Thursday, April 14, 2016

WHEN IT RAINED AT HEMBRY CASTLE: An Interview with Bestselling Author Meredith Allard

"Fans of Downton Abbey will flock to this Victorian era, 
upstairs downstairs tale."
—Paula Day, The Copperfield Review

When It Rained at Hembry Castle by Meredith Allard

When It Rained at Hembry Castle 
(The Hembry Castle Chronicles, Book 1) 
by Meredith Allard

Publication Date: January 28, 2016
Copperfield Press
Paperback & eBook; 465 Pages
Series: The Hembry Castle Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary
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From Meredith Allard, author of the bestselling Loving Husband Trilogy, comes When It Rained at Hembry Castle, a lush historical novel set in Victorian England. Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, it's the story of an aristocratic family, a mysterious death, secrets that dare not be told, and the wonder of falling in love. When the 8th Earl of Staton dies, his eldest son, the unreliable Richard, inherits the title and the family s home Hembry Castle. The Earl's niece, the American-born Daphne, is intrigued by Edward Ellis, a rising author with a first-hand knowledge of Hembry Castle from the servants hall. And Edward, though captivated by the lovely Daphne, has his own hurdles he must overcome.

Can Richard come to terms with his title before bringing ruin on his family? Will Edward and Daphne find their way to each other despite the obstacles of life at Hembry Castle?  

When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a page-turning, romantic novel with vivid characters and an engrossing story that will keep you guessing until the end.

Q&A with Meredith Allard

In 250 words or less, what can you tell us about your newest release?
When It Rained at Hembry Castle is an historical novel inspired by Downton Abbey. I’ve been a fan of Charles Dickens’ since college, and about 20 years ago I came up with the idea of writing a novel set in Victorian England with a character who would be loosely based on Dickens’ early life. I loved the idea but kept it on the back burner while I was teaching and writing other novels. Finally, in 2014 I had finished my other projects and I was able to start working on this Victorian era novel. During that time I had become a big fan of Downton Abbey, and it so happens that Dickens’ grandparents were in service. Somehow, my active imagination managed to find a way to intertwine this character who was loosely based on Dickens with a Downton Abbey-like story, complete with upstairs/downstairs stories. At its heart, When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a clean romance between Edward Ellis, the up and coming writer, and Daphne Meriwether, the American niece of the 9th Earl of Staton.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
My greatest challenge as a writer has always been getting through the first draft. Like many writers, my first drafts aren’t very good, and I know they’re not very good while I’m writing them. It’s painful for me to write something when I know that most of the draft is going to end up being deleted or heavily revised. While writing that first draft isn’t fun, I know that it’s necessary because without a first draft there’s no second draft, third draft, or polished final version. For whatever reason, that’s the way my brain works and I’ve had to make peace with that. Whenever I’m writing a first draft, I just keep reminding myself that I need to push through and keep going because eventually I’ll have the story I meant to write from the beginning.

Do you consider your books plot-driven or character-driven? Is that how you naturally write, or do is there a purpose for what you chose?
My goal is to write novels where the plot and the characters are intricately intertwined. I always start with the characters. Who are the people in this story, and why are they interesting? Once I have the characters clearly in mind, then I start to work my way through the plot, though I always want the plot to come from an understanding of the characters. I want the readers to feel as though they understand why the characters make the choices they do. I do like to throw some twists and turns into the plot so it’s not entirely predictable, and I believe I did that in When It Rained at Hembry Castle. I’ve heard from a few readers that there were a couple of surprises in there. For me, the characters and the plot have to be connected.

How much research do you do?
Since I write historical fiction I do a lot of research. I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction about the era, and I watch TV shows and movies set in the era. I even enjoy listening to music from the era. When I can, I travel to the places I’m writing about. I was able to visit London twice for some research for When It Rained at Hembry Castle, and that made all the difference when writing the London scenes. I’ve changed the way I research over the years. I used to do months of research and then write the novel, but now I research as I’m writing. This way, I don’t waste time taking notes about something that isn’t going to end up in the story. I know exactly what information I need, and that helps me keep my research focused.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?
I love history, so writing historical fiction is a great way for me to learn about different eras. I remember reading books like Shogun and The Clan of the Cave Bear and falling in love with historical fiction. In 2000, after I wrote  my first historical novel, I started a literary journal of historical fiction, The Copperfield Review (yes, named for the Dickens novel). There’s something wonderful to  me about bringing history to life in a way that prompts readers’ curiosity about that time period. One of the best compliments I’ve received from readers is that they looked up some nonfiction about the era after they read my novel. For When It Rained at Hembry Castle, I was able to study Victorian England, which is a time I’ve found interesting since college. It was a lot of fun bringing Victorian England to life, especially things like the language of fans. In the Victorian era, the way a woman held her fan held secret messages. I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to write in my favorite genre.

"In every lovingly written descriptive passage, amusingly drawn character and intriguing twist of plot, reverence for Dickens is there throughout. Allard has clearly done her research, and there is plenty here to keep fans of historical fiction happy. When It Rained at Hembry Castle offers an eloquent and enjoyable read with Allard's clear, strong voice. Be on the lookout for what will surely be a welcome follow-up to this very satisfying tale."
Self-Publishing Review, 5 Stars

03_Meredith AllardAbout the Author
Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother's Battle. Her newest release, the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, is a great read for fans of Downton Abbey. Visit Meredith online at You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


04_WIRAHC_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
Blog Tour Schedule
Thursday, April 14
Interview at Books and Benches 
Giveaway at Passages to the Past 

Friday, April 15 
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch 
Interview at The Book Connection 

Monday, April 18 
Review at Book Nerd 

Tuesday, April 19 
Excerpt & Giveaway at CelticLady's Review 

Wednesday, April 20 
Review & Giveaway at A Holland Reads 

Friday, April 22 

Saturday, April 23 
Guest Post & Giveaway at Brooke Blogs 

Sunday, April 24 

Monday, April 25 
Review at Luxury Reading 
Excerpt & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation



  1. I had a lot of fun doing the interview for your site. Thanks for featuring When It Rained at Hembry Castle.

    1. It was a great pleasure to welcome you to the blog, Meredith! Thank you for sharing with the readers.

  2. I'm so glad I saw this post today and so very glad to be introduced to Meredith's writing. I've put her Husband trilogy on my wish list and have purchased the Hembry Castle book this morning. Lovely interview...and I think I'll try coloring!

    1. I bought this book, too. It sounded too good to pass up.