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Author's scrapbook

There’s a miscellany of articles here including some short stories and a section of writer’s aids and tips that new authors might find very useful. However, if you’re after something really light-hearted and utterly ficticious, there are several “letters that were never sent”, first published in the magazine of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society.

Latest news

Richard III Society event

The Richard III Society (NSW Branch) have invited Isolde to do an international Zoom chat about her Wars

Country Town

Delighted to announce that Country Town is in the shortlist for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Eve

The Lady and the Unicorn – Sapere Books

No one knows the identity of the woman spy that King Edward IV sent across to Calais with

The Lost Princes

How refreshing to hear about some new historical documents that have come to light concerning the fate of


These stories date back to when women’s magazines published short stories that were short enough to enjoy while drinking a cup of coffee. It’s a shame there’s not more outlet for them any more. 

Heart of Gold was commissioned by Woman’s Weekly for a St Valentine’s Day issue and the other stories were published in Woman’s Day’s “Five minute Fiction”. As for inspiration,  The Governor’s Wife came about after a visit to Queenscliffe in Victoria, Australia. As for The Jacaranda Tree, it is said that in the early decades of the twentieth century, two hospitals in Sydney gave tiny jacaranda seedlings to new mothers. Every jacaranda season, I wonder how many of these magnificent trees were linked to a newborn child or whether this is an urban myth. 

Tea with a Stranger is set in early Colonial Australia. I spent a year sleuthing sedition in early colonial Australia when I was working as a research assistant so was pretty immersed in the convict era.

Tea with a stranger

Port Jackson, Australia, 1796 Robert hitched himself over the fence before the soldiers turned the corner, and landed

A loving matter

Georgiana Roe swiftly put up a gloved hand to check that her bonnet plume had not been blown

Heart of gold

A damsel in distress meets a chivalrous knight in this medieval tale, originally commissioned for St Valentine’s Day

The Governor’s Lady

IT should have been a perfect evening for Estelle, wife of the new Governor of the Colony of

The jacaranda tree

Bill helped Phyllis off the ferryboat to Fig Tree and onto the wharf. He’d thought about taking her


There’s a miscellany of articles here including some short stories and a section of writer’s aids and tips that new authors might find very useful. However, if you’re after something really light-hearted and utterly ficticious, there are several “letters that were never sent”, first published in the magazine of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society.

Encountering your hero and heroine’s descendants

When you write about historical people, it’s always a thrill to meet someone who is actually descended from

Malleus Maleficarum

In writing about a medieval clairvoyant in The Silver Bride, charges of witchcraft in Mistress to the Crown

Thornbury Castle

Just north of Bristol is the modest town of Thornbury, and for most users of the M5 motorway,

The Hastings heart brooch

Having written about William, Lord Hastings and Katherine Neville in THE GOLDEN WIDOWS, it was a delight to

The hard grind of writing historical novels

‘For herein may be seen … murder, hate, virtue, and sin.’ Was the term sentencing a man to

Where do Michelmas daisies come from?

I can remember the mauve Michaelmas daisies in my parents’ garden every autumn in the UK and thought

Katherine Neville’s world: Chewton Mendip

Katherine Neville, the young Yorkist widow in The Golden Widows, was originally from the Midlands, but when she

Duke of York slain

The story of The Golden Widows begins in early 1461 so to help set the atmosphere, here is

About the Golden Widows

In the winter of 1460–61, it would have been hard to predict who would triumph in the bloody

Power Poyntz, Iron Acton and Margaret Woodville

It’s amazing what comes of giving author talks. In April after giving a PowerPoint presentation on researching Mistress

An update on Mistress Shore, John Agard and Thomas Lynom

It’s really exciting to come across more information about Mistress Shore. Of course, it’s nowhere near as exciting

Mistress to the Crown

I thought it might be fun to imagine how a modern day reporter might handle the rumours about

Interview with Dorothy Dunnett

‘Ian Fleming was a friend of ours and he told me he was going to write a novel

Hugh Dispenser’s body found?

I was really very excited about this. Those of you who have read The Knight and the Rose

The case of the missing head

I thought you might be interested to hear about The Case of the Bishop’s Missing Head. Some years

Writers tips

Getting the historical research right is so important, even if most of gets to end up on the cutting room floor. Readers are pretty informed and they won’t take you seriously if you haven’t immersed yourself in the era that you are setting your novel. Don’t have a character riding into your scene if he was a prisoner in the Tower of London that week. The other mistake that new writers can make is putting in too much description to show that they have done their research. Remember that readers these days are very visually informed. Say ‘castle’ and their imaginations immediately conjure up something pretty credible. For the writer, sometimes, it’s just a little detail that works really well and gives that wonderful vivid touch. It might be something that shows you’ve been to the location.

The checklists for writers are worth a browse if you are pretty new to sending off your manuscript. There might be something you’ve forgotten, omitted or never considered.

Reference materials

How long is a piece of string? So many excellent history books abound, not to mention journal articles.

Historical fabrics

An earlier version of this list was handed out as part of my workshop Breathing Life into History,

Margery’s court apparel

The illustrations show what was worn by The Maiden and the Unicorn heroine, Margery Huddlestone.

Late Regency clothing

Some years ago one of my husband’s family in England inherited an escritoire, which is a writing desk

Checklist for manuscripts

If you are a new writer, you might find it worthwhile to browse through some of these lists

Medieval names

If you read a lot of history, it’s very jarring to find a fictional character in a historical

Test your research skills

Whether you are writing a historical novel or historical romance (or, like me, something between the two), getting


Hope you enjoy the items. Sometimes, it’s good to have some fun with history. There have been some real historic letters that used humour. The Duke of Wellington had a very dry wit especially when dealing with tiresome bureacracy.

When writing the dialogue for historical novels, it’s good to remember that from cave-dwelling days (trying here to think of a Neanderthal joke), people have always used humour. The English language has so many verbs for laughter. Banter, especially between male friends, punning, sarcasm, irony, the list goes on. Humour can break the ice, defuse a tense situation, act as a weapon or a defence. But, please, don’t use humour in your manuscript if you don’t find it easy.

A Yuletide round robin from Eleanor of Aquitaine

Mes Amis en Aquitaine, With this horrid pestilence going round, I’ve been spending a lot of time in

Bessie’s Christmas letter

In 1483, Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the late King Edward IV, found herself and her siblings suddenly declared

Richard III demands a say in his reburial

Richard III demands a say in his reburial Another document you won’t find in the UK’s National Archives

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