Aria welcomes Tania Crosse

Hi there! I’m Tania Crosse, and I’ve been a historical novelist for some time. Since 2004, in fact, which makes me feel somewhat ancient! I’ve seen a lot of changes in the publishing industry in that time. I started off in mass market paperback, with thousands of my books being sold into major supermarkets and bookshops, motorway service chains, book clubs and so forth. In those days, e-books didn’t exist, but now they have cornered a huge percentage of the market. So I am delighted to have moved with the times and signed a four-book contract with dynamic, young digital publisher, Aria, part of Head of Zeus. My new novels will therefore mainly be available as e-books, but for those of you who, like me, are still a bit old-fashioned and prefer a printed book, you will be able to order this format as well, either online or from your local bookshop.

When I’m asked what sort of books I write, I always say historical novels with a romantic twist. I don’t write rags-to-riches sagas or historical romance. I think both those terms give the wrong impression of my work. My passion is to place engaging fictional characters into real life historical situations, transporting the reader to a time when life was so much harder than it is today. My books are packed full of poignant drama, allowing my imagination to translate historical fact into gripping, heart-wrenching stories that will keep readers captivated long into the small hours.

My previous novels set out to illustrate in human terms the harsh reality of life on remote Dartmoor in the past, covering everything from mining, hill-farming and quarrying to the infamous prison and the building of local moorland railways. There’s even a Victorian gunpowder factory set in an isolated spot high up on the moor! My new stories with Aria, however, will see a change of scene, from the South West to the South East and London. But I will be writing in the same way, following my characters as they cope with trauma and tragedy in days gone by.

My first two books with Aria, Nobody’s Girl and its sequel, A Place to Call Home, were inspired by a visit to Winston Churchill’s home of Chartwell in Kent, when the great man himself appeared to me in a flash vision. I was a young parlour maid bringing him some refreshment, and in my head, I clearly heard him thanking me in his stentorian voice. You can imagine how shocked I was, although it was not the first time such a thing had happened to me. Later during the visit, I learnt of the tragedy Winston and Clementine faced with the death of their little daughter, Marigold. Linking this with my vision, a story started forming itself in my head, and I began in-depth research into the Churchills’ private life at Chartwell, studying in particular the memoirs of their daughter, Mary, and other books she had published about her parents. So if you spot various similarities between my story and historical fact about Chartwell and the Churchills, you will know why! I did, however, invent a parallel universe, and all my characters are entirely fictitious.

My second two books with Aria, as yet untitled, are set in the back street of south west London’s Battersea where I was brought up in the 1950s until I was five. My memories of the place are, however, quite vivid, although it was my elder brother, thriller writer Terence Strong, who reminded me about Price’s Candle Factory on which the first book is based. We lived at Number Three, which is why I am able to describe it in such detail, although the heroine of each respective book lives on the opposite side of the street. Sadly, that side was condemned and demolished in the 1970s and blocks of flats erected instead. Fortunately, many of the surrounding streets with similar terraces were saved and are now much sought-after properties, so I was able to refresh my memory of what the houses in my book would have been like. Happily, the Victorian houses on the side of the street where we lived are still there. In fact, the heroine of one of my earlier novels, Lily’s Journey, also lives in Number Three towards the end of the war until a tragedy takes her to Dartmoor in 1952, so there is a link here to my Devonshire series as well!

So, if you enjoy my stories with Aria – which I hope you will! – there is plenty more material for you to read. I so hope you will feel as passionately when you read my books as I do when writing them, and that you spend many hours sharing with me the characters’ ups and downs of life.


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