Ever since I penned my first multi-page story at the age of six, I knew I wanted to be an author. Always drawn to stories set in the past, I loved authors such as Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery as a girl, before I discovered Jane Austen as a teenager. I felt destined to pen similar stories of love and self-discovery, set in fascinating eras of history.
Despite writing throughout my younger years, I was in my twenties before I knuckled down to finish a book. After I completed my first full-length historical, I began to write a sequel. Featuring a jilted female minor character from the first book, I planned to have a vicar help her through her process of recovery, and have the two characters fall in love through her healing. The book never went anywhere – the heroine was weak and insipid and I soon lost steam. But the hero, the vicar, remained in the back of my mind.
The next book I wrote was a contemporary, and even through that process the vicar would not leave me alone. His character developed almost against my will. He kept telling me tales of his mercy missions in the seedy parts of London. He told me about how he was given a living in a small village, but that he would much rather be sailing the seas to adventures in exotic lands. I was moved by his compassion, his earnestness, and his heart. I wrote the opening pages of what would become The Vagabond Vicar as a shiny new idea while I was supposed to be focusing on editing and finishing the contemporary. I knew I had to find him a heroine worthy of his affections; one he would not be able to keep away from despite his ambitions.
Cecilia came to me almost fully formed as well. I knew she had to be the bright, shining foil to William’s serious, intense existence. They both dwell in other realities – his focus is on helping the undercurrent of society, while she lives in an imagined world of colour and light. It seemed obvious she would be an artist. She is pulled back down to earth by the need to marry, and her mother’s determination to see her settled within a titled family.
The village of Amberley, where the story takes place, is an amalgamation of many historical settings I have read or seen on television. The village of Cranford is probably what was clearest in my mind as I wrote – the gossipy older ladies, the small tight-knit group of families and the mixing of classes which a small town necessitates. This is also a village hiding secrets and shames, and when a scandal comes to light it leads to a series of events which will change everything. The blossoming affection between our hero and heroine is torn apart and ghosts from the vicar’s past may cause his downfall. I hope you enjoy finding out what happens next.
THE VAGABOND VICAR is now available at your favourite online retailer.
Charlotte Brentwood writes unashamedly romantic books for fans of classic love stories. She enjoys exploring her beautiful surroundings in Auckland, New Zealand almost as much as snuggling her cat while devouring novels. Find out more at www.charlottebrentwood.com.
[Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Charlotte for writing here on BiblioSmiles. It should be mentioned that all contributors retain the rights to their posts; I’m just happy to have the chance to share your work here!]