperback and you can pre-order your copy here.
Linda Tyler’s debut novel, Revenge of the Spanish Princess, a swashbuckling romantic adventure set in the Mediterranean in the 1600s, won a Romance Writers of America competition and was published in April 2020 by DC Thomson as a My Weekly Pocket Novel. Her second novel, The Laird’s Secret, a romance set in rural Scotland in the 1950s, was commended in a Scottish Association of Writers’ competition and was released in January 2021 by Bloodhound Books. She has a further Pocket Novel coming out in March 2021, Summer Intrigue, a Regency romance in which the hero and heroine set out to unmask a spy for Napoleon Bonaparte at a country house party. Linda has also had short stories published in the UK, the USA and Australia. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Born in London, Linda moved progressively north until settling with her husband in a village on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. She has a PhD and is a former university lecturer and a practitioner in child law. She has kept chickens, bred dogs and raised children. Linda now runs holiday accommodation, sings in a local choir and is walked daily by the family dog.