I’m back from my Easter holidays and back into the blogging life and, to kick off spring on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome 2022 RONA award-winning author, Rosie Hendry, on to talk about her writing and her book, The Mother’s Day Club, which won this year’s Romantic Saga Award.
Rosie, huge congratulations on your win. How surprised were you to hear your name read out as the winner of the award on the night? Has it sunk in yet?
I was absolutely stunned! To be short-listed was thrilling but I never thought I would win. It all happened quickly after my name was read out and I had to go up to receive the award. I’m so grateful I took my friend Jenni’s advice to write something down to help me in case it should happen, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to string a coherent sentence together to thank people.
It took a while to sink in, but now when I look at the award, which I can see from where I work, it makes me smile and fills me with joy. It’s especially precious as I struggled with writing The Mother’s Day Club and nearly gave up on it.
What does it mean to you to have won this award? What effect do you think it will have on your future career? What reaction have you had to your win so far?
It means a huge amount as it was chosen by readers. There were many excellent sagas in the category so be chosen as winner is a huge accolade – thank you so much to all the readers. It’s a massive boost to my confidence in my writing and I hope will encourage more readers to try The Mother’s Day Club for themselves.
The support from fellow writers and readers has been amazing. My dear friends from the Norfolk & Suffolk RNA chapter, those who were there on the night, and others who were sending their congratulation messages virtually was brilliant. It felt like a win for us all as we are a close group who support each other’s ups and downs with our writing life.
What inspired this particular story and what do you think it is about the story which made it stand out to the judges?
I was doing research at the Imperial War Museum for another book and stumbled across a first- hand account of an expectant mother being evacuated on the day war was declared. She was walking to Liverpool Street Station with other expectant mothers when news came that war had been declared, and shortly after the first air-raid sirens went. The image was so powerful I knew I wanted to use it one day. I’d had no idea that expectant mothers were evacuated as the history we see focuses on the children, so I wanted to tell the mothers’ story. From the reaction I’ve had from readers, they didn’t know about this part of our history either and have been interested to learn more.
The book is also set on my home turf in Norfolk, in a house partly inspired by the one I grew up in a village. There’s a good dose of my family history and my experience of growing up on a small holding in there too. I think all of this has combined into a story which readers have enjoyed.
How important is research to your writing process? How long does it normally take you to complete and do you do it prior to starting the book or as the story progresses?
Research is key – the characters and setting are mainly fictional but based on real events and places. It’s very important for me to get my facts rights, both to honour those living then and to portray an accurate story of those times. I owe it to readers who invest time in reading the book to get my facts right.
I usually spend about three weeks researching to build up my knowledge of what I need but will also do a bit as I go along. I’m a planner so getting most of the research done first helps me get the story worked out. With writing historical I must make sure my timelines work with both international, national and local wartime events – I have charts to keep track of things!
Your books are extremely popular. What do you think it is that draws people to sagas?
Fascination with times gone past, learning about social history and seeing how women dealt with what was thrown at them. One of the reasons I like writing WWII fiction is that women were required to do jobs they never would have been allowed to do before. Pushed out of their comfort zone they did brilliantly. It makes for great change and conflict, and perfect storytelling material.
What do you think readers in the modern day learn from reading about the struggles of the women you write about in your books?
That women had it tough and yet they coped in the most extraordinary of circumstances. There was also a great sense of camaraderie and community which is sometimes lacking now.
What do you have coming up next in your writing? Will you be exploring more stories involving these characters?
The Mother’s Day Victory, which carries on from The Mother’s Day Club came out on March 3rd and has been received well by readers. I’ve started a follow-on series with the same characters and setting called the Rookery House series, the first one of which – A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House – is out on the 7th June. There will be more books to come in this new series, keeping up with the characters as the war progresses and more changes come to the village.
Rosie, thank you so much for chatting to me today, it’s been fascinating to hear from you. Good luck with the new books.
Rosie’s RONA award-winning novel, The Mother’s Day Club, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Will friendship and motherhood keep the Women on the Home Front safe from war?
When the residents of Great Plumstead, a small and charming community in Norfolk, offer to open their homes to evacuees from London, they’re expecting to care for children. So when a train carrying expectant mothers pulls into the station, the town must come together to accommodate their unexpected new arrivals . . .
Sisters Prue and Thea welcome the mothers with open arms, while others fear their peaceful community will be disrupted. But all pregnant Marianne seeks is a fresh start for herself and her unborn child. Though she knows that is only possible as long as her new neighbours don’t discover the truth about her situation.
The women of Great Plumstead, old and new, are fighting their own battles on the home front. Can the community come together in a time of need to do their bit for the war effort?
Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in North Norfolk with her husband and children. A former teacher and research scientist, she started off writing short stories for magazines, her stories gradually becoming longer as her children grew bigger. She writes uplifting, heart-warming historical fiction based on true events from our social history. Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked her interest in this period and she loves researching further, seeking out gems of real-life stories which inspire her writing.
Connect with Rosie:
Facebook: Rosie Hendry