Author of Full Circle
Today we meet historical novelist Daisy Wood, who joins me to talk about her historical novel Full Circle. Welcome Daisy and thank you for joining me to talk about your novel. To start us off, tell us about your book.
Daisy: My current book ‘Full Circle’ was published on January 30 2020, just as the world was going into lockdown. It is historical fiction, set in 1886, and concerns a family whose small estate called ‘The Willows’ nestles quietly just outside the town of Mere, in Wiltshire, close to the river Nader in the West Country of England. The estate’s main produce is the growing of Flax, but it also boasts a small Dairy Herd, Goats and Sheep, growing all of its own vegetables. It is, you might say, self-sufficient….and idyllic… but, it holds a secret from the past within is walls, that if revealed, could destroy the present family, and all they hold dear.
Helen: It sounds the dream location, deep in the English countryside. A beautiful estate and a long history hiding many secrets. Why did you choose such a simple cover when you could have chosen an idyllic country scene?
Daisy: I wanted a plain cover, as the story encompasses so many emotions, hate, avarice, vengeance and love. To express this in a cover would be impossible, so I graduated the colour to try and represent these emotions. The colour I chose is also symbolic of the main protagonist in many ways, including his eyes.
Helen: It sounds like a complex and twisted story in contrast to the simplicity of the cover What about the title? Are there any hidden meanings?
Daisy: The title is multi-faceted, ‘Full Circle’ portrays life’s cycle…what we start with…and then finally end with. The ring in itself represents the title, as its style is a never-ending Celtic vine, which depicts both the cycle of life and love itself. Our lives I believe are made up of many such circles, as likewise within the book these circles exist, one of kindness repaid, one of hate avenged, one of love rekindled.
Helen: Full Circle is a big book, not only in content but in length. Kudos to you Daisy, for completing such a challenging project. What made you write this book?
Daisy: I have always loved reading from an early age. I also had a passion for making up stories. I would get told off in ‘composition’ for not adhering to the word count. (Hence the length of my book.) I never knew when to stop…. I had this book inside me from the age of 20, which was when I started to write it, completing around 10 chapters on my works typewriter, as I would stay in at lunchtime to type what I had written, but then my life took a different path. I thought about it many times throughout my life, but it was many years later when both my parents had passed, while clearing out a cupboard, I found the typed and hand-written pages at the back, in the same brown envelope I had left them in. My Mum had kept it. It was then I decided, when I retired, I would finish the story. It took me three years to complete (including research) then two years to publish. I dedicated the book to my parents.
Helen: I am so glad your mother kept your manuscript. That is a wondeful trait in mothers, they keep everything. I’m sure my daughter will roll her eyes when she has to dig though all her stuff in the attic, whilst reminiscing over most of it, hopefully! What inspired you to write?
Daisy: My inspiration…that came from my love of reading. In my office books would be passed around like sweets at a children’s party, but it was one book that set me one my path. ‘Devil Water’ by Anya Seton. The story still resonates with me, and it set me to thinking that I would like to write one. Not on the scale of her book, but one that I had had in my head for a while. As I wrote each new chapter, I would let the other girls there read them, and comment. It was from that, the Italian part of the book came to life from a dear Italian friend that I worked with then, Marisa. I also put a dedication to her in the book.
Helen: You write historical fiction, what made you choose that genre?
Daisy: All my life I have had a love for History, how they lived, what their lives were like then. It fascinates me, and always will, but the 1700’s, especially the later part of that century, always drew me in. It was just after the start of the Industrial Revolution, in 1760, but where people still worked the land. Oh, it had its poverty, especially in the large towns, but nothing like the type people experienced when they migrated in their masses to the cities to work in the factories. I hope I have been able to convey some of this in my book, as I have tried to keep as true to the time as possible in my writing.
Helen: I would imagine that you had to spend a lot of time researching to make sure you reflected the era correctly?
Daisy: I did an immense amount of research on that era, most before I started to write, but quite a lot as ideas unfolded and took hold as I wrote. I wanted to try and depict to the best of my ability what life was like then. This included dress, food, education, birthing, the role of women, and the hierarchy of the servant household, as well as money, wages, and travel, but most importantly the language they spoke. Words were not abbreviated then, and being set in the West country I also looked to the dialect there of that time. There were also the customs of that era, in what was acceptable, and how to address people. I found a whole other world. All this is reflected in the Bibliography.
Helen: It sounds like you almost wrote another book! History is such fun but it can lead you down a rabbit hole! Who was your favourite character to write?
Daisy: That’s easy, Stewart, the main protagonist. He is such a complex character in many ways, with a quick temper. He also has an agile mind that can read situations quickly, and a very dry, roguish sense of humour. I really enjoyed developing him.
Helen: Tell us a little about your working process, do you prefer writing or editing?
Daisy: I’m afraid there is only one answer to that question – WRITING It took me forever to edit my book before I sent it to the publishers, you re-read so many times you get word-blindness, and even then, there are still some mistakes you miss.
Helen: Having completed your lifetime project, are you tempted to write another book?
Daisy: My current WIP follows on from my first book. I have introduced new characters, as well as expanding on some of the old ones. The theme throughout the second book still concentrates on the family, its values, and the bond that ties them together. It is that tight bond, which allows them to overcome the perils, resentment and hostility that surrounds them at every turn, especially when the arrival of a step-brother, threatens to destroy the stability they have fought so hard to achieve over the past two years of turmoil.
Helen: I think it’s wonderful that you are writing another book. You said you were retired, so I imagine you have the luxury of writing whenever you want to?
Daisy: Yes. For me that’s easy as I am retired and my time is virtually my own. There are times when I can sit in the morning and everything flows. Other times I find that early evening, when I can squirrel myself away to my room, and I have had jotted down many new thoughts, or characters who have spoken to me during the day, that I am at my most productive.
Helen: Sounds perfect! Most authors are prolific readers. Do you have a favourite author?
Daisy: I don’t have one. Every author is prolific in their own right, just as no two readers have the same story in their head after they have read a book. Each person’s interpretation is unique, just as each book is. That is why books will never fade. I read a book once by Carlos Ruez Zafon ‘Shadow of the Wind’ in which he talks of the ‘Cemetery of forgotten books’ I loved the idea of that.
Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today, I have enjoyed learning more abut you and your books. Just to finish, what advice would you give aspiring authors?
Daisy: There is only one thing I would say… ‘Never give up on your dream’ even when things around you seem so insurmountable, that is the time when you are at your most creative. For me, setbacks only made me strive harder for what I wanted. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t’ because ‘YOU CAN!!!
About the Author:
I have lived in London for most of my life, and started writing this book when I was 20, but then life took a different path and it was left. Many years later, after my parents passed, I found my work hidden at the back of a cupboard where it had lain for nearly 50 years – my Mum had kept it. Having time on my hands now, I decided to finish the story, which took two years to complete, never dreaming it would be published. I still seems surreal to me, and often I look at the book and ask myself, did I really write this!?
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