Liz Fenwick's Blog

April 12, 2016

In the midst of the war, as Cornwall prepares for potential invasion, two sisters, Amelia and Adele, find the influx of American GIs a welcome distraction from the grim realities of life. But on a heady night of celebration, a betrayal is committed that will divide the sisters for ever, and echo across generations…

When her marriage falls apart and her career stalls, Lara decides to head back to Windward, the rambling house on the Cornish cliffs she’s only ever seen in old family photographs. On arrival, she’s thrown into the midst of a wedding; but it’s a union which appears cursed to fail, according to the best man…

Can a house really be haunted by its past?

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Published on April 12, 2016 03:36 • 31 views

February 10, 2016

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When you are starting out as a writer you dream. You dream a lot. After all that is where your stories come from. So you dream of the agent, the publisher, the readers and maybe a little bit of success. If like me you have ‘grown up’ as a writer in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers Scheme you attend the awards and you watch friends win much deserved honours. You dream….but only dream. You never dare hope….it might tempt fate.


Just before Christmas I received an email from my editor. I was sitting in the café of Sainsburys in Truro having dinner on the way to collect Chris from the airport. I was physically and mentally drained. We’d moved from Dubai with the deluded vision that we could fit things into our home here. Christmas was coming and I wasn’t prepared. And I had delivered a book to my editor that was finished but wasn’t polished. Low, very low, sums my state up.


I sat under the florescent lights of the café crying. I had no idea that my editor had entered the book. I still can’t describe the feeling. The closest I can come to it – is overwhelmed. The RNA is my tribe. They have supported me as a writer from the start. Without them I might have made it but it would have taken me much longer. And certainly wouldn’t have been as fun.


Being on the short list with such talented authors is a dream come true. Good luck to all on the day. I’ll be raising a glass to the RNA who holds up the best in romantic fiction, helps to grow writers and supports them once they make it.

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Published on February 10, 2016 00:53 • 15 views

October 7, 2015

2007_0827regatta070047I don’t know about you but I don’t read enough poetry any more (let alone write anymore, but there were years that was all I wrote!). But poetry still moves, catches me unawares in a way that prose never can. So now I find I use it to help me think about my books – both writing and editing. It’s no surprise that the word tide features in The Returning Tide and at the start I sought out poems with this imagery. Here’s one of my favourites from Emily Dickinson

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide

Went past my simple shoe –

And past my Apron – and my belt

And past my Bodice – too



In a poem each word carries so much more weight and meaning or meanings. Many times at the start of a day of editing I read through the poems I’ve collected – as inspiration for finding the right word or moment to capture what I need to say and of course for the sheer pleasure of reading perfect words.

What’s your favourite poem? Have you ever used poetry in your writing/editing?

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Published on October 07, 2015 22:24 • 21 views

October 5, 2015

I’ve neglected the blog – sorry. Life has been a bit full on and with the relocation from Dubai to the UK it’s become even more distracting.

However I thought I’d blog a bit about what happens with a book once the first draft is done. Sometimes a ‘book’ has been in my head for years so by the time my fingers hold a pen or hit the keyboard I know the story. But this hasn’t been the case with The Returning Tide. One February day my editor and I sat down to talk about the next book. I thought it was going to be one I had in my head…in fact I’d written 20,000 words already, but she wanted something different. Cue brainstorming session of about three hours…all sorts of gems that had been just chilling in the back of my mind began to pull together as the paper in front of me filled and an idea came together. By the time lunch was over I had something to work with…

Just before the end of September I considered the rough draft done…later than I would have liked because my first drafts are a disaster – thankfully they are for my eyes only. The book only truly begins to take shape once I begin to edit. So the first thing is to print it off.

1. print out single spaced and between 10-12 Times font (this is so that I can fit the whole book into about 100 pages and doesn’t frighten me as much this way)

2. highlighters, coloured pens, a notebook – this book has two timelines and three key characters so I need colours that will represent these things. I am very visual and at a glance I can see where things are (the brilliant Julia Cohen does this with coloured post-it notes – my cat loves post-it notes and I lose plot point this way!)

3. READ – make notes in the notebook and on the page. DO NOT TOUCH THE COMPUTER – repeat do not touch the computer. If compelled to rewrite or write a new scene then do it on the page or in the note book

4. Wait a day at least – do the laundry, take a bath…talk to spouse!

5. Gather pens, notebook and marked up script…make notes of that things you noticed page by page. You are creating your own editorial letter just like an editor doing a line edit would send you. I also make a separate list of the BIG ISSUES that I need to address or simply remember to ‘pull’ through the story be that themes, imagery or the hero’s eye colour – can not say how many times that changes…

6. Begin to rewrite using the notes you’ve made

7. Repeat process…

Here’s the opening scene of The Returning Tide – draft 2…it may well change!

Make haste! The tide of Fortune soon ebbs.

Silius Italicus

Ebb Tide

September 8th, 1945

The marquee housing the wedding party was small, but it was not needed the weather was perfect for September. The long wheat in the next field rippled in the light easterly breeze under the clear blue sky, but the sea swelled like my sister’s belly. The war was over. My sister had just married and not too soon, for she was starting to show. Her groom, handsome in his US Army Captain’s uniform, stood awkwardly beside her with his arm resting lightly against her back. He squinted into the distance looking for something, something that had been lost. Innocence, I should imagine. Eventually they would head to America and, if fate were kind, I would never see my sister again.

I turned from the couple and my father came to me with his camera. His hands shook. This was new and not ideal for a surgeon.

‘Take the photograph for me.’

I pressed my lips together about to shake my head and refuse.

‘Yes, take it.’ His voice sounded as if he was giving an order to the troops and not to his eldest child. He wore his uniform and he outranked me. He was a major in the army still and I had just been released from the navy. He had a role and I was adrift on the tide, ready to go where it would take me as long as it was away from here.

I held the camera in the direction of my sister but could not look through the viewfinder. I did not want to see the couple perfectly framed in the September sunshine. It was not an image I wanted to keep. Instead I peered over the top of the camera, looking at the house. Up until July Windward had been a place of happiness, refuge and peace despite the war. Once the camera clicked I handed it back to Father and walked away. My duty was done. I’d had enough.

As I looked out to Falmouth Bay I could see the exposed rocks that littered the beaches below threatening any boat trying to navigate on to them at high tide without a chart. One night in London I met the most handsome US officer at the Savoy. Just one glance from his big blue eyes and I was lost without a map and my compass found a different north. Everything changed. My sister had been the romantic one, the flighty one. She never stopped talking about dreams of a house and kids. How deluded I had been. I had wanted more. I had worked hard to gain a place at university. But then the war came and had altered everything including me.

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Published on October 05, 2015 23:34 • 19 views

May 7, 2015

Sometimes home is where you least expect it…

In UNDER A CORNISH SKY Liz Fenwick weaves another deliciously irresistible tale set in the heart of her beloved Cornwall.

Demi desperately needs her luck to change. On the sleeper train down to Cornwall, she can’t help wondering why everything always goes wrong for her. Having missed out on her dream job, and left with nowhere to stay following her boyfriend’s betrayal, pitching up at her grandfather’s cottage is her only option.

Victoria thinks she’s finally got what she wanted: Boscawen, the gorgeous Cornish estate her family owned for generations should now rightfully be hers, following her husband’s sudden death. After years of a loveless marriage and many secret affairs of her own, Victoria thinks new widowhood will suit her very well indeed . . .

But both women are in for a surprise. Surrounded by orchards, gardens and the sea, Boscawen is about to play an unexpected role in both their lives. Can two such different women find a way forward when luck changes both their lives so drastically?

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Published on May 07, 2015 06:14 • 58 views

May 6, 2015

Today Under a Cornish Sky is out. The first reviews are in and are good. You can take a peek on Vulpes Libris  and here Shaz’s Book Boudoir 

I have really enjoyed these top three lists and have discovered some new books as well as remembering some old favourites. I’ll try and put together a list compiled from them all.

Henriette brings us our final three…

“Rebecca’s Tale” by Sally Beauman

“House on the Strand” by Daphne du Maurier

“Crossing the Tamar” by Elizabeth Hawksley

51+6OyDZ4aL._AA160_Her latest book is “The Highwayman’s Daughter”

Is it a crime to steal a heart?

Hounslow, 1768. Jack Blythe, heir to the Earl of Lampton, is a man with great expectations. So when his carriage is held up by a masked woman, brandishing a pistol and dressed as a gentleman of the road, he wholly expects to have his purse stolen. And when he senses something strangely familiar about the lovely little bandit, Jack also expects to win his cousin’s wager by tracking her down first.

But as Jack and the highwaywoman enter into a swashbuckling game of cat and mouse, uncovering an intricate web of fiercely guarded family secrets, the last thing Jack expects to have stolen is his heart.


Thanks for following these posts…do you have any to add that we’ve missed??

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Published on May 06, 2015 21:10 • 26 views

May 5, 2015

To celebrate the paperback release of A Cornish Stranger on the 23rd of April and Under A Cornish Sky of the 7th of May I’ve asked several of my favourite authors to share their top three Cornish reads.

Here’s what Essie had to say…

Thanks for the opportunity to choose my favourite books set in Cornwall, Liz – although it’s very hard, because once I started to think about this I realised just how many wonderful novels are set there, and how many of them are also my favourite all time reads. Here are just a few …




I can still almost smell that fragrant grass and see its slope down to the edge of the cliffs that drop to the glittering sea below. This is the captivating story of five cousins who gather at their aunt’s idyllic Cornish home to spend a last dizzying, simmering summer before the outbreak of the Second World War. The story does move to a war-torn London, but always at its heart and those of the central characters is the house with the camomile lawn.


THE HOUSE ON THE STRAND by Daphne Du Maurier


I love all of Daphne Du Maurier’s books, but this one is quite different – and perhaps the one that haunts me most. It’s said to be her sixties ‘psychodelic’ novel, and it’s the story of Dick Young who visits a house in Cornwall’s Kilmarth that belongs to his biochemist friend, Magnus. Magnus has been developing a new drug and when Dick becomes his guinea-pig, he finds himself ‘tripping’ back into the past – as far back as the fourteenth century, where he experiences the turbulent loves, deceits and tragedies of people now dead, but who were once strongly connected to the house. As Dick becomes more immersed in those lives, to the point of endangering his own, the novel takes on an increasing sense of dramatic suspense, confusion and peril.


INGO by Helen Dunmore


I adore Helen Dunmore’s writing so much that I found myself reading her YA Ingo as well, and was entirely seduced by the enchantment of place that she creates through her graceful, vivid prose. This is a mermaid tale with an absolute foothold in the reality of everyday ‘land’ life too, as a child struggles with the loss of her father, and the discovery of a heritage that means the only way she’ll ever find him again is by daring to search beneath the sea.




51ojsexRNUL._AA160_Essie Fox writes Victorian novels. Her first, The Somnambulist was featured on the Channel 4 TV Book Club and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards. Her latest The Goddess and The Thief is a gothic oriental set in Victorian England and India.




Please drop by tomorrow for Henriette Gyland’s top three books set in Cornwall…

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Published on May 05, 2015 21:32 • 23 views

May 4, 2015

To celebrate the paperback release of A Cornish Stranger on the 23rd of April and Under A Cornish Sky of the 7th of May I’ve asked several of my favourite authors to share their top three Cornish reads.

Here’s what Jenny had to say…

I have to admit that I’m a bit scared of Cornwall – it seems so involved with the sea, for one thing, a place of danger to a soft inland creature like myself. And then there is the natural magic and the mists of Merlin; where history weaves in and out of myth; where nothing is ever quite what it seems and quite a lot of it will eat your soul.


I’d also better come clean and admit to a positive recoil from Daphne du Maurier, an author whose ability to call up nastiness off the page is, well, magical. There’s never any comfort in her books. They take you somewhere ba-a-a-ad and leave you there, small and shivering.


So my top three Cornish books are all more than a bit unsettling but with a bonus of some human comfort in there too.


OVER SEA, UNDER STONE by the wondrous Susan Cooper – the very first story of what became THE DARK IS RISING, to which she returned ten years later. It’s all there: brave, careful, enquiring children, unreliable grown ups, moral choice, the power locked into myth and history – and the forces of the Dark. The point where two apparently friendly grown ups reveal themselves to be something entirely different is almost unbearable. But the Dark doesn’t win. Really exciting stuff. So glad that she went back and went even deeper.


THE CAMOMILE LAWN by Mary Wesley – this is a family story, bearing comparison Rosamund Pilcher’s novels set at Nancherrow and Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles. Set in Cornwall and London, from the outbreak of war, it charts lives ended, ruined and saved, to a final, healing reunion 40 years later. The two faces of Cornwall are there – the endlessly sea and welcoming, scented camomile lawn and the frightening cliff path, where bad things happen and, even more, the family challenge the elements. It is also very sexy, very funny, and one of the clearest-eyed stories of the Second World War I’ve ever read.


JACKDAW by K J Charles – fantasy, alternative history and, according to the author, ‘a kind of love letter to Looe’ this new book jumped straight into my top three for sheer story telling verve and power of writing. The dark stuff here is magic again, misused and powerful, exacting a toll of its users. The gay lovers are profoundly moving – including the one I really didn’t like at all for a good third of the book. And the human comfort comes straight out of people behaving well – eventually. This is not just the lovers, but their pursuers and, wonderfully, a whole damn village. Even sexier than Mary Wesley, though, so approach with care.


51ib4Odtz7L._AA160_My latest novel is TO MARRY A PRINCE by Sophie Page – no magic but alternative history. Princess Charlotte and her baby survived, the Kensington Museum is the Leopold and Charlotte and the twenty-first century heir to the throne meets an ordinary girl in a lantern-lit garden . . .



Please come back tomorrow to read Essie Fox’s selection….

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Published on May 04, 2015 21:25 • 18 views

To celebrate the paperback release of A Cornish Stranger on the 23rd of April and Under A Cornish Sky of the 7th of May I’ve asked several of my favourite authors to share their top three Cornish reads.

Here’s what Amanda had to say…

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier has intrigue, suspense and secrets. Du Maurier has a meticulous attention to detail and her sense of place and descriptions of Cornwall are breathtaking. I remember first seeing a mini series on TV in 1979 starring Joanna David as the second Mrs de Winter, Anna Massey as Mrs Danvers and Jeremy Brett as Maxim de Winter. I was so captivated by it that I bought the book and loved that even more, it has become one of my all time favourites.

Escape for the Summer by Ruth Saberton is the perfect feel good read. Three friends going through a rough time in their lives head for a holiday in Cornwall and after a series of unpredictable twists and turns, finally find happiness.

A Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick I read my signed copy of this book last summer after attending Liz’s lovely launch. From the first page to the last, Liz Fenwick’s beautiful descriptions of the Helford River area are enchanting, while the intriguing story kept me turning those pages. Each character is carefully and realistically drawn, and as such engenders feelings of empathy and compassion. I was kept guessing until the very end – loved it.


One of my books also out last year – Somewhere Beyond the Sea is a mystery suspense set in Cornwall. Dr Tristan Ainsworth, his wife Karen and their young family move from Swindon to Cornwall, Tristan’s former home where a new post has become available. However once there, Karen becomes withdrawn, depressed and agoraphobic. Tristan can’t understand why this has happened and his wife certainly won’t tell him. Then, as a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?




Amanda’s latest book is Cross Stitch It should be the happiest day of her life. Despite past heartache, Sarah Yates is finally marrying her true love, John Needler. But Sarah and John can’t pretend they’re an ordinary couple. They’re time travellers and where time travel is involved, nothing runs smoothly. One minute Sarah is saying her vows and the next she is hurtled back in time to a country that is on the cusp of war, and into the company of the bad-tempered Veronica Ratchet. Newly-wedded bliss is certainly not on the cards for Sarah as events see her travelling from the British punk era to 1950’s America. And even when she returns home she can’t escape Veronica. But when the past and the present collide, that’s when the real problems start … Sequel to A Stitch in Time   You can find out more about Amanda’s books on her blog or follow here on Twitter @akjames61

Please come back tomorrow to discover Jenny Haddon’s top three…

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Published on May 04, 2015 01:00 • 9 views

May 2, 2015

To celebrate the paperback release of A Cornish Stranger on the 23rd of April and Under A Cornish Sky of the 7th of May I’ve asked several of my favourite authors to share their top three Cornish reads.

Here’s what Emylia had to say….

One of the things I love most about Cornwall is its art and artists, so when thinking about my favourite books set in that part of the world I’ve added a second filter – ‘must contain brushstrokes’.

Notes From An Exhibition – Patrick Gale

The artist Rachel Kelly is a fascinating, complex, volatile creation, and as the story unfolds we comprehend the effect she’s had on those closest to her. It’s a compulsive and heartbreaking read. Barbara Hepworth makes a star turn, and the Penwith art community is painted with aplomb.

An Equal Stillness – Francesca Kay

A fictionalised biography of painter Jennet Mallow, which moves between London, St Ives, Spain and Yorkshire. It’s beautifully poetic and the time spent in Cornwall, while not the most influential for Mallow’s art, remains a delight for the reader – deeply lyrical, infused with sun and sea and other temptations.

The Cornish House – Liz Fenwick

Trevenen, the titular Cornish house, is a place of new beginnings, but the inescapable past pervades the story. The setting is so evocative, the wonderfully dilapidated house and the surrounding countryside invite the reader in, while artist Maddie, and her step-daughter Hannah, are hugely relatable characters.

Actually, I have to add a fourth – because it’s impossible to talk about Cornwall without mentioning du Maurier – even if it does mean stepping away from the art crowd…

Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

While Rebecca is one of my all-time favourite novels, when it comes to resoundingly Cornish settings, for me, Jamaica Inn trumps it. Landscape looms large – there are black nights on cliff tops, moorland lost in fogs and bogs, the clamour of Launceston on market day, and it’s all contrasted with Mary Yellan’s nostalgia for the greener and more pleasant spot she left behind. It’s the kind of story for tucking up under the bedclothes with, and for which the phrase ‘rip-roaring yarn’ feels invented.

51aUMFT3eJL._AA160_Emylia has her own Cornish story, The Sea Between Us, coming out in August and it’s wonderful (I just finished it yesterday). She weaves her love of art, the sea and Cornwall onto the pages…

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved – just – by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago’s paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?


You can find Emylia on twitter @EmyliaHall


Please pop by tomorrow to find out Amanda James’s top three books set in Cornwall…


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Published on May 02, 2015 21:50 • 13 views