The Madness

All posts tagged The Madness

Author Interview – Alison Rattle on her new YA novel The Beloved

Published August 28, 2015 by bibliobeth

200

ALISON RATTLE – A BIOGRAPHY

Alison grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three very nearly grown-up children, her husband – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a vintage tea room in the city of Wells. Alison has also published three YA books about young Victorian women with Hot Key Books – THE QUIETNESS, THE MADNESS and THE BELOVED. Her fourth novel is due out May 2016. Follow Alison at http://www.alisonrattle.com or on Twitter: @alisonrattle

Please click on the book covers to get the link to GoodReads!

16038247

See my review for The Quietness HERE!

18482292

See my review for The Madness HERE!

Interview with Alison Rattle

I’d like to welcome Alison to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) Your latest novel, The Beloved is based on an actual religious sect, The Agapemonites founded in 1846. Can you tell us about the research you had to carry out on this sect for the novel?

I stumbled across the story of The Agapemonites a few years ago when I was doing research for another book. I love quirky pieces of social history, so I stored this one away and had pretty much forgotten about it, until I was thinking of ideas for my next book and found it again in my note file. I actually live not too far away from the village of Spaxton, so the first thing I did was to visit the village. It’s a tiny little place, tucked away in the middle of nowhere with a real feeling of isolation. The buildings of the Abode of Love are still there as is The Lamb pub next door. I could really imagine how much more isolated it must have been in the 1800’s and this gave me a real sense of how such a sect could have survived and flourished away from the public eye. The walls of the pub next door were covered in old newspaper cuttings from the day, so I was able to read about the real scandals and to incorporate them into my story. Newspaper accounts from the period you are writing in are always invaluable, and the tone of the journalism was always so much more colourful than it is today.

2.) The main character, Alice Angel is a naive yet independent young woman which I love and your main female characters in The Quietness and The Madness also seem to have that fiesty streak. Have you ever thought about writing a novel from a male perspective?

I suppose I am naturally drawn to writing female characters because of course I am female myself and can draw upon my own memories of what it was like to be a teenager. Every book I write is a new learning curve and a challenge, so yes, I would like to one day have a go at writing from a male perspective – just to see if I could, if nothing else!

3.) Henry Prince aka The Beloved, is a charming yet despicable young man. Do you think he believed his own hype or always had an ulterior motive?

In real life, Henry Prince was actually a very ugly old man, which makes it even more surprising that he managed to entice so many followers into his cult. He must have had such charisma though, like many people of that type do. He absolutely believed in his own hype. He really did think he was God made flesh. Which I guess was what made him so persuasive.

4.) You touch on some difficult subjects in your novels which make them tense but so exciting to read. Is there any subject you have found difficult to write about/or wouldn’t write about?

I am very much drawn to writing about difficult subjects. I don’t know why. It’s just how I’m made I guess. The darker the better as far as I’m concerned! I don’t think there’s any subject that would be off my radar. I did get very affected when I researched the horrendous practice of baby-farming for my first book, The Quietness. When you’re writing historical fiction, there a distance between you and your subject, which can lessen the impact of a distressing subject, because it seems so far from your own life. But when I delved into the world of baby-farming, I began by researching the life of a baby farmer called Amelia Dyer (I co-wrote her biography – Amelia Dyer – Angel Maker)and followed the lives of some of the children she took into her care and later murdered. I ordered the death certificate of one of these children and reading about how he died, and seeing it in print right in front of me, really hit home and made me cry buckets.

(bibliobeth: “Must order Amelia Dyer biography now!”)

5.) Are you working on anything now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’ve just finished my fourth book (well, still lots of rewrites and editing to do!) It’s quite different from my first three books. It’s not set in Victorian England for one thing, but in 1961. The main character is called Violet and she was born above her Dad’s fish and chip shop at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced the end of World War 2 on the wireless. It’s a coming of age story and follows Violet as she deals with broken friendships, first love, a missing brother and a series of mysterious murders.

(bibliobeth: “Sounds brilliant – can’t wait!”)

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

Got to be real books, I’m afraid. Just love the smell, the feel, and seeing them all, fat with words, lined up in rows on my shelves. Although I did buy my husband a Kindle for Christmas. And he loves it.

Series or stand alone?

Stand alone. I’m too impatient to wait for the next in a series!

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction mostly, although I do love the occasional juicy non-fiction social history, such as The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Definitely bookshops. Especially ones with a coffee shop. Heaven!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Oh blimey. Dog-earing, I have to admit. My books are always well-thumbed.

Once again, a big thank you to Alison for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

The Beloved was published on 5th March 2015 by Hot Key Books and is available from all good retailers NOW. Why not check out her back catalogue too? I highly recommend both The Quietness and The Madness which are both stand-alone novels and can be read in any order you like!

Advertisements

The Madness – Alison Rattle

Published July 26, 2014 by bibliobeth

18482292

What’s it all about?:

Sixteen-year-old Marnie lives in the idyllic coastal village of Clevedon. Despite being crippled by a childhood exposure to polio, she seems set to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and become a ‘dipper’, escorting fragile female bathers into the sea. Her life is simple and safe. But then she meets Noah. Charming, handsome, son-of-the-local-Lord, Noah. She quickly develops a passion for him – a passion which consumes her.

As Marnie’s infatuation turns to fixation she starts to lose her grip on reality, and a harrowing and dangerous obsession develops that seems certain to end in tragedy. Set in the early Victorian era when propriety, modesty and repression were the rule, this is a taut psychological drama in which the breakdown of a young woman’s emotional state will have a devastating impact on all those around her.

What did I think?:

Alison Rattle’s debut novel was The Quietness which I absolutely loved so I was excited to read this, her second novel which I chose as my seventh book from June 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month. As well as the stunning cover art which took my breath away, the story inside is both beautiful and poignant. Set in early Victorian times, it follows the life of our main character, a sixteen year old girl called Marnie who was crippled from an early age by infection with the polio virus. Marnie is determined for her disability not to ruin her life, and works long and hard hours both in and outside of her house to make herself as strong as possible. Her mother is renowned in their small village by the sea as being a “dipper,” in other words, helping other women (mostly the rich and frail) to bathe in the sea in order to absorb the healing properties that it was believed to offer. Marnie herself was “dipped” in the water by her mother on a regular basis in the hope that it would cure her affliction and as a result she develops an intense bond with the sea which appears at times to be her only comfort.

One day the wealthy Lady de Clevedon arrives in the town specifically to attempt sea bathing as she is constantly unwell and very weak. In tow is her son Noah, whom when he meets Marnie is fascinated by her free and daring personality and the two soon become good friends. Noah’s father meanwhile, lays out his plans for the building of a pier in Clevedon which he assures the town will bring entertainment and prosperity. It’s not such good news for Marnie’s mother though, as the dippers are unable to work while the pier is being built. She channels her energies instead into providing a laundrette service, with poor Marnie doing most of the laundering, Marnie is not discouraged however, as she begins to meet Noah late at night by the sea, encouraging him to bathe and learn to swim, step by step. Unfortunately for Marnie, she is beginning to develop stronger feelings for Noah that go beyond the realms of friendship, and is often puzzled by the mixed messages Noah gives her in return. A few times, Noah would sneak her up to the Manor, where they would have hot drinks and play like children, but Noah is afraid of them making too much noise, and is very reluctant to introduce her to his family.

The story really starts to pick up pace when Noah has to return to London with his mother. Even though he shared an intimate moment with Marnie just before he left, he is excited to return to society and see one girl in particular – of his own class of course. I found myself squirming with unhappiness for Marnie as her feelings for Noah increase in intensity becoming a sort of obsession. While he is gone she concocts elaborate fantasies in her head where they are together living at the Manor, never having to launder anything again. Of course, you might be able to see where it’s going, but I really don’t want to spoil anything as I feel the beauty of the story and the writing comes across when you read it for yourself. At times, I almost felt like an eavesdropper on a private moment, as the emotions Marnie goes through are played out across the pages with no holds barred. I also found Marnie’s relationship with her mother very interesting as it didn’t seem to be anywhere near a conventional mother/daughter bond – in fact, it was more employer/servant in my opinion! By the end of the novel, Marnie takes some quite drastic actions which make the novel utterly un-putdownable but because the reader has gone through so much with Marnie, we can almost understand her choices while not condoning them. This story is truly beautiful and haunting, with a bit of darkness added that makes for an utterly compelling read. Beware – don’t read this book if you have any other tasks to complete, because you won’t get them done!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

WWW Wednesday #45

Published June 18, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

14781675

I’ve seen this book around for a while and when I read the synopsis I wasn’t really compelled to read it but when Richard and Judy put it on their Summer Reads 2014 list I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m really glad I did as it’s a terrific story, hope to finish it today and look out for my review either this weekend or early next week!

What did you recently finish reading?:

10836484

Because I Am Pilgrim is quite a beast of a book (just over 700 pages), Hollow Pike, which was on my list last week appears again. It is the debut novel from UK YA author James Dawson and a great read. Look out for my review coming (fairly) soon!

What do you think you’ll read next?:

18482292

Up next, I’m going back to Chrissi’s Cupboard for The Madness by Alison Rattle. I loved her previous novel, The Quietness, and am really looking forward to this one!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!

 

 

June 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month

Published June 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

photo

It’s June. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of June to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit book for the month of June, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Undone by Cat Clarke

The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Hollow Pike by James Dawson

The Madness by Alison Rattle

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott

Siege And Storm – Leigh Bardugo

I’m really excited to get started on this little bunch, looks like many hours of happy reading ahead! For Chrissi Reads fabulous blog please click HERE.