In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday
To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author'
let's meet a character...
A: Good afternoon, Helen, delighted to meet you (bends over and kisses Helen’s hand). Mine’s a gin and tonic – easy on the tonic. Now let me have a good look at you, darling – it’s always such a novelty to see a new face at the Planters’ Club. I tend to avoid the Men’s Bar and lurk here in the library where the old bores seldom venture.
So, I’m Hector Channing. Former District Officer in the Indian Civil Service. I have “a past” which cut short my illustrious career, but let’s draw the veil of discretion over that, darling.
My role in Miss Flynn’s book? Well, she would probably tell you it’s a minor one, a secondary character, as it’s really my dear friend Ginny’s story – but I have a habit of moving into centre stage and stealing some of the scenes. My natural charisma.
Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: I’m told it’s historical – but of course to me it’s contemporary, being set mainly in my prime years – which were the dying days of British rule in India. There’s also a dash of romance – but the path of true love doesn’t run smoothly for Ginny. The old girl has some incredibly bad luck. It’s her story really – and she tells it in her own words. Her fall from grace in London as an eighteen-year-old debutante, when she managed to entangle herself with a predatory man, her marriage to a devastatingly handsome but terminally boring tea planter, and her eventual love affair with India and its people. I like to think I played some part in bringing about the latter – she’ll have you believe it was down to Jagadish Mistry – yet if I hadn’t taken her to that Indian political meeting they’d never have met.
Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: Oh, darling! Most definitely a goody – probably Ginny’s only true friend. But if you listen to my fellow countrymen at the club, they’ll doubtless describe me as a baddie of the worst possible variety. They’ll speak in hushed voices to tell you with their ill-concealed delight masking as horror, that I ‘bat for the other side’ – and have committed the worst possible crime – the unforgivable sin of doing it with a native. I overheard one of the ladies saying that conducting a conversation with me was like taking a bath in a vat of sulphuric acid. I must admit she rather went up in my estimation!
Q: Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: It has to be Ginny Tilman, née Dunbar, known by me as Mrs T. Only child, fatherless, with a difficult and troubled relationship with her mother. The poor girl had the misfortune to be led astray by one of her late father’s friends when she was a thirteen-year-old school girl. The bounder ruined her life, stole her prospects, destroyed her good name. Ginny was almost entirely alone until she had the good fortune to cross paths with me and I took the dear girl under my wing.
Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: Once is enough. Wasn’t it an American who said “Always leave them wanting more”?
Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: I would rather Ginny had not included her description of my foolhardy attempt to drink a concoction made from the leaves of the Datura plant. I can’t dispute what she wrote as I was unconscious at the time, but it didn’t make edifying reading for me. Nor did being reminded of the event that precipitated this brush with death. Some things are best forgotten.
Q: And your favourite scene?
A: Getting to know Ginny – or Mrs T as I used to call her until forbidden to do so. I knew as soon as I met her that we would become firm friends. To get to that, we had quite a bit of sparring in which, counter to my expectation, she proved a worthy partner. She has a sharp tongue and while her education leaves a lot to be desired, she makes up for it in her bravery and willingness to stand up to me. I think it was only the second time we met that she slapped me across the face in the middle of the covered market, the little minx.
Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A: Kurinji Flowers was her second book, published in 2014, but she tells me she’s about to publish her eighth. No flies on Miss Flynn. All her books are historical. Most have a touch of romance – not always with a happy ending. She has one Victorian novel (Letters from a Patchwork Quilt) but all the others are twentieth century. They are mostly standalone novels, apart from three, The Canadians series, which are set in World War II and its aftermath. She also has a collection of short stories – some of which are contemporary. She lives in England – having been a bit of a globetrotter – on the south coast where she can see the sea from her windows.
Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: She’s currently immersed in her ninth book, a commission from a publisher – a sequel to her first, A Greater World. This book will follow a secondary character into the merchant navy and the Second World War.
Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: Leaving reviews is the single-biggest thing a reader can do to help an author. They don’t need to be long – just a few words can make a massive difference to readers being able to discover a good book. Also telling friends – one of the most influential factors in people reading books is the endorsement of a trusted friend. Also following the author on social media – sharing their posts, spreading the word. Miss Flynn, like many indie authors, has a mailing list, so it’s well worth signing up for it to get notified about new releases, promotional offers and price reductions and she even gifts you with a free short story collection as a thank you.
With her commission for a new book, Clare Flynn, is now “a hybrid” – she was offered a publishing contract because of the popularity of her books – and she says that’s all down to her readers!
Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: I think the single-biggest plus of the IndieBRAG Medallion is the fact that it is highly selective. With ninety percent of entries not achieving the award, it definitely sorts the wheat from the chaff. That means readers can be sure it is a well-written book.
Helen: Thank you, Hector, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt? Meanwhile, I think chatting is thirsty work, would you like a refill of that G and T…?
Hector: I thought you’d never ask, darling!
Salute! Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!
I was in the garden reading when Hector Channing materialised, casting a shadow across the pages of my book. I'd found the perfect spot—a wooden bench that circled a huge tree I later discovered was a fully-grown tea plant. The circumference of the trunk must have been about twenty feet and some of its branches rose upwards, perpendicular to the main boughs like gravity-defying aerial roots. It was covered in lichens and parasitical plants and was a frequent haunt of the local birdlife, so I was able to read not only sheltered from the sun but with full orchestral accompaniment, albeit at the risk of an occasional unwelcome splash from an incontinent songster.
'I've come to rescue you before you succumb to terminal boredom, Mrs T.'
He took the book from my hands and looked at the spine, then tossed it onto the bench beside me. 'Georgette Heyer? On first impressions, I'd not have expected you to be a reader of romantic tosh. I’m going to have to educate you, my dear. I shall draw you up a reading list. We can't have you sitting here all day pining for a Regency buck. Tony will never live up to it.'
I had to shade my eyes from the brightness of the sun. Squinting at him like that put me at a disadvantage. 'I really don't need you to tell me what I can and cannot read, thank you, Mr Channing. Nor do I require rescuing. What can I do for you? I suppose I shall have to offer you some tea.' I instinctively wanted to be rude to him, as if he expected it of me.
'Can't stand the stuff. The only ‘T’ I like is the one with a ‘G’ in front of it. We can get a few of them later on at the club. Now get a move on. I'm going to show you around town. And call me Hector, for heaven's sake.'
His tone brooked no challenge, so I offered none. He stretched out a hand and yanked me out of my chair.
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