BRONWYN HOULDSWORTH - MY WRITING, MY BOOKS
Historical Romance and Fantasy Adventure
Moving house constantly until two decades ago, I became used to complaints from removalists manhandling my many boxes of books. Not ones I’d written, just those I possessed. Gradually I’ve pruned my collection. Nowadays I buy only those authored by friends, and the occasional tome following on from author talks. My reading ranges far and wide but, for now, the novels I write are restricted to Historical Romance and Fantasy Adventure.
I began my fiction career with short stories. Some just jumped from my imagination. Others, from various branches of the family tree. My favourites I’ve collected under the heading Stories of Life, Stories of Love. One of them, Spring Has Sprung, had a long gestation, but it seems it was worth it, as it finalled in a magazine/publishing company competition. To write it, I used pure imagination, inspired by the view from my house over a lovely park, and the memory of two stern librarians from my childhood, who nevertheless showed me great kindness every Christmas. It was then I’d be invited into their office and told to select a stack of beautiful new books to tide me over the holiday season.
My Argentinian grandmother inspired Threading Pearls, along with tales of her life in that country and her early years in Australia. The story There’s None So Blind was included in a Romance Writers of Australia anthology. It was the genesis of my novel, The Heart Has Its Reasons. This was based on an 18th century family scandal. When I uncovered the story, I travelled to San Francisco to buy a contemporary account of my ancestor’s disgrace, and to London to wander the streets of Bloomsbury, soaking up the atmosphere in the elegant squares where members of his extended family had resided. It’s no exaggeration to say I felt like a detective as I uncovered further stories in that previously elusive branch of my family. And what stories there are, waiting for me to write and embroider on. This branch of the family has provided so much material, I couldn’t possibly manage to write it all down, even if I’m still writing at one hundred!
All fiction writing, including Historical Romance and Fantasy Adventure, entails differing degrees of imagination. Historical romance based on family requires imagination in dreaming up the conversations between these characters, and interpreting reasons for their actions. But all my historical fiction is anchored in fact, whereas the category of fantasy adventure has proved tremendously freeing. In those worlds anything is possible, and only limited by a writer’s imagination!
Which leads me to my second novel, written and now in development with Ocean Reeve Publishing. It’s aimed at older children and young teenagers, and it’s an adventure fantasy occupying an imaginary medieval world. Where did it come from? Well, the fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has a quote: A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. That’s what my book is, or rather, that’s where it came from. I awoke, quite a few years ago, with a story, characters, and a compulsion to commit it all to paper. There’s been a lot of work on it since. It’s the first in a series, under an overarching banner, All the Corners of the World. The weird thing is, I don’t read much fantasy, so where that dream came from is a mystery. I’ve grown to love my characters, so much so, there’s no way I’m prepared to leave them yet. Which is strange, considering how other worldly some of them are. In book one, there are two gorgeous giants in dire distress, and they’re leading me into the writing of book two in the series. I’m also playing with some related fantasy short stories.
As for more short stories of the romance kind, they will surely keep on making their way from my brain to my fingers and into the computer. And, certainly, the historical romance novels will continue, because that’s my first love, and there are dozens of stories waiting to be told that require more than a couple of thousand short story words in which to do so. I’ve recognised I enjoy writing about strong women or, at least, women as strong as they can possibly be given the era in which they lived. That also applies to my fantasy series. Hmm, wonder where that came from?
I can see my ancestors queuing up, just waiting to be written about. Indentured farmers, wronged women, convicts, Chinese gold miners, sailors, remittance men… That’s just the Australians! Go back another couple of generations and there are equally interesting characters, most of them English. The fantasy characters? New ones keep appearing, too.
Stay tuned. There’ll be more stories soon. Perhaps one day I’ll have more boxes of books, all of them different, but most, to be sure, falling within one or two categories: Historical Romance and Fantasy Adventure. And all written by me.