16 Mar 2014

The Women Behind the Words - guest post by Ian Skillicorn

I'm delighted to be handing over the blog today to Ian Skillicorn from Corazon Books.....

I set up Corazon Books in 2012, with the aim of publishing "great stories with heart". I was especially interested in reissuing popular books that were now out of print, but which merited fresh attention from today's readers. What I didn't know at the time was that I'd soon be publishing work by authors whose lives were every bit as fascinating as their fiction.
I've recently published the first digital editions of bestsellers by the novelists Catherine Gaskin and Diana Raymond. Sadly, the writers are no longer with us, but their characters and stories live on. I am privileged to be introducing a new generation of readers to their work, and in the process I have been learning more about the women behind the words.
Catherine Gaskin was just 17 years old when she became a bestselling novelist. She wrote her first book in the mornings, before she went to school. Catherine didn't tell her friends what she was doing, because she couldn't face the embarrassment if she didn't get a book deal. When the novel was picked up by a publisher she left school to edit the manuscript, and never went back! Catherine went on to sell over 40 million copies of her titles, writing 21 novels over a period of 42 years. She was known as "The Queen of Storytellers" and "The Girl with the Golden Pen."
Born in Ireland, but raised in Australia, Catherine lived all over the world. While she was in London she met her future husband on a blind date. He was a US TV executive working in England, and had asked a friend if they knew anyone who would like to go and watch the film Moby Dick with him. The rest, as they say, is history. From London, the couple moved to Manhattan, and later lived in the Virgin Islands, Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Catherine generously left her literary estate to the Society of Authors in the UK. They have licensed the first ebook edition of her work: the #1 bestseller The Property of a Gentleman. It's the story of Jo Roswell, a young woman who works in a grand auction house in London. She travels to the remote ancestral home of the Earl of Thirlbeck, in England's Lake District. There she becomes involved in the lives of the residents and staff, each with their own secrets and desires. Jo also becomes captivated by the fate of a young Spanish noblewoman who died at Thirlbeck many centuries before. Over time, she discovers the many ways in which the past and present are connected. The Property of a Gentleman is a suspenseful story with generous helpings of intrigue, history and romance.
Diana Raymond lived through both world wars. She lost her father in the Great War when she was only one year old. The experience of growing up fatherless had an impact on her life and her writing. She was an adult before she visited her father's grave, which her husband, Ernest, tracked down to a military cemetery in Belgium. Ernest Raymond was a famous novelist, and Diana said she learned a lot from him about the art of writing. Her cousin, Pamela Frankau, was also a novelist. When Pamela was very ill, and realised she did not have much time, she asked Diana to finish the manuscript of her last novel for her. Diana completed it after Pamela's death, gaining critical acclaim for her contribution to the work.
During the Second World War, Diana worked for the British Government, in the Ministry of Food. She was evacuated to Wales to escape the bombing, but soon returned to London. Diana and Ernest would stand outside their home and watch the air raids taking place over the capital.
Lily's Daughter, Diana's popular novel, is a coming-of-age tale about 17-year-old Jessica Mayne. It is set in London and Kent, in the 1930s. Like Diana, Jessica has lost her father during the war. Her mother is committed to a psychiatric hospital and Jessica finds herself alone. Her isolation and sense of loss lead her to fall hopelessly in love with an unsuitable character. Her cousin Guy is good-looking and charming, but he is also self-obsessed and unreliable. During the story, Jessica learns some hard lessons about life, and herself, as well as discovering more about her parents. All this takes place under the shadow of the approaching Second World War. Lily's Daughter is a bittersweet tale, told with both warmth and wit.
These two talented women left us some wonderfully entertaining stories. I feel very fortunate to be able to invite readers to meet their engaging characters, and to spend some time in their fictional worlds.

Ian Skillicorn

The Property of a Gentleman by Catherine Gaskin
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Lily's Daughter by Diana Raymond
Amazon UK
Amazon US

What a fabulous post, Ian! Thank you so much for stopping by and telling us the stories about these remarkable authors. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hiya! Thanks so much for stopping by the Fiction Dreams site. If you have the time, I'd love to hear from you so please do leave a comment :D xx