Publication Date: May 7, 2014
When Flora Bellinger returned from a shopping trip to her elegant Wimbledon home to find her husband, Edward, having sex with his secretary, it was the last straw. From being a quiet, gentle, biddable creature, overnight she turned into a positive and forthright young woman, determined to have her own way and be shot of Edward and his incessant philandering for good. Flora leaves London with their two young sons to live in a peaceful Hampshire village.
Peace does not linger long, however. The developers are after her bit of rural Hampshire. To the horror of the whole community, they are threatened with the building of a new motorway, literally on their back doorstep. The village, and Flora with them, is up in arms. They will fight to save their piece of paradise on earth. But the appeal to save the village is not the only thing Flora finds to care passionately about. There is also Colin du Barrie – the handsome, charismatic, famous artist, her new neighbour, and his marriage, too is on its way out…
Their affair has to be a secret for the moment. No scandal dare blight the cause. There is a long and dangerous road ahead of Colin and Flora before they can admit to the world they love each other and as two of the leaders of the appeal surely they have to be as Caesar’s wife…
This is story of blossoming and enduring passionate physical love set amongst avarice, betrayal, suspicion and double dealings stretching from the corridors of powerful Westminster right to the heart of a tiny, sleepy Hampshire village.
About the Author
Elizabeth is a professional actress and director. Her first performance was at the age of three and she has worked in the theatre for many years, performing everything from Shakespeare to pantomime, turning to directing some years ago.
Having taught drama for some 15 years at Bedales School in Hampshire, Elizabeth still runs the theatre company that she founded in 2001, ‘The Misrule Theatre Company’. In addition to writing all the original material for Misrule she has also been writing novels for both children and adults for the last 20 years.
The books for adults are essentially women’s fiction, perfect for reading on a beach, populated with charismatic men and the women they attract in the worlds in which she knows – professional theatre, the City of London and country living. Highly visual while just sexy and dramatic enough, they have been described as “50 shades lighter”! Elizabeth’s theatre training has been absolutely invaluable in creating very real characters. Her novel ‘Natural Allies’ is currently being adapted into a TV mini series.
Her children’s book, ‘The Jade King and the Animals of Destiny’ is a retelling of the myth of the formation of the Chinese Zodiac. Adapted for theatre and performed by her company, it won the acclaim of the BBC Big Arts Week. It was chosen as the only piece of drama out of 1,400 entries to be filmed for their combined arts programme for schools. The company have performed it all over Britain and have also taken it to the USA.
Elizabeth is currently working on a series of books for older children called ‘The Barbary Trilogy’, the first one, ‘The Hollow Crown’, to appear on this website soon.
Married to Michael, who works in the City, she has four children, two sons and two daughters, with 6 grandchildren between them. She and Michael live in London and Hampshire.
1. How did your life as a writer begin?
I always wrote, even as a child and used to dream of writing a book that would be published. Later, when my children were at school and my life as an actress in the theatre took a back seat for a while, I decided to write again to release the creativity within me to some purpose. That began it all in earnest and once I had started, I haven’t stopped. I write every day and if I don’t or can’t I’m a nightmare to live with!
2. What makes you feel inspired to write?
Inspiration seems to come from anywhere, it appears. Generally it is a bolt from the blue and without warning. It could be driving past a road sign, or a line from poetry I might be reading. I could suddenly hear an item on the news from, say, Somerset, and I’d think, I’ll set a book there – I lived there once. I only write about places I know or situations that are familiar to me in some way. It could also be a chance remark from a friend. My novel ‘Natural Allies’ started like that. The friend and I were talking one evening at a party and said she’d had had a busy day but great fun as she had met up with several of her old school friends who had met regularly since they left school. They agreed to keep in touch always and help when problems arose or share in joys – marriages, babies and woes – infidelities, death of relatives and it hit me instantly. I’d write a story like that and I went home and started it. It is a saga, spanning two generations and quite long. I loved writing that! The book I have just started to write began as I glanced at a picture on a tea towel I was putting away! The working title of that one is currently Ambition’s Debt. I often use working titles and then change them later. I may or may not do that with this one – I’ll see what I feel like when it’s finished. Books, really, present to me their names, I don’t force my thoughts on them. My current book was inspired by one of William Blake’s Proverbs from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell – ‘The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction’. The horses were very instructive to the two leading characters and the tigers extremely wrathful – dangerously so, in fact…
3. Do you have any writing quirks?
I’m not sure, maybe reading every word of it out loud, perhaps? I am a performer, fortunately used to having performed plays from some of the greatest playwrights of all time, so I am used to hearing and learning speeches of great quality. If I read it out loud I can quickly assess what sounds real or not. It also helps with editing – have I repeated a word too soon or punctuated it wrongly, or written a dialect line not quite phonetically correctly? Reading it out loud instantly pinpoints these things. I suppose I see all books as a play, in a way and this is a world with which I am utterly familiar. I work well there and happily! I have often wondered how it is people can write at all if they haven’t been trained as an actor! We study how to create character, look for clues which will help us make our part come alive, tiny nuances that stand out as special. To create what you want to from scratch is a huge privilege but one has no excuse not to get it right! I have enormous admiration for good writers who are not trained actors – I think they must be geniuses!
4. What is your favourite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scene in Tigers of Wrath is fairly early on. The two main characters have met recently. He invites her to the pub for a glass of wine but she has to get back to release her baby sitter from her duty and invites him to her home to have a drink with her instead. He is an artist – a famous one – and she asks him about from where he gained his inspiration. Was it a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment? He said it was. He goes on to explain at some length how and where and why, he was only seventeen, but he remembered it all as clearly as if it happened that very day. He was honest, self-deprecating, funny and moving and it is a scene that says so much about the reality of the two people in it. I would have loved someone to say all that to me, I think! That’s my favourite scene in that book. I like artists, am entirely used to them and understand them. My mother was a professional artist and my two middle children are, too.
5. Which author would you like to meet?
The author I would like to meet is dead, but I suppose I might bump into him one day on a cloud playing a harp, maybe! He is William Shakespeare. I fell in love with his writing when I was twelve. I had an inspirational drama teacher and she cast me as Portia in the Merchant of Venice. I loved it. I then played Titania and a year later, Kate, from Taming of the Shrew. I had always wanted to act, as far back as I can remember and performing Shakespeare was my Road to Damascus moment. I couldn’t read enough or see enough of his plays. I carry a tiny copy of his sonnets that my younger daughter gave me everywhere and read one nearly every day. He is the greatest writer in the English language, probably any language and will never be surpassed. As a professional actress I have continued to play in many of his plays and it has been a privilege to introduce him and, I’m happy to say, inspire young people to love him too. Always through performance, though, not sitting in a class reading it aloud and not understanding a word. You should get up on your feet and play it for real. Every play in the world was written to be performed and not merely read and Shakespeare is the same. It is through performance you will get to understand exactly what it is all about. The titles of two of my novels come from Shakespeare’s plays – Passion’s Slave, set in the City of London, my husband’s world, is a quote from Hamlet and Brief Candle – set in the world of professional theatre, is from Macbeth. If I keep Ambition’s Debt as the title of the one I am working on now, that, too, comes from Shakespeare. It is a quote from Julius Caesar.
6. What do you have in store next?
I am in the process of completing an historical novel. It is entitled, ‘The Gentlemen Go By’. I have had the most wonderful time researching every facet of it and life then – it is set in the late eighteenth century at the time of the French Revolution but mostly in England, not France, in the Isle of Wight, in fact, where I grew up and my most favourite place in all the world. Like the great film director Anthony Minghella, another ‘Isle of Wight child’ like myself whose early death was such a tragedy, who mentioned the Isle of Wight whenever he could in his films. I, too try to bring in references to the Island when I can. The Gentlemen Go By is based on a real life character, a smuggler, in fact, who involved many of the islanders in his escapades, escaped justice and was seen as a sort of local hero. The main character is nothing like him personally but the methods they used to smuggle goods are exactly the same. If Anthony were still with us it would have been wonderful to film this book together in the place we both loved. I have dedicated it to him, my mother and the people of the Isle of Wight.