Some history instead of horses

by Linda Chamberlain

Today’s blog gives you a rest from horses in favour of writing. This is because I have accepted a challenge to post seven lines from a book I’m working on –starting from either line seven or seventy seven. On their own they might not make much sense so I will fill you in on the story so far since this is a novel.

It begins in the year 1795, two years after the opening of England’s first veterinary college. We were at war with France and there were complaints in Parliament that more horses were being lost through ill treatment and ignorance than there were in the war. Even then we were a nation of so-called animal lovers but a lame horse would be sent to the forge for cures or operations. They were often butchered.

Who would lead this fledging institution? The first professor was a Frenchman who died suddenly and left the college bereft so the governors recruited a young surgeon for the role. As you will see, the hero of my book didn’t think much of him.

Over to my protagonist – a young student who became a notable veterinarian and prolific writer and campaigner…


‘But why listen to me? One anxious student who feared he would close this place down in his quest for self enrichment. You need to meet him yourself. Edward Coleman, the eminent professor of the country’s first veterinary college. Make up your own mind whether his actions were those of a good man or whether you agree with me that his contribution to our cause was an unmitigated evil. He was a man of good taste; a surgeon who surprisingly knew little of the horse beyond the fact that it walked on four legs, breathed through its nose and made a delightful subject for a painting in oils.’


Some horses - just in case you're missing them

Some horses – just in case you’re missing them

The book entitled The First Vet is with my editor as we speak and will be published later this year. It’s a blend of fact and fiction inspired by his life and work and is full of intrigue, forbidden love and well…horses, I suppose. For now, I’m keeping my protagonist’s name under wraps. Anyone who correctly names him gets a free copy once it’s on the shelves!

The seven-lines challenge was passed to me by Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova thrillers Inceptio and Perfiditus. Her latest novel Successio is out now. I’m happy to pass the baton to any other writers out there ???


The Big Blog Tour

by Linda Chamberlain

A big thank you to Janice Preston who invited me on this writer’s blog tour. Had she not handed me the baton and forced me to answer the following four questions I might well have spent the day polishing my skirting boards.

She lives in the West Midlands with her second husband and two cats and is excitedly waiting for the publication in August 2014 of her first novel, Mary and the Marquis – a Regency romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon Historicals.

You can find Janice at her new blog: facebook at And on Twitter @janicegpreston

There’s bound to be a horse in that book, I just know it…anyway over to the questions she’s set me…

What am I working on?

Apart from these questions, you mean? Well, I have been setting up my blog and coming to terms with Twitter.

But if its books you are interested in…I have been very productive since November. I finished a historical novel based on the work of one of this country’s first vets and I am now sending it out to agents looking for a good home. It’s a romantic blend of fact and fiction and looks at issues of disability for horse and rider. Yes, it mentions horse shoes and how awful they are. That makes it sound very earnest when in fact it’s full of romance, allegations of corruption and the odd bit of horse thieving.

No chance of this one being stolen

No chance of this one being stolen

Next in my in tray is the first draft of a contemporary novel which I will return to soon. There’s not a horse in sight, never mind, mustn’t be obsessive but the setting is rural and I am hoping to move my readers with the alarming theft of a field of cabbages. The back cover would tell you that it’s a hilarious glimpse at what might happen if the world runs out of oil written by one of the funniest writers yet to be discovered. Usually nothing really bad happens in my books but in this one someone dies and so does a sheep. You see, I’m getting tough. It’s the second in a series.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I have heard a lot of historical novelists say they are not historical novelists. It sounds like nonsense but that would be my club if it exists and would let me in. I have tried a few genres – contemporary romance, comedy and now historical and I’m most at home telling disparaging jokes or making fun of someone else who’s despicable. I don’t think I have a genre; I’m just a writer, so I’ll answer that question another time…

Why do I write what I do?

The editor in me wants to play around with that question. I didn’t write it but I will try and answer it seriously.

The vet book – I had to tell as many people as possible about the work of this amazing man who campaigned all his life on a serious issue of horse welfare but was shunned and ridiculed by the veterinary establishment. I won’t name him, not yet. I heard about him quite a few years ago and knew I had to learn to write books so that I could get his story out there. Something exciting, that would sell by the shed full because I wanted him to have another chance. I was a journalist but writing fiction is very different. It’s longer and you can make it up. So I started writing but knew I couldn’t tackle his story until I had a few books under my keyboard. He is why I write everything.

So, although I set books in many different genres there is a common theme of wanting to challenge; wanting to change things.

I have been told that is not allowed by at least one agent so this confession is probably unwise.


How does my writing process work?


Does anyone care?

OK…I put one letter down. Then another. Soon there’s a whole page. Finally a chapter, then a book. I let it mature, read it and fiddle with it. I do this ten times and then it’s done. I send it out to agents.

Sometimes this process is achieved very early before breakfast and with no make up on. There are times when I get carried away and forget to eat. I never forget to feed the horses.

I don’t plot the book. I have this theory that people who can play chess will probably plan a book chapter by chapter and then write it. I can’t play chess and start a new book with a blank page and a blanker mind. (I wasn’t sure if that was a word but spell check hasn’t complained.) I might know one or two characters and I will know the setting and the theme. The rest will be discovered on the journey. Sometimes I get a shock. I wasn’t expecting that man to die in my very hilarious book, only one sheep. It just happened.

…and so no it only remains for me to hand the baton to two writers who will talk about their writing in their blogs next week…and apologise for the irrelevant photo of a horse to break up so much text.

Ruth Giles has written non-fiction professionally for many years, on topics as diverse as wartime propaganda and the Carry On films.  She is a serial blogger, artist and photographer, with an interest in neuroscience.  Recently, she wrote her first short story in a dentist’s waiting room and has found her voice as an author of fiction and poetry, posting regularly on ABCtales and Jottify as Canonette.  Ruth also posts regularly on the blog, Ephemeris, which she shares with her friend and fellow poet, Rachael Smart.  A selection of their work has recently been published in the anthology of women writers My Baby Shot Me Down. She can be found at:

Allis Gordon lives with her husband and daughter near St Andrews in the Scottish Kingdom of Fife ; where, of course, Prince William met Catherine Middleton while studying at the university. Perhaps there’s a sparkle of romance in the air, since Allis began writing her first regency romance in 2013 and is now looking forward to seeing it published by Safkhet next year.