Ella’s Journey by Lynne Francis – Guest Post

Summary from Amazon UK

Ella is trying to put the past behind her, but the past won’t always stay hidden.

The truth is, Ella is hiding from a scandal. A scandal that drove her family out of their beloved Lane End Cottage in the tiny Yorkshire village they had lived in all their lives. A scandal that her sister Alice was blamed for.

But Alice is no longer here. So it’s up to Ella to pick up the pieces and do the best she can for the family she loves so dearly.

Ella’s luck finally changes when she gains work in service at Grange House, a gentleman’s residence on the outskirts of York. But can Ella keep her position there? Or will she follow in her elder sister’s footsteps…

A gripping new saga series that fans of Dilly Court and Valerie Wood will adore.

 

The Mill Valley Girls Series

The idea for the Mill Valley Girls series was born on a writing week in West Yorkshire. I’d been looking for a holiday to take on my own and the ‘Starting to Write’ course run by Arvon in Ted Hughes’ old house in the Colden Valley seemed to fit the bill. Alice, the character whose story is central to the Mill Valley Girls series, came out of a writing exercise to invent a character and put her in that landscape. Over time, the rest of her family have come to life along with their trials and tribulations in a fictional village in West Yorkshire, with the story spanning the 1850s to the present day.

Each morning before breakfast I would walk out from the Arvon centre and I never failed to be inspired by the landscape: a deep valley with wooded hills rising up on both sides from the stream at the bottom, with fields and moorland at the top. The ruins of a mill lay at the water’s edge and the photos that I took on my walks all became important features in my chronicling of the lives of the Bancroft girls: Ella and her sister Alice, their mother Sarah and Alice’s daughter Beth.

The four main female historical characters – Sarah, Alice, Ella and Beth – are all strong women, while it’s fair to say that my male heroes are a bit more of a mixed bag! Alys, my contemporary heroine who appears in the second book of the series, Alice’s Secret, faces different challenges to those of her ancestors and while her life is a much easier one in many respects, it also holds up a mirror to what has gone before. Her attempts to unravel her family’s past help us to see their lives through modern eyes. The secrets of family history play an important role in all three books and in Ella’s Journey I have based the story of Beth and John on a snippet borrowed from my own grandparents’ life.

When I went on that writing week I never imagined that I would write one novel, let alone the three that make up the Mill Valley Girls series! I actually thought that I would be writing more poetry on the course… Even though I had worked in publishing before, writing fiction is a whole new area for me and I didn’t exactly make it easy for myself at first. I wrote scenes that appealed to me on a particular day, then I had the challenge of fitting everything together like a jigsaw, which often meant re-working bits as the timeline didn’t work, sections were set at the wrong time of year and, on occasion, I had given minor characters different names in different places!

With my third book in the series, Sarah’s Story, I’ve settled into writing in a more linear and disciplined fashion and to at least have the bare bones of the structure in place before I start out. Thank heavens for my agent and editors, though – they are very good at keeping me on track!

 

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