Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

Beauty in Thorns is a book I was waiting to read after following Kate Forsyth’s blog during the time she was writing the story. Kate, is a wonderful writer and also one who is generous in sharing her writing skills and knowledge with other authors.


~ Quotes from the backcover blurb.

‘A spellbinding reimagining of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ set amongst the wild bohemian circle of Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets.’

‘Bringing to life the dramatic true story of love, obsession and heartbreak that lies behind the Victorian era’s most famous paintings, Beauty in Thorns is the story of awakenings of all kinds.’


The story is written in mulitple view points~Lizzie Siddal, Georgie (Georgiana) Macdonald, Jane Burden, and later in the novel Margot Burne-Jones the daughter of Georgie and Edward (Ned)Burne-Jones.

Beauty in Thorns takes the reader on a journey. With mulitple view points Kate Forsyth has magically brought all the view point characters to life. It is a character driven story with a wonderful backdrop of the Pre-Raphaelite circle including as well as the aforementioned William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (a wonderfully romantic name).

Kate has had an obsession with the Pre-Raphaelite circle since, as a young uni student, she came across a copy of Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, modelled on his lover, Jane Morris nee Burden. Kate bought the print (sacrificing food and bus fares fro a week).



Beauty in Thorns is a treasure: exquisite writing, research woven through the story (research you can rely on) that brings the story to life, a book that makes you want to turn back to the first page to read the story again when you finish reading.

You can read more about Kate’s work on her website:

Have a wonder week~dreaming, reading and writing!









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Tasmanian Times review Castle of Dreams

Rainforest Revelations
Paula Xiberras
14.07.17 6:38 am


Elise McCune tells me she has been to Tasmania at least five times and loves the feel of the old buildings and of course MONA.

Earlier this year I spoke to Elise about her first novel ‘Castle of Dreams’ and how its idea originated in the discovery of a real castle in the Queensland rain forests by Elise’s actor daughter, Lisa McCune, when she was filming at Mission Beach.

The castle was built by Jose Paronella from Catalonia. For a time he worked in the Queensland rainforests and the castle covered in tropical rainforest helped heal his homesickness reminding him of his childhood home. Nowadays the castle is open to the public and a venue for events like weddings.

When the novel starts, the castle is a ruin that is visited by the granddaughter of Rose, one of the sisters who were the original inhabitants of the castle. The other sister was Vivian. The sisters were very close but grew apart after they both fell in love with the same man, a Second World War American soldier.

One of the wonderful features of the book is its subtle clues to the solving of a great mystery involving the sisters as well as seemingly ordinary events that carry great import. An example is an early scene when the sisters enter the bell tower and one of girls falls sustaining non-threatening injuries. This event long forgotten when reading the book details an event that has long reaching repercussions.

There are also beautiful descriptions that in hindsight can be seen as metaphorical such as the anecdote of the egg that is ‘clean and empty’. This again could be easily read over, yet is one of the subtle clues that demonstrates lives fractured like fragile egg shells

With the castle setting and family secrets the novel fits into the gothic genre, but ironically sans the cold and dark of the customary gothic, swapping it instead for tropical rain forest setting. Elise has given us a novel of rare beauty that matches that of the exquisite forest setting.

‘Castle of Dreams’ is  published by Allen and Unwin

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St Pancras Old Church London

I write time-split novels where the past impacts on the present and in my new novel  One Bright Day I have a scene set in St Pancras Old Church London. I lived in London many years ago and visited this lovely old church and adjoining cemetery. There is nothing more I enjoy than discovering churches new to me and wandering around old cemeteries. When I lived on a farm north of Perth  we’d always stop when we drove past an old country cemetery. There is something captivating about them, especially for a writer, imagining stories for those long ago people and the lives they may have lived.

St Pancras Old Church


One of my characters walks through this gate to attend a London wedding.


The Hardy Tree


In the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church in London, hundreds of old gravestones circle an ash tree. Of course, these were not how they were originally laid out. So, how did they get to this, their final resting place, as it were? And who was responsible?

Long before he became famous for novels like Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (like any other aspiring writer) had to find employment with which to pay his way through the world. His chosen field was to be architecture.

When the church grounds were being cleared tomake space for the railway line, Hardy was a London architect’s assistant. He had the grim task of exhuming hundreds of bodies and removing their graves.

During the work Hardy ordered headstones to be placed under this ash tree. His reasons are unknown but Hardy was a keen naturalist and may have done it to prevent the tree being removed. Alternatively, he saved the stones to respect the people whose final resting place had been disturbed.


Have a wonderful weekend, writing, dreaming, reading!


Ref: Wiki


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Castle of Dreams – AWW Sunday Spotlight


Sunday Spotlight: Elise McCune
by TheresaSmithWrites | Sep 3, 2017 | Historical fiction, Sunday Spotlight | 0 comments
Welcome to Sunday Spotlight. Today our guest is Elise McCune, author of the historical fiction novel, Castle of Dreams.

When did you start writing and what was the catalyst?

I have always written but when my children were small it was mainly short stories. The catalyst to write was that I was a reader first and from my love of reading I became a writer.

How many novels have you written and published?

I have one published novel, one published memoir, and three books in the bottom drawer.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

The time I take to write a book is about eighteen months.

How has being Australian AND a woman impacted on your writing and/or writing career?

I am drawn to the beautiful landscapes of Australia and write about them so this impacted on my writing. Being a woman didn’t make any difference to my career.

What authors and types of books do you love the most?

I enjoy reading time-split novels with family secrets, mystery, and romance. I also read novels from the past like The Woman in White and Jane Eyre and novels by Kate Mosse and Pat Barker. My favourite book recently was Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar.

What is your favourite childhood book? Did reading as a child have any bearing on your decision to become a writer?
Alice in Wonderland was a favourite and anything by Enid Blyton. I still read fairytales. As I mentioned in an earlier question reading was what inspired me to write my own stories.

What inspired your most recent book?

The Spanish castle in Castle of Dreams was inspired by a visit to Paronella Park where I walked amongst the ruins of a castle that a Catalonian immigrant built in the far north Queensland rainforest in the early twentieth century.

How much research do you do? As an author of Historical Fiction, how do you balance the demands of getting the facts right and telling a good story?

I read a lot of memoirs from the period I am writing about as well as diaries and letters. I find first hand accounts are not filtered through the eyes of someone from a later period. I love research but it’s no use trying to put it all in your story. I try to look at things through the eyes of my protagonist: if something is unusual for their period in time they will notice it but otherwise it’s part of their everyday life. If I need to research a particular piece of clothing for instance I do that when I am writing the scene.

Do you read your book reviews? Do you appreciate reader feedback and take it on board, even if it is negative? How do you deal with negative feedback after spending so much time writing your book?

As a first time published author I read all my reviews and I appreciate reader feedback, positive or negative. I don’t consider it negative if I learn something from these comments. I don’t take it personally and it doesn’t worry me at all.

How much planning do you do? Do you plan / plot the entire story from beginning to end, or let it evolve naturally as the writing progresses? In terms of characters, are they already a firm picture in your mind before you start writing or do they develop a personality of their own as the story progresses?

I have a rough idea of where the story is going before I start writing. I get to know my characters as I write them. I had an outline for my work-in-progress that helped me get started but the story changed as I went along.

Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone feels they recognise traits of themselves in one of your characters?

No because my characters and my story both come from my imagination. My characters are so real to me that if they walked through my front door I’d know them although I do let go of them when I have finished writing their story.

If you could go back in time for a year, which historical era would you choose to live in?

The forties of the last century.

If you could sit down for an afternoon with an iconic person from history, who would you choose to spend that time with?

It would have to be Alexander the Great one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever seen. He was one of the most influential people in human history.
When did you discover the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge? Do you think the challenge has had any impact on the awareness and discoverability of Australian Women writers? Have you personally benefited in terms of exposure of your work to new readers?

I discovered AWW last year but it has only this year I joined the challenge. The challenge is definitely putting the focus on Australian women writers. I’m not sure if my work has been exposed to new readers but I have certainly become aware of more Australian Women Writers.

About Castle of Dreams:

A ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are both sisters and close friends. But during the Second World War their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier.

Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present.
Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unravelling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle Rose and Vivien grew up in to see if it she can find out more.
Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies – and the perils of delving into the past.

Historical fiction fans might be interested to attend the 2017 Melbourne Historical Novel Society Australasia conference on 8-10 September.

The programme features over 60 speakers. You can read interviews with some of the participating authors at the HNSA blog.

Elise will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10

Visit our website to purchase tickets:

Thanks so much to Theresa Smith for this interview.

You can check out all the AWW Sunday posts here:

I committed to review ten novels by Australian women this year. I am working to a deadline for my new novel but I will make sure I meet the challenge!



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HNSA Melbourne Conference

I will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10

Visit our website to purchase tickets:

The history of the early to mid-20th century now falls within the definition of ‘historical fiction’. Why do novels depicting the great conflicts of modern times hold such fascination? And has war fiction replaced Tudor fiction as ‘the favourite flavour’ for readers and publishers? Julian Novitz discusses these questions with Paddy Richardson, Elise McCune, Justin Sheedy and Julian Leatherdale.

Only 2 more weeks until the 2017 HNSA Melbourne Conference. Purchase your tickets before the allocation is exhausted! And don’t forget to take advantage of our workshop programme. Cost of tuition is only $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You will then be entered into the draw to win a $100 Dymocks Gift Card.

Strong female voices…
Elise McCune’s first novel Castle of Dreams takes place across two times periods. Guided by the relationship between two sisters, the narrative explores both a love story and Elise’s interest in military history. She joins us at HNSA 2017 as part of the ‘Worlds at War: the Appeal of 20th Century Historical Fiction’ panel.

Love, war and history…
Alison Stuart’s early years of reading were influenced by her father’s passion for history. An ongoing interest in the English Civil War period inspired her latest work And Then Mine Enemy, which explores both the turbulence of the time and the protagonist’s inner battles of family, state and love.
Keep reading…

Historical fiction for all ages…
Gabrielle Wang is an award-winning author of fiction for both children and adults. Like many others her writing explores times of war, but focuses particularly on its impact on children. She will share her wisdom on writing historical fiction for a younger audience at HNSA 2017.

Fiction based in truth…
Vicky Adin’s novels are inspired by true genealogy stories, with a particular focus on the female pioneers of her home country New Zealand. She will discuss this aspect of her work as part of the ‘Immigrant Stories and Diaspora: How Pioneers Adapt and Survive in Their New Land’ panel at HNSA 2017.
Podcast: Deborah Challinor & Ngahuia te Awekotuku
Enjoy another podcast in the Imagining the Past interview series which provides a foretaste of the HNSA 2017 Melbourne conference. Our host, Kelly Gardiner, chats to Deborah Challinor and Ngahuia te Awekotuku about the challenges of reinterpreting C19th narratives of first contact and colonisation.

Podcast: Kelly Gardiner and Catherine Padmore
You might also like to listen to our Imagining the Past podcast with Kelly Gardiner and Catherine Padmore talking about the craft of writing historical bio-fiction. Kelly and Catherine will be appearing in the HNSA academic panel Bio-fiction: Can You Defame the Dead? together with Kate Forsyth, Ariella van Luyn and Gabrielle Ryan. Entry is free with a weekend or day ticket but please book your seat because spaces are limited.

Short Story Long List
The HNSA committee are delighted to announce the long list for the inaugural HNSA Short Story Award. Finalists are Lauren Chater, Errol Bishop, Eleanor Limprecht, Belinda Lyons-Lee, Denise Ogilvie and Christine Childs. Congratulations to all – and good luck! The short list and winner will be announced at the Conference Dinner on Saturday 9th September. Many thanks to our judge, Sandra Gulland, and our sponsors, Eagle Books and the Historical Novel Society.

History with a Twist Cocktails

Toast the start of HNSA 2017 at our History with a Twist Cocktail party on Friday 9th September where you can celebrate Kate Forsyth’s Beauty in Thorns with the chance to win lots of prizes including a 1:1 Skype session for yourself or your book club with Kate.

The celebration will be followed by a round table discussion on our theme of ‘Identity: Origins and Diaspora’ with Nicolas Brasch in conversation with Arnold Zable, Lisa Chaplin, Ngahuia te Awekotuku, Hanifa Deen and Gary Crew.

Manuscript Assessments
The opening of your novel is what hooks readers, so it’s important to get it right. Editors Irina Dunn and Alison Arnold are offering 60 minute one-on-one manuscript assessments providing detailed feedback on the first 1,500 words of your manuscript to improve and refine it to catch a publisher’s eye.

Today a creator needs to be an ‘Authorpreneur’ who knows marketing, publicity, technological, legal and entrepreneurial skills to establish and maintain self-employment. Hazel Edwards offers strategies for beginners, mid-list and highly experienced creators to adapt to a fast-changing digital, global industry. Purchase of a workshop ticket entitles you entry into a $100 Dymocks Gift Card Giveaway.Cost of tuition is $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You can purchase your session here.

Medieval, Regency and So Much More: Writing Historical Romance for the International Market
‘Historical romance’ covers a wide range of styles, with varying degrees of history and romance. Internationally published, award-winning authors Anne Gracie and Isolde Martyn will share their tips about writing historical romance, the craft of story-telling, the importance of research, and creating historical characters and atmosphere, as well as some ‘how-not-to’ advice to help authors reach the international market. Purchase of a workshop ticket entitles you entry into a $100 Dymocks Gift Card Giveaway. Cost of tuition is $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You can purchase your session here.

Recreating Historical Costumes
What is it like to wear a Tudor outfit or dance in a Renaissance dress? How heavy is an ancient Chinese hanfu and how much fabric goes into its creation? These questions and more will be answered by Rachel Nightingale in this workshop, where you will have a chance to get up close and personal with a range of outfits made by historical re-enactors based on research and portraits. You will have the chance to look at a number of costuming books that deconstruct historical costumes, and perhaps even to try on a historical outfit. Purchase of a workshop ticket entitles you entry into a $100 Dymocks Gift Card Giveaway. Cost of tuition is $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You can purchase your session here.

Building an Author Platform: Social Media Basics for Historical Novelists
Whether traditionally published or an indie author, historical novelists are called upon more than ever to be their own publicists. Building an author platform is a necessity if you are to connect with your readers and promote your books. Elisabeth Storrs will guide you through the basics of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, website ‘musts’ and blogging with a particular emphasis on marketing historical fiction. Purchase of a workshop ticket entitles you entry into a $100 Dymocks Gift Card Giveaway. Cost of tuition is $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You can purchase your session here.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Self-Publishing* But Were Afraid to Ask
The self-publishing revolution has given authors the opportunity to reach readers directly and cut out the gatekeepers. Successful indie authors are creative producers, publishers, and publicists who run small businesses. In this interactive session, GS Johnston is available to answer questions from those intending to venture into indie publishing, or Indies who want to learn more. Purchase of a workshop ticket entitles you entry into a $100 Dymocks Gift Card Giveaway. Cost of tuition is $20 per session once a full weekend or day ticket has been purchased. You can purchase your session here.
Conference News
The HNSA 2017 Conference will be held in Melbourne on 8-10 September in association with Swinburne University of Technology. This celebration of the historical fiction genre will showcase over 60 speakers in our weekend programme. Among the many acclaimed historical novelists participating are Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Deborah Challinor, Lucy Treloar, Sophie Masson, Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott and Arnold Zable. The HNSA’s speakers’ list is available on the HNSA website.

Don’t miss the opportunity to book into one of our 10 craft based super sessions and 2 research masterclasses. There are also interactive sessions on armour and historical costumes!

Our First Pages Pitch Contest offers an opportunity for submissions to be read aloud by and actor to a panel of publishers. And we are delighted to announce the introduction of our inaugural HNSA Short Story Contest with a $500 prize!

Manuscript assessments will be conducted by industry experts, Alison Arnold and Irina Dunn. Our free extended academic programme is open for general admission on the topics ‘Bio-fiction: Can you defame the dead?’ and ‘The Lie of History’. Don’t forget to reserve your seat.

To read about other authors who are attending the conference check out the HNSA website.

I hope to see you at this fabulous conference.




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Daphne du Maurier-Gothic Literature

I am busy finishing my work-in-progress but I enjoy writing my blog so I thought I’d indulge myself and write a post about my favourite genre this morning with a cup of tea at my elbow. I notice that other writers, often older writers (of which I am one), steer clear of social media but I have made friends all over the world as well as in Australia through my blog. I cherish these friendships and learn much from my fellow writers and my readers. Social media is now part everday life for most people and I like to connect with my readers. Writing is my passion and it doesn’t take more than a half-hour to write a post. I write them for myself as well as for my readers so my blog is rather like a journal. When I finish my WIP I am going to become more active on Instagram which I love!

My WIP is a dual narrative story set in the southwest of Western Australia and the beautiful Tumut Valley which is at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, with a few chapters set in London. I set my stories against a backdrop of war and in my WIP, which has the working title of One Bright Day, I write about World War One and its aftermath.


My novel is not a Gothic novel but it does have elements of magic with an abandoned garden and lots of family secrets. If I have a motif in my WIP it is definitely gardens with  an artist in the past who paints flowers and a botanist in the present day.

Daphne du Maurier and the Gothic

I first read Daphne du Maurier when I found old hardback copies of her books with their beautiful wrap around covers on my mother’s bookshelf.  I was about ten years old and these books were the start of my obsession with all things Gothic. Having an interest in Australian Gothic it’s on my ‘to be read’ list to read more of our 19th century Australian writers who wrote in the Gothic genre.

I wrote a post on 29 th October, 2016 called ‘Gothic Literature’ in which I spoke about Australian Gothic Literature and listed some of my favourite books in the Gothic genre.


Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) used traditional Gothic motifs. Her motifs are: dark romances, a fascination with the past, the supernatural, and the magical intermingled with the realistic. And contain psychological insight through characterisation and representation of fear and the sinister and macabre .


Her short stories, such as ‘The Birds, ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘The Apple Tree’, take Gothic themes and add new twists. ‘The Apple Tree’can be read as the story of a woman haunting her husband from beyond the grave but it can also be viewed as a chilling meditation upon mental disintegration.

Daphne du Maurier was foremost a storyteller and that’s what I love about her novels and short stories. They draw you in and you can’t let go of the characters, ever!


Rebecca herself  is dead when the novel starts and is the perfect example of a character and not a ghost, who makes not a single living appearance, but haunts the imaginations of the living protagonists. Favourite characters all.

I read all Daphne du Maurier’s novels and short stories, often found preloved in second hand bookshops, before I left school, The mystery and magic of her story telling and the haunting darkness and complexity of her work makes me return to them often.


Other favourite characters are Phillip and Rachel in My Cousin Rachel and Mary Yellan in Jamaica Inn.


In the same way as Thomas Hardy is forever associated with Wessex, and Charles Dickens with London, so Daphne du Maurier is forever associated with Cornwall. Cornwall gave du Maurier the freedom to write free from the distractions of London life. I have several books about Cornwell on my bookshelf including Vanishing Cornwell by Daphne du Maurier.

Daphne and her two sisters


Have a wonderful week and include magic and storytelling and writing and reading.


Thanks to Greg Buzwell, Curator for Printed Literary Sources, 1801 – 1914 at the British Library. His research focuses primarily on the Gothic literature of the Victorian fin de siècle. He is also editing a collection of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s ghost stories, The Face in the Glass and Other Gothic Tales, for publication. The text in Greg’s article is available under the Creative Commons License.







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Living on Hope Street-Demet Divaroren


Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren is a beautifully written, novel. Although this book is YA I feel that adults would also enjoy this story set in multicultural Melbourne. Demet Divaroren tells the story of the people who live on Hope Street with great compassion and understanding. You just want the kids in the story to be happy. Kane and Sam are brothers and when Kane tries to protect his mother and Sam from the violence of their father it is written with empathy. In some ways this story reminds me of Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South and just as well-written.


From the blurb on the back cover: On this street, everyone comes from different places, but to find peace they will have to discover what unites them.

Living on Hope Street has one of the best covers I’ve seen and perfectly captures the story within, edgy and full of hope.

Living on Hope Street is a big-hearted, compassionate work. Divaroren is a ferociously good storyteller and every character breathes life, every character convinces. This book is an absolute joy to read.’ CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS

I’m sure Living on Hope Street will win awards and become an Australian classic.

Highly recommended.


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The Rose

A gift from my daughter this year was ‘The Rose’  The history of the World’s favourite flower with classic texts and beautiful rare prints. Written by Brent Elliott, Historian, Royal Horticultural Society the society shares the best in gardening.

The Rose


Audrey Hepburn, an icon of class and beauty, had a rose named after her. The rose named after Audrey is a soft apple-blossom pink hybrid tea rose. The blossoms are a deep pink in bud, but when they open they become a softer pink and then almost white. She grew them in her garden and in a bouquet you have different hues of colour.

Audrey Hepburn

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow . . .

The Audrey Hepburn Rose


My mother was a gardener and my daughter has inherited the gardening gene and also my son.  I enjoy writing about gardens! In my novel Castle of Dreams I wrote about the rainforest plants and trees and in my WIP I am writing about all things botanical. My protagonist in the modern day is a botanist and my protagonist in the past collects wildflowers and paints botanical pictures. I have written about a medieval garden, a herb garden, an orchard and a vegetable garden. And of course a rose garden. There are dark family secrets and the past impacts on the present. But are some secrets better never to be discovered?

Gardens are a recurring motif in my novels.

Monet’s Garden at Giverny


Audrey Hepburn:

If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairytales and I like them best of all. 

Have a wonderful day, writing, reading, dreaming . . .








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Historical Fiction

I  will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to purchase tickets:

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Booker-McConnell Prize and commonly known simply as the Booker Prize) is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language and published in the UK. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade. From its inception, only Commonwealth, Irish, and South African (later Zimbabwean) citizens were eligible to receive the prize; in 2014, however, this eligibility was widened to any English-language novel.

A high-profile literary award in British culture, the Booker Prize is greeted with great anticipation and fanfare. It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the “longlist”. Ref: Wikipedia

Historical novels won the Booker Prize in: 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Unknown-1Winner 2009.

I write time slip novels that incorporate historical fiction and the modern day.

People who lived in the past are the same as people today in their hopes and dreams. It is also necessary to understand that they were, in many ways different, depending on the culture and centuries they lived in. But, the dead are real, and in my novels they have power over the living.

In The Voyage of Saint Brendan, an eighth-century Latin account,(‘faction’) about Brendan of Clonfert, there are elements of historical fiction. The genre has been around for a long time.

Historical fiction has an enduring popularity.

One of my favourite historical books is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind a wonderful evocation of history written by someone who sat on the knees of old Civil War soldiers and listened to their stories.


I enjoy the research I need to undertake when I write about the past. I create a lost world. It takes me months longer to write the historical part of a novel because of the time I take to research (research is a long piece of string). I enjoy discovering about the postal service, the lighting and heating of rooms and the many small details that make up everyday life in the past. I thread the historical narrative through the story. When seen through the eyes of my historical characters what is strange and unusual to me is not noticed by my characters except for a specific reason.

I enjoyed researching my novel Castle of Dreams set during the Pacific War in a castle in far north Queensland. And, I made friends along the way.  Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm published Castle of Dreams in translation in April, 2017.

The lovely image below was taken by Elise Cathrin.


‘Historical’ means I write as truthfully and accurately as I can about the past and ‘fiction’ means I can make up my story, dream about the past and inhabit the lives of the people I’ve created. When I’ve finished my story I wait hopefully for my characters to knock on my front door.  I would know them well.

Then after a few weeks I purchase a lovely notebook and start scribbling notes for my next novel. My erstwhile characters are, by now, floating away. I bid them goodbye and wish them well on their journey.

Have a good week, reading, writing and dreaming,



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Ella Carey-Australian Author

Ella Carey will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to purchase tickets:


Ella Carey is the internationally bestselling author of three novels inspired by the discovery of courtesan Marthe de Florian’s abandoned apartment in Paris, published by Lake Union Publishing in the US: Paris Time Capsule, released in 2015 and now adapted into a feature film screenplay, The House by the Lake, released in March 2016 and From a Paris Balcony, releasing in October 2016. Paris Time Capsule is going to be re-released with Harlequin Australia in September 2016. Ella has an arts degree majoring in European history and nineteenth century women’s literature, and a music degree in classical piano. She has traveled extensively in Europe and has a particular fondness for Paris. When Ella is not hard at work writing her fourth novel, she is either busy with her pair of teenagers, walking her pair of Italian greyhounds while cooking up future books and greeting the many people who think the dogs are whippets, reading or dreaming of being in Paris. For more information about Ella’s books and her writing, please visit her at or at

From Ella’s website

I grew up in a house full of books. Bookshelves tumbled with old copies of Beatrix Potter, Aesop’s Fables, whole collections of Kipling and LM Montgomery, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows and everything else- often bound together with old sticky tape, having been read and loved a thousand times before they reached me. There were navy blue and deep red leather bound classics in the formal rooms of the house, their spines inlaid with delicate gold ink. It was a privilege to be able to handle the fine paper that contained thousands of words- and stories, always wonderful stories. I have written since I could pick up a pen; first, in a series of odd little journals, made of folded paper stapled together carefully at the spine. I used to draw characters in bright texta pen or soft Derwent pencils. I always loved the feel of putting a pen or pencil to paper. This led to further writing, several novels that are for my eyes only, and poems written when I was studying at university, all of which I threw out, horrified that someone might find them and read them if something were to happen to me. I was furiously passionate about classical music as a teenager, so went to the conservatorium and studied the piano. I did an Arts degree majoring in English literature and Modern European history. It was when I was at university that I knew I wanted to write, properly. Our entire English class was sent to spend the week at a local writer’s festival by a wonderful lecturer, and that was it, for me. I have a passion for travel- particularly to Europe; I am fascinated by its history. I think history adds depth to life. Every time I go away I come back with a new idea for a book. If something resonates with me, it might be an idea, or a person, or an event, then I find it impossible not to write about it and I end up weaving it, along with several other strands, into a story. I write every day. It’s just something I have to do. I’m afraid that I’m probably terribly grumpy if I can’t write.

Secret Shores-Ella’s new book


In 1946, artist Rebecca Swift’s dreams of love and a life free from convention are crashing like the waves of the Australian coast below her. And it’s into those roiling waters that she disappears. Forty-one years later, Tess Miller’s dreams are crashing, too. The once-successful New York editor has lost her most prestigious author to the handsome new golden boy of publishing. Meanwhile, she’s stuck with Edward Russell, a washed-up Australian poet writing a novel about some obscure artist named Rebecca Swift. But Tess may have underestimated Russell. His book is not only true—it’s a searing, tragic romance and a tantalizing mystery set in a circle of postwar modernists. When Tess uncovers a long-hidden secret, she’s drawn even deeper into Rebecca’s enigmatic life and death. As Rebecca’s past intertwines with the present, Tess finds herself falling for the last man she thought she’d ever be drawn to. On the way, she discovers the power of living an authentic life—and that transcendent love never really dies.

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Ella Carey presenting.


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