Monday, December 13, 2010

What’s on your To Do List for Monday! M.M Bennett Author of Honest Fame Shares Her List

Manic Monday and the start of a new week and I can hear everyone cringe with less than enthusiasm. Today, we asked our visiting author, M.M. Bennett what’s on her To Do List for Monday to inspire and get us started on our week. If I had her schedule, “riding horses in the morning” I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation to starting my week.

The rest will surprise you. Keep reading!

About Of Honest Fame

On a summer night in 1812, a boy sets fire to a house in Paris before escaping over the rooftops. Carrying vital intelligence about Napoleon’s Russian campaign, he heads for England. But landing in Kent, he is beaten almost to death. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, is desperate for the boy’s information. He is even more desperate, however, to track down the boy’s assailant – a sadistic French agent who knows far too much about Castlereagh’s intelligence network. Captain George Shuster is a veteran of the Peninsula, an aide-de-camp to Wellington, now recalled from the continent and struggling to adjust to civilian life. Thomas Jesuadon is a dissolute, living on the fringes of society, but with an unrivalled knowledge of the seamy underside of the capital. Setting out to trace the boy’s attacker, they journey from the slums of London to the Scottish coast, following a trail of havoc, betrayal, official incompetence and murder. It takes an unlikely encounter with a frightened young woman to give them the breakthrough that will turn the hunter into the hunted. Meanwhile, the boy travels the breadth of Europe in the wake of the Grande Armee, witnessing at first hand the ruination they leave behind and the awful price of Napoleon’s ambition. This companion to M.M. Bennetts’s brilliant debut, May 1812, is a gripping account of deception, daring and determination, of intelligence and guile pitted against brutality. Bennetts brings to vivid life the harrowing devastation wrought on the civilian populations of Europe by Napoleon’s men, and the grit, courage and tenacity of those who stood against them

You can visit the author’s website at

Guest Post

I've never been a morning person, so the hope that anything worth reading could possibly be ripped out of my dozy brain before eleven is wholly without foundation. For that reason, I write in the afternoon, though occasionally I'll get cracking in the late morning.

The morning, too, is a time for getting the children out the door to school, getting whatever about the house that needs doing underway--laundry, dishwasher, walking the dogs, taking care of all work emails, all of that. Or perhaps going riding, which is very best way I know to clear any cobwebs or writers' block or any obstruction at all out of the mind.

There's also the drive to and from the stables, which is up one of the most beautiful stretches of road in England, and I use that for thinking through the approaching chapters or even just letting the characters talk at me. I've had more breakthroughs on that road than anywhere--except out riding, of course.

Then by late morning or early afternoon, once I've had enough tea to jolt me into some semblance of mental alertness, I make my way to my bookroom (also known as the Growlery, for obvious reasons) and pick up with whatever I'd been working on the previous day.
I will have printed out the previous day's final copy--that won't be the print ready final draft, just as far as I'd got with the editing and rewriting or drafting of new stuff. Then, hot cup of tea in hand, I'll read it and I trust bring an overnight's distance to the work.

Or, if I did finish a chapter to my satisfaction the previous day, I'll face the blank screen.
This may be more of a challenge, although, I generally have a great deal of every chapter written down longhand in a notebook. So it will be a case then, of slinging that into the iMac, and seeing what else is needed. Maybe I only wrote the dialogue from the centre of the chapter? In which case, it'll need a before and after.

I write until late afternoon when I am desperate for a cup of tea, and when I expect the children home from school. And from their arrival until after their bedtime, life is very much child-focused. Children have so very much homework these days for one thing--and I can't do their maths or their chemistry at all--though I'm quite useful for English, music, French and history.
If the weather is fine in the summer, I do as much work as possible out in the courtyard in the shade of a vast magnolia, where we have a table and bench. It doesn't feel so much like work if I'm out there. Everything smells of green; the birds are noisy and I love hearing them--we have blackbirds, robins, blue tits, wagtails and the occasional kingfisher, because we live on a river. And owls at night, fo course. And it was out there where many of the final stages of Of Honest Fame were edited and rewritten. I don't know that I could have done it had I been trapped indoors.

The thing is, when I'm working on a novel, I'm almost never not thinking or considering of some aspect of it--whether it's working out how to work the fictional characters into the timeline of history, or just imagining them in their surroundings, or just keeping my thought open to them. I talk about it as 'hearing voices', because that's really how it works for me. I just listen and watch most of the time--I hear them and write it down.

The other thing my writing entails--because I base my historical fiction very firmly in the history of the period, and am a stickler for accuracy--is research. And that's a constant. I am always reading--history and biography, hundreds of books, quite literally.

So combining this rather inward and introverted method of working with family life and children can be a bit of a trick, especially when they're always talking, and walking in and out of rooms regardless of anyone else with their mouths in full motion. Yes, I have lost full scenes, full conversations even! Which has been a bit of a challenge--so I'm always encouraging them to take the dogs down to the river for a swim and things like that. I suspect it sometimes sounds like I'm trying to get rid of them.

But in the main, we rub along fairly well. Tolerance is always the key. And I know they love having an author in the family--they seem to think it lends a certain artistic cachet to the family--and their friends think its 'cool'. So it works out fine in the end.

About M.M. Bennetts

Educated at Boston University and St Andrews, M.M. Bennetts is a specialist in the economic, social and military history of Napoleonic Europe. The author is a keen cross-country and dressage rider, as well as an accomplished pianist, regularly performing music of the era as both a soloist and accompanist. Bennetts is a long-standing book critic for The Christian Science Monitor.

The author is married and lives in England.
Bennetts’ latest book is Of Honest Fame.
You can visit the author’s website at

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