Thursday 16 April 2020

The Cotton Spinner
Libby Ashworth


When Jennet and Titus Eastwood are forced to move from their idyllic cottage into the centre of Blackburn to find work in the cotton mills, their lives are changed in ways they could never have imagined and their new home on Paradise Lane is anything but . . . Then Titus is arrested and sent to prison for attending a Reform meeting. Jennet is left to fend for herself and soon things go from bad to worse as Jennet finds herself pregnant and alone – with another man’s child . . .

I am delighted to be able to share with you some Q&As that the author has very kindly sent over to Boon's Bookcase on publication day. So put your feet up with a nice cuppa and read what inspired the author to write the book and about her career as an author.

Q&A's with the author

Where is The Cotton Spinner set?
The Mill Town Lasses is set in my home town, Blackburn in Lancashire. During the Industrial Revolution it grew from a small market town to a place that employed thousands of people in the mills.

Who are the main characters?
The main characters are Jennet and Titus Eastwood, and in the later books we meet Jennet’s sister Hannah and her friend Mary. Then book three focusses on Jennet’s daughters Peggy and Bessie. 

Do you have a link to the subject matter or the characters in The Mill Town Lasses series?
This is my family history! Jennet and Titus were my great, great, great, great grandparents. My ancestors moved from the small villages that surround Blackburn to work in the mills and it must have been a huge change for them. It would have been a tremendous change of lifestyle I wanted to tell the story of the hardships and the rewards that it brought.

How did you become a writer?
I don’t think I became a writer. I always was one. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories in my head. I had my first professional publication at the age of eleven when I sent an article about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to Diana magazine for girls. They printed it and paid me £1. I thought it would be easy to become a ‘real’ writer after that!

What’s the best thing about the writer’s life?
For me, now that I have a publishing deal, the best thing is being able to go to my desk and write without feeling guilty – without feeling that I should be doing something more important. I’ve always had to fit my writing in around other commitments, so it’s nice to be able to do what I enjoy doing and know that it’s earning me some money as well. Plus, I don’t have to go outside and can work in scruffy, comfortable clothes.

What else do you like to read for pleasure?

I’m a member of the Tuesday morning reading group at Blackburn library and I enjoy it because it challenges my reading choices. Since I joined a few years ago I’ve read books that I would never have picked up from the shelf. Some I haven’t been too keen on, but there have been some treasures. Our most recent read has been The Death’s Head Chess Club by John Donoghue. That’s something I would never have chosen for myself, but I enjoyed it. My next read is going to be the third book in Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy – The Mirror and the Light. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this one! I’ve also recently read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments – her follow up to A Handmaid’s Tail. I find I do tend to choose historical fiction to read and I spent my teens working my way through Catherine Cookson. I enjoy the
classics too with Elizabeth Gaskell being a favourite author, particularly North and South, which brings us back to the mills!

Where do you like to read or write?

My favourite place to read is in bed. My favourite place to write is probably at my desk in the small upstairs room, but writing involves a lot of thinking and I can do that anywhere and often do, even if it does look like staring into vacant space rather than working.

If you could trade places with anyone in history who would be?

That’s a tricky question. The past is so full of squalid housing and horrible diseases I’m not sure I would want to go there at all. Although I like reading and writing about the past I rather like living in the present, besides when I describe my childhood and my grandmother’s tin bath and outside toilet it sounds like ancient history anyway. So I think if I went back in time it would have to be to change places with someone who had a fairly privileged lifestyle. Maybe I would have to choose Elizabeth I. She had more power than any other woman in history that I can think of – and power is always a useful thing.

The Cotton Spinner, the first in the Mill Town Lasses series by Libby Ashworth, is published by Arrow in physical and e-book on 16th April

To order a copy of the paperback on Amazon click here

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