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Diane Allen

Diane AllenDiane Allen was born in Leeds, but raised at her family’s farm deep in the Yorkshire Dales. After working as a glass engraver, raising a family, and looking after an ill father, she found her true niche in life, joining a large print publishing firm in 1990. Rising through the firm, she is now the general manager and has recently been made Honorary Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She is the author of ‘For a Father’s Pride’ and The Mistress of Windfell Manor, and its sequel, The Windfell Family Secrets’.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    Up to two years ago I was the manager of a publishing firm dealing in large print and unabridged audio. A mother of two grown-up children, with families of their own I had started to go through the feeling of empty-nest syndrome a few years earlier. So to fill in my evenings as my husband watched the football, I decided to try and write a book. This, after many pit-falls, turned into books, now being six published and a seventh in the pipe-line.
  2. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’m true to my trade, so if I was to start a book club it would have to be one based on Family Saga’s. Authors on my list would be June Tate, Helene Wiggin, Rosie Goodwin, Annie Murray, Margaret Dickinson and I would have to re-print the best saga writer ever, the wonderful Catherine Cookson.
  3. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    Starting a new novel, you have a basic out line and roughly know the ending. But how you get there is entirely where your imagination takes you.
  4. Why did you decide to write historical fiction?
    I have a great love of local history. My book shelf is full of books written about my home in Yorkshire. I also love the Victorian period, being an avid collector of all things from that period. I could not have written anything other than historical fiction to bring my two loves to life.
  5. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    Definitely, pay more attention to English grammar! I’m so busy telling my tale, my grammar seems to go out of the window. Making me spend more time on proof-reading than actual writing.
  6. 'The Windfell Family Secrets

  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” From ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier.
    It just captures you straight away.

  8. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Scarlett O’Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell. Followed closely by Catherine Earnshaw from ‘Wuthering Heights’. They are both strong women who know their own minds.
  9. What do you think makes a good book?
    A good opening line, a good plot and believable characters.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Leo Tolstoy, ‘War and Peace’, ‘Jane Austen’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and James Joyce, ‘The Dubliners’. I have in the past started all three but never had the patience or time to finish them, which is a terrible sin in my eyes.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Plot building, so often I read a book that sags in the middle. A plot must be strong enough to continue to keep you intrigued with every turn of the page.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Coffee, I live and function on coffee.
  13. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    The third book in the Windfell Series is to be published this next summer entitled Daughter of the Dales and I am about to start work on two books set in Swaledale.

Follow Diane Allen on Twitter Diane Allen for updates or check out her website at Diane Allen

Christmas Fireside Stories

Christmas Fireside Stories‘Christmas Fireside Stories’ is a collection of six heartwarming stories from some of the UK’s best-selling and loved authors including Diane Allen, Rita Bradshaw, Margaret Dickinson, Annie Murray, Pam Weaver and Mary Wood.

Christmas at Briar Farm by Diane Allen
Christmas preparations are in full swing at Briar farm as the Bainbridge family get ready for a traditional 1960s Christmas – with all the trimmings.

Kate’s Miracle by Rita Bradshaw
It’s Christmas 1919 in the north of England and things are looking bleak for Kate and her two small children. That is until Kate discovers the strength of friendship and community at Christmas time . . .

The Gift by Margaret Dickinson
Christmas Eve, 1914. A moment of hope unites soldiers on both sides of the trenches as the spirit of Christmas reaches those divided by war, and an act of generosity changes one man’s life forever.

Christmas at Thalstead Halt by Annie Murray
The station master at Thalstead Halt has the unexpected task of sheltering snow bound passengers, in the run up to Christmas 1886. And that’s not the only unexpected occurrence at Thalstead Halt . . .

You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Love You by Pam Weaver
Christmas Eve, 1943. The post office at Goring-on-Sea is up against bitter winter weather but nothing can stop an emergency delivery, or the power of true love at Christmas time.

A Wounded Christmas by Mary Wood
Can friendship, humour and a Boxing Day party help to ease the heartaches of 1942? A heart-warming story featuring characters from the saga novel Proud of You.

Today on the website, the authors answer the following question.

Are there any characters in your books that you are most fond of?

Rita Bradshaw
Several; heroine wise I love Esther (THE COLOURS OF LOVE – due out next year). Hero wise; Zachariah in REACH FOR TOMORROW and Jake in ABOVE THE HARVEST MOON two physically damaged men who rise above their beginnings.

Margaret Dickinson
Esther Everatt in the Fleethaven Trilogy. She helped me to achieve my ambition to be published in paperback.

Mary Wood
I love my northern lasses. They are so down to earth. (Lil, in Proud of You) (Sarah, in Time Passes time) They have a depth that has come from years of hardship and suffering. And, I love my East-enders, who have the same depth, but always show a brash way of coping. (Gillian, in Proud of You) (Lizzie in Time Passes Time) I also love creating the ‘posh girl’ characters. I like to show that their lives are not all roses, just because they were born with a silver spoon. (Alice in Proud of You) (Theresa, in Time Passes Time) These were girls who seemingly had it all, so imagine how much more difficult it was for them to adapt to and endure the conditions a secret agent has to contend with. But, you know, they were mostly girls from very rich families because they had the education that taught them to speak languages. And, they had travelled, so felt at home in foreign countries and could pass themselves off as being local. There are some horrific stories of what happened to many of these very brave girls.

Annie Murray
There have been so many, but yes, some stand out. Rose, my first female heroine of the Birmingham books is still a favourite as she was a bit of a journey of discovery. Another is Anatoli, the Russian man in Chocolate Girls and The Bells of Bournville Green, of whom I grew very fond. And I suppose Molly Fox, in my trilogy A Hopscotch Summer, Solder Girl and All The Days of Our Lives because she was such a handful but she did overcome an awful lot in her life.

Pam Weaver
I’m very fond of Mary Prior in There’s Always Tomorrow. She doesn’t have it easy but despite hardships she enjoys her life. She’s a good friend, one who will drop everything for you in time of trouble. And yes, before you ask me, I know someone just like her!

Diane Allen
I love Carol, my little girl that lives at Briar Farm, she reminds me a lot of myself at that age.

You can buy Christmas Fireside Stories: A collection of heart-warming Christmas short stories from six bestselling authors from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.