Author Marin McGinnis

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I’m so happy to be interviewing fellow historical romance author Marin McGinnis. We both write for the fabulous Wild Rose Press, and have the same amazing editor in common. Today we’re celebrating the release of her third book, Tempting Mr. Jordan. Hang out with us for a while, and we’d love to hear from you.

***GIVEAWAY!!  Marin’s giving away an e-copy of Tempting Mr. Jordan to a randomly selected commenter.

Hello, Marin! Welcome!

Marin: Thanks for having me!

Let’s start off with the back cover blurb of Tempting Mr. Jordan:

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“After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

What was the spark that got you excited about writing this third book?

 Marin: I liked Julia from the moment I wrote about her in Stirring Up the Viscount. She’s so lively and curious. But I think the spark came when I knew her love interest was an artist—Geoffrey was an interesting character to write about. My mother will shake her head and wonder what I’m talking about, but to me he’s a curious combination of my parents, who met in art school, as well as my own imagination (of course!).

 How interesting! When did you first become interested in writing romance, and why did you choose historical romance?

Marin: The first romance author I remember reading, other than Danielle Steele, was Nora Roberts. I wish I could remember which book it was, but I was struck by the fact it had such a strong, kickass heroine—she didn’t need a man to save her, but she was open to love. It was an eye opener. My first historical romance author was Julia Quinn—the first Bridgerton novel. Her style was so different from Nora Roberts’, but also featured a strong—and funny—heroine, and I loved the historical setting. I was totally hooked.

What do you especially like about this third book? What got you excited? And in what way do the three books all relate?

Marin: I have to say that Tempting Mr. Jordan is my favorite of the three. Julia and Geoffrey are such different characters. Despite Geoffrey’s moodiness, I find them much lighter in spirit than the characters in my other books. I also love the remoteness of the Maine setting, the challenges of a New England winter, and more than any of my books, this book is oddly colorful in spite of the bleakness of winter—the blue of the sky, the oranges and red of the sunrise, Julia’s vibrant hair.

The three books relate through family relationships. The second book, Secret Promise, features the long-lost brother of the heroine in the first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, and Tempting Mr. Jordan features the sister of the hero in Viscount. All three can be read as stand-alone novels.

Marin, I’m currently reading your first book, Stirring up the Viscount. Your heroine, Theodora, is vulnerable yet strong, and the story of her struggle to make a new life for herself is compelling. Jonathan, the hero, leaps off the pages with his innate goodness and appealing personality. (Not to mention good looks!) I love the fun eccentricity and good humor of his family. Most of all, I love how you seamlessly weave historical details into the story. It’s those minute details that send a reader back in time, the best part of historical fiction, in my opinion. I love that!

Marin: Thanks so much, Jennifer! I do love those details—they are what make a historical story come to life for me.

Even though the historical details are used sparingly, you must have done a lot of research for the books. Would you care to share your method with all the budding authors out there?

 Marin: I do do a lot of research, and I wish what I did could actually be called a method. J Once I decide on the story’s plot (or sometimes while I’m developing a plot), I pick a time frame, research it in broad terms, then focus on some details. For example, for Tempting Mr. Jordan I had to do quite a bit of research into transportation. How long did it take to cross the Atlantic? What kind of ship? What did they do onboard? Where did it leave England and where did it arrive in the US? As an immigration lawyer in real life, I am also obsessed with getting those kinds of details right—what was the procedure for arriving visitors to the US? What was the immigration station called? Once they arrived in Boston, how did they get to Maine? How far north did the train go? In addition to general research sources on the time period, never underestimate the usefulness of contemporaneous sources. Newspapers (available online in many library systems) and travel books (Google Books) are great sources of information.

Once I have those basics, I sometimes play a little fast and loose with the facts for the sake of the story I want to tell, but I try to be accurate as possible.

I’d like to play a game called, The Moment When:

Where were you the moment when you decided to write your first romance?

 Marin: At home, probably, reading a romance. J I got an idea in my head and one day just sat down to write it.

Where were you the moment when Theodora and Jonathan, your H and H of Stirring up the Viscount, came to life?

Marin: It was somewhere between watching Downton Abbey and a BBC series on YouTube called The Victorian Kitchen. I had the germ of an idea—a dark-haired, haunted heroine and a hero who looked like Jason Connery (from the ‘80s Robin Hood TV series, which gives away my age). Throw in a little Sleeping With the Enemy (ditto on the age thing) and voila. J

Tell us about the moment when you got the good news of your first contract.

 Marin: I had to look through my email to recreate this, but it was Monday, July 28, 2014, and it came via an email from my editor, Allison Byers. I did a little happy dance all by myself, since I was working from home at the time. Perhaps the best Monday ever.

It’s such a special moment, isn’t it? What do you like to do for fun?

Marin: I watch far too much Hulu and Netflix, but I also love to cook, do genealogical research, hang out with my son and husband, spend time with my writer friends, and—of course—read.

What’s next for you?

Marin: I have two books I am hoping to put the finishing touches on in the next few weeks. Both are set in England in the 1850s, and are a bit more on the romantic suspense side. After that I have to plot the third and final book in that series (an idea came to me when I woke up this morning and for once I actually managed to write it down before I forgot it!), then I’m going to try my hand at a cozy mystery series. Really excited about all of those!

Thanks so much for joining me today, Marin. Best of luck with your new release. I can’t wait to read it.

 Give yourselves a treat and visit Marin’s website at www.marinmcginnis.com

Marin: Thanks so much for having me, Jennifer! I loved the interview.

Here’s an excerpt from Tempting Mr. Jordan:

Cranberry Cove reminded Julia of home, her family’s estate in Durham, where ton rules were abandoned in favor of lazy days riding, reading, caring for her pets, or playing the piano. It occurred to her that she had not played in weeks. Her fingers itched to touch a keyboard, and she flexed her hands inside her calfskin gloves. She vowed to play soon. She thought she had seen a harpsichord in the drawing room of Maria’s enormous house.

Reaching the end of the little lane on which Maria lived, she took a right onto Main Street. It consisted of several houses similar to the one in which she was staying, so she turned left onto Maple Street, which was much more interesting. There was a green grocer, a bookseller, a milliner, a tailor, a blacksmith—everything one could want in a village. The streets were clean—much cleaner than London—and the air was crisp and fresh, even if it smelled ever so slightly of fish.

Julia was staring into the newspaper office—a badly written but oddly gripping tale about missing lobster traps was plastered to the window—when she was nearly knocked off her feet.

“Oh, I beg your pardon!” She managed to right herself, wondering why she should be the one to apologize. She looked up into the hooded eyes of Geoffrey Jordan, who held a book in one hand. “Mr. Jordan!”

“Lady Julia.” He reached out to steady her, the touch of his hand on her arm causing a charge to shoot up her spine. “Please forgive me. Are you hurt?”

“Are you in the habit of running over tourists on your streets?” She freed her arm, flustered by her own reaction, and busied herself with adjusting her hat. When she regarded Mr. Jordan again, he was smirking.

“No, just the ones who stop in the middle of the street,” he said.

Julia opened her mouth to retort, but he held up a finger to silence her. “Nevertheless, I am sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. And the scintillating prose of our local newspaper could halt anyone in her tracks.”

She laughed. “It is not The Times, to be sure.”

His lips quirked up at the tips in something approaching a smile. Julia thought she hadn’t seen him do that before and found it oddly entrancing. “Where are you headed, Lady Julia?”

She forced herself to look away from his lips. “Um. Nowhere in particular. I was in need of a walk after luncheon, so I thought I would explore a bit.”

“The Universalist church, just around the corner, is particularly beautiful, and you will need to sample lobster from the establishment run by the Maclays, on the pier. It will melt in your mouth.”

The way he looked at her as he made the remark made her own mouth dry. Her cheeks burned.

“Um. Yes. That sounds lovely.” She gazed down at her feet until she collected herself. Raising her head, she found herself caught in his sights. She swallowed nervously. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Jordan, I really must get back. Constance will be wondering where I’ve got to.” She brushed past him, her shoulder tingling at the contact with his arm.

“Lady Julia?” His tone was vaguely amused.

She stopped and turned to face him. “Yes, Mr. Jordan?”

His thin lips turned up at the corners again, and he pointed behind him. “I believe your house is that way.”

“Oh. Yes. Of course.” She willed herself not to stumble as she passed him, at least not until she’d cleared the corner.

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Stirring Up the Viscount

Seeking to escape an abusive husband, Theodora Ravensdale answers an ad in The Times for a job as cook in a country home. A fortuitous house fire enables her to fake her own death and flee to northern England and live under an assumed name. But Theodora’s refuge is not all she would wish, when she stirs emotions in the heir to the estate, Jonathan Tenwick, and in herself.

Meanwhile, as the connection between Theodora and Jonathan grows, her husband learns she did not perish in the fire, and searches for her. Fearing he is close to finding her, Theodora must flee again to protect the family and the viscount for whom she cares deeply. In the final confrontation with her husband, Theodora learns she is stronger than she ever knew, and love is worth fighting for.

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Secret Promise

Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew. Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she’s not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.

Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.

Marin’s Links:

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Bookstrand.

Social Media Links

Website: http://marinmcginnis.com

Blog: http://marinmcginnis.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarinMcG

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarinMcGinnis  (@MarinMcGinnis)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12256384.Marin_McGinnis

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00S03YY60

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marinmcginnis/

Bio:

A northeast Ohio native, Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page. She’s dabbled with writing for a long time, but didn’t start writing in earnest until she discovered historical romance about a decade ago. Marin has three historical romance titles published with The Wild Rose Press, and is a member of RWA and its Northeast Ohio, Hearts Through History, and Kiss of Death chapters. She will serve as President of the Northeast Ohio RWA chapter in 2017. Marin lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in a drafty 100 year old house with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be in the running for an e-copy of Tempting Mr. Jordan! The drawing will be Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Owl Hoots, Bee Skeps and Fog

 

Courtesy of the Rye Museum:                http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/smuggling-in-rye-and-romney-marsh/

If you’re out walking at night in the fictional 18th Century coastal town of King’s Harbour, England, beware the owl hoot. Perhaps it’s just an owl, but it could be a member of the notorious Hawkhurst Gang.  Suddenly the fog rolls up from the English Channel and throws its cold wool blanket over you, and the only way to get home is to feel your way.

Midwife Maggie Wilson, heroine of Mercy of the Moon, Book #1, has some sage advice for you: the less you know about the smugglers, the better.

Travelling is a source of great inspiration for writers, and this month I’ll be talking about travel.

Several years ago, I visited the town of Rye, England, an important port town for centuries. Late one night, I stood alone in the middle of ancient  Mermaid Street, cool air from the English Channel misting my skin. My pulsed raced as the timelessness of the place took hold of my soul; it could’ve been 1300, 1500, or 1700. Long after I went home, the moment stayed with me, and the setting for my Rhythm of the Moon series was born. The more research I did on the charming town, the more the ideas flowed.

Owl hoots could be a signal from a member of the Hawkhurst Gang, a group of notorious smugglers in southeast England in the 18th Century. That’s the way they communicate. No matter how many times Maggie sees them during her nighttime baby calls, she’ll never get used to the glimpses of the men with the bee skeps over their head, holes cut out for eyes, carrying a signal lantern in one hand and a gun in the other. Turn the other way, and speak to no one about it!

Although King’s Harbour is a fictional town, the Hawkhurst Gang was very real. Thanks to research help from Jo Kirkham, and the Rye Museum in Rye in England, I learned that the smugglers donned man made bee hives, with holes cut for eyes, and communicated with owl hoots when on a smuggling escapade.

Smuggling was very common, and important for the economy of the coastal towns, but the Hawkhurst Gang did more than their fair share of nefarious deeds. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating Cinque Port town of Rye (my inspiration for the setting) or the smugglers,  visit http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/

You might ask yourself how the Hawkhurst Gang figures into the plot of Mercy of the Moon.

There’s only one way to find out.

Stay tuned for some fun blogs about travelling in far-flung places. What locale inspires you?

 

 

Interview with Dylan Newton

INTERVIEW WITH DYLAN NEWTON

Jennifer: Good morning, Dylan! Thanks so much for joining me today.

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Dylan Newton was born and raised in a small town in Upstate New York where the local library was her favorite hang-out. Despite earning a degree in English Literature, Dylan spent more than a decade sidetracked by an executive position in corporate America where she swears she contracted testosterone poisoning. After leaving, she dedicated herself to more estrogen-rich passions, like motherhood, writing romance novels and her never-ending quest for the perfect date night.

Dylan married her high-school sweetheart and they are busy living out their own happily ever after in sunny Florida with their two incredible daughters.

Visit Dylan at http://www.DylanNewton.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DylanNewtonAuthor

Dylan:  Very happy to be here, Jennifer!

Jennifer: October is a big month for you, isn’t it? Why is that?

Dylan: Ooh, I adore October because it’s the month of my favorite holiday: Halloween! My family goes a little overboard for Halloween. We decorate the entire house with skulls, zombies, and all things horror–including the bathroom. If you’ve never peed in a room where the bathroom mirror is streaked with the faux blood words, “Help Me!” then you haven’t lived! I love being spooked and I think that’s why writing paranormal novels comes so easy for me.

Jennifer: Sounds like a blast. I really enjoy your paranormal novels—I’ve read them all! Tell us about the moment when you knew you had to write paranormals.all-3-books-together-with-kindle-prices

Dylan: I’m not sure there was one particular ‘moment’ when I knew I had to write paranormal books, but when I sat down to write during my first NaNoWriMo challenge (where you write 50k words in 30 days), what came out of me was a story about a psychic being pestered by a ghost to solve the mystery surrounding his murder. It was a wild ride, considering I hadn’t plotted a THING—just pantsed my way through the entire process. It was fun during NaNoWriMo…but let me tell you, editing afterwards was horrible!

Jennifer: You are well known in the area for mentoring young girls, through your work with Girl Scouts. You also spearhead the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for young people in the area. What inspires you to volunteer,  and how does that impact your writing?

Dylan: Well, first of all, I think teens are literally the best things on the planet. Where else do you find such boundless enthusiasm in such a focused, naïve package? So my choice to volunteer with girls is really a selfish one—they are so energizing to be around! As for the Young Writers Program, I love being the coordinator for that in our county because I was one of those teen writers—I wish I’d have had someone to mentor me when I was in high school, and to encourage my dream to be a writer. As it was, when I was writing, it was a secretive, closet thing—and I want to do my part in helping today’s closet writers achieve their dreams!

Jennifer: Your first love (book genre-wise!) has always been young adult. Would you share your exciting news with us?

Dylan: Yes! You’re right—my first book (before that fateful NaNoWriMo year where I wrote my paranormal romance) was for teens, or the Young Adult genre. It’s a hard market to break into as a writer, and without an agent, you’re destined for the slush pile. At the RWA conference in NYC last year, I pitched to Cori Deyoe at 3 Seas Literary Agency, and we had an immediate connection. I’m thrilled to say I’m now a client at their agency—a dream of mine—and Cori is busy pitching my YA series about destructive teen labels to YA publishers!

Jennifer: Congratulations! I’ve read an excerpt of the book DELINQUENT on your website:  http://dylannewtonwrites.blogspot.com/

I was blown away. Great writing, and very powerful. I cannot wait to read it! You’re one of the hardest working writers around, and have been very generous with sharing your knowledge and time with other romance writers, myself included. What drives you?

Dylan: Wow—what a lovely compliment, Jennifer!  I guess I have always believed in paying it forward. A published writer (Loretta Rogers) once took two hours out of her life to help me before I was published, and I’ve never forgotten my gratitude. While I’ve thanked Loretta a billion times, I feel the best way to repay such a kindness as a writer is to help another author on her path.

Jennifer: Now for some fun questions: What’s your pet peeve?

Dylan: People who are late! I despise waiting.

Jennifer:  What’s your favorite way to relax?

Dylan: A book, an icy margarita and a hot bath.

Jennifer: If you could meet any person in history, who would it be, and why?

Dylan: That’s easy—it would be Queen Elizabeth I. She was a female leader at a time when women didn’t lead, and she held onto her status as a single monarch, leading her country through wars, a tricky religious conflict, and trade negotiations, often using herself as bait to gain the advantage for her country. I’m a huge fan Elizabethan literature, history and furniture!

Jennifer: Good choice! Thanks so much for joining me today, Dylan. I hear you might have a giveaway??

Dylan: Thanks for having me, Jennifer, and yes! I do have a giveaway today. I believe that ALL of your blog readers deserve a little something, and I have a bunch of goody packages with bookmarks, recipe cards and more—ready to send to EVERY ONE OF YOUR READERS! All you’ll need to do is comment below and include your name and address, or send me a message via my author page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/DylanNewtonAuthor) with that information and YOU WIN! I’ll cover the postage for this prize package as long as you message me by Halloween. Just my way of giving you a treat for Halloween!

Jennifer: Wow, how generous of you. Did you hear that, guys? Dylan Newton, generous and lovely as always! Thanks for tuning in.

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Interview with Dr. Alun Withey

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Good morning! I’m delighted to have Dr. Alun Withey visiting me, all the way from Wales. Last year, while doing resarch for Heartbeat of the Moon, I happened upon Dr. Withey’s excellent blog:

https://dralun.wordpress.com/ . He’s written an impressive number of informative and entertaining blogs on subjects as varied as the significance of the beard throughout history, and medical treatments for the time period.

Dr. Withey is an academic historian of medicine and the body, and a research fellow at the University of Exeter. He did his thesis on medicine in 17th and 18th Century Wales. You can imagine what an invaluable source his work is for an historical romance author like myself. It’s like stepping back in time, only with modern plumbing. Welcome, Alun!

Alun: Thanks for inviting me onto your blog!

Jennifer: Would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself?

AlunI left school with no clear idea of what I wanted to do, and ended up in an office job, working for a major UK bank…where I stayed for more than 10 years. I’ve always had a love of history though, and especially the 17th Century, and started to study whilst I was still working.

In 2003, with the support of my family, I took the big step of leaving the bank and went to University, taking my BA, MA, and finally my PhD on Welsh medical history in 2009, funded by the Wellcome Trust. The rest, as they say, is history! Finding medical history was a complete and happy accident.

Jennifer: You are a 2014 AHRC /BBC ‘New Generation Thinker’. Can you tell us about that?

Alun: Every year the New Generation Thinkers scheme gives an opportunity for 10 individuals to work closely with radio and television producers to develop their ideas for broadcast. It’s a highly competitive scheme, but is a fantastic opportunity for anyone (like me!) who enjoys reaching a broader audience for their work. Through the scheme I’ve been lucky enough to work on programmes for BBC Radio and the BBC Arts TV channel, often live, which can be both exhilarating and challenging, and speak to the public about my research. I’m certain that it’s also opened doors in other ways.

Jennifer: It sounds like a huge honor. Your articles give readers a detailed glimpse into the everyday life of folks in the early modern period. Since the heroine of my series is a midwife in the 18th Century, I’m particularly fascinated with your articles on medical history. Here’s one of my favorites from 10/17/14: “Seventeenth Century Remedies You’d Probably Want to Avoid.”  https://dralun.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/10-seventeenth-century-remedies-youd-probably-want-to-avoid/

One of the treatments you uncovered for “collick” was to distill the testicles of a chicken (do I have that right?) and take a few teaspoons when the need arises. Wow. Would you like to add anything to that? What’s one of the most bizarre treatments you’ve ever come across?

Alun: Yes, you’re absolutely right about the chicken’s testicles! When I’m looking at early modern remedy collections I commonly come across one that I think must surely be the most unusual…and then another one crops up to take its place. Two favourites spring to mind: first is the ‘oil of swallows’ to treat shrunken limbs, which involves catching 20 (or more) live swallows, baking them to a powder, adding all sorts of oils and herbs, putting the pot into a hot dunghill for 2 weeks, then rubbing the oil onto the limbs.

The other is a cure for constipation, which directs the afflicted person to squat down over a bucket of boiling milk for as long as they can bear it…or until something starts to move!

Jennifer: I’m trying to imagine how people ever came up with such unusual treatments. And it’s also fascinating to think about how many people did survive and indeed thrived in that time period. What, in your opinion, did they do right?

Alun: Studying early modern medicine can be challenging. You have to balance cool academic detachment with the urge to burst out laughing at times. In all seriousness though, it’s important to remember that early modern medical remedies were based on a perfectly logical, coherent and complex model of the body – the humours. If you believe, as they did, that the body works in a particular way, and that sickness is something to be driven out, then the majority of the remedies make perfect sense.

Also, the many ingredients that seem strange to modern eyes are also based on their assumptions about the properties and powers that they contained. So, products from animals, herbs etc., were all believed to have certain virtues, which could be harnessed to cure particular ailments. I often remind people that what we think of as modern medicine (biomedicine) has existed for not much more than a century, whereas beliefs in the humours lasted thousands of years. That being said, I’m not suggesting that people go hunting for swallows, or chopping the ‘cods’ off chickens for their medicines!

Jennifer: Ha ha! You’ve written at length about the social significance of men’s grooming. What would you like us to know about that?

Alun: The project I’m currently working on is looking at the health and hygiene history of facial hair, between 1700 and 1918. A big part of this is how shaving moved from being something originally done by a medical practitioner (a barber or barber-surgeon), and over time became part of the personal grooming routines of individuals. It’s easy to think of personal grooming as something that is unimportant and mundane. But the decisions involved in shaving (or not shaving), the growth of male skin products, scents, and even things like cosmetic procedures, all involve decisions. These can link into fashion, but also other important things like health, ideals of appearance, masculinity and so on. That’s why I think that it is important to capture the history of these things over a long period, to see how things change and, perhaps more importantly, why.

Jennifer: You are also the author of Physick and the Family: Health, Medicine and Care in Wales, 1600-1750, and Technology, Self-Fashioning and Politeness in Eighteenth Century Britain: Refined Bodies. I can only imagine the tremendous amount of dedication and patience it takes to unearth such detailed information.

Alun: I think if you love what you do then the work is made much easier. I’ve certainly covered a lot of mileage over the years, hunting for the sources for my books, but the joy for me is encountering documents that probably haven’t seen the light of day for decades. I’ve never lost (and hope I never do) the thrill of touching a centuries-old manuscript, which was once the property of a real 17th or 18th-century person, and with their words and thoughts on it. It’s as close as you can get to actually being able to speak to them.

Jennifer: Alun, I’m curious about what set you on the road to becoming a medical historian.

Alun: It was actually a complete accident. In 2006 I was looking for sources for my undergraduate dissertation, which I intended to be about the civil wars in 17th-century Wales. I went to a record office on one particular day, and asked the archivist on duty whether he knew of any contemporary sources. He thought, and then suggested a 17th-century notebook in their collections, which nobody had really worked on. I ordered the book up, and was immediately struck by some remedies in it, including a cure for smallpox, as well as a pill ‘to make a horse pisse’! I did some further investigating and discovered that very little had actually been written on Welsh medical history, so this became the subject of my undergraduate dissertation…which was published, and then informed my MA thesis…which ultimately led to the PhD.

What I love most about the history of medicine is that you’re ultimately dealing with people just like us – people who just wanted to avoid being ill, relieve their symptoms and get better. Even if we put all the grand theory and science aside, medical history makes us ask important questions about the human condition, and our journey through life.

Jennifer: You’ve really given us a lot to think about. What’s the least and most favorite part of your job?

Alun: I think the favourite parts would be the actual process of research – the thrill of the chase, and being able to pass some of these fantastic sources on, whether through formal ways like the academic publishing and teaching, or to a wider audience through the blog, or the media activities. It’s a joy to do.

I don’t really have a least favourite…although I guess something like doing the final edits for a book, or especially the index, might come close!

Jennifer: Doing an index does sound pretty daunting. What’s next for you?

Alun: For the next two years I’m working on my Wellcome Trust-funded project on the history of facial hair, so there’s lots of research to do, writing and (hopefully) another book and other exciting things such as curating a museum exhibition in London in November.

Jennifer: That’s exciting. How about music? It’s vital for me as a writer. Do you use it as inspiration for your writing?

Alun: I love all sorts of music – especially the blues/rock, but I can’t work to it…I just end up listening to the music without actually doing the writing. Instead I usually put something gentler when I’m writing – often classical music (Vaughan Williams is a favourite), or something acoustic.

Jennifer: Tell us about your guitar playing.

Alun: I’ve been playing for 30 years now and can’t imagine being without a guitar. When I’m working there is always an acoustic guitar within reach and I often pick it up and play absent-mindedly…helps me get my thoughts together. I used to have 12 guitars, but now it’s down to a more reasonable 8! There is still one guitar that I’d love to own – a Gibson jumbo-acoustic. Next time I go to the States I may come home with one!

Jennifer: Thanks very much for visiting my blog today, Alun.

Alun: My pleasure, and thanks for having me.

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Alun’s social media links: 

Alun’s Website: https://dralun.wordpress.com

Twitter: @dralun