The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong
November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War.
Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.
But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.
In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?
A beautiful, emotional and heart-breaking saga set in the Welsh Valleys of the Great War that fans of Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin and Sheila Newbury will love.
Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and three pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a novel set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.
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1. What is your inspiration behind your writing and each of your books?
The current novel, Heartbreak in the Valleys, was inspired by a document I found for my Welsh great grandfather on the Ancestry website, namely his World War 1 military record. My first DC Thomson pocket novel, Danger for Daisy, was inspired by my love of remote islands off the British Isles. That’s Amore, another pocket novel, came out of my Italian heritage and an Italian class I used to attend. The idea for Desperately Seeking Doreen simply came from my teens spent in Littlehampton. Generally, my inspiration comes from lots of sources, sometimes my own life, at other times a chance occurrence, or a news item. Often I’ve no idea where the idea’s come from!
2. Your books are genre specific have you ever thought of branching out to other genres? If so what genre would you write?
Heartbreak in the Valleys is genre specific, being a saga, but otherwise I’ve been writing in different genres for years. I started my novel writing with two Young Adult books, then moved on to three contemporary romances. None of these have been published. Out of the three pocket novels, two are contemporary and one is set in the 1970s. A serial I wrote for The People’s Friend was set in the 1950s. I’ve had ideas for fantasies, which will probably never get written, and completed a few short ghost stories.
3. Your characters how did you come up with the names for them?
With Heartbreak in the Valleys I needed a lot of Welsh names, and also first names that were popular early in the twentieth century. I looked at local Welsh newspapers from the time and the 1911 census for the area. All of my mother’s family surnames are in there too.
4. What is your process for writing a novel? For example do you come up with multiple stories and then write parts to each story or stick to just ones story till it has been told?
I always have one main thread running through a novel. Then I think of several sub plots to run alongside and integrate with it, often influencing it and aiding the conclusion. This involves lots of sticky notes which are put into order to become a scene breakdown.
5. Given the choice between self publishing as an indie or going as a traditionally published author what would you prefer and why?
I personally prefer to be traditionally published as the support you get, for instance, with editing, the cover and publicity is invaluable. I have indie published Danger for Daisy, though of course that was originally published by DC Thomson. I know a number of indie authors and greatly admire them for the work they put into it. Done right, indie publishing can be very successful.
6. Can you give us any clues as to what you are working on at the moment?
I’m working on the follow-up book to Heartbreak in the Valleys, which is largely Violet’s story. It’s currently called War in the Valleys, but that might change.
7. What advice would you give to your younger self before you got published?
Just get on and do it! Find a creative writing class and have a go. It took me years to sign up to a class, but when I did, that was the push I needed to start sending stuff off to publishers. I wish I’d started ten or twenty years before.
8. What is the best part of being published?
The best part of being published is seeing all your hard work come to fruition, to see the book in the shops, or online to buy. The fact that people are going to read a story I’ve written is incredible.
9. What is the hardest part of being published.
The fear that I won’t be able to complete the next book. It’s not happened so far, so I hope it never will!
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog.