Here you’ll find extracts from my novel, my articles and my poetry.
The legend of the Chapel in the Woods at Cotehele in Cornwall — see my blog post — is such a cracking story I thought it would be a good writing exercise to see how it might work as a piece of fiction.
This is very much a first draft but, who knows, one day it may become part of something bigger.
Joan raised a delicate hand, her fingers trembling a little, as she checked the ornate silver pin that held her wimple in place. As she glanced up, she noticed the rooks circling high over the tall trees beyond the courtyard walls, their wings standing out as black ticks against the muted sky. Disturbed from their peaceful roosts, the birds’ shrill cries echoed through the damp autumn air. But it was not the rooks’ raucous chorus that had made Joan leave the comforting warmth of the crackling fire in the hall. Riders had thundered up to her gate, hooves …
The Madre de Deus – a scene that didn’t find its way into the final version of a Woman of Noble Wit
When I wrote A Woman of Noble Wit I was determined to tell her story, not his. But I found that in the later stages of Katherine’s life her famous boys were taking over far too much of the action. So I decided to end the main narrative on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, with a short “afterward”. That meant I had to leave out quite a few scenes, including this one.
It is September 1592 and we find Katherine Raleigh, now a widow in her seventies, dozing in the garden behind her house close by the Place Gate, near Exeter Cathedral.
Katherine woke with a start. She hauled herself into a more comfortable position on the wooden bench and drew a deep breath of apple-scented air into her lungs. As she surveyed the trees growing along the red-stone walls, boughs weighed down with rosy fruit, a satisfied smile spread slowly across her face. For an instant she felt young again, as if the lines and wrinkles that …
A Woman of Noble Wit is not Sir Walter Raleigh's story. It is his mother's story. Only in the epilogue is he given a voice as he awaits his fate in his cell on his final night on earth. in this extract his thoughts return to his childhood and the woman who taught him to read; the woman of noble wit who inspired him to follow his dreams.
Books had been his closest companions all his days. Though he’d sailed the wide oceans and seen wonders with his own eyes, it was the treasures in the chest of books he took with him everywhere that always proved his inspiration and his solace. Now there was but one book left to him, his Bible, in which he had written those last lines.
The last of so many words: all those paeans he had written to his gracious Queen, that glittering, clever, imperious lady, gone now; his history of the world, still unfinished; and all his other attempts, some …
This excerpt from “A Woman of Noble Wit” sees Katherine and her husband Otho Gilbert sail down the River Dart aboard The Trinity in the Spring of 1538
A week later, Katherine set her foot upon the well-scrubbed deck of the three-masted vessel. She felt light-headed, dizzy with delight, her legs suddenly weak as water. She really was on board the Trinity! Messengers were speeding to Uncle Gawen, to her sisters and to Johnny. What a family reunion it would be, and, oh, the thrill of it! She would see London for the first time. Perhaps they’d even see the King!
She had dressed with care, selecting a blue-green gown that was more comfortable than fashionable. At the last moment she donned a bead-trimmed headdress. It would not …
A poem................on crafting a historical novel
Dare I dream that I can weave the fabric of a life lived long ago?
The warp, strong cords fixed firmly to a frame
Battles, wars, the deeds of Kings and Queens
Dates, players, actions; these the record can proclaim
A firm foundation for my cloth
The weft, names plucked from a family tree
Robust yarns that twine neatly through the warp
With many knots that cannot be untied
Lives well known, their imprint sharp
They build the structure of my cloth
Woman’s lives, silken webs stitched down
Marriage contract, heirs …