Publishing Date: April 11, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
S Y N O P S I S
Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah Tenterchilt meets a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.
But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.
Beneath Black Clouds and White is the prequel to Day’s Dying Glory.
G I V E A W A Y
Virginia Crow will be awarding a paperback copy of Beneath Black Clouds and White (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click the image or the link below to enter.
A U T H O R I N T E R V I E W
What was your inspiration for writing the book?
Virginia Crow: Beneath Black Clouds and White is actually a prequel to my first novel, Day’s Dying Glory, so in many respects my love of the characters was the inspiration. I knew all their backstories, and someone suggested it would be a good idea to put their stories out there. There was one line in Day’s Dying Glory which was written as a dismissive remark, but I knew meant a great deal more about the character who said it than the reader would perhaps believe. I can’t tell you which one, though, because that would be a *massive* spoiler!
How did you choose the title?
Virginia Crow: The title is a reference to William Blake’s poem The Little Black Boy which was a guiding light in my choice to write on the topic of the Abolition movement. The actual line is:
“When I from black and he from white cloud free”
and this idea of being free from the clouds which human prejudice has placed over people simply because we look different from one another, is what the book is all about. I’m crazy about Romantic poetry, and find more than my fair share of inspiration in the word of those poets.
Which character do you relate to the most?
Virginia Crow: I’m not sure if there is a single one. One of the greatest things about writing with an ensemble cast of characters is that I could put a little bit of me into all of them. I relate to Fotherby’s quiet acceptance, and Tenterchilt’s open-heartedness, but in many respects my characters owe more to people around me than they do to myself.
What scene, in the book, are you most proud of?
Virginia Crow: Mostly they’re the ones which are full of incidental facts. I loved researching the comings and goings of Surgeon Hall, and the etiquette of duelling, so I suppose those are my proudest scenes. I tried to imagine not only the primary feelings of the character, but also the secondary ones – like the feelings which grow from the feelings. For example: when Fotherby, a man who is more pacifistic than the other characters, is compelled to duel a trained soldier, his initial emotions of disgust and disappointment turn not to fear or anger, but righteousness and justice.
Where is your ideal place to write and/or read?
Virginia Crow: I love doing my planning in bed. I have a high-sleeper bed and the corner of it is mounded up with scraps of paper and notebooks. Every now and then I have to thin out the pile or it becomes a bit dangerous to walk under it!
Where possible I write at a table. I have a terrible habit of leaning in towards the computer when I’m writing, speaking all the lines I give my characters, and laughing at my own jokes, so if anyone is watching me through the window, they probably think I’m mad!
What new release are you looking forward to this coming 2019?
Virginia Crow: This July, my sister’s new middle-grade adventure novel coming out. It’s called Taking Wing and focusses on the discovery and exploits of a young girl who finds herself embroiled in an ancient tribal war. I’ve been fortunate enough to have read this in its early stages, and loved the strong characters and fast-moving plot. It’s also got a great conclusion which is both satisfactory and makes you really desperate to read the next part of the adventure (it’s a trilogy). Endings of books are really important to me!
Where is the favorite place you have ever travelled to?
Virginia Crow: I’ve been to some incredible places, but I think my favourite was probably Germany. I decided, way back in 2012, that I was going to travel abroad. I’d been on a family holiday to France, but otherwise I’d never left the UK. So I made all the arrangements for a solo expedition down the eastern German cities, beginning at Berlin and concluding in Munich. My Facebook was full of exciting places my friends had galivanted off to, now it was my turn. Easter holiday 2013, armed with high school German and two suitcases, I embarked. It was absolutely incredible. I’d never done anything like this on my own. When I got back everyone was telling me how brave I’d been to go off on my own… Turns out not everyone was doing it after all!
And it was inspirational, too. My middle stop was Dresden, which I loved. I stayed in the Hilton there, which I’m convinced had the thinnest walls of any hotel and I’m pretty sure I got stuck in a room next to a honeymoon couple(!), and I could hear a trumpeter playing tunes outside the opera house. Words flowed. Sitting there, in my own little room with the window open and the music drifting in, it felt unreal. One day I’ll find a book I can incorporate it into, or maybe I’ll just keep it to myself and think back over that incredible experience.
What would you like to say to aspiring/beginning writers in the community?
Virginia Crow: Don’t give up! There have been so many times, even since I published my first book, Day’s Dying Glory, in 2017 that I’ve decided it’s time to metaphorically hang up my pen. Waiting to hear someone’s opinions of your writing doesn’t seem to important to them, but to you there is no bigger deal! But then, inevitably, something comes along to remind me that I’m not in it for anything other than sharing an inspirational story. One of my favourites, was getting a Facebook notification to tell me that someone had tagged my book into a post of the most inspirational female characters. I took a screenshot and, every time I’m sitting staring at a blank Scrivener page, I take a peek and remind myself that I inspired that response. So keep going – even when it seems like it’s a pointless exercise – your writing means something to some people.
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— E X C E R P T —
Fotherby relinquished her hands and began running at once toward Wanderford Hall. Never had the distance seemed so great, nor the hill so steep, but he ran on. He did not spare a thought for Portland, nor the woman, but continued to run. If he had not known the way or became lost amongst the trees, he had only to follow the beacon atop the hill. As he crashed through the trees and charged across the lawns of the Hall towards the fountain, he gave a cry at the enormous flames that were visible through all the windows, and the thick billowing smoke that rose from the structure. He flung himself against the timbers of the door, but it was to no avail for they had been locked. It took him several minutes before the door gave beneath his blows and he collapsed into the building. He coughed into his sleeve as he beheld the aggressive fire consuming the interior of the house. The huge painting of his ancestors blistered and burned before him, and he looked about for a moment before calling out to his father and uncle. But, as he did so, the smoke caught in his throat and he began coughing violently. Fotherby could not allow himself the time to weep but rushed back into the house, calling his father as though he expected the old man to hear. He rushed towards the stairs and began climbing but, three steps from the top, the timber structure collapsed beneath him and he plunged to the floor below.
A B O U T T H E A U T H O R
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her soon-to-be-serialised books “Caledon”. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the film!
When she’s not writing, Virginia is a music teacher in Caithness. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o’ Groats Book Festival which has just celebrated its 2nd year. Hopefully they’ll be plenty more to come!