Who was Claudia Faraday?


twitter-countrysideI’ve been asked this question a lot recently.

Was she Mrs Dalloway? (a fictional character)

Was she the Duchess of Hertfordshire? (is there such a person?)

Was she the Queen’s long-lost second cousin thrice removed? (No)

She was not aristocracy, that’s all I’m saying.

I also promised to guard her identity with my life. (more or less)






Keeping a diary

If Shakespeare had kept a diary there would arguably be far fewer books written about him.


If we knew for instance

  • What he got up to during the ‘missing years’
  • How he got to leave his home in Stratford and fetch up as an actor/playwright in London
  • How much of the 37 plays he actually wrote
  • Whether Shakespeare was Shakespeare or someone else
  • Who the Dark Lady of the sonnets was
  • Whether or not he got on with his wife
  • Etc etc etc

We wouldn’t need to endlessly speculate. And it would not be half as much fun.


What will people say about you when you’re gone? 

Diary-less ancestors tend to be remembered for what they did rather than what they might have said. Or rather for what they did that made the public records. So we are likely to know more about men than women, especially if they played a prominent part in society. We may also know more about the ones who got into trouble, and the ones with police records, especially if they ended up in Australia.

Who was Mary Pitt?

As a family historian I’d have given anything for my ancestors to have kept diaries so I knew exactly why my four times great grandmother decided to emigrate to a penal colony. 

On the other hand lacking the facts gives one scope for one’s imagination; so what would have been a case of simple transcribing becomes something rather more creative. The challenge of filling in the gaps while remaining as true as possible to the character you think your four times great grandmother was, for instance, is a fascinating one. 

A certain amount of mystery is no bad thing.

If you want to read the story of my pioneering Australian ancestress please click here: The Worst Country in the World.


 Who was Claudia Faraday?

Claudia Faraday?

Claudia kept a detailed diary of a crucial period in her life when she made a discovery that altered her entire outlook on life and on the people in it. The fact that she kept this diary in her loft, to be discovered by generations to come, suggests to me she wanted them to be found, and to be published.

Nonetheless such was the intimate nature of the diary I went to great lengths to protect her reputation by not just changing her name but the names, and some details, of her daughters and her friends, and a few other bits and pieces beside.

So I defy anyone to identify her.

If you’d like to read her story click here: The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faraday.

Have you kept a diary?

I have, from time to time. It makes for hilarious and sometimes embarrassing reading. It is also a handy reminder of the person you once used to be, and if you think – as I often have  – you are still an eighteen-year-old wrapped up in a middle-aged woman’s body, it is good to be reminded that, actually, you aren’t.

But I wouldn’t want anyone to read them, no way. Unlike Claudia I will make a point of destroying them before I pop my clogs.


Ingram Spark (& others)

On Tuesday evening courtesy of ALLI (The Alliance of Independent Authors) we had the pleasure of a talk from Andy Bromley from Ingram Spark.

Ingram Spark with border

When I first published The World Country in the World back in 2012 the only option for indie publishers was Amazon. Ingram, a family firm (then and now), existed as book distributors only, and their print arm Lightning Source was aimed largely at traditional publishers.

All that has now changed with the ‘Spark’ added specifically for independent authors.

The great advantage of Ingram Spark is that they have print outlets not just in the US but here in the UK (in Milton Keynes) and in Australia (Melbourne). This cuts down on both shipping costs and delivery time (although paradoxically ordering a book to be sent from the UK to Australia is, though quicker, more expensive if printed there – due presumably to GST). I’ve had my latest novel The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faraday printed by both Ingram Spark and Amazon Createspace and quality-wise there’s very little to choose between them except that the print on the IS version is very slightly clearer.

Createspace with border

Ingram Spark is growing all the time and, much as we all love and hate Amazon it’s very good to see some competition. Submission is almost as easy as with Createspace, the only differences are:

  • The submission costs on Ingram Spark are $US49 for ebook and print or for print only, and $US25 for ebook only (ALLI members get a discount), as opposed to free on Createspace.
  • Amazon Createspace provides its own ISBN, for free, but this means your book will have Createspace printed on it, which tells everyone it’s self published. With Ingram Spark you provide your own ISBN (in the UK from Neilson, minimum of 10 costing £144), but you get to create and name your own publishing outfit so nobody can tell whether you are self- or traditionally published.
  • International – ie outside the US – distribution is cheaper and easier through Ingram Spark.

Received wisdom, confirmed by Andy Bromley, recommends for print versions of your book to use BOTH Amazon Createspace AND Ingram Spark. If you submit your book to Createspace and DON’T click on Expanded Distribution then all sales outside the US will go through Ingram Spark, under your own publisher’s name.

Happy days!

And another thing for Australian writers: The Book Depository (owned by Amazon) is apparently about to open up in Australia, and offers free worldwide delivery. Since Australian Amazon handles ebooks only it’s good to see another online company providing competition for print retailers such as Booktopia.

Wordery with border

Also on the heels of Amazon is Wordery, an online bookshop handling print books only and offering free worldwide delivery (and currently better deals on both my books!).

Patsy Trench

Exercises in marketing 2

Self publishing is not free.

It’s true you can upload your book onto the Amazon site and to Smashwords for free, but if you want a professional job done you will have to pay for parts of it.

Barney and books
Barney the book salesman

At a rough estimate it costs at the very least £500 to self publish a book, to include editing and cover design and other odds and ends such as fliers or postcards, review copies etc. (The dog comes free, bribed by biscuits.) If you’re hiring help with creating your paperback and converting to ebook that will bump the costs up; and if you’re publishing through Ingram Spark there’s a small fee to upload your book, plus £144 for ISBNS (sold in a minimum of 10).

It’s also a good idea to set aside something for marketing. I had my first go at promoting The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faraday at the weekend using an online site called ebooksoda. You register, upload your book details, blurb and price, and choose a category – historical romance in my case – and in return for a fee of $15 (£10 or so) they promote your book to their subscribers by email on one specified day; though the book remains on their site, further down the page, for a few days afterwards. It’s good to offer a discount, so you need to make sure this is in place on the day of the promotion. Amazon changed the price almost immediately, Smashwords likewise except for Nook, which took around 24 hours. (NB The price on the amazon.com site was showing up as $3.03 in the UK, but $2.99 in the US, for some reason.)

Result? Zilch. No sales whatsoever.

However, when I emailed ebooksoda to tell them I had registered with them but not received any emails or made any sales they responded swiftly, pointed out a blip in my registration and refunded the fee, even though there had been some click-throughs apparently. So thank you ebooksoda.

As I said before however each author, each book, each day is quite different. My next promotion is with bargainbooksy later this month. Better luck this time hopefully.


Exercises in marketing

You’ve written your book, rewritten it, rewritten it, had it edited, cover designed, beautifully produced and published, it looks gorgeous. Nobody is buying it.

Neglected book with border
Sketch by Anna de Polnay

I have been self publishing since 2012 (only 3 books so far) but surprisingly maybe I’ve never before had to find a marketing stategy, perhaps because my first two books are non fiction.

I have however read everything there is to know about marketing, becoming an entrepreneur, building a platform, creating your brand and all those other ghastly business-oriented terms. I have also discovered some useful things, such as:

  • Marketing that works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for another.
  • Marketing that works for one kind of book doesn’t always work for another.
  • Non fiction is easier to market than fiction.
  • Above all it’s vital to find a strategy that you are comfortable with. If you are physically unable to accost people in the street or tell everyone you come upon from bus drivers to checkout people about your book (as am I), then don’t. Think of something else.
  • Try and make it fun.

To this end I am for the first time trying some online promotion sites for my 1920s novel The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faradaybeginning tomorrow, December 19. I’ll be blogging about my progress.

Patsy Trench


Sex and the older woman

An interview with the author.

Q:       So – sex and the older woman, is that what Claudia Faraday is about?

A:         Partly, yes.

Q:         And is this her?

Mimi wedding cropped

A:        No, this is my great grandmother. She’s of an era, you could say.

Q:     So the book is taken from Claudia’s diary, is that right? How did it come about?

A:      Through Claudia’s great granddaughter, who I met through a mutual friend. She arrived on my doorstep one day with this diary she’d discovered in the attic of the family home she was clearing. It was her idea I look through it and see if I thought it might be publishable. Once I’d got the hang of the tiny writing and the weird and wonderful way Claudia skirted round the more intimately personal stuff I couldn’t put it down.

Q:      Claudia Faraday is not her real name. Why did you change it?

A:      On request, to protect her reputation.

Q:      So the contents of the diary were pretty salacious.

A:     Slightly scandalous, is how I’d put it. It’s about a middle-aged mother of three discovering the joys of sex for the first time, and how that changes her view of the world.

Q:      Would you describe it as erotica?

A:     If people are looking for erotica they will be disappointed. It isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey, it isn’t even Fifteen. But it is a bit naughty, yes.

This is a woman who was brought up in Victorian times – long skirts, corsets, tidy hair and impeccable behaviour – when sex was considered a duty rather than a pleasure, and only for married women, of course. There were plenty of women like Claudia, who never discovered that sex could be fun, and joyful, and fulfilling. Who’d never heard of the clitoris let alone known what it could do. Marie Stopes was just emerging onto the scene with her book Married Love where she made the shocking assertion that there was nothing wrong with indulging in sex for pleasure, not just for procreation. That is what is so intriguing about Claudia’s story.

Marie Stopes.jpg
But what’s equally if not more fascinating is having experienced her first sexual orgasm and discovered, in a rather unlikely way, that sex was not just lying back and thinking of England, Claudia’s life takes on a whole new meaning. Not only does she see things more clearly – literally – but it jolts her out of the semi-torpor that her life has become now her daughters have left home and she’s on her own with a husband working overseas. So she discovers things about herself, and her friends, she was unaware of.

Q:     So if Claudia’s husband is overseas that implies her sexual awakening is not at his hands, so to speak. Does that mean her marriage is over?

A:      You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Q:      You make references to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway – why is that?

A:      For fun. As I was reading the diary I kept thinking of Mrs Dalloway, who was of a similar age to Claudia. I had to do a certain amount of background research into the 1920s while I was writing the book, so I embedded references to some of the books and films of that period such as Mrs Dalloway and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, etc. etc.

Q:      What about Noel Coward? Did he appear in the diary?

A:      No, I made that up.

Q:      How much of it did you make up?

A:     As I said a lot of Claudia’s writing was elliptical, she referred to events and people in a roundabout way which made me wonder whether, even if she wasn’t deliberately writing for publication, she was aware people mind find her diary and at least read it, if not publish it. For example, the ‘inciting episode’ that sets the whole thing off: the surprise visit by a stranger – I could show you what she actually wrote, and you’d be hard-pressed to really know what happened. It’s only as the rest of her story unravels that I was able to figure out what went on between the two of them.

Q:      I’m curious to know more about Gabriel, the ‘messenger’. Is that why you called him Gabriel?

A:      Absolutely. Because that is what he is. The stranger who arrives out of the blue, delivers his dynamic message and goes again, never to reappear. Just as Gabriel did with the Virgin Mary. A lofty comparison, I realise, but it fits. Except he doesn’t make Claudia pregnant. That would be a miracle too far.

Q:      But who is he exactly? Is he really a colleague of her husband’s? In which case, did he send him? Or is he a kind of mythical figure?

A:      That is a very good question: who exactly is Gabriel and why would he do to Claudia what he did? The best answer I can come up with is he’s whoever you think he is. He is the catalyst, the instigator, the one who turns Claudia’s life around without becoming a part of that life. The basic plot is a familiar one: the stranger who arrives out of the blue and changes people’s lives. He’s the Inspector in An Inspector Calls – did he really exist? Or did he emerge from the family’s conscience?

Q:      How easy is it to write about over-age sex?

A:      ‘Over-age sex’, I like that! It’s no different to writing about any-age sex. If a woman – and a man – still have a sex drive in their fifties, or older, then what’s wrong with writing about it? I’ve used a wee bit of irony, because it’s taken Claudia so long to discover the fun in it. The whole book is a light-hearted take on sex in the 1920s, you could say.

FINAL ebook red lips

Available as ebook and paperback from
Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Barnes & NobleApple
and Booktopia (Aus)


The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faraday

Hidden in an attic for nearly 100 years, the secret diary of Claudia Faraday reveals the mildly scandalous adventures of a respectable 1920s society lady and mother of three, as she discovers for the first time that sex, even at her (slightly) advanced age, can be fun.

(Names have been changed to protect reputations)

Claudia ebook final

Now available as an ebook on amazon.co.uk, amazon.com and amazon.com.auBarnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks and Inktera

The paperback version will follow soon.