I’m delighted to be welcoming Vanessa Hannam today as part of Quartet Books blog tour for historical romance, Summer’s Grace.
You’ll find out about Vanessa’s research, which scene she enjoyed writing the most and which was the hardest plus more.
Paperback: 249 pages
Publisher: Quartet Books (24 Nov. 2016)
Steeped in naval history and courtly intrigue, this fast-paced historical novel tells the true story of a dangerous sea voyage from Britain’s tumultuous Georgian past.
When Admiral George Anson sets off to circumnavigate the globe in search of treasure and prestige, he leaves his mistress to fend for herself in the dangerous court of George II. In the years that follow, the lovers each face life-changing journeys: one filled with mutiny, storms and unimaginable treasure, the other with gossip, love and the battle for true friendship. While daring escapades play out at sea, the exotic Donna Consuelo and her witty, outspoken ward Grace Lively must navigate the tumultuous world of court back home.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
What was the idea/inspiration for Summer’s Grace?
Summer’s Grace was inspired by a story of great naval adventure in my family.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in Summer’s Grace, which would you be? Why?
I would like to be Consuelo, the Admiral’s mistress. I can relate to her. She has had a challenging life and doesn’t identify with any social stereotype. She is completely unpredictable and makes a series of unexpected choices.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most Vanessa?
I most enjoyed writing the scene when the young heroine Grace meets the boy she saved from a horrible situation years before. She gave him the chance to escape which required courage and quick thinking from him. I had been waiting for them to meet again, and when they did it gave me great joy!
… and the hardest?
The scene where Grace’s father dies was the hardest scene to write. In order to write this emotively, I thought about when my own father died. I was only fourteen and going back to this time was very painful.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …
Never ever ask what people think as any decision made on this basis will be mired.
Imagine Summer’s Grace was optioned for a movie Vanessa. Who would you cast?
I would cast Rufus Sewell as the admiral, Gabriella Wylde as Grace, Catherine Zeta Jones as Conseulo, Orlando Bloom as Peter and Jim Broadbent as King George! (fabulous cast!)
Finally, can you share with us the research you undertook for Summer’s Grace?
Research is crucial when writing historical fiction or even contemporary novels. I never use the internet, except to check dates and facts. I can tell an internet “composite” at once. Research is about opening doors and reading. Over the years I have visited houses, places, gardens, dock yards, or any unusual place which crops up in my research. I go to see these places so I can visualise them while I write. I make notes and assemble them, file them, and the story is like a journey marked by small details of place and time. It is, after all, the small details which dominate our lives. People haven’t changed much, it is the events around them which change. I put myself in the world of the character. I’ve told people about the story who have begged to be involved and I have had voices emerge from the past. It’s extraordinary how it all comes together! The most surprising thing for me is how often I would invent a story only to find it had actually happened before. It’s actually quite creepy… Reading is also very important. I read anything I can lay my hands on. I even read a history of women’s gynaecology throughout the ages!
Wishing you success with all your creative projects Vanessa.
About the Author
Vanessa Hannam was born and raised in the Quaker village of Jordans, Buckinghamshire. She is a descendant of Admiral Anson, the celebrated sea lord and the granddaughter of Francis Anson, who emigrated to Texas in the early twentieth century to develop breeding of the now ubiquitous American Quarter Horse.
On leaving school, Vanessa planned to train as a nurse at St. Georges Hospital in London, but her life took an unexpected turn when a friend secretly entered her into a competition, with which she won a place on a modelling course at the Lucie Clayton College. She moved to London, where she met the French Impressionist artist Paul Maze, who had a major influence in her life, introducing her to many of his contemporaries including the painter Segonzac. She became a great friend of the cookery writer Elizabeth David, who left her with a lifelong interest in cooking. After working as a couture model for Worth & Paquin, she became the personal assistant to the director of the Contemporary Art Society at the Tate Gallery.
She later married and had four children, during which time she studied singing with Walter Gruner at the Guildhall, performing in concerts, oratorios and amateur operatic productions. Music has always played a key part in Vanessa’s life and most recently she used her love of opera to organise a fundraising concert and dinner at St. John, Smith Square in aid of Cruse Bereavement Care, a charity she has supported and been a trustee of for many years.
Working as a freelance journalist, she has written for numerous publications including The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph and Harpers & Queen. In 1993 she began writing short stories and has since published three novels. One of her short stories, Annunciata, an Italian ghost story, has been turned into a screenplay and is currently under option by The Roses production company (Mrs Henderson Presents).
Vanessa is the author of five previous novels and lives on the Isle of Wight and in London.
Connect with Quartet Books
Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.