Rosy Thornton had managed to reach the age of 40 without ever attempting to write a novel. In fact, she had written no fiction at all since the 'imaginative essays' she was obliged to produce at school . But BBC started broadcasting an adaptation of North and South by Mrs Gaskell and Rosy started watching it ...
Cambridgeshire is her home now. In her  daily existence she is  a lecturer and Fellow in Law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She teaches and writes on an eclectic mix of topics, including landlord and tenant law, trusts, homelessness, and women and the law.
You'll find more about her at her website .
Here's her RA Friday  post.

Regular readers of this blog will have read with great enjoyment, as I did, the recent guest spot on RA Friday by romantic novelist Phillipa Ashley. Phillipa told us how she began writing fiction as a direct result of watching the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of North and South – with the gorgeously smouldering Richard Armitage in the leading rôle as mill owner John Thornton.

Well, ‘do not adjust your sets’, as they used to say on telly when I was a kid. You haven’t scrolled back down to Phillipa’s post by mistake. It’s just that my own story is uncannily similar. My own career as a novelist was also kicked off by watching RA in his waistcoat and cravat on Sunday evenings.

I didn’t know Phillipa then, though we have a lot in common, besides our love of period drama (and Richard!). Both of us have careers involving writing for a living (she as journalist and copy writer, me as an academic lawyer). Both of us reached our forties without ever thinking of writing a novel.

When the closing credits rolled at the end of the final episode of North and South, I was buzzing with excitement, but I also felt bereft.  Like Phillipa, I went online to find other people who had been inspired by the serial. Like Phillipa, I had a go at writing fanfic based on the characters of John and Margaret – in my case, a Victorian pastiche sequel to Gaskell’s novel. And, like Phillipa, I found that when my fanfic was finished I’d been bitten by the storytelling bug, and went on to have a go at writing my first independent novel.

The voice I discovered was contemporary and humorous – quite different from the historical one, imitative of Gaskell, that I had used for my fanfic. But the story I found to tell owed a lot to North and South. The heroine of my first novel, More Than Love Letters, is a clergyman’s daughter, and actually named Margaret by her father after Margaret Hale in North and South. My Margaret is very much a Victorian heroine out of her time: all pale skin and dark curls and burning moral zeal. Like Gaskell’s Margaret, she moves to a new town where she meets – and eventually falls in love with – a man considerably her senior who is already an established figure in the community. My hero is not a mill owner and magistrate but the town’s MP – and it’s no coincidence that his name is Richard. No prizes for guessing whose picture was in my mind as I was writing the book!

I was lucky enough to find a literary agent who liked the novel and agreed to represent me. He helped me knock it into shape for publication, and landed me a two-book contract with Headline in March 2006. By an amazing coincidence, Phillipa Ashley signed a two-book deal with the same publisher just a few weeks later! We had encouraged each other’s writing since the early, fanfic days, and egged each other into taking the plunge and sending our work to agents. Now we were both breaking into print together. It was – and still remains for me – a dream come true.

There have been other novels since More Than Love Letters. My fourth and latest, The Tapestry of Love, was released in paperback last month. But none of it would have happened without the support and friendship of Phillipa and the rest of the North and South fanfic community – and the inspiration of Richard Armitage on my TV screen with his sombre suit, silk cravat and sexy, brooding stare.
Thanks Rosy for this lovely blogpost!  


Two lucky commenters can win a copy of "More than Love Letters" or "The Tapestry of Love" by Rosy Thornton. The giveaway is open worldwide and ends next Thursday December 2nd.  Don't forget to add your e-mail address and ... good luck! Have a very good weekend!


Marcie said...

These books sound great! Please enter me. marcie.turner@yahoo.com

Mystica said...

Though I have read the first book and waiting to get to the second, I would like to be counted in for this giveaway.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many writers Gaskell's John Thornton played by RA has inspired and keeps inspiring.

I'd like to participate too: carolyn_0086(at)yahoo(dot)it

Thanks MG and Rosy for the giveaway.

OML :)

Traxy said...

What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing, Rose. Good luck with the new book, and future writings as well! :)

Count me in. Especially interested in the first book, but the second would be just as eagerly read! dishmastah(at)traxy(dot)net

Margay Leah Justice said...

Rosy, I know what you mean. Although North and South didn't inspire me to start writing (I've been writing for a long time now), it did inspire me to try my hand at historical romance. And my hero does bear a remarkable resemblance to a certain Richard!

I've never heard of a retelling of North and South, but I have toyed with the idea myself.


FeliciaS said...

I'd love to be entered in the drawing.



Anonymous said...

I would be lying if I didn't say that RA was the inspiration for Finnian of A Thousand Glass Flowers, a fantasy currently in copy-edit. He's also the inspiration for my blog fan-fict, The Sheriff's Collector.

I'd love to (seriously or not!) propose that all those who have been inspired to write by the characters he has played, get together for a conference, or form a college or some such. I offer Hobart, Tasmania as the place for the conference, (Not far from NZ for those who want to visit LOTR and Hobbit country) and please enter me for the draw.


buddyt said...

It really is ammazing the effect North and South has had.

I expect me might still see some more authors crediting the series for them starting to write !

Please enter me in the giveaway.
Either book would do, although obviously the first one would be best !

Thanks for opening it up to worldwide entries.
Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Rosy Thornton said...

Thank you so much. Maria, for letting me come here and share my story. Thanks for your comments, everyone - and great to hear how you, too, were inspired to write novels by RA, Margay and Mesmered! I love the idea of a get-together for all RA-inspired writers, Mesmered - though Australia could be tricky for me!

Anonymous said...

I have read and loved More Than Love Letters, so I'd like to win Tapestry of Love. Please count me in.

patti-wolit at tiscali.it

Anonymous said...

I would love to win one of your books. Have been following all the fan fic writers on C19 and have been really empressed.



Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I didn't see North & South until it came out on DVD, as I think I was looking for costume dramas to watch, but since discovering Richard Armitage in this I've watched everything he's been in and can see why he makes such a perfect hero for a romantic novel.

Blodeuedd said...

It was the mentioning of Richard that got me to come over, awww I adore that series! he is just the most handsome man in the whole world.

And I would love to read More than Love letters since I enjoyed her latest book :)
blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I would love to read More Than Love Letters (I already have read Tapestry of Love).

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

trudereads said...

I would love to read one of her books, I've never read one from this author but what I have read about her now, and after visiting her website i very much like to have a copy of one.

So I'd love to be entered in the drawing.

Greetings from Trude (the Netherlands)

trude 815 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I've got the DVD to watch, maybe this snowy weather is ideal time to do it. I discovered RA through SPOOKS. I would love to win either novel. Thanks,


sw said...

I love how North and South has inspired so many people to do creative things. I do more visual art, while others write wonderful stories.

lesmissy1 AT yahoo DOT com.

Phylly3 said...

Fabulous to hear your story straight from you! I had heard it before of course. It is so inspiring and wonderful that I can't get enough of it! (Just like Richard!)
I would love to read either one of your books! I have come late to the fanfic scene and am finally reading some online, but I much prefer to have an actual solid book in my hand. I love all sorts of romantic fiction. Please enter me in your draw.
phylly3 AT gmail dot com

Rosy Thornton said...

Thank you for all your kind comments, everyone!

Phillipa Ashley said...

So sorry to be very late to this party but Real Life has taken me over - I just wanted to say that I've enjoyed this fantastic RA-fuelled journey and hearing RT's account of it.

I thought ToL was Rosy's best book to day and loved it.

Suwaida said...

Oh my goodness! I've been searching for Rosy Thornton and Philippa Ashley titles ever since I discovered C-19 nearly a year ago. I still haven't found copies here and here's my chance I guess! Lovely interview Rosy! I loved the review of MTLL on Vulpes Libres and have wanted to read it since.


Rosy Thornton said...

Thanks, Arabella. Glad you have tracked us down at last!

Maria Grazia said...

Hello from London, everyone! What a surprise to find so many lovely comments. I haven't had much time for blogging from here and I've been able to check. Thank you so much Rosy for being my guest and to all the commenters good luck for the double giveaway! Best xx MG

Rosy Thornton said...

By the way, if anybody would like a copy of my original North and South fanfic 'sequel', I am happy to send it out by e-mail. Just contact me here and let me know an e-mail address where I an send it:


Avalon said...

Both books sound awesome and what an inspiration. Good luck and I hope many more creative ideas come your way.


maribea said...

I'm so in love with Elizabeth Gaskell and her work that I wish you all the best with your writing career. Of course, I would really love to read your novels!
I'm maribea@tiscali.it
Best wishes
M Beatrice

Lúthien84 said...

Wow, quite a number of writers I read are inspired by something they watch on BBC. BBC should be applauded and credited for doing a wonderful job in creating new professions by screening good drama series.

Please enter me for this giveaway btw.


Padme0729 said...

Dear Ones:

I would love to be entered in the giveaway.


All Love
Padme A'Tea (Lyn Gilbert)

Bookfool said...

What a lovely tale of inspiration. Please add me to the list of names you toss in the hat:

bookfoolery at gmail dot com