16 Jun 2020 Interview with The Widow's Secret author Katharine Swartz

Blog | Author Interviews

Since our last chat with Lion Fiction author Katharine Swartz, she's been busy writing The Widow's Secret the fourth title in the wonderful Tales from Goswell series, and we know many of you can't wait to read it!

Here Katharine chats with us about what inspired her to write The Widow's Secret, the Whitehaven slave trade, and what she most enjoyed about writing the Tales from Goswell series.

The Widow's Secret

Tales from Goswell series

Katharine Swartz

"Katharine Swartz weaves an enthralling dual timeline story with a unique premise. I was truly captivated by this heart-wrenching novel" - Suzanne Kelman, Amazon International Bestselling author of A View Across the Rooftops

Marine archaeologist Rachel Gardener is thrilled to be summoned to the coast of Cumbria to investigate a newly discovered shipwreck. She is also relieved to escape the tensions of her troubled marriage, and to be closer to her ailing mother.

But when a mysteriously sunken ship is discovered to be a slaving ship from the 1700s, Rachel is determined to explore the town of Whitehaven’s link to the slave trade and soon she learns of Abigail Fenton, the young wife of a slave trader, who has a surprising secret of her own. The more Rachel learns about Abigail, the more she wonders if the past can inform the present… Can Rachel learn from Abigail and break free from her troubled history and embrace the future she longs to claim for her own?

What inspired you to write The Widow’s Secret?

I was intrigued to learn of Whitehaven’s slave trade, and wanted to explore that in the historical setting I’ve written all the Goswell books in. I’ve always been interested in historical novels that reflect the attitudes of the time, rather than transpose 21st century values on people from a very different time, so I was hoping to do that with The Widow’s Secret, and give modern-day readers a thought-provoking glimpse into the past.

Can you tell us a little about The Widow’s Secret for readers who have not read your book yet?

The Widow’s Secret is the fourth book in The Tales from Goswell series, and has a contemporary heroine, Rachel, who is a marine archaeologisgt. When she discovers the wreck of a slave ship, she is intrigued by the secrets of the past—and how the lessons learned then reflect on her own life.

You explore slavery and the town of Whitehaven’s link to the slave trade in The Widow’s Secret. Is this something you were interested in exploring before writing the book and did you research this before writing?

I have been interested in Britain’s abolitionist movement for a long time, and wanted to write about it from a slightly different angle. The research was interesting but also challenging, as there is not a great deal of material specific to Whitehaven. Fortunately, a friend who worked in the local archives helped, and also the museum in Whitehaven, The Rum Story, was very enlightening. I also read a lot of books about women’s lives in Georgian times, which was fascinating and sometimes harrowing!

How did you find interweaving a dual timeline in The Widow’s Secret?

I always love interweaving the dual timeline of a book, and how the two stories reflect one another, and give added depth. It’s an adventure, discovering how the two stories can relate not just in terms of plot, but also theme and character.

This is your fourth book in The Tales from Goswell series. What do you most enjoy about writing this series and how does The Widow’s Secret fit within the series?

I’ve loved this series as it is set in the village where I used to live, and so it’s always a pleasure to return there, even if only in my imagination. I’ve also enjoyed revisiting characters from previous books in the series, and seeing what they’ve got up to! In this book, Jane from the first book in the series, The Vicar’s Wife, makes a bigger appearance, and it was satisfying to continue her story a bit.

What are you working on now? Can we expect any more books from you in the future?

I am currently working on a historical novel set in Berlin right after the second world war. I don’t have any more Goswell books planned at the moment, but if an idea sparks my interest, there might be another...

The Widow's Secret is available as an e-book and in paperback.

Check out the other wonderful titles in the Tales from Goswell series here.