I’m very excited to welcome Wendy Unsworth back to Author Wednesday. I’ve been anxiously awaiting her second book in the Berriwood Series, after having read The Palavar Tree. The wait is almost over. Beneathwood is a novel filled with drama and suspense and will be available in e format on November 24, 2015, and in paperback on December 8, 2015.
Welcome, Wendy. It’s so nice to have you back.
Hello and thank you for inviting me back to your lovely blog; it’s great to be here.
Next month you will be publishing the second book in your Berriwood Series. Can you tell us something about the idea behind the series?
Berriwood is a fictional village in the beautiful and ancient county of Cornwall in England. I was lucky enough to live in that part of the world for a few years and anyone who does couldn’t fail to be inspired by its windswept moors and rugged coastlines. The house we lived in was built in 1745 and, amazingly, that’s not too unusual for that part of the world. History is everywhere. When I had the idea to write a series of novels featuring the characters of one village it had to be set in Cornwall!
I wanted to write a series about characters from within a small community so that the common theme in each book is the connection to the village. I have a fascination (I think this is a writer’s lot in life!) in people. I might be sitting in a crowded train or plane or in the window seat of a coffee shop, and as I watch, I wonder about the lives and motivations around me. So, that was how I imagined Berriwood; on the face of it a pretty place where folks go about their ordinary lives, but what is ordinary? I should say right now, this is no quiet, nothing-ever-happens, kind of a village. I like to test my characters!
In the first book of the series, The Palaver Tree, I took my ‘ordinary’ character, Ellie Hathaway, a woman who had grown up in Berriwood and was perhaps quite naive about the wider world, and sent her on a journey as a volunteer teacher in Africa. Ellie had come to a crossroads in her life and was looking for new purpose. I knew that, beneath her gentle exterior, was a strong and resourceful woman (as so often in the case!), and I was eager to explore how she would respond when the chips were down and her life and the lives of others were at stake.
In Beneathwood the story is centered entirely around the village where the stakes, are, for one family, similarly high!
I loved The Palaver Tree (click here to read my review). I visited Cornwall and I understand how the setting would be perfect for your literary purposes. Beneathwood is an interesting title, how did the name come about?
Houses are important to me. I have lived in quite a few different ones, but each, in my mind, defines an ‘era’ of my life. Beneathwood is the name of a house and is very central to the whole story. I once saw an old and weathered sign to a house of the same name. It was on a winding country road, but the building wasn’t in sight. It must have been tucked far down a track and obscured by trees. I was intrigued. The name stuck with me, and I knew that one day I would recreate Beneathwood in a style and setting of my own. I also liked the way it fitted in my mind with the village of Berriwood. Beneathwood is a part of the village, but is indeed, on the edge, beneath it, so to speak.
That’s a perfect name and one word titles are easy to remember! Can you tell us a little bit about the story within Beneathwood, without giving too much away?
It’s all about that house, or so it seems to be. After Postmistress Beryl unexpectedly inherits Beneathwood from her Aunt there is plenty of restoration work to be carried out, and her husband, Gordon, recently retired and beginning to suffer from boredom, thinks the project is heaven sent. Olivia, the Carroll’s daughter, would honestly rather see her father do a quick tidy up and get the house on the market. She hated the place even before she found Auntie Edith’s body on the floor of the sitting room. But Gordon approaches his new task with a typical eye for detail and the process becomes a labor of love.
When an accident leaves Beryl unable to continue to work at the post office, the Carrolls decided their best option is to move in.
Beneathwood is a story about secrets and how they can unravel, even though the passage of many years might seem to make them safe. It’s also a story about preconceived ideas and misconceptions and how a situation, even amongst close, family members, can be so differently interpreted. Finally, the story is about love, as most stories, even in the most oblique of circumstances, are.
It sounds lovely, and I look forward to reading it. What’s in the works at the moment. Will we be seeing more in the Berriwood Series?
Yes, for Berriwood, I have two more books planned. Book three has a working title of The Devil You Know and is a story featuring Caroline Duke, the owner of the village newsagent’s shop. Caroline is married to Pete Duke; he is a man who has succumbed to addiction, unlike his twin brother who is Oh! So perfect!
Book 4 is still very much still in the outline stage but is probably going to feature again Tiffany Harris, the gullible young woman from The Palaver Tree who has learned a lesson or two since we last saw her.
I also have a great time, in between longer projects, writing for children. My Come-alive Cottage series is written purely for fun, and I adore creating characters such as Aunt Kitty, the witch, the eccentric Colonel Culpepper and the very silly, Aunt Sillime. Keller Culpepper is the heroine of the stories, and she always manages to save the day!
I also have an idea for a new adult book, possibly stand-alone, but that is nothing more than a little seed at the moment, plenty of water and nourishment required. If only there was two of me!
Thank you again for asking me here today. It is a real pleasure to be ‘out and about’ in the writing community.
First, I’m happy you’re bringing back Tiffany. She was memorable and probably learned the most in The Palaver Tree. I’m delighted to find you reveling in your work. Writing children’s books is a noble endeavor, and it’s wonderful to see you having a good time with it. Congratulations on publishing Beneathwood. I hope you’ll return when Book three is ready for publication.
About Wendy: Wendy Unsworth was born and raised in Lincolnshire, England. Her passions are her family, travel, beautiful gardens, and reading and writing stories. Wendy lived in Ndola, Zambia, and Nairobi, Kenya, throughout the 1980s and early ’90s before returning to the UK to acclimatize back to the English weather in a Cornish cottage close to Bodmin Moor. She has also lived in Portugal and hopes to go back there in search of some sun.
The Palaver Tree – Amazon UK