Thursday, 18 August 2011

Melanie Clegg introduces BLOOD SISTERS


I'm delighted to welcome author and blogger Melanie Clegg to Elizabeth Moss Regencies. I'm closely acquainted with her new full-length novel of the French Revolution, BLOOD SISTERS, which you can sample or buy digitally via the two Amazon links above. It's fantastic to see this thrilling and lavishly written novel on sale at last.

I asked Melanie a few questions about her writing and about BLOOD SISTERS in general, and this is what she said.

Melanie, firstly, many thanks for agreeing to join me at Elizabeth Moss Regencies! Can I start the ball rolling by asking a very mundane question: how long you have been writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Well, actually my earliest memories involve learning to read (remembering looking at a book and not being able to read the words is a bit eerie!) and also prancing around in our gardens pretending to Marie Antoinette so I feel like I've been preparing for my books all my life. My first 'book' was a horror story based on Dracula that I wrote at the age of nine in which I killed off most of my classmates and emerged as the heroine of the day - an early example of wish fulfilment fan-fic, I think you will agree.

My first serious novel was written at the age of thirteen and was a re-telling of the poem, The Highwayman. I optimistically sent it off to Penguin and got a very lovely letter back from one of their editors telling me to keep writing.  It's the nicest rejection that I've ever had so I may always have to pretend to be thirteen in future so they'll cushion the blow...

I know where you're coming from! I wrote my first novel at the age of twelve or thirteen too. I had the cheek to send my second one to my mother's agent at the time, the talented Caradoc King, who very kindly told me it had 'too many characters'. It was a sprawling fantasy novel set on several continents at once, as I recall. One day I may return to it, and cull a few of those pesky characters ... 
So how did the initial idea for BLOOD SISTERS come about? Three pampered aristocratic sisters, desperate to escape the bloody turmoil of the Terror in Paris, who change and grow as they come face to face with their own mortality. Can you talk us through its inception?
BLOOD SISTERS was first written when I was fourteen or at least, an early prototype was put together back then as a distraction from doing my GCSEs. It was inspired by my fledgling adoration of the French Revolution, which began that year. I've remained utterly obsessed ever since and BLOOD SISTERS has been rewritten more than once along the way. 

Why the French Revolution in particular? Were you a huge fan of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (as I was in my teens)?

Initially, I am ashamed to say, my love for the French Revolution was down to Antoine de Saint-Just and the whole stoic-expressioned aristocrats being wheeled off to the guillotine thing. I was very young back then. However, it didn't take long for this to blossom into a passion for the period as a whole - the politics, the art, the fashion and above all the larger than life personalities that seemed to abound. It's a period of unparalleled drama, I think. 

Les Dieux Ont Soif: Anatole France
I wasn't a tremendous Scarlet Pimpernel fan as a child, although I devoured the books and films. My taste is more towards Les Dieux ont Soif by Anatole France, which is a very fine book indeed.

Sounds like something to be added to my teetering To Be Read pile! 
So, Melanie, what's next on the book front for you?
My next book, which I have just finished is another French Revolutionary saga based on The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. It's about a group of very rich English girls with ambitious mamas who find it impossible to marry into the English upper classes and so instead head off to Paris, where of course English young ladies are all the rage. 
I'm very excited about it! I need a break from all the guillotining and angst though so I'm about to embark on a book set in Whitechapel during the Jack the Ripper murders, which is another passionate interest of mine. No angst there! Um...

You like Jack the Ripper? Why am I not surprised?
Well, it only remains for me to ask, where do you see yourself in five years' time?
Ooh, er, in five years time I'd like to have a mountain of historical fiction listed on Amazon and actually be a Writer That People Have Heard Of. It'd be nice to wander past my books in Sainsbury's.
Is that a terrible thing to say? I'm really passionate about self publishing but I do have the occasional day dreams about seeing my books in shops - mainly because of the respect that being able to say 'I am a published writer' gets one in publishing circles. Silly, I know.

Not at all, Melanie. I have no doubt that you will find yourself staring at your own book on a High Street bookshelf within the next five years. Just keep writing, keep believing, and keep cracking the whip. There's always room for another talented, hard-working writer like yourself.
So that was Melanie, and I thank her heartily for her time. You can read more about Melanie Clegg and this period of history at her very popular historical blog, Madame Guillotine.

And don't forget to grab a copy of BLOOD SISTERS from either or along the way. I highly recommend it, and am sure you will be utterly captivated from the first page onwards by the rich charms and heady atmosphere of her prose.


  1. I'm going to check this one out. Intrigued by the French Revolution.

    Fab interview! :-)

  2. I like this magazine because have jack the ripper experience about? maybe this magazine is all about murder am i right?