by Liz Harris
⭐ Release Day Book Spotlight ⭐
Publication Date: March 1st, 2023
Publisher: Heywood Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Life-long friends, Lilian Hunt and Daisy Chatsworth, whose fathers work for the British government in India, have travelled north with their families from Delhi to Simla, eagerly anticipating a summer of parties, dances and, dare they hope, romance.
Frederick, Lilian’s ambitious father, is determined that Lilian should marry Eric, the son of his superior, Cecil Stanford, as that is what Cecil wants. Eric, however, against his father’s clearly expressed wishes, is drawn to Daisy. But Cecil objects to Eric marrying a Chatsworth, though no one knows why.
Lilian decides to take matters into her hands, and help her friend to win the man she loves.
Unknown to Frederick, he has an enemy in Simla, and soon after his arrival, that enemy makes his presence felt.
Feeling increasingly threatened, Frederick asks a new colleague, Jack Leighton, to stay close to Lilian and Daisy without them realising he’s there to protect them. Jack has taken an instant dislike to Lilian but, reluctantly, he agrees.
But the enemy is watching…
It won’t be that easy!
Simla Mist is the fifth book in The Colonials, a series set in Asia.
My Asia-located novels started with The Road Back, which was set in both London and Ladakh, an Indian province that lies between the Karakoram range in the north and the Himalayas in the south. Later came Darjeeling Inheritance, which was set in the north-east of India, and that was followed by Cochin Fall, which took place in the southern State known since 1956 as Kerala. The fourth book, Hanoi Spring, featured the French colonial rule in Vietnam.
Simla, which was the summer capital of British Raj (1858-1947) and is the setting for the fifth book, has a stunning location in the north of India – it’s built on the south-western ranges of the Himalayas.
If you ever look up Simla, thinking perhaps to visit the place that had been famous during the Raj for its vibrant social activities, adultery and scandals, you will find that the name is written as Shimla. The original spelling, Simla, was changed to Shimla in 1972, which reflects the way in which the name of the town had always been pronounced. But as my novel is set in 1932, I preferred to use the original spelling.
I absolutely loved researching all five novels. After all, my research took me on magical trips to India and Vietnam, as well as into the pages of numerous fascinating historical tomes. But I think that five books set in Asia is sufficient, even if each book stars different characters and has a different theme, so I’m now reluctantly saying goodbye to Asia and moving on to a different location.
Although moving on sounds very easy, it won’t be.
It’s true that I won’t feel quite the same wrench that I felt when I finished writing the three books about the Linfords, but it’ll be a wrench all the same.
I’d lived with my fictional family, the Linfords, for the four years it had taken to research and write the three books that comprise the series - The Dark Horizon, The Flame Within and The Lengthening Shadow. During that time, the Linfords had come to feel almost as real as my actual family. This was because, although the focus of each book had been on a different member of the family, there was a background in common, and there were references to all the family members in each of the novels.
I should add that each book in the series is complete in itself, and they can be read in any order. To quote words from the review of The Lengthening Shadow in the Historical Novel Society Review, “… they can all be read independently, and readers familiar with the saga will appreciate how Harris has avoided spoilers for The Dark Horizon (book one) and The Flame Within (book two) – this is very skilfully done!”
Each of The Colonials, too, is a standalone. But each book is centred on a different family, and that family has no relationship with the families in the other four books. And each book is set in a different location from the others, and in a different year in the 1930s. As soon as one book was finished, I left the family and started to live in my head with the family in the next book, and this meant that I spent less time with each family.
However, as with the Linford series, there’s a common core of research that lies at the heart of each of The Colonials, and I feel a closeness to, and a great affection for, the world in which the five books are set. It’s with huge regret, therefore, that I’m saying goodbye to that world and to the fictional residents within it to whom I gave birth. I do have to do so, though, as I know I’ve reached a point where I need to immerse myself in a new time and location.
So what will I write next?
This is a question that always creeps into my mind as I near the end of writing a novel, but I never allow myself to address the question at that stage. Not until I’ve finished the book I’m writing, and not until my characters’ voices have ceased to clamour in my head for me to bring their story to a perfect resolution. Until then, the work in progress has to remain the focus of my thoughts.
However, when I reach the end of the book, the sluice gates can be opened. And what an exciting moment that is! Along with the excitement of what lies in store for me, though, is the real sadness at leaving characters of whom I’ve grown so fond.
But I take heart at remembering the process at the end of writing The Lengthening Shadow, when I found it so hard to say goodbye to the Linfords with whom I’d lived for so long. I was sure at that time that I would never again come to feel as close to any other characters. But I did.
Just as when your second child is on its way, and you worry that you won’t be able to love it as much as you love your first, you find that you do. There are no limits to the number of people or characters a person can love, and just as I’ve always loved my second son as much as my first, I’ve come to be very attached to my characters in The Colonials, and it’s difficult to say goodbye to them.
At the same time, though, I feel a real sense of excitement at being about to start getting to know the family, the Hammonds, which is taking up residence in my head, and about which there will be three novels in a series entitled Three Daughters.
The knowledge that I shall come to feel as strongly about the Hammonds and the people who share their lives, as I did about all the others who have featured in my novels, is easing the transition from my last fictional world to the next, and helping me to put my fingers to the keyboard again.
Born in London, Liz Harris graduated from university with a Law degree, and then moved to California, where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.
Six years later, she returned to London and completed a degree in English, after which she taught secondary school pupils, first in Berkshire, then in Cheshire and finally in Oxfordshire.
In addition to the sixteen novels she’s had published, she’s had several short stories in anthologies and magazines.
Liz recently moved to Windsor, in Berkshire. An active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society, her interests are travel, the theatre, reading and cryptic crosswords.
To find out more about Liz, visit her website at: www.lizharrisauthor.com
Many thanks, Coffee Pot Book Club, for helping to launch 'Simla Mist' so successfully into the world. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to you, and look forward to do so again in the future.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your kind comments, Liz. They are appreciated. Have a wonderful launch day! xDelete