Once again, we are on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club and I absolutely love the sound of this book! Check out the blurb and then scroll down to find an exclusive interview with Mal!
In the Victorian era, for many young women, going into domestic service was a significant source of employment where they found suitable work but with extended hours for a reasonable salary, receiving free accommodation as well as enjoying the perks and prestige of working for the aristocracy or other members of the upper or middle-classes.
As a matter of course, employers had a moral obligation, but one without a legal requirement to ensure their servants were kept clean, healthy and well-nourished. However, for one poor girl, that, unfortunately, was not the case.
In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old from Woking, Surrey, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London's Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems.
As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer.
This story is NOT for the faint-hearted!
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing poetry just after I left school. In those days I used to visit a coffee lounge in Camberley, Surrey in the mid-1970s which was often frequented by academics who were back from university at Christmas or for the summer holidays. Although I had left school at an early age and before gaining any formal qualifications, I always felt comfortable in their company. Encouragement and fair critique were always on hand, and my writing, I think, really progressed from there. One of the guys suggested I should try writing a novel. Some forty years later, a bit belatedly, I did.
What was the hardest part of writing the book?
The editing process for me is the most challenging part of writing a book. I think a writer can only read their own manuscript a limited number of times without the process becoming tedious. After it's been proofread, you need to reread it just in case the proof-reader has changed something out of context, and that can prove difficult, particularly if you spot that a late change is required, as it may affect other pieces of the manuscript and delay the route to publication.
Does one of your characters hold a special please in your heart, is so, why?
In 'Jude & Bliss' Lord Justice Jonathan Stenhouse, is my personal stand out character. He's the presiding judge at the Old Bailey trial of the woman accused over Jude Roger's death. I just loved bringing him into the book with his little quips and observations.
If your book was made into a movie, who are the celebrities, you would like to star in it?
Singer and (Dunkirk) actor, Harry Styles, as Harry, Jude's brother.
Sir Michael Gambon (The Singing Detective) as Lord Justice Jonathan Stenhouse,
Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack) as Scarlett Moynihan, Jude’s employer
and the evergreen Dame Julie Walters as Eileen Sudbury, Jude’s estranged mother.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
As with my previous books, hearing that readers have endeared themselves to the protagonist(s) and identified with the emotions he/she is going through. Obviously, I would like that to happen again with ‘Jude & Bliss’ and for people to long remember the storyline. I want my readers to feel they are part of the story and that they’re in the book somewhere, rubbing shoulders with the characters I’ve created. Positive feedback makes the whole writing process through to publication feel worthwhile and always gives me a sense of achievement. That said, it’s only really the strength and appeal of my characters that can make that possible.