The Heirloom – a treasured inheritance

heirloom twitterBooks, I am learning, have a life of their own. Long after the story has left my pen, I watch it dip and rise on the tides. It amazes me – the power of a book to go on its own journey, as if the author is but a distant spot on the horizon.

Such has been the experience with my debut novel, The Heirloom (which is conveniently 99p at the moment on Kindle!) When I first published this timeslip story, I just couldn’t get any traction with it. I was a first-time, self-publishing author and no-one knew I even existed. I hadn’t a clue how to reach readers or where to promote my book.

Fast forward a few years and The Heirloom has now become my most popular selling title! I cannot tell you how happy it makes me, to know that people are not only discovering this story, but really enjoying it!

I spent waaaaay too long researching this novel, but judging from the reviews, it seems to have paid off. It all started when two completely different ideas collided. I love history and was interested in the Spanish Armada ships that crashed into Irish shores during one of the worst storms in history. Miraculously, a letter from one of the knights who survived, has outlived its author and gives a harrowing account of his time in Ireland. In Galway (where the book is set) there is still a monument to the 300 Spanish sailors who were massacred by the English on Fort Hill cemetery. Through the kindness of strangers, Captain Francisco de Cuéllar was given shelter and managed to return home to Spain (after many adventures!) Here is a trailer for a short film based on his time here, which is kind of amazing because I like to pretend this is a trailer for my book!

Armada 1588 : Shipwreck & Survival (Film Trailer – English) from Omedia on Vimeo.

But of course, that’s not the end of my story. Given my love for timeslip novels (it began with Kate Mosse, blame her!) I wanted to write the story in a format that brought the reader into the present day. I feel so strong that our past is the answer to all of the mysteries we face in our lives and I love exploring those links in fiction. So, when I discovered a book called Many Lives, Many Masters written by the American psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss, I knew I’d found my key.  It tells how one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas and through the use of therapy and hypnosis, they resolved to cure her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks.

Well, I’ve always had an over-active imagination and the idea of remembering past lives really intrigued me. I wonder where I lived, or who I was, in previous lives? Books like Cloud Atlas ignite my passion for this idea and the beauty of it is, no-one can really say for sure whether or not it’s possible… In more recent times, there have been increasing studies into inherited trauma and whether transgenerational inheritance can really affect a person’s biology. But that’s for another story.

For now, I’m just delighted to see my story about past and present lives colliding on the wild shores of the west coast of Ireland finally charting a steady course to a whole new readership. These reader reviews have made my heart soar and reminded me that stories can go on forever and heirlooms are made to be passed on.

“I loved this book! Following the history of Miguel and Annora was fascinating.”

“It almost seemed like two books in one, which is great for avid readers. Skillfully the author links the life stories of four well-developed characters across centuries.”

“Once I started this book I found it difficult to put down. I like the way it slips easily from modern Ireland to the time of the Spanish Armada.”

“A beautiful story of love, loss and courage . This beautiful story wraps history and a great love into one. Good read!”

“Anyone who likes a mystery that takes you to another country plus searching for family tree i could not put this down. 3 o’clock in the morning is not a good time to go to sleep!! loved it.”

The Story Behind The Story

What started out as a hypnotherapy session with the ‘dreadlocks guy’ from the local five-a-side football team, quickly turned into so much more…

girl-1208307_1920

It’s not your typical ‘meet cute’, but this is how my debut novel, The Heirloom, starts out.  Set in my hometown of Galway, it follows the story of Amanda, a young woman whose cynical outlook on life has her stuck in a job she is neither qualified for nor interested in and in a relationship which is entirely conducted in hotel rooms.  With a married man.  With two kids.

Xavier, an unemployed philologist (yes, philologist), finds himself literally drifting on the ocean as an impromptu member of a global yacht race.  Destiny brings him ashore on the West Coast of Ireland and straight into the path of Amanda, whose dreams of drowning are becoming unnervingly real.

What ensues is a story of contemporary love, historical mysteries and the struggle to find one’s true path in life.

The Heirloom opens with lines from a poem by Lucian Blaga:-

They say that ancestors, dead before their time,
with young blood still in their veins,
with great passion in their blood,
with the sun still burning in their blood
come,
come to continue to live
within us
their unfinished lives.

These lines hold the seed of the entire novel… is it possible that we carry within us, a soul from another time?  I’ve often wondered why I have such an affinity with things or places, even languages I’ve never spoken.  Where does that desire come from?  Or that feeling of arriving home when you visit a place you’ve never been?  Are we holding onto fears and maybe even love, from another life?  And what if those memories could be accessed through a talisman, or an heirloom…

I loved telling this story.  Juxtaposing the historical aspects alongside a contemporary narrative was a challenge I relished and I loved exploring the idea of finding tangible connections with the past.  If you like authors like Kate Mosse, Rachel Hore, Diana Gabaldon or Kate Morton, with a healthy portion of Irish wit thrown in, this book is for you!

I feel so fortunate that this book is having something of a second wind in the Amazon charts and just goes to show, people can discover your book at any time.  The Heirloom might just achieve immortality yet!

Click below for a free preview…

 

heirloom reviews

The Heirloom Giveaway

‘Tis almost the season to start thinking about giving and to celebrate the launch of the new paperback version of The Heirloom, I am giving away 3 signed copies over on Goodreads.  This is open to residents in Ireland only this time, just so I can make the Christmas post!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Heirloom by Evie Gaughan

The Heirloom

by Evie Gaughan

Giveaway ends December 10, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

But the giving doesn’t stop there.  If you like your books a little more on the electronic side, I’m also running a Kindle Countdown Sale for the princely sum of 99p.  I’ve even gone to the trouble of creating this lovely graphic with all the deets!

heirloom-sale

THE HEIRLOOM

Haunted in her dreams by a past she cannot remember, Amanda Morrison avoids close relationships, sentimentalism and above all, any notion of fate or destiny. That is, until she receives a strange heirloom from a long lost aunt that sets her on a journey to find her true self… in another life.

BUY ON AMAZON

“Evie Gaughan’s attention to detail is amazing, particularly when writing about the historical part of the story.”

 Goodreads Reviewer *****

“I was adopted and so this book was a good read for me because I could REALLY relate to Amanda as a character.”

Boundless Book Reviews ****

“Overall, this book has a little bit of everything; an epic romance, adventure, great locations, well researched historical fiction… The mixture of the two stories leads to a snappy, well paced story that kept me excited and invested in the plot.”

Between My Lines ****

A Tale Of Two Timelines

Man-Choosing-Between-Two-Roads
Copyright

I enjoy a challenge.  And if I can do it sitting down, all the better.  Cue my obsession with reading and writing dual timelines.   The marmite of the literary world, dual timelines can either thrill or annoy a reader and as a writer of the genre, I’ve found myself oscillating between both emotions on more than one occasion!  (Often at the same time, but that’s duality for you).

First things first:  What is the difference between dual timelines, time-slip and time travelling?  Like branches on a family tree, they all bear a close resemblance, but have their own individualistic quirks that mean Sunday dinner will always be a tricky affair.  Dual timelines do exactly what they say on the tin; there is a story with roots in the past that affect the present, so both stories are told side by side.  A good example is Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, where a famous writer tells her life-story to a biographer.  Time-slip tends to involve a twist of the paranormal, where a character has flashes of a past life or in the case of Susanna Kearsley’s novel, The Firebird, the protagonist has a kind of psychic ability that means she can sense stories from the past merely by touching an object.  Time-travelling hardly requires any explanation, but I’ll just say Outlander and leave it at that!

My first introduction to this genre was when I read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (who, it turns out, is not a supermodel but a highly successful author). Instantly, I knew that this was my kind of book. It had mystery, intrigue and… shut the front door – two parallel stories in different time periods! It felt like I was getting two books for the price of one – a bargain. As a writer, ‘time-slip’ opened up a whole new world of story-telling to me.  It’s such a dynamic genre, allowing you to trace the influence of the past on the future, creating layers to draw the reader in.  But how do you go about writing what are essentially two separate stories and deftly weaving them together?

The most obvious feature of a dual timeline novel is the parallel narrative that runs throughout the book. It’s vital that the narrative is equally engaging for both the contemporary and historical sections of the book, otherwise you risk losing the reader’s interest for large portions of the book. While both stories are connected, they must have enough appeal in their own right to engage the reader. When writing my debut novel The Heirloom, the most important aspect for me was providing each section with its own unique ‘voice’ in order to convince the reader that they are really moving from one time period to another. The whole atmosphere of the story changes – the dialogue used in 16thCentury Ireland is very different to that of the present day, so it can be a challenge, almost like writing two completely different novels at once.

The next feature of time-slip writing is research. Historical fiction is a genre that requires meticulous researching and the dual timeline genre is no different. The setting for my first novel was medieval Ireland, 1588 to be precise, when the Spanish Armada wrecked upon our rocky shores in one of the deadliest storms ever recorded. I probably spent the best part of a year researching 16th Century Europe and the battle of the Armada against the Royal Navy. I also had to research life in Ireland at that time, which was under foreign rule but, especially in the West, remained quite independent in their laws and culture. Everything from what they ate, what they wore and what they believed in (Brehon Law still existed at that time) was crucial to create a realistic picture. I didn’t just stick to books and websites; I watched movies set in and around that time, documentaries and visited museums. You simply cannot know enough about your setting, which brings me nicely on to my next point.

Try not to force-feed the facts to your reader – they will not appreciate it! It can be so tempting, after months of researching your subject, to thrill (or bore!) your readers with every minute detail you picked up along the way. But you have to know when enough is enough. It’s important for you to know the background to the story, but the reader doesn’t need a history lecture, so you have to find a way to weave the facts into the story and keep the reader entertained as well as informed. The time-slip genre does tend to have some paranormal plot devices which require the reader to suspend belief to a certain degree, so when you’re writing fiction, make sure you get your facts straight!  A good piece of advice is to know more than you put on the page.

Now the trickiest and most enjoyable part of writing dual timelines is connecting your stories, so that each has a bearing on the other. The pacing of both stories is paramount to the genre’s success, so you have to carefully develop the plots from both timelines at an even pace.  The switching needs to be seamless so the reader can keep up and transition easily from one timeline to the next.  That’s really where your characters and settings come into play, because you want your reader to anticipate each narrative as it unfolds.  In my current novel, the sections from the past are told in the first person, while the present day parts are told in the third person.  This automatically changes the tone and offers the reader a different perspective on each timeline. As I said, both timelines should be strong enough to stand on their own, yet contain all of the thematic links that bind the stories into one. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if done successfully, it’s a genre that can be a thrilling ride, for reader and writer alike.

Every author has their own approach to writing dual timelines and this can vary with each book.  The Heirloom was written in sequence, but my new novel (which is also dual timeline) was written in separate blocks.  I wrote the present day first and then focused entirely on the past.  I found that really allowed me to immerse myself completely in that era (which happens to be the early 1900’s, just before the war).  However, either approach has its challenges so you need to do whatever you can to get yourself into the zone.  One of the most powerful tools I have for getting into that head-space is music, and I listened to lots of traditional Irish music and folk songs written at that time.  Music has a timeless, ethereal quality that really helped me to let my mind drift back through the ages and channel the past.  Again I read biographies and other works written at that time in Ireland and hopefully I’ve achieved an authentic setting for my novel.  The real fun began when I had to try and weave the stories together!  But like I said, I enjoy a challenge.

The dual timeline genre is such an intriguing idea and in fact it was a book I read about past life regression that gave me the inspiration for my first novel. It offers endless possibilities for writers and there are no rules as such. But my one piece of advice is this: Write about a time period you are passionate about. I was fascinated by the Armada landing in Ireland and how the locals tried to help them hide from the authorities. I rented a cottage that overlooked the bay where the ship I was writing about sank. I visited the graveyard in Galway City where a plaque erected by the Spanish Marine Corps remembers the Spanish Soldiers who were executed by the English army. I don’t think I could have written this story if I wasn’t so passionate about the human story behind historical facts.

So while dual timelines might seem like a niche genre, I have seen its popularity grow over the years.  Writers like Kate Morton and (ahem) myself are bringing these kinds of stories to a wider audience of readers who like their history with a dash of contemporary on the side 😉

new heirloom1+1

 

Read my dual timeline novel The Heirloom on Amazon

 

Ye Olde Kindle Countdown Deal

Cross collage - Copy

It’s summer.  You all want a good read.  Something you can really get your teeth into, historical fiction with a modern twist?  I’m only too happy to oblige!  Get your peepers over to Amazon UK and Amazon US where you can download a copy of my novel, The Cross Of Santiago for only 99p/c until June 7th.  It’s got it all – Spanish knights, battles at sea, mystery, family ties, heirlooms and a love story that spans four centuries.  

Adopted as a baby, Amanda Morrison knows nothing of her biological family. But when a lawyer reveals that she has been bequeathed a mysterious heirloom from a long lost aunt, she unlocks the door to a distant past and a secret love. Can her past life really be haunting her present and what can she do to put things right?

The Cross Of Santiago is a tale of two women living in different centuries, whose lives seem to be entwined by fate. A perfect read for Outlander fans.

But don’t just take my word for it!  Readers have left the following reviews….

5 stars

Very good read and also an interesting change of times

Published 2 months ago by christine gaster

4 stars

An epic romance across the centuries!  This book has two settings and I loved both.
If you know nothing about the Spanish Armada and how so many of the ships were shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland and Scotland; then worry not, this book will fill you in. I had forgotten so much of this part of history that it was fantastic to revisit it and I ended up having great discussions about the battle and their mission with my husband who is a history fiend.

Trish @ Between My Lines


5 stars

Really enjoyed. Kept my interest.

Published 12 months ago by Martha Smith

“The Cross of Santiago” is an intelligent and well written historical romance book. I love historical fiction with a bit of romantic story-line thrown in and this book sure fits the bill.

OnlineBookClub.org full review here.

4 stars

This book has a lot of mystery. I was adopted and so I can relate to Amanda as a character. She wants to know about her past, about her birth family, and her family’s history. I have been there and so this book was a good read for me because I could REALLY relate to her. I think books that the reader can relate too are the best kind. They help you feel that the story is more REAL, rather than it just being a story that is being read.

Boundless Book Reviews

4 stars

The historical parts based around the Spanish Armada seem particularly well researched and it was interesting to hear the story of the Armada crashing around the coast of Ireland. The characters all feel fleshed out and interesting enough to want to read about and the story doesn’t get bogged down by too much history, there is a nice balance.

The Bearded Bookworm

While you’re at it, you may as well pick up a copy of The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, also at the delectable price of 99p! 

A borrower or a lender… be!

images

The one thing you can’t beat about good old-fashioned paperback books, is when a friend lends you their copy with the words, “You’ll love this”.  It was actually a neighbour of my sister’s who, having read my debut novel, suggested I read her copy of Ferney by James Long.  A beautifully crafted novel about the everlasting and enduring love of two people who have met before, many times, and attempt to steer their different lives onto the same path.  It’s one of those books that really transports you – Long describes the English countryside with such care, that you almost feel as though you have visited the village of Penselwood.  It’s a slow burner, but all the more charming for that.  And while it’s not strictly time slip, there is enough history in there to please lovers of historical fiction.  It’s a story with a gentle pace that draws you in, however I felt something lacking in the characters.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I suppose some novels are less character driven than others.

I love stumbling across books like Ferney, especially when it has been recommended by someone.  So many good books get lost in the crowd, whether it be bad timing or poor marketing.  I find the publishing scene is all about the new release now, with massive campaigns creating hype around certain titles.  It’s a lot like the music industry – people don’t seem to be encouraged to look through the back catalogues or to search for cult classics, quietly biding their time on a dusty library shelf.  That’s why sharing books and sharing recommendations means so much more than being told what to read by the publishing company.

So, being a time slip author myself (my first novel, The Cross Of Santiago is a classic of the genre) I thought I’d create a short-list of my favourite time slip novels, so far…

Outlander (Outlander, #1)

1.  OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

Obvs!  Gabaldon is the queen of time slip and if you haven’t read this novel yet – oh how I envy  you!  You will be whisked away to the Scottish highlands and introduced to the two steamiest (yep, steamy!) characters in historical fiction, Claire & Jamie.

 

The Gargoyle

2.  GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson

This book isn’t really tagged as a time slip novel, but for me it is.  This book be slippin’ all over the place!  It’s a crazy ride, but well worth the adventure.

 

Labyrinth (Languedoc, #1)

3.  LABYRINTH by Kate Mosse

Labyrinth was one of the first time slip novels I ever read and I was instantly hooked.  Mosse is obsessed (as am I) with France, so if you enjoy French history, this one is for you.

 

The House at Riverton

4. THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON by Kate Morton

Morton’s debut novel, this book is a must if you are a fan of Downton Abbey.

 

 

The Thirteenth Tale

5. THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield

A wonderfully gothic tale that explores the life of a famous writer and her dark and secret past.  You might want to leave the light on when you go to bed!

 

Hey I said it was short!  Do you have any favourites you’d like to add to the list?  It’s hard to find a good time slip novel (that’s why I had to write one!).  There is something about the parallel storylines that really intrigue me, both as a reader and a writer and gives time slip an added spark of imagination that, for me, trumps time travel or historical fiction.  Book swapping is a lovely way to discover new genres and writers.  As a borrower, you feel as though you’ve been let in on a secret and as a lender, you feel a sense of ownership over the author and the work and enjoy the pleasure of sharing a new book with your friends.  So I hope my suggestions will whet your appetite for life in the slip lane!

Time Keeps On Slipping…

The lovely people at Writing.ie recently asked me to write an article for their ‘Better Fiction Guides’ and so I decided to do a piece on how to write ‘Time-Slip’.  Historical Fiction is so popular right now, but now if you’re looking for that extra oomph, both as a writer and a reader, Time-Slip offers the best of both worlds.

My first introduction to the time-slip genre was when I read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (who, it turns out, is not a supermodel but a highly successful author). Instantly, I knew that this was my kind of book. It had mystery, intrigue and… shut the front door – two parallel stories in different time periods! It felt like I was getting two books for the price of one – a bargain. As a writer however, time-slip opened up a whole new world of story-telling to me and once I found my subject, I began writing my novel The Cross Of Santiago.

The most obvious feature of a time-slip novel is the parallel narrative that runs throughout the book. It’s vital that the narrative is equally engaging for both the contemporary and historical sections of the book, otherwise you risk losing the reader’s interest for large portions of the book. While both stories are connected, they must have enough appeal in their own right to engage the reader. The most important aspect of this for me was providing each section with its own unique ‘voice’ in order to convince the reader that they are moving from one time period to another. The whole atmosphere of the story changes – the dialogue used in 16thCentury Ireland is very different to that of the present day, so it can be a challenge, almost like writing two completely different novels at once.

The next feature of time-slip writing is research. Historical fiction is a genre that requires meticulous researching and Time Slip is no different. The setting for my novel was medieval Ireland, 1588 to be precise, when the Spanish Armada wrecked upon our rocky shores in one of the deadliest storms ever recorded. I probably spent the best part of a year researching 16th Century Europe and the battle of the Armada against the Royal Navy. I also had to research life in Ireland at that time, which was under foreign rule but, especially in the West, remained quite independent in their laws and culture. Everything from what they ate, what they wore and what they believed in (Brehon Law still existed at that time) was crucial to create a realistic picture. I didn’t just stick to books and websites; I watched movies set in and around that time, documentaries and visited museums. You simply cannot know enough about your setting, which brings me nicely on to my next point.

Try not to force-feed the facts to your reader – they will not appreciate it! It can be so tempting, after months of researching your subject, to thrill (or bore!) your readers with every minute detail you picked up along the way. But you have to know when enough is enough. It’s important for you to know the background to the story, but the reader doesn’t need a history lecture, so you have to find a way to weave the facts into the story and keep the reader entertained as well as informed. Time-slip does require the reader to suspend belief to some degree, so when you’re writing fiction, make sure you get your facts straight!

Now the trickiest and most enjoyable part of writing time-slip is connecting your stories, so that each has a bearing on the other. In The Cross Of Santiago, it is the cross itself that connects the characters in the contemporary and historical sections of the book. The device I used to create the actual ‘time-slipping’ was a rather haphazard hypnosis session, which takes the protagonist on a far deeper journey into the past than she bargained for. This was the fun part for me, because I had a very cynical young woman in the present, finding herself connected to a very dutiful young woman from the past and by discovering more about her counterpart, she influences change in her future. That’s what is so dynamic about this genre, you can trace the influence of the past on the future.

Every author has their own approach – I think Kate Mosse writes her historical sections separately – but for me, I wrote the chapters in the sequence that they are read. After the first draft was completed, I was able to then go back and really concentrate on the historical sections as a whole. Interestingly, I found music a great tool to get into the historical ‘headspace’ and spent many an hour listening to Enya and Loreena McKennitt. Their music has a timeless, ethereal quality that really helped me to let my mind drift back through the ages and channel the past.

Time-slip is such an intriguing idea and in fact it was a book I read about past life regression that gave me the inspiration for my novel. It offers endless possibilities for writers and there are no rules as such. But my one piece of advice is this: Write about a time period you are passionate about. I was fascinated by the Armada landing in Ireland and how the locals tried to help them hide from the authorities. I rented a cottage that overlooked the bay where the ship I was writing about sank. I visited the graveyard in Galway City where a plaque erected by the Spanish Marine Corps remembers the Spanish Soldiers who were executed by the English army. I don’t think I could have written this story if I wasn’t so passionate about the human story behind historical facts.

Finally, time-slip can be challenging for some readers who find the actual ‘slips’ in time a bit fussy (although for me, that’s what makes time-slip so exciting and unpredictable). That’s really where your characters and plot come into play, because you want your reader to anticipate each narrative as it unfolds. Each story should be strong enough to stand on its own, yet contain all of the thematic links that bind the stories into one. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if done successfully, time-slip can be a thrilling ride, for reader and writer alike.

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy   The Cross Of Santiago is just 99p on Kindle Countdown for a limited time only!

 

Another 4 Star Review ****

I was so excited to see another four star review for The Cross Of Santiago!  It is extra special because the reviewer is a member of the Online Book Club, a great online resource for readers who love to talk about books and recommend their favourites.  I cannot stress enough how gratifying it feels to have your book read and reviewed.  In fact, it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes by the writer John Cheever.   ‘I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.’  So thank you to all the readers and reviewers – the best kissers out there!  It is you who helps to get our books noticed and we appreciate it 🙂

 

Official Onlinebookclub.org Review: The Cross Of Santiago by Evie Gaughan

 

 
“The Cross of Santiago” is an intelligent and well written historical romance book. I love historical fiction with a bit of romantic storyline thrown in and this book sure fits the bill.The beginning looked promising and what followed didn’t disappoint.  
 
Read more here

Launch Day Is Here!!

I am happy to announce that The Cross Of Santiago is now available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.  For the price of a good latte (or even a mediocre one!) you can have a door-stopper of a read, full of adventure, romance, history and a few laughs along the way.  But don’t take my word for it, the reviews are in!

The Cross of Santiago is a heart-warming, astonishing novel of love and destiny.  The writing really pulls you in from the start, and it doesn’t take long before you start to care about the characters and the adventures they find themselves in.  I also liked the time slip, and the historical setting. All settings were well-described, and I got the sense I was really there.  It’s well-written, with a complicated, mesmerizing plot and characters you’ll root for. 

 

You can find the full review here and if you want to enter a competition to win a free copy of The Cross Of Santiago, you can enter here. Don’t forget, you can also download an excerpt from the book from Amazon and Smashwords, so you can sample before you buy!   Thank you for you support 🙂