I thought it was supposed to be the beginning of summer, what has happened to the weather? We have had monsoon-like conditions here this week. At least we are allowed to meet people indoors for socialising again now, I had a lovely birthday lunch with three friends on Wednesday and now, I am delighted to be able to share Friday Night Drinks with author… Vicky Adin.
Vicky, a huge welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
I’ll start the evening by offering to share a bottle of one of our famous New Zealand sauvignon blanc vintages with you, but I love rich, red wine the most. There’s nothing quite like an Australian cabernet sauvignon or a shiraz for its smooth taste and flavour.
That’s the motto to live by! 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?
To the bustling Auckland waterfront, to a great Italian restaurant, where we can people watch, soak up the atmosphere and see the super yachts, the lights and find some great music.
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?
Sean Connery, because he has the sexiest voice ever, and Maggie Smith who has the wickedest sense of humour and the ability to say a lot more than mere words with a simple look.
Perfect company. 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 in marketing mode after the launch of my latest book, Portrait of a Man, which is as multi-layered as the portraits at the heart of the story. I was thrilled when one reviewer described it as ‘a refreshingly different family saga…[with] intricately woven stories to tease apart’.
The story starts life with Matteo in Dunedin between 1863 and 1892, before moving to a small town in the South Island during the First World War years, where Luciano hides from his past. The third part is set in present-day Auckland amid a pandemic, and ties all the threads and characters together. It’s my favourite so far, and I hope it becomes the reader’s favourite too.
With every book, and I’ve released seven now, I spend an enormous amount of time researching, reading archived newspapers online and digging into family stories, uncovering fascinating insights that inspire me to start the next book. But it doesn’t stop there, the research continues throughout the writing process.
Recently, I have begun writing a novel set between the two world wars in rural New Zealand. It’s another character driven story of family life, full of drama and despair, of tenderness and suffering, filled with compassion and hope; always hope, set amid a rapidly changing world.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
The launch of my first book, The Disenchanted Soldier, and holding the book in my hand in front of an eager audience was my proudest moment. I had spent so many years researching and writing the factionalised, dual-timeline biography of my husband’s great-grandfather that to see it come to fruition was an amazing feeling.
From then on, I was hooked on writing. Now, most of my next proudest moments come when readers write some of the loveliest words about how they enjoyed my stories. I love my readers, but I also have a great sense of achievement with each of my books. I think we should feel proud of all our stories. We are giving away part of us when we release a new one into the world.
My biggest challenge, along with many indie authors, is reaching more readers who will enjoy the stories I write, and, most importantly, tell others.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
To see historical fiction become the No 1 most popular genre throughout the world, feature in all the bookstores, and become the blockbusters of tomorrow. After all, we wouldn’t be here today without our ancestors. What they achieved gave us the foundation to achieve more in our time. Who they were, are who we are today, with add-ons. Their genes are part of us and to pay due respect to history is to pay respect to future generations.
That’s a great ambition, and very different to the answers I usually get to this question. What are have planned that you are really excited about?
On 9th May we celebrated our 50+1 Golden Wedding Anniversary. Last year, celebrations were non-existent, consisting of a few drinks and a home cooked dinner for our immediate family bubbles. This year, we are able to expand the number of people we can share our memories with.
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?
My husband and I love to travel too. We’ve been spoilt, and have completed two world cruises, as well as spending weeks and months visiting many countries by bus, train, and camper van. If I never leave New Zealand again, I will be happy… but if I get the chance to visit Italy again one day, I would be in 7th heaven. I love the scenery, the wine and the food. The one trip still on my bucket list that we haven’t done (yet), is a canal cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and beyond to the Black Sea.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I was born in Wales and came to New Zealand as a 12-year-old. I can still say the name of the railway station in North Wales in Welsh.
And I hold a Master of Arts 1st class Honours in Adult Education and English.
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’?
Only one? There are so many good stories, where would I start?
The first one that comes to mind is All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr… amazing story, and I’m sure most people will have already read it… so, since I try to mostly read indie authors and New Zealand stories, my New Zealand story of choice is The Denniston Rose (2003) by Jenny Pattrick.
The story is set in 1880 in a bleak coal-mining community on a high plateau on the West Coast of the South Island. Rose – a child of 5 – is the indomitable character having to fend for herself in the isolated and harsh landscape. The character development is wonderful.
The bleak coal-mining settlement of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above New Zealand’s West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. At the time of this novel – the1880s – the only way to reach the makeshift collection of huts, tents and saloons is to climb aboard an empty coal-wagon to be hauled 2000 feet up the terrifyingly steep Incline – the cable-haulage system that brings the coal down to the railway line. All sorts arrive here to work the mines and bring down the coal: ex-goldminers down on their luck; others running from the law or from a woman or worse. They work alongside recruited English miners, solid and skilled, who scorn these disorganised misfits and want them off the Hill.
Into this chaotic community come five-year-old Rose and her mother, riding up the Incline, at night, during a storm. No one knows what has driven them there, but most agree the mother must be desperate to choose Denniston; worse, to choose that drunkard, Jimmy Cork, as bedfellow. The mother has her reasons and her plans, which she tells no one. The indomitable Rose is left to fend for herself, struggling to secure a place in this tough and often aggressive community. The Denniston Rose is about isolation and survival. It is the story of a spirited child, who, in appalling conditions, remains a survivor.
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?
Drink lots of water between each alcoholic drink, and sleep in. Then have coffee and toast in bed and get up when you feel like it. (I am one lucky woman, my OH of over 50 years understands my needs even when I haven’t been drinking).
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Sitting in the sunshine on our front deck and chatting while looking over the estuary river, coffee, a long lunch, reading, siesta, going for a walk, and then cooking a fabulous Italian dinner, and wine; don’t forget the wine. Nothing beats good company, good food and good wine.
Sounds like bliss! New Zealand is high on my bucket list of places I long to visit. Thank you for joining me on the blog this evening, Vicky, I have really enjoyed myself.
Vicky’s latest book is Portrait of a Man, a historical fiction novel set against the ravages of war. You can buy a copy here.
Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.
Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.
Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.
Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.
After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.
Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.
Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner. In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.
Her books have attracted IndieBRAG awards, Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, and the Books Go Social Gold Standard.
Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.