University of Chester | English graduate fulfils dream with publication of debut romance novel
So grateful for the amazing support of the staff at the University of Chester. In September I was featured in Authors Corner as part of their virtual reunion, 2020, run by the alumni. Today, they've posted a story about my fantasy/paranormal romance series The Guardians' Trust... given this support, I now feel slightly guilty about killing off a few Chester Uni students in my series!
Article by Gemma Sproston 11th December 2020, Chester University.
Ever since her childhood, Beth Linton has always loved writing, often taking to her mother’s old typewriter to craft her stories.
And now the University of Chester English graduate has realised a lifelong dream having not only published the first three books in her debut romance novel series, but also being commissioned to write two more for the collection.
Inspired by living in Wrexham, on the Welsh-English border, the book is part of a romance series and it is steeped in local history and mythology.
Beth, who gained a Master’s in Creative and Critical Writing in 2008, explained: “When my son started school I decided to stay working part-time and use the gained school hours to write rather than returning to full-time employment. I began to look into local history and Celtic (and wider) mythology. From there I came up with the idea for The Guardians’ Trust. The romance series has both fantasy and paranormal features and the story germinated from this historical, cultural and local research.
“The central idea linking these aspects is the idea of the doppelganger – the idea of doubles. In my series women are born identical, one in this world, one in another realm and it is their fate to change places and make an arranged marriage with the man Mother Nature birthed as her mate.
“The series features many places locals to Chester will recognise. The hall the Guardians live in is based upon the National Trust’s Erddig in North Wales, the heroine in book one is a vet at Chester Zoo, and the heroine in book three is a junior doctor at the Maelor Hospital, Wrexham. In fact, some of my villain’s victims are students from the University!”
When it came to writing her novel in the romance genre, the advice of one of her lecturers was at the forefront of Beth’s mind.
She said: “One of my most striking memories as a student was a session where we discussed the type of writers we wanted to be. When it was my turn, I offered that I wanted to write romance novels. I must have said this rather apologetically because the lecturer gave me a very kind telling off and told me not to apologise for wanting to write in a genre millions of people love.
“That message has stuck with me. I write for fun, relaxation and because I’m driven to do so. I write romance because that genre offers entertainment, escapism and, yes, passion. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the romance genre has seen a resurgence in sales during the summer of 2020. While many have turned to apocalyptic novels for a sense of catharsis during this difficult time, a vast number have turned to romance for comfort.”
For Beth it was important to write characters based upon her own experience as a reader of romance.
She said: “Too many heroines in romance novels are passive. They wait pliantly and suffer before they find happiness. They hope for a man to ride in on his white horse or motorcycle – depending on the century of the story – and change their lives for them. As a 21st-century reader, I want to read about strong women. Professional, educated, confident women. Women who have passion for their career, who take care of themselves and then, yes, comfortable in their own skin, standing on their own two feet, they take the passion and love on offer because it suits them – not because they need to.
“I have done my best to create women I’d like to be friends with. They are intelligent, fun and strong: doctor, vet, survivor or soldier (for Greenpeace and the British Army. They all have passion and guts.”
Describing herself as ‘thrilled, terrified, and angst-ridden’ when she learned her book had been accepted by a publisher, Beth says her favourite moment was when she received her cover art work.
She said: “I literally lost sleep worrying what the cover would look like, but the final draft is just simply wonderful. I’ve got it framed on my office wall – my dream come true.”
The first three books in the series are now available and Beth looks forward to more of the series being released in the New Year.
To learn more about Beth Linton and The Guardians’ Trust series, visit www.bethlinton.co.uk. Beth is also on Goodreads and Amazon, and The Guardians’ Trust: Ana can be downloaded from all the usual e-book platforms.
Extract from The Guardians' Trust: Ana (book 1):
Ana’s cup hit the table, its contents sloshing onto the wood unnoticed. “Human? What, from fourteenth century history we’re now talking UFOs?”
Maddox laughed. “Not extra-terrestrials, no.” His expression sobered, his belief in his next words evident. “But Others.”
“Others?” Ana squeaked. Glancing around, she was relieved to see the kiosk worker was still there. A handful of tourists mulled around, too. She wasn’t alone—her skepticism would have done Scully proud, if not Mulder. “Look I saw the X-Files, who hasn’t? But Others? If the Trust is some sort of cult or something, I’m really not up for recruitment.”
Pryce almost smiled. “We are largely what we appear to be. A family who works in the Trust the Gatekeeper’s replacement formed centuries ago to keep our land safe.”
Ana frowned. They had both seemed so normal, and good-looking. It was such a shame. “And these Others?”
“I am an Other,” Maddox said calmly. “Or rather my parents were. I was conceived in the Other Realm and came here when still inside my mother’s womb.”
“The gateway between the two worlds is one of those secrets we spoke of,” Pryce said.
Ana stared from one to the other. How could two such respected businessmen be quietly bonkers and the world hadn’t noticed? “Next you’ll be telling me you are three hundred years old as well,” she scoffed.
Pryce shook his head, his lips twitching again. “I’m thirty-one.”
“I, on the other hand,” Maddox said, “am six hundred eighteen years old. My father’s Double was the Gatekeeper. I was born to take his place. I am the Caretaker of the Guardians’ Trust.”
“Six hundred eighteen?” Ana said faintly. She really needed to make her excuses and go.
“Given my youthful good looks,” Maddox said and smiled roguishly, “I can see why you’d doubt me, but every word we have said is true. We protect the land and the secret gateway it holds.”
Ana searched for something to say. She felt like a character in one of those novels where an impossible secret was told and the heroine was just supposed to swallow it. She glanced around warily. Perhaps she was being filmed? What was that American show called? Candid Camera? Did they even still make it?
This was ridiculous!
With deliberate care, Ana pushed her cup away. “I’m not sure what’s going on, or if someone put you up to this, but I think your joke is over.” She started to rise. “I thank you for the coffee, but I have work to do.”
“Tell me,” Maddox said as she climbed to her feet, “do you ever dream of a jungle?”
Ana froze, one leg mid-air over the picnic bench she’d been sitting on. “What did you say?”
“Do you ever dream of a jungle?”
Slowly, Ana lowered herself back down to the bench. “That’s impossible,” she said. “I never told anyone about my dream.”
“And yet I know,” Maddox said, his expression one of infinite patience. “The jungle in your dreams is dense and green but not flat. It coats cliffs and mountains of jagged peaks and deep ravines. There are terracotta cliffs and yellow stone rises. There is a pool of turquoise water at the base of a waterfall. I wonder, in your dreams, did you ever see an old woman kneeling at the water’s edge washing her clothing?”
“She wasn’t old.” The admission puffed through her stunned lips. “She was young and beautiful, with hair like spun sunshine.”
“Yes, that’s her.” Maddox smiled, enigmatically.
Ana blinked. “But how can you know? I have seen this place since I was a small girl. It is real to me, so very real, but I have searched and searched and it does not exist. It only lives within my mind.”
Maddox shook his head. “In my mind, too. It is the place where I was conceived. It is my true home. The Other Realm.”
“Then how do I know it?” Ana asked. “If you are going to tell me I am one of these Others, I won’t believe you. I already think you half mad.”
“Other? No. You are as human as they come, Dr. Siana Jones,” Maddox said. “But you are a Double.”
Before she could ask, Pryce told her, “Throughout history there have been people born on either side of the gateway with the same face. Usually female, one is human and one is Other. Although different people, these Doubles are identical. At two points in history, the creator has asked them to cross and switch places.”
“The creator? You’re bringing God into this?” Ana asked, appalled.
“The Mother we speak of is the ancient one. The bringer of life. Mother Nature. She created a trinity of worlds that form a whole. Usually, these worlds coexist separately, neatly, but there have been periods of unrest where the exchange of these Doubles has redressed an imbalance. The exchange, marriage, and mating of these Doubles has lessened growing evil.”
“Evil?” Ana felt cold. From vet to parrot in one bizarre conversation.
...“Wait,” Ana said, almost desperately. “Are you saying it is time for this Exchange again? That women need to swap places? That these identical Doubles, as you called them, are wandering around doing goodness knows what?”
“Not wandering around, no. More like sitting, drinking Americano, and wondering if she’s lost her mind because she’s believing an impossible story when she knows she shouldn’t.”
Ana’s brown eyes had to be as wide as saucers. Her gaze swept from Pryce to Maddox and back again. “In the words of John McEnroe, ‘you cannot be serious!’”
Pryce’s lips lifted in what seemed to be an apology…
Ana’s head sank into her hands. “This is just so unbelievable. I’m a scientist. A vet. I like rational order, data, and proof. I don’t believe in prophetic dreams, or visions, or Other Realms, come to that.”
“Tell me. Did you see a man in your visions?” Pryce asked.
Ana’s head snapped up. “A man? No. I saw a jungle and cats: panthers, leopards, jaguars…” Her voice faded and her eyes narrowed. “Wait. You said marriage and mating. I’m supposed to marry someone over there? Like an arranged marriage?”
…Ana jerked as she thought of something else. “Hang on a second, didn’t you say there was some sort of civil war going on there? You want me to cross and marry a stranger and live in a war zone?”
Maddox calmly took another sip of his tea. “I never said that accepting the fate you were born for would be easy, Dr. Jones.
Blurb for The Guardians' Trust: Ana (book 1)
Some women are born identical - one in the human world, one in the jungle of the Other Realm. It is their fate to change places. In The Guardians’ Trust series Doubles embrace their fate with the men born for them…
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU LEARNT THERE WERE TWO OF YOU?
Dr Ana Jones learns it is her destiny to leave the human world and cross into an Amazonian realm to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival – a fate that is akin to stepping back in time... A Double, she must pass through the gateway and marry a stranger.
HE WAS BORN FOR HER
A warrior, leading the Resistance is Brenin’s life but Ana is his fate. Brenin embraces his marriage, and the shapeshifting gift his mating brings, but will her love be enough to help both man and panther survive the war?
To find out about The Guardians’ Trust series click here and visit my books page where you can find the blurb for the first three books.