Today I am so pleased to welcome Joanna Chambers to Joyfully Jay. Joanna has come to talk to us about her latest release, A Gathering Storm (which Camille reviewed and loved). She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Joanna a big welcome!
Hello, reader friends! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for A Gathering Storm, my new Cornwall-set historical romance. I’ll be sharing thoughts on my experience of writing about eccentric Victorian scientists, pragmatic Romany land stewards and unscrupulous mediums – come and comment to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card!
Magnetism, mediums and mesmerism, oh my!
One of the best things about writing in the historical genre is how much new stuff you learn when you’re researching and writing. And I don’t think I’ve ever learned more stuff for a book than for this one.
The amazing Alex Beecroft created a ‘Bible’ for the world of Porthkennack featuring all sorts of potentially fascinating characters, but the one I couldn’t get out of my head was Sir Edward Fitzwilliam, an eccentric-sounding scientist trying to ‘pierce the veil’ between the spirit and living worlds by inducing trances in his subjects using magnetism. Despite his reputation for sending his subjects home brain-damaged(!) I decided that this sounded like a man I wanted to write about.
But how to create a plausible story around that intriguing snippet?
I set about reading widely into electromagnetism, mesmerism, hypnotism and spiritualism in the 1850s. Talk about disappearing down a rabbit hole. And each of those topics took me down further rabbit holes.
I spent a lot of time reading about the development of batteries, experiments involving electricity and magnetism, the development of the electric telegraph and the technology to create undersea cables.
I read about the history of Mesmerism, from Franz Mesmer onwards, its practitioners, critics and defenders.
I read about James Braid, the Scottish surgeon who recharacterised the phenomenon of mesmerism as hypnotism, and whose own book on the subject, “Neurypnology; or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep Considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism”, reveals a humorous and wise man worthy of his own book. And I read too, about other scientists, like John Elliotson, who defended the Mesmerists and whose reputations never recovered from taking such a position.
I read about Spiritualism, its genesis in America with the fascinating antics of the Fox sisters, one of whom would, in later life, recant and reveal how they convinced so many people they could call forth spirits. How the craze over these sisters would turn swiftly into a huge, worldwide movement, spurred by the Victorian obsession with death. How seances were performed and the reactions of both sceptics and converts to what they saw.
And as you read about these things, several things happen. You begin to see the connections between these seemingly unconnected things. And you begin to see plot points you could use. And you begin to patch together a picture of the world in which your characters live. A world where, in this case, technology and spirits are both highly topical, highly mysterious, possibly – who knows? – connected. A world with less of clear cut boundaries regarding the respectable limits of scientific enquiry.
I love that part of writing in the historical genre: the weaving together of what I discover and what I imagine.
What’s your favourite genre and why?
When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother.
In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.
Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.
A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
Connect with Joanna:
- Website: www.joannachambers.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/joanna.chambers.58
- Twitter: @ChambersJoanna
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/3080608.Joanna_Chambers
To celebrate the release of A Gathering Storm, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit and a copy of A Gathering Storm! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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