Romantic Novelists' Association

Fenella Miller: Why I Became A Historical Romance Writer.

15 March 2019

I’m delighted to welcome Fenella J Miller to the blog today. Fenella’s latest novel, The Spitfire Girl in the Skies is released on April 2nd and is the second in an exciting new series. Fenella is going to chat to us about how she became a historical fiction writer.

When I first started writing romantic fiction, I was in my 20s and still reading contemporary romance. As often happens, especially to women, career and family got in the way and my writing dreams had to be put to one side.

Eventually I was in a position to start writing full-time. I was struggling to find my voice until someone told me that I should write what I read. I no longer read contemporary romance, I only read historical fiction and thrillers. I didn’t want to write thrillers – too much violence – so I switched to historical romance.

A year later I sold two Regency romances and became a published writer. I continued to write in this genre for a few years and then decided I wanted to try something else as well.

I had always been fascinated by World War II and particularly the RAF as both my father and stepfather were pilots in the war. This led me to research about this wonderful service and, instead of writing, I was buying book after book about the brave men who saved our country from invasion in the Battle of Britain.

I wrote the first in a three-book series set in World War II called Barbara’s War. I had an agent then but she was unable to place this book. I also wrote the first book in my four book Victorian series, The Nightingale Chronicles, this too failed to find a traditional publisher.

As indie publishing on Amazon had become so accessible, I was already publishing my twenty-five book backlist of Regency romances with great success. Therefore, it made sense to put these books on Amazon myself.

I write historical fiction because I love the research involved. Aria Head of Zeus bought my latest WW2 series and I’m loving being back with a traditional publisher. I am now bit of an expert on the ATA and fighter planes – every incident involving aircraft in my, The Spitfire Girl, series actually happened. Obviously, not all to the same young woman, but Ellie, my heroine, was destined to lead a very exciting life.

It takes far longer to write historical fiction if you want to do it properly as every fact has to be checked. I am writing surrounded by a dozen open books as well as several folders of printed material. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful place.

When trying to find out if officers in the WAAF shared the same mess with officers in the RAF I read about another group of women that I’d never heard of. I now know what my next series will be about. I can’t wait to begin the research.

Thanks, Fenella. I can’t wait to find out more about your new series. 

The ATA is a fascinating area of history, and a wonderful setting for your stories, but it’s quite different from your earlier work.  How difficult was it to make the switch?

I had already written seven other WW2 family sagas. The only difference was that this time my heroine was a pilot as well as my heroes.

How did you approach your research into the women of the ATA? Could you offer any advice to writers on how best to tackle areas of history still within living memory?

There a dozen or more excellent autobiographies as well as many biographies and research books to use. The internet is also a wonderful place to find answers to questions not in a research book.

Will you be continuing the series? If so, could you give us a sneak preview into when we might expect more?

The third and final book, The Spitfire Girl, Over & Out, will be out this October. I am writing the last few chapters at the moment.

Thank you again, Fenella, it’s been fascinating talking to you. I wish you every success with the book.

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full-time writer.

She has over forty Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, four Victorian sagas and seven WW2 family sagas. She lives in a pretty, riverside village in Essex with her British Shorthair cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.

@fenellawriter (twitter)

Fenella J Miller (Facebook)