From the Sussex Express, September 24, 2021
From the arts magazine, Igenu/e, Issue 33 for the South Downs and High Weald, Autumn 2021
Reviews Just In!
Secrets & Saviours has been flying off the shelves and I've already had some wonderful reviews. Here's just a quick selection of some of them. For more, click here to read the rest on my Reviews page.
My trilogy is available from all good bookshops and online from most
suppliers. You can buy either the paperback or audio versions,
whichever makes life best for you!
Settle down with a coffee (or other beverage of your choice)
and enjoy the adventure!
August 2021 - Retribution - Research Gem
The synchronicity of finding Geoffrey Hewlett’s book ‘The Coach Roads to Brighton’ when I was desperate for information for my book Retribution staggers me. I managed to catch Geoffrey giving a talk at the Sussex Records Office in Falmer. As I listened to his anecdotes I nearly fell off my chair when he described the Green Lane I live on as the old coach road to Lewes.
July 2021 - Secrets & Saviours is now available!
You can order your copy direct from a variety of online stockists and also in bookshops. Otherwise you can order via Amazon either as a Kindle e-book (currently £3.99) which you can read on any device by downloading the free Kindle app. Or you can order a printed, paperback copy (currently £9.99), which Amazon prints for you on demand. Please do give me a rating on Amazon if you choose that route.
Thank you all for your patience as you've waited for this final part of Esther's story. I really hope you enjoy it. Let me know ..... I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Very best wishes
May 2021 - At Last!
I am very pleased to announce that after many more hours of detailed work, my manuscript for the third and final instalment of my trilogy about the life and adventures of Esther Coad is about to hit the shelves. This is scheduled to happen in the next few weeks, but I thought you might like a sneak preview of the cover and a taster of the concluding storyline. I hope you enjoy it!
"To him, I was just a hostage to fortune, a bartering tool. If not that, why would he keep me alive?"
A vacuum filled; a threat renewed.
The early years of 1800 hold out great promise and hope for Lewes midwife Esther Coad and her young ward Beth, including marriage to the town’s coroner and physician. But storm clouds soon gather in the guise of bitter family discord and the rise of a new generation of rogues and cut-throats.
When Esther is given the opportunity to help destroy, once and for all, both the Kent and Sussex smuggling gangs, she jumps at the chance, little knowing the price she will pay as her life is held on a knife-edge with no rescue in sight.
"This powerful conclusion to the Esther Coad saga will keep fans gripped to the last."
"In her last book 'Retribution' Beverley Elphick captured a fragment of history and embellished it with a spirited heroine and a lively storyline, I can't wait to discover how the story develops in Secrets and Saviours".
Gill Kaye, Editor: ingénu/e magazine
January 2021 - Secrets and Saviours
We have a title! This is a long overdue update I know, but I've been busy! The last few months have seen much editing activity with the result that I am hoping to publish the final volume in my trilogy this Spring (all things being equal).
And we have a title which I hope you will find intriguing! To tempt you further, I'm offering my loyal readers exclusive access to the prologue of the new book. All you need to do is email me at email@example.com. I am not putting this up for general release, but I would like to offer some insights and snippets of the new book to take us up to publication. I will not, of course, use your email for any other purpose than to keep you updated about the book and will not be passing your contact details on to any third party.
Behind the Scenes of Secrets and Saviours
As you know, my protagonist, Esther, is an accomplished herbalist as well as a midwife. To support her credentials, I wanted to use real herbal lore and consequently chose Nicholas Culpeper’s The Complete Herbal as a source of authentic receipts. I knew nothing about Nicholas the man, only that he was world famous for his herbal knowledge. I was well into my story before I came across the information that Culpeper was raised in nearby Isfield and likely went to the grammar school in Lewes. Such a coincidence! Culpeper published his works cheaply and, unusually, in English. He wanted to give the poor and disadvantaged access to knowledge of the medical use of herbs that could be grown in their gardens. His writings were quite caustic in places as well as being witty and amusing. He was very unpopular with medics and apothecaries who saw him eroding their reputations and monetary returns. He also wrote extensively on midwifery. Nicholas Culpeper’s writings date from the 1600’s and allegedly have never been out of print. He died in 1654 aged 38. His wife Mary, who had borne him seven children, published some of his works posthumously.
Whilst researching Nicholas' earlier life, I discovered a tragic episode. Nicholas had engaged himself to a young woman of some wealth. Knowing that their families would not approve or sanction such a marriage, they planned to elope. Arrangements were made for Nicholas to travel to Lewes by coach and for the young woman to walk, with her maid and jewels, across the Downs to where the priest was waiting in a Lewes chapel. Unfortunately, there was a great storm and the poor girl was struck down dead by lightning. Mary Culpeper, his mother, never really recovered from the shock and he was disowned by his grandfather Thomas Attersoll of Isfield Church. Culpeper wrote about this incident but never named the young woman.
Source: The Herbalist: Nicolas Culpeper and the Fight for Medical Freedom by Benjamin Woolley
A New Article in Ingenue (Issue 30)
Ingenue (http://www.ingenuemagazine.co.uk/), a quarterly magazine dedicated to supporting creative talent, has just published an article about my forthcoming trilogy. I am very proud to have my books reviewed by them. They have been tremendously supportive to independent writers and artists, so please do read their article and even subscribe if you are keen to be kept-to-date. Click here to read my article.
October 2020 ... Retribution Review
I'm not entirely sure where September went, but I think most of it has been spent editing and redrafting my third book in the trilogy (as yet untitled). It's always tempting to think that when you've finished the first draft, that's it. The job is done. But it's rarely the case. Fortunately, I have an excellent editor who has been helping me in this "grand oeuvre" and in a few weeks' time it should be up-to-scratch and ready for proofing.
So, I was much encouraged to read a lovely review of Retribution, my second book in the trilogy. It came from Gill Kaye, Editor of Ingenue, a beautiful magazine which focuses on creative talent around the country. You can read the review here and take a look at the magazine too. If you've not yet read Retribution, you can buy it here.
August 2020 ... Book Sales Update
As we are learning to adapt to our 'new normal', it seems our book buying habits are also being affected. It used to be that Amazon was the Mighty One - fast and reliable when supplying my books - but now it seems it will take them 1-2 months before they can supply. So, whilst the Kindle version is available as from them before, if you'd rather not wait quite so long, can I suggest one of these outlets instead?
Order from Waterstones or other good bookshops local to you so you can collect (and save postage)
If you are local to Lewes, then Sussex Stationers (01273 477481) also hold both books in stock. Last week one customer bought 6 copies to give to her friends. Thank you!
Direct from me, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that helps until Amazon are back to the 'old normal'!
July 2020 ...
Lewes family: Son Hanged at Tyburn for Smuggling (1747)
When I published a list of real local smugglers in Retribution, one of whom
was named John Ashcraft of Bishopstone, I wondered if there might be members
of their families still to be found in the Lewes district today. Little did I expect
to hear from a family with such a dramatic and poignant history.
Diane Hodges of Maidstone contacted me to say she had found, in her genealogy investigations, her great grandparent x 6, Richard Ashcroft, a convicted smuggler who had suffered the misfortune of being hanged at Tyburn following a spell in Newgate prison.
Richard Ashcroft, 44, was born in Bishopstone; his parents were from Lewes. In 1747 he was convicted at the Old Bailey of being a smuggler and sentenced to death. He had been caught in the company of 30 armed men who had gathered in Eastbourne intending to carry away goods on which duty had not been paid.
Richard Ashcroft (sometimes known as Ashcraft) was a fisherman operating from Bishopstone where he lived with his wife, Jenny (nee Hide), and their seven children. Jenny died in childbirth, in the same year that Richard was hanged, leaving seven orphaned children to the mercy of their native parish.
In the court records Richard maintained that he had fallen in with the smuggling community whilst drinking in local pubs. His neighbours declared him to be a quiet, harmless man. The transcript of his trial implied that he was not a hardened criminal, but an unfortunate recent participant who did not bear firearms and had only fallen in with the smugglers as drinking companions. He declared that he just happened to be in Eastbourne on the day when the 30 smugglers met a party of five excise officers as they were trying to carry away goods with duty unpaid.
The five officers were assaulted and threatened with weapons but managed to apprehend four men and a woman who were later convicted, including John Cook, 28, who was hanged alongside Richard Ashcroft. Cook admitted to being a long-time member of the notorious Hawkhurst gang. There is no indication of what happened to the rest of the gang. Presumably they escaped, as it would have been difficult for five to hold 30 armed men.
Diane’s family tree records four generations named Richard Ashcroft and their close links to Lewes, and to St. John the Baptist Church (Southover). Richard’s parents were married and buried there, as were other members of the family.
Quite where John Ashcraft fits in I don’t yet know. He could be Richard’s brother or close relative. The report in the Sussex Advertiser advising of his arrest (published on 5.3.1746) might simply be mistaken in the Christian name. More research is needed, I think. Names were fairly fluid at that time.
I am indebted to Diane for allowing me to tell her family history.
May 2020 ... unusual times but progress is being made
First of all, I'd like to thank all my readers for buying my books over the past year or so, for supporting me and visiting my web page and Facebook page. It's good to keep in touch.
Update on my new book
The main reason for independently publishing my books is it enables me to keep control. I am a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) and I could take advantage of their publishing arm, Scriptora, but like every other industry in these troubled times there is a backlog. Who knows when everything will be up and running properly again?
Other excitements in this stay-at-home environment, where even making a cup of fresh coffee has its own drama, are that I have opened an Instagram account and put up some posts that maybe of interest. My particular favourite is the bees nest in my garden. I’ve even sent it to the BBC's Springwatch! I am easily pleased nowadays. Why not have a look?
Finally, I would sincerely like to thank all the readers who tell me how much they enjoy the books and I am particularly grateful to the reader who believes in me enough to put them forward for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club, which is part of Jo Whiley’s broadcast, I believe. Thank you, everyone. I can’t explain how uplifting it is to receive such positive feedback, and it gets me through these anxious days with a spring in my step.
The most exciting thing is that I have finished the first draft of book three. There's still a long way to go but I hope my readers will experience lots of different emotions as they read the final and dramatic part of the trilogy. Now it is all about editing and deciding how to publish. As many of you know I independently published Three Round Towers and Retribution, both of which have been good quality physical books, worthy of your bookshelves.