Sunday 22 July 2012

Jean Fullerton is my guest

Today I am hosting Jean Fullerton on my blog. Jean writes beautifully lyrical historical fiction, set in the East End, where she was born, and where her family has lived since 1823. I met Jean for the first time at a RNA outing to the River Police Museum in Wapping. I remember apologising to her for not being a member of the RNA, nor writing romantic fiction. Her reply, I think, sums her up: ''Carol, we're all (insert mild expletive) writers, so you're welcome.'' And we are. And I was.

I asked Jean to share about the influence of her roots, her writing methodology, and her latest novel. Here is what she said:

'' I write because I have to, and the best thing about writing is someone telling you how much they loved your stories and characters. I fell in love with historical fiction because I read Anya Seton when I was 13. I'm still passionate about history, but have moved away from an interest in the nobility of a period to much more the social history and the lives of ordinary people.

I am hugely influenced by the place I was born and feel connected to its past so strongly. To me it's a place of folklore and memories I feel I've assimilated into my bones and flows through my fingers as I write. I've been told my description of the East End is so vivid you can smell it.

It takes me six months to write the first draft, and another two/three to get it into shape. Then it goes to my agent who might suggest some changes and then on to my publisher. So in all, it's nine to ten months from writing 'chapter one' to writing 'the end' punctuated by edits for the next book getting ready for publication and publicity

 I think of the premise for a story, then develop the characters. I have to get the hero and heroine right in my head and then let them start on their journey. I stick absolutely to historical facts and do a great deal of research to get the period detail right. I have hundreds of books and like to go back to primary source if I can. For my Victorian books I've made great use of Henry Mayhew's and Charles Dickens' journalistic accounts of East London. I only live four stops on the tube from where my stories are set, so often visit to soak up the atmosphere. I visit museums too.
Jean's latest book

My recently released novel Hold onto Hope is the fourth of my Victorian novels and follows the fortunes of Kate Ellis, the sister of Mattie, in my last book. With her husband in prison, Kate has fought hard to give her two children everything they need. Her path crosses that of Captain Jonathan Quinn, who has resigned from the army and seeks work as headmaster at a local school.
The attraction is instant, but as Kate is a married woman, they know it can never be, and Kate is left to wonder if she will ever find true love again.

At the moment, I am editing my book Call Nurse Miller which is due out in February 2013. Millie is a district nurse and midwife in post-war East London. Her story starts on VE day in 1945 and runs through until a few months before the introduction of the NHS in 1948. Having worked as a District Nurse in East London for almost 20 years, I have not only used my nursing experience to bring Millie's nursing experience to life, but I have been able to delve into my profession's history to discover how my predecessors cared for their patients.''

You can find out more about Jean, her books and her East End roots on: Friend her on Facebook, and follow her on twitter @EastLondonGirly


  1. A wonderful post - thanks, Jean and Carol! I always love hearing about what influences writers in their work. Looking forward to Jean's new book.

    Talli (signed into the wrong Google profile, and to lazy to change it!) :)

  2. Oops - 'too' lazy. Obviously too lazy to spell correctly, too.

  3. Lovely intro to a lovely post - well done, ladies! Jean, Call Nurse Miller sounds great and I'm sure will be even more successful than your previous series.

  4. I met Jean at a meeting of the Birmingham chapter of the RNA some months ago. She's a lovely lady & most generous with her advice & time (travelled all the way from London to Birmingham to spend 2 hours with us in the Art Gallery cafe).

  5. She is, isn't she. As are all the RNA members. Glad you enjoyed her post. There will be more guests throughout the summer.

  6. Lovely post. As always, Jean is concise and to the point. I've read two of her Victorian East End novels, and enjoyed them very much. Am getting quite excited about "Call Nurse Miller" - the story of the NHS's beginnings is a truly fascinating time in history.

  7. I have not read any of these books and they are the kind of books I love. So thanks for pointing them out to me.

  8. It takes me about the same time as Jean to write a novel - the difference is that my first drafts are usually much quicker and my rewriting and editing takes much longer. I suppose if I was more careful at the start then finishing would be easier, but it all balances out in the end.

  9. I really admire people who write historical fiction. There's so much research involved. I stick to paranormal. Still lots of research but not nearly as much as historical fiction.

    Carol, I'm a new follower from She Writes. It's very nice to meet you. I hope you'll check out my blog sometime and consider following me back.

  10. Jean's latest book sounds great, and a perfect present for my ma in law who used to be a nurse in London many moons ago.


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