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Special Festival of Romance guest: Charlotte Betts

October 5, 2011

Well, I now have my ticket and my train ticket to Watford Junction so I’m ready for the Festival of Romance Friday on October 21st. Today, I’ve paired up with one of the festival authors, Charlotte Betts – she’s here on my blog and I’m over on her website.

Charlotte’s novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, won the RNA New Writers Award 2011 so welcome, Charlotte!

What are you doing at the Festival?

I shall be on a panel on Saturday 22nd October at 11.55 discussing ‘Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?’ I’m fascinated to hear, and learn, from other members of the panel and look forward to questions.
I attended the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference earlier this year and came away punch-drunk with ideas and that lovely warm fuzzy feeling from being able to talk endlessly about writing without anyone’s eyes glazing over since we all shared the same passion! I’m sure the Festival of Romance will be equally inspiring. Writing can make for a pretty solitary existence but you need to mix with others to gain fresh insights. The Festival of Romance is a great opportunity for authors to talk with not only other writers and industry professionals but also the all important readers to find out what they look for in a satisfying story.

What else are you looking forward to at the Festival?

My first published novel The Apothecary’s Daughter has been shortlisted for the Choc Lit Best Historical Read Award, which is really exciting, so that makes the Festival extra special for me. I’m particularly looking forward to the Fashion Show and the workshops and talks, especially A Beginners Guide to Writing Historical Romance by Jean Fullerton and Fenella Miller. There is a Book Club discussion and tea and cup cakes … not a moment will pass without an interesting event. And then, of course, there’s the Have a Heart Ball in the evening to raise money for children and teenagers with congenital heart disease, where the reader awards will be announced for The Best Romantic Read, The Best Historical Read and The New Talent Award for an unpublished writer.

Why should people come to the Festival?

If you are a reader of romantic fiction you have the chance to discover and talk to new and already loved authors. It’s a great chance to stock up on signed books to give away as Christmas and birthday presents. If you are an as yet unpublished author you can find out how published authors achieved their dreams and meet agents and publishers to find out what they really want.

What sparked your love of reading and writing historical novels?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and enjoy both historical and contemporary novels. I didn’t particularly enjoy history at school but I’ve always loved visiting historical houses and imagining how people might have lived in those days.
The story of The Apothecary’s Daughter began when I found a copy of an old map of London before the Great Fire. I pored over it for hours, mentally walking the narrow streets, alleys and courts of Restoration London. The timber framed houses were cramped together, all higgledy-piggledy with the first floors jettied out over the street and cutting out the daylight below. Sewage ran in open drains. I pictured a dark and airless city, hot and stinking in the summer, bone-chillingly cold in the winter with a permanent pall of smog and the stench of the tanneries hanging over everything.
I began to imagine a young woman living in this bustling, malodorous city. Who was she? I pictured her green eyes, as clear as water, and her chestnut hair shining out through all the grime. She would be strong, impatient perhaps, but able to cope with everything that life threw at her. Susannah came into being. Then, visiting a second hand book shop, I bought a copy of Culpepper’s Herbal and suddenly Susannah’s purpose became clear; she would be an apothecary. Except, of course, that there were no female apothecaries. What would happen if a young woman, contentedly helping her father in his apothecary shop, was suddenly ousted from her home? And what if the plague stalked the streets and friends and family were dying like flies around her? Who could she turn to? How would she live? What would happen to her?
And so The Apothecary’s Daughter was born.


Posted by Phillipa @ 7:37 am | Leave a Comment


  1. Rachel Lyndhurst Says:

    Lovely post, Charlotte! Have loads of fun at the festival – I’m sure you will!! XX

  2. Phillipa Says:

    Wish you were coming along too, Rachel. 🙂

  3. Liz Hanbury Says:

    The Apothecary’s Daughter sounds a fabulous read, Charlotte! Congrats on winning the award and have a wonderful time at the Festival – I wish I could join you. Maybe we’ll get to meet at an RNA ‘do’ sometime :0)

  4. Stevie Carroll Says:

    That book looks fantastic. My Wish List just keeps on getting longer.

  5. Phillipa Says:

    Liz and Stevie – I know. I’ve already asked Charlotte to sign a copy for me.

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