Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Costumier’s Gift, is Vicky Adin.
Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.
After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive. She is particularly fascinated by the 19th Century pioneers, especially the women, who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life. The strength and determination needed to flourish in a new country still coming to terms with its existence, Vicky finds inspirational.
She draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree back to Constance and Isabel in The Cornish Knot.
Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.
Hello Vicky. It is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews and thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
What time is it? I drink tea first thing, coffee later in the morning, and end the day with a glass or two of wine. But since it’s nearly 5pm, I’d love a glass of red wine please, plus a side of cheese and crackers, I don’t have a sweet tooth at all.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
The genres I write are dual-timeline, historical fiction and family sagas and my latest release is Book 6
The Costumier’s Gift is your latest novel, can you describe the book in just a sentence?
Katie has to identify the people in her grandmother’s cherished photographs and reveal generations of secrets before she can claim her inheritance.
The Costumier’s Gift is the sixth book in your family sagas, continuing from Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner. Can this book be read as a standalone?
Yes, it most certainly can be read as a standalone. The story follows the younger generations from ‘Brigid’ and ‘Gwenna’ through to their modern day descendants. Reading the previous books will help with the convoluted family dynamics and in understanding how they became the people they did.
How long did it take you to write The Costumier’s Gift?
I wrote this one faster than the others – about three months to the first ugly draft. But that is when the work starts. The story then goes to beta-readers for comments and gets edited at least four times before it goes to my editor to cast her eagle over it and fill the document with red comments. Only when she and I are happy is the book released.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Costumier’s Gift? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
I do an enormous amount of research for my novels. While I have a wide understanding of the period, I constantly check my facts. It’s important to fit my characters into the historical timeframe and understand how those events would have affected their lives.
What character did you most identify with in The Costumier’s Gift?
Possibly the modern Katie, although I am decades older than her. I have never forgotten the feeling of discovering long lost ancestors and learning their story. I would have been her age when I made my first major discovery. I’ve been hooked ever since. But, on the other hand, Jane, sequestered in the theatre amongst the costumes with the thrill of creation to fill her life, draws me into her secret world.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for the settings of your novel?
I came to New Zealand as a teenager and fell in love with Auckland then, and I still love it now. Auckland is a small city by international standards and has the most amazing harbour and beaches. The more I learn about its development from an early immigrant settlement in the mid 1800s to the bustling city of today, the more I want to share what life was like in those days.
The Costumier’s Gift is a dual time period novel, did you find one time period easier than the other to write? How hard was it to link the two time frames together?
Not really. I know the historic period so well, I can imagine me living in that time as well as living in modern world. There is endless inspiration everywhere. I do a lot of watching and listening and use snippets of what I see and hear to create my characters. The hardest part is the number of characters involved in the convoluted family trees and making sense of them for the reader to understand. I list the characters or draw a family tree with dates and names. Hopefully, that will explain the generations and how they tie together. It’s not hard to know your grandmother, who knew her grandmother and so on back five or six generations. Photographs are an invaluable link both in real life and in the story.
Is there a particular scene in The Costumier’s Gift that you are proud of?
My characters seem to stagger from one emotional moment to another either consumed with grief or busting with happiness. I like the way modern Katie’s relationship with her grandmother developed and can empathise with historic Jane’s passion for the theatre.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Costumier’s Gift?
A sense of family and how important we all are to each other. And have learnt something about New Zealand and its history.
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
I have been an indie author since I released my first book in 2011. Publishing a book, especially an ebook, is relatively easy if you have any level of computer skills and, from there, print-on-demand becomes readily available. What is not so easy is preparing the book for publication. I would never release a book until many sets of eyes have picked it to pieces, and I use a professional cover designer and professional editor to ensure a high-standard of presentation before a reader sees it.
After that, the marketing and promotion work required to put a book in front of a reader is enormous and constant. So, I thank you, Mrs B, for your commitment to helping authors reach an audience.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
Catherine Cookson has always been a number one favourite. I’ve always liked reading about ordinary people and their lives, and how they overcome the difficulties they face to make the most of their lives. Some succeed better than others. Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy hooked me into historical fiction when I was a teenager.
NZ historical fiction authors Deborah Challinor and Jenny Pattrick are two more favourite authors I love to read, and I take inspiration from Kathleen McGurl and Phillipa Nefri Clark who write more contemporary and dual timeline stories.
You cannot be a writer if you do not read, and the more you read and digest various styles and nuances the better you become yourself.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I sit at an antique, drop-front writing desk with a couple of my favourite ornaments from a past era on top. I love antiques and old photos. But I only need an idea in my head and my laptop open to begin. I start with Chapter 1 and keep going until the end. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. I create character profiles and find photos to help me visualise my characters better, and I draw family trees with dates and events. Or list the characters within a household. I use a variety of methods to help me keep my characters in order. Sometimes I get bogged down with what happens next and sometimes the characters take over and tell me what they want to do. That always comes as a surprise.
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras, mostly because I love the clothing the women wore but also because so much was happening in New Zealand at the time. Amongst other things, New Zealand was the first nation to give universal suffrage to its womenfolk in 1893. If I did go back to that era, knowing my luck I’d more than likely end up going back as one of the maids doing all the work. I don’t think I’d like that so much, but the clothing of that era was definitively elegant and feminine.
What is next on the horizon for Vicky Adin? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I wouldn’t want to commit to anything specific at this stage, but yes, ideas are forming as we speak. I usually only write one book a year and, if my ideas continue to take shape, I’ll have another book in my stable next year. I’ve another dual-timeline story creeping in my thoughts too. We’ll see.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey. I love her haughty nature. She has some great one-liners. Or Jane Austen whose perceptive observations of life created some amazing characters. I love to find out how they do it.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Vicky. Congratulations on the publication of The Costumier’s Gift!
Why does a stranger hold the key to unlocking Katie’s family secrets?
1903 Jane is the talented principal costumier at Auckland’s Opera House in its Edwardian heyday. She thrives in this place where she can hide from her pain and keep her skeletons to herself – until the past comes back to haunt her. Brigid, her beloved foster mother, and her best friend Gwenna are anchors in her solitary yet rewarding life. As the decades go by, the burden of carrying secrets becomes too great, and Jane must pass on the hidden truths.
Today Katie seeks refuge from her crumbling personal life with her grandmother, who lives in past with the people in her cherished photographs. All too soon, Katie learns she must identify the people behind the gentle smiles – including the Edwardian woman to whom she bears a remarkable resemblance – and reveal generations of secrets before she can claim her inheritance. She meets the intriguing Jared, who stirs her interest, but she’s not ready for any sort of romance, so is shocked when she learns that he holds the key to discovering her past.
Purchase Link: books2read.com/TCGift
Connect with Vicky here: