Meredith, thank you for chatting with me today about your book, When It Rained at Hembry Castle. Does Hembry Castle exist and if not, was there a real castle that was your inspiration?
Hembry Castle is very much a figment of my imagination, though two real life places served as the inspiration for the exterior: Scotney Castle and Wentworth Castle, both in England, of course. The picture on the book’s cover is of Scotney Castle. The interior of Hembry Castle was largely influenced by Pittock Mansion, which can be found in Portland, Oregon. Primarily, I used photos I found on Pinterest to help me describe the interior and exterior of Hembry Castle.
Please tell me a little about your story.
When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a love story set in Victorian England. The novel is about Edward Ellis, a rising author, and Daphne Meriwether, the American niece of the 9th Earl of Staton. Daphne is new to England and she must learn how to live in the Downton Abbey-like world her father’s family lives in. It’s a blossoming romance for Edward and Daphne, and there’s some mystery thrown in involving Daphne’s uncle, Richard, the 9th Earl of Staton.
What are the common movements your main characters make?
All my novels are about characters who are or see themselves as outsiders in one way or another. In When It Rained at Hembry Castle, Daphne is very much an outsider, being an American in England who is unfamiliar with the aristocratic world her father grew up in. Edward is also an outsider of sorts. He’s the grandson of servants who is working hard to make his way as a writer. I think all of my main characters mean to do the right thing, but whether their choices are correct or not always remains to be seen.
What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?
I think both Edward and Daphne are largely positive people. Neither one of them are prone to complaining and they try to make the best of whatever is thrown their way. I hope this adds a positive, hopeful tone to the story.
What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?
For Daphne, she’s triggered by her grandmother’s insistence that she conform to the aristocratic way of life. For Edward, he’s triggered by his love for Daphne and his frustration at the obstacle that is keeping them apart. Daphne humors her grandmother and on the outside she seems to be conforming, though she’s a bit of a rebel and isn’t as complacent as her grandmother thinks. Edward, in typical man fashion, does nothing, hoping the problem will go away.
What do you like most about writing stories that take place in the past?
I’ve loved history since I was in school, and I even toyed with the idea of majoring in history in college. Writing historical fiction is perfect for me because it a combination of the two things I’m most interested in—history and writing. I have a funny habit of writing stories set in times I’m not all that familiar with, which is fine because that’s part of the fun for me, researching the history. When It Rained at Hembry Castle is actually the exception to that because I was already pretty familiar with Victorian England.
Describe Victorian England in your eyes.
My knowledge of Victorian England came from my love of Dickens’ novels, which started for me in college, but when I researched the era as I was writing Hembry Castle I realized that the time was much more complicated than I first realized. Yes, there was the poverty and the darkness of Dickens’ descriptions, but it was also a time of great change. The Victorian era spanned nearly 70 years, and England in 1901 was very different than England in 1837. By the end of the Victorian era, we can begin to see inklings of the modern era that we live in today. Since Hembry Castle takes place from 1870-1872, the story is happening right in the middle of the Victorian era.
What are some of the romantic parts to the story readers can expect?
My stories tend to focus more on the falling in love aspect of romance. Edward and Daphne have a few obstacles they have to overcome in order to be together. Even acknowledging that they want to be together is the first hurdle. After they admit to themselves that they care for each other, Edward has a big secret he’s keeping from Daphne. How Daphne reacts to the secret remains to be seen.
How long did it take to write your story and where in your home do you hone in your craft?
Hembry Castle took me two years. I returned to college in 2014, and of course that takes a lot of my time. I had a lot of research to complete for this book, and it took me a little time to figure out the point of view. Normally, I write novels with either a one person or two person point of view, but I finally realized that Hembry needed to allow more characters their moment in the sun. Since I live in a small apartment, my computer is set up in my bedroom. I know they say don’t keep your work where you sleep, but oh well. I have a nice view from my bedroom window so it works for me.
What is up next for you?
Fans of my Loving Husband Trilogy will be happy to know that I’m writing the prequel to the series, called Down Salem Way. Like the first book in the series, Her Dear & Loving Husband, it takes place in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials.
About the Author
Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle. Her newest release, the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, is a great read for fans of Downton Abbey.