CST Harding always wanted to be a writer although cruelly, was forced to be a banker and even an IT manager. He trained as an archeologist giving him a deep respect and lifelong love of history,
After raising a family, he was eventually released for good behaviour, decided to write, and this is his debut novel.
Henrietta Jones is an outrageous girl who affects everyone she meets. Her world is 1870’s Paris at the start of La Belle Epoque, when France is regaining confidence, and starts to pour out a stream of cultural innovations from Haute couture to Impressionism.
The book is filled with characters who who are difficult, peverse and contradictory, but generally loveable, as they fix most of the problems of the day,
Author Interview with “ItsWriteNow”
How did the idea for your book begin? I wanted to write about a girl who was headstrong outrageous and successful. It all began with a vision of Harry running into a fight to rescue a boy, who was outnumbered and losing. She rescues him of course, but then abuses and infuriates him. She proceeds to lead him a dance though London and Paris, on both sides of the law, as she turns France upside down. For much of the book he remains cross with her until finally…..
What was the most important thing that you wanted to say in your book? I have always loved romance which is perhaps unusual for a guy, but was never happy with meek wimpy heroines who did little. I wanted a heroine, who was a high achiever, who changed the lives of everyone, whilst remaining at heart just a a vulnerable girl. Many of the characters are a picture of opposites. To me, that is what makes them endearing.
Did you include any life experiences in your book? Oh yes. I have worked with a number of extraordinary women. Many of them have contributed a little part of themselves in Henrietta Jones. I could name perhaps six or seven for whom I have deep respect, but who would be surprised at their latest incarnation.
What was the most rewarding thing about writing the book? Seeing where all the characters end up. There are a number of interesting characters and they each start with some qualities that expand into a personality, and which then grow foibles and contradictions, ambitions and hopes. They take on a life of their own and I love watching them cope with life’s problems. I have to see where they lead.
How did the characters come to you? I find working out in the Gym often helps! Often I start with an idea, and as I am cycling, a snatch of conversation pops into my head, something that helps define the character. For instance in one scene, a couple of violent men are trying to intimidatie Harry, and I was actually on the cross-trainer when I realised they absolutely must have secret ambitions to open a florist! Yes I know I am mad!