UNDER THE MISTLETOE is my latest Christmas duet with Bronwyn Scott (and it’s out now, in case you didn’t know). When we first started talking about it, we both had ‘stray’ characters from other series whose story we wanted to tell. Bronwyn’s story, Doctor Peverett’s Christmas Miracle is the last in her Peverett’s of Haverstock Hall series. In my story, The Lady’s Yuletide Wish, my heroine is Isabella Armstrong, another of my anti-hero Lord Henry Armstrong’s daughters, who started out life in the ARMSTRONG SISTERS series.
What is it about Lord Armstrong that makes me go back to him, time and time again? He’s a pretty horrible man, a patriarch who sees his progeny (male and female) as chess pieces that he’s free to move about in his diplomatic game however he chooses. He has an undeservedly high opinion of himself, and part of the pleasure in writing him is bringing him down to size – not that he ever knows it’s being done. I’ve given him two wives, and I’ve made both (spoiler alert) unfaithful to him. I’ve given him the sons he so desperately desires, but I’ve made his daughters much more successful. He is not loved, he’s barely respected, he has power – though not as much as he thinks – he’s single-minded and narrow-minded and weak. Oh, I love Lord Armstrong.
Isabella, my heroine in UNDER THE MISTLETOE was born to Lord Armstrong’s second wife, a late arrival after the precious sons were born, and one barely acknowledged by her father. I always knew she’d be estranged from her family, but I had no idea what she did with her life, and for a long time no opportunity to write it. When Bronwyn suggested that we set our stories in the aftermath of the Crimean War, and told me that her heroine would be a nurse, something clicked in my brain – and so finally I began to explore Isabella’s story.
When we were putting together some videos for Tiktok and Instagram to promote UNDER THE MISTLETOE, I thought it might be fun to finally link the Lord Armstrong books together. Showing my age for a moment, there is a classic video of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues that was always shown on the epic end of year Old Grey Whistle Test (a nerdy music programme on the BBC) that I really enjoy, and I thought I’d have a go at paying a tribute to it. I did, and put it up on social media, but got a few people saying that it was too fast, and asking for a slowed-down version. So this is a long winded introduction.
Here it is. Enjoy.
I reckon there’s life in the Armstrong Family yet! What do you think?