Minette Walters is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers and has sold over 25 million copies of her books worldwide. She has won the CWA John Creasey Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and two CWA Gold Daggers. The Swift and the Harrier is her third historical novel. She lives in Dorset with her husband.
In this post, Minette discusses why she chose to write her new historical fiction novel, The Swift and The Harrier, how she brought to life the strength and courage of the women in this moment in history, and more!
Name: Minette Walters
Literary agent: Jane Gregory, David Higham, London, UK
Book title: The Swift and The Harrier
Release date: July 12, 2022
Genre/category: Historical Fiction
Previous titles: The Turn of Midnight (under option); The Last Hours (under option); The Cellar; A Dreadful Murder; Innocent Victims; The Chameleon’s Shadow; Chickenfeed; The Devil’s Feather; The Tinder Box; Disordered Minds; Fox Evil; Acid Row; The Shape of Snakes; The Breaker; The Echo; The Dark Room; The Scolds Bridle; The Sculptress; The Ice House
Elevator pitch for the book: England, 1642. When bloody civil war breaks out between the King and Parliament, families and communities are riven by different allegiances. The Swift and The Harrier is a sweeping tale of adventure and loss, sacrifice and love, with a unique and unforgettable heroine at its heart.
What prompted you to write this book?
The middle decades of the 17th century saw deep political division in the British Isles, with civil war being the inevitable result of the struggle for power between King Charles I and Parliament. I was interested in how this impacted ordinary people, who were forced to take sides whether they wanted to or not.
My county of Dorset changed hands several times during the war and saw fierce fighting, particularly during the sieges of Lyme Regis and Weymouth, and this caused many to question where their allegiances really lay. The Swift and the Harrier follows the stories of families from both sides of the divide and how they cope with the triumphs and defeats in what seems to be a never-ending conflict.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
Two years, though my interest in the Civil War has been of much longer duration. It meant I had a good working knowledge of the period against which to set the story. The idea—to follow the journeys of Jayne Swift, the daughter of a Royalist, and William Harrier, a committed Parliamentarian—never changed.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Only the usual! Delight to have it well-received by editors, pleasure to be offered a striking cover, joy to sign off on the galleys, satisfaction to receive the final copies, and immense relief when positive reviews from critics and readers began landing in my inbox.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I was surprised to discover through my research how proactive women were during the war. The siege of Lyme Regis, which involves several chapters in the book, is historically accurate in its portrayal of the women of Lyme, who defended their town as ably and gallantly as the men. I loved bringing their strength, courage, and indomitable spirit to the page.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Find the stamina to finish. To misquote Thomas Edison: “A novel is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”