About Rhona Whiteford
What inspires me to write? People and places, to begin with, reading stories endlessly, being an avid watcher of TV drama, film and of course, theatre; all are grist to my mill. I love old or unusual buildings and once inside I wonder who lived or worked there and what happened in their lives. But more than the buildings I’m inspired by landscape and atmosphere – wild beaches, dark forest, inner city glass and chrome or dense slum housing. The people in my stories exist in these places and each setting, the landscape, the climate, the season, affects their lives and the action of the story. I like to have significant animals present in my books as they’re a vital part of my life.
I’ve been writing continuously for 37 years and will admit it’s an obsession now. I began with primary teachers’ and children’s educational resources, moved on to children’s fiction for that age group and am now immersed in fiction for adults.
History inspires me. The way people lived, the early medieval period in Britain, Victorians and the 20th century are all fascinating. My debut adult fiction was Breaking points, a murder in inner city Manchester primary school. Tensions can be high in a small community.
I’m also very interested in the supernatural and how different characters react to the idea. I like Einstein’s view: ‘The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.’
My family and I spent many years holidaying in a cottage on an isolated beach in Aberffraw, Anglesey. This village was once the main Llys of Prince Llewelyn the Great and with the history, the view and Einstein’s philosophy it didn’t take long to think of a story. I wrote The house between time, a time slip novel set in the present and in 13th century Anglesey. I’ve planned a prequel for this and have written the first chapter and will continue when I’ve finished the book I’m on now.
I’m completing a three book series, Legacy. A series wasn’t planned. I began by writing a Victorian thriller with supernatural overtones, A bouquet of Nightshade, set in 1895 in Manchester, the main character being a young woman, Sophia, who is an undertaker and also clairvoyant. A killer stalks the city preying on other young professional women and it’s her gift that helps unmask him. Her maid and confident is Alice, a miner’s daughter from Wigan and readers asked what happened to her later on.
Twenty years later was WW1 so Alice reappeared, having become educated and now a nursing matron assigned in 1915 to the Auxiliary hospital at Haigh Hall, Wigan in A legacy of ghosts, a ghost story and wartime romance.
I couldn’t desert Alice and Sophia and also a young maid, Florrie, so by 1940 they’re all together in WW2, during the Christmas blitz in Manchester. And it’s together they confront the enemy within, the dreaded fifth column and the supernatural presences at Ordsall Hall, Salford.
I’m halfway through writing this.
Where do I write? In my office at an old mahogany desk with loads of drawers. I have a beautiful view, but it doesn’t distract me. It’s simply good to have. I also have two very large dogs to keep a sleeping watch as I work.
How do I write? Exclusively on screen (a very big one). I make notes on paper or mostly post-it notes but think things through when doing washing up or ironing, or in bed in the dark – not sleeping. I re-read what I’ve written all the time. I like to do a lot of historical research, on the internet, with books and visiting the places I write about and trying out whatever cake’s on offer.
When do I write? Whenever I can, every day, a few hours or more. I never stare into space, pondering; I go and do something else for a minute or an hour and come back with the idea.
Favourite book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Favourite place: home
Favourite animals: dogs and horses
Favourite artist: Botticelli
Favourite music: Mozart, Elvis and Blue Grass