Today I'm pleased to welcome newly published author CF Dunn, writer of the romantic thriller Mortal Fire.
You know what they might say - if they thought about it - writing a novel is a little like alchemy. Starting with a vague idea, a story is conjured from the ether, given a recognisable form in the shape of plot, characters, place, and time, and injected with the magic of language. In my case, Mortal Fire - the first book in the Secret of the Journal series - grew out of a distillation of ideas, the desire to tell a story, and a thriller instinct.
Back in the spring of 2009, in the dark peace of Avila Cathedral, I remarked to our oldest daughter that an understanding of people can give us insight into the motivations that have driven the events of the past. As we took in the age-old interior being prepared for the Semana Santa festival, I outlined a story that had been brewing in the nether regions of my brain. Its origins lay in a broken tomb in a small parish church in England. Like so many others, what had been commemorated in one interpretation of faith, had been smashed by a different ideal. In the reverent hush of the cathedral she listened quietly (although for all I know, she might have been thinking about lunch) and then, in the thoughtful way that she has, she said: 'write it down.' So I did.
On return to England, I sat down and began to develop the plot and Mortal Fire took shape over the coming months. Although broadly a romantic thriller, it quickly filled out with details drawn from life-long historical interests. People's motivations have always intrigued me. They formed the backbone of my research at university and are what Emma (the British, independent and self-contained young historian at the centre of the Mortal Fire series) believes she understands. But when she sets off in her obsessive search for a 17th century journal in Maine, she comes violently head-to-head with reality. Emma's perceptions change and what was once divorced by time, becomes a mortal truth. And so it is - when undertaking research into life's darker moments that pepper much of history - I keep in mind the people behind the events and ask myself a question: what drove them to behave in ways that we might at first condemn? And then I pose an even simpler one: given similar circumstances, would we do the same?
History gives us few clues but rarely, answers.
Mortal Fire is available as ebook and a paperback from Amazon and is published by Monarch books. As her full time job, C F Dunn runs a special school in North Kent for children with dyslexia, autism and other difficulties.
You may also like to know that the book inspired the following piece of art by one of the author's relatives and can be seen on the facebook page for the novel.
I shall see you all on Wednesday.