Welcome back to the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is written by Luccia Gray.
I write historical fiction because I love travelling in time and space. I’m not interested in purposefully (I’m afraid I can’t control my subconscious) writing about myself or people I know, at the moment. I prefer to lose myself in other places and eras. I’m especially obsessed with Victorian times and writers, because they have become my beacon in the sea of words and ideas I need to express.
Sister Catherine, to whom my novels are dedicated, used to read to us every afternoon at school. I was 11-12 at the time. She introduced me to the Victorians. I vividly remember listening to The Moonstone, David Copperfield, Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn. I can still hear her soft sibilant voice tell us all those wonderful stories, which made us laugh and cry.
So, my inspiration and ideas comes mainly from 19th century writers, especially the Victorians. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a tribute to my Victorian ‘Masters’ who introduced me to the pleasure of reading and taught me the craft of writing. Many of these writers and their literary creations appear throughout my trilogy.
At this point, I ought to tell you that before I sit down and write, I have ‘seen’ the scene in my mind and heard the characters interacting. I usually jot down a few ideas and search for some pictures and information, too. The Eyre Hall trilogy is character driven. I plan a simple, loose plot outline, basically three parts and thirty chapters, and let the characters interact and move the plot forward. I need to know what my characters want, how they feel, what they’re wearing, looking at, thinking about, and doing, before I write.
My most important influence is Charlotte Bronte. Her literary creations, Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, Richard Mason, and Bertha Mason have come to life once more, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre ended. I have also brought to life the original setting and recreated a new residence for the Rochester family, after Thornfield Hall was burnt down, Eyre Hall.
Charles Dickens appears as a character in my novel. I have read many of his novels, letters, and biographies, so I have enjoyed recreating his voice and opinions in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. Charles Dickens’ London is also present in my recreation, and I have used many old maps of London, pictures and photographs of the time, to inspire me and take me around the city.
Robert Browning also appears, after his wife Elizabeth Barrat Browning died, as Mr. Greenwood, Adele’s suitor. I read Thomas de Quincy’s detailed account of his opium addiction in Diary of an Opium Eater, in order to write about the use and effects of opium at the time.
Jenny Rosset is based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s long poem, Jenny, about a Victorian prostitute. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson is referred to, and Michael Kirkpatrick is partly a combination of Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth and Thomas Hardy’s Gabriel Oak.
The characters in the Eyre Hall Trilogy read and discuss novels such as, Treasure Island, Persuasion, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, and Wuthering Heights, among others. They also read and quote poems by Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Emily Dickinson, Anne Bronte, and Robert Browning.
In my final volume, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, I’ll be making special reference to Maria or the Wrongs of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankestein by her daughter, Mary Shelley, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, by R. L. Stevenson, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, among others.
I consider it a great privilege and honour, to pay tribute to these extraordinary Victorian writers. It’s also a pleasure to recreate their lives and reinterpret their characters in my novels.
Although I’m overjoyed when readers recognize my sources, and I love it when they say they’re going to reread the original Victorian novels I mention, this isn’t my main aim. My objective is to write novels that will entertain all types of readers and transport them to another time and place, where there were no light bulbs, phones, fridges, malls, or cars; to the world where our great-great grandparents lived and loved just as intensely as we do today.
Luccia Gray was born and brought up in London and currently lives in the south of Spain. She’s a writer and a teacher of English. She has a passion for Victorian literature and regularly posts on her blog, Rereading Jane Eyre. Her blog includes articles on Jane Eyre and Victorian literature, as well as book reviews, short fiction, and opinion articles on the craft of reading, writing and reviewing. Luccia loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can follow her on twitter @LucciaGray, Facebook, or on her Amazon Author Page.
You can purchase Luccia Gray’s books here: All Hallows at Eyre Hall: The Breathtaking Sequel to Jane Eyre (The Eyre Hall Trilogy Book 1), Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall: Book Two Eyre Hall Trilogy (The Eyre Hall Trilogy 2).