Today I’m delighted to feature author Lynne Francis, another East Yorkshire lass like myself.
Lynne Francis grew up in Yorkshire but studied, lived and worked in London for many years. She draws inspiration for her novels from a fascination with family history, landscapes and the countryside.
Her first saga series was set in west Yorkshire but a move to east Kent, and the discovery of previously unknown family links to the area, gave her the idea for a Georgian-era trilogy. Lynne’s exploration of her new surroundings provided the historical background for the novels, as well as allowing her to indulge another key interest: checking out the local teashops and judging the cake.
When she’s not at her desk, writing, Lynne can be found in the garden, walking through the countryside or beside the sea.
Over to Lynne
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
This was so hard – I could have given you a playlist several hours long, not just five pieces! And yet, oddly, I hardly listen to music these days. I find a lot of tracks too evocative of particular times in my life.
Hey that’s no way to say goodbye, Leonard Cohen. In my gloomy teenage years I can remember shutting myself away in my room, listening to this album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, on repeat. My grandmother got hold of the album sleeve and read the lyrics. She was scandalised – she wanted my parents to ban me from listening! I was lucky enough to see him in concert in London just a few years ago – and it wasn’t gloomy at all!
I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye (Motown Chartbusters Vol.3) In my DJ-ing days (see below), this one was a must – along with almost any track from this iconic silver album.
Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor – I first heard this in the beautifully tiled Pizza Express near British Museum, as a teenager on a visit. The location and the music seemed incredibly ‘refined’ to someone more used to a small Yorkshire village in the late 60s/early 70s.
Now that we’ve found love, Third World – it’s impossible not to feel uplifted when you hear this track. I recently played it to my grandson, aged two and a half, and he immediately started to dance around the room.
Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Sandy Denny on Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking album. Now this is going to sound morbid, but this is the exit song I’d like played at my funeral! (If my family are reading this, it may come as a surprise…) Perhaps it’s the strange year we’ve had that got me thinking about such things but no matter – it’s a beautiful song.
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
I dithered about choosing between computer or mobile even though I managed for years without either. Friends and family would have been number one here but they’re not allowed. However, if there’s anything the least few months have taught us all, it’s the importance of human contact, even if it can only be face to face via a screen. The mobile is great for that, and for WhatsApp photos and videos, so the choice is made.
Books – I have way too many. It’s a nightmare when I move. This time around (I moved in the summer) I did manage to get rid of a couple of full boxes, including some of my university set texts. It was a wrench – they feel like a part of my history.
A ballpoint pen that is comfortable to hold – no ridges around it. I write everything longhand before typing up.
A room with a view. I write in the spare bedroom and at the moment there is the most fabulous winter cloudscape – the sunset is colouring the clouds salmon pink.
Also – walks. I’m very lucky to live close to the sea (one road back, in fact) but also near beautiful countryside. I try to walk most days, partly for exercise but also because it’s great for generating ideas, clearing my thoughts, solving plot conundrums. And for company.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t bother making your clothes if you’re not going to wear them. (I enjoyed choosing fabrics and paper patterns, and the actual dressmaking, but I was never keen on what I created.)
Avoid drinking too much cider on your first teenage holiday without your parents, then falling asleep, hungover, on the next day on a Cornish beach, only to wake in your bikini under a fog bank. You will have to walk several miles back to the campsite as the ambulance that served as camp transport will have left without you.
All that stress about looks, and hair and clothes… Don’t angst about x,y and z – none of it will matter a fig five, ten or twenty years later.
Research exactly what is involved in studying English Lit at university – or maybe, don’t. You might be put off going and it will be a brilliant life experience providing you with lifelong friends. But do carry on with creative writing, rather than abandoning it for nearly forty years.
Be thankful for the era you live in. You might feel as though there is hardly anything to do, but later you will realise that every film, disco, concert or party was really exciting, talked about in advance and re-lived afterwards, rather than raced through before moving on to the next thing. Or not really appreciated because you were too busy live-streaming it to social media… London was just so cool for a girl from the country. Years later you will still remember the magic of Biba!
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
I was a DJ at university in the ‘70s. – I hated the heavy metal discos at the Students Union so my friend Sheila lent me a suitcase full of Tamla Motown 45s and I ran a disco every few weeks. I’ve still got all the 12” singles that I bought to play at that time.
I’ve got a phobia about lofts. I used to have terrible nightmares about undiscovered rooms up in the attic, with leaking ceilings and tattered wallpaper, which I needed to get round to fixing. Thankfully, the dreams have ceased, but the fear lingers on. If I need to put things up there, I have to store them up and beg braver members of the family to do the deed when they visit. In my last house my son disturbed overwintering queen wasps by accident, which just added to the horror.
I can waggle my ears – I used to be able to do one at a time but I’m out of practice!
Very occasionally, I see things that aren’t there… On my return from a pre-breakfast walk at a writing centre in a Yorkshire valley, I remarked on the rooms in the roof, with red curtains at the window, and got some very strange looks from the people running it. There are no rooms up there, nor any in the house with red curtains. I also saw a church and some other buildings on a local street, which dates back mostly unchanged to the 18th and 19th centuries. They’re not there, either!
As a child I kept mice. I used to let them run up the sleeve of my cardigan, across my shoulders and down the other sleeve. I’m not sure I could do that now!
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
See one of my books or series televised! Not very original, really – I think that’s probably the case with most authors of fiction.
Achieve a bestseller flag, or be placed on a bestseller list, however briefly. I got quietly excited when A Maid’s Ruin, recently made it to number 30 on The Women’s Fiction Classics chart on Amazon. But it’s a case of blink and you miss it!
See red squirrels in a UK habitat. I’ve seen one in France and it was lovely, but I really want to see one here. I think it dates back to when we holidayed in the New Forest when I was small and I begged and begged for a little red squirrel model, with a fluffy tail.
Actually – ditto for puffins. On my bucket list.
I’d love to see the Northern Lights. But I hate the cold (and flying) – so maybe I could see them in Scotland? Or Yorkshire.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today Lynne, I really enjoyed this, I think we might be soul sisters! Family history, teashops and great music! I went through a melancholic phase which featured Leonard Cohen so it was great to hear this again. Marvin Gaye reminds me of a Saturday morning dance class I used to go to before I gave it up for Mecca (or Locarno as you’d know it). Third World reminds me of my students days and Sandy Denny’s track is just sublime. I saw Fairport Convention several times, but in the late 70’s post Sandy. Albinoni’s Adagio is one of my favourite pieces of classical music which is pencilled in for my funeral.
I managed to get to Biba just before it closed and it was a highlight (though admittedly everything seemed exciting beyond Hull). I loved the clothes – I’m a hippy at heart. I’m with you on the dressmaking – as someone who failed ‘O’ level needlework twice – loved picking the fabric and the patterns but … Delighted you’ve still got your Motown singles and all the memories. Fingers crossed you get to achieve your dreams. Did you know you can spot puffins at Bempton Cliffs in East Yorks?
A Maid’s Ruin
Margate, 1786. Dairymaid Molly Goodchild dreams of a better life. Up at the crack of dawn to milk her uncle’s cows, the one comfort of her day is her friendship with apprentice gardener, Charlie.
When dashing naval officer, Nicholas, arrives in town, Molly’s head is turned by his flattering attentions and she casually spurns Charlie – believing this is her chance to escape a life of drudgery. Yet when Molly needs Nicholas most, he lets her down.
With her hopes in tatters, Molly is forced to flee Margate for London, where she finds herself struggling to survive.
What will she risk in her search for a better life? And will she ever find the love she deserves?
Coming in March Part Two of Molly’s story
The Secret Child
The Mill Valley Girls Series
A family in need. A country on the brink of war.
Ella is trying to put the past behind her… but the past won’t always stay hidden.
The truth is, Ella is hiding from a scandal. A scandal that drove her family out of their beloved Lane End Cottage in the tiny Yorkshire village they had lived in all their lives. A scandal that her sister Alice was blamed for.
But Alice is no longer here. So it’s up to Ella to pick up the pieces and do the best she can for the family she loves so dearly.
Ella’s luck finally changes when she gains work at Grange House, a gentleman’s residence on the outskirts of York. But can she keep her position there? Or will she follow in her elder sister’s footsteps?
Can uncovering a long forgotten family mystery change your life?
1890 Alice is the sole bread-winner for her family, working at the local cotton mill. But when she suddenly begins to attract the wrong attention, her life begins to spiral out of control…
2018 For Alys, one bad decision after another has left her feeling that her life hasn’t quite turned out the way it should have. But when her aunt is suddenly injured and in need of help baking and running her beloved café, Alys knows a trip to Yorkshire is just the escape she needs.
In lending a hand, Alys stumbles across a long-buried family mystery and quickly finds herself caught up in uncovering the truth of what happened to her great-great-grandmother Alice…
Alys won’t stop until she knows the truth. Will the secrets of her grandmother’s past help her to change her own future?
Sarah dreams of a more exciting life… but will she get more than she bargained for?
Sarah is lonely. Living in a small Yorkshire village with just her grandmother for company, she longs to be reunited with her mother and sisters in Manchester.
When she meets the mysterious Joe Bancroft, she feels her luck might be changing. And, before long, Sarah’s married with a baby on the way.
But Sarah’s hopes for a family home are dashed by Joe’s work, which takes him away from her for months at a time. And when tragedy strikes, Sarah is left more alone than ever.
When all hope seems lost, can Sarah take charge and save her family?