CONSTANCE J. HAMPTON
Constance J. Hampton publishes through
Hermesse James Boekerij, The Netherlands / HamptonJones Books
Constance J .Hampton only started to publish her Historical Fiction in 2011.
After finishing her 4th and last novel in the WELLINGTON'S Officers Series she started writing historical (parnormal- spiritual) novels in her 'Sacred Artefacts' series: the English novel
Apart from translating her novels in Dutch, she is now writing the historical- spiritual novel The Laysister, Part 1: The Years of Hiding (year 1291- 1307) about the reappearance of Jesus Christ's shroud and the search for it when it was stolen in the times that Philip Le Bel sent most of the Knights Templar to the stake.
What's the story behind your WELLINGTON'S Officers Series?
I started reading Regency romance and thought it would be fun to try to write my own book about that time period.
I did read a lot of Sharpe books (Bernard Cornwell) and I liked to put the adventures of officers in the British army into my own books as well and the long war with Napoleon gives me a lot more adventure to add. Just romance without a bit of a plot is not very exciting, I think. My father was an officer in the Dutch army that went to Indonesia to 'protect' Dutch possessions in the colony and it had quite an impact on me as he had to go back about every two years to military training. My father and mother's story is a bit similar to the film: An Officer and a Gentleman' although my grandmother was a Princess of Solo, as her mother was the wife of a Sultan of Solo. My mother's parents were rich, nothing like the poor circumstances people like to write of.
It may seem quite different that I like to express the thoughts of the men as well as the women in my books and I sometimes give the men a more prominent place than the women for the sole reason that in Regency times men were definitely able to lead a more adventurous life than women.
I started to write a tome of 700 pages and then decided it would be best to make the tome into a few smaller books.The book I wrote first, is now number 3 in my series (Love's Reasons). I think it is the most romantic book of the series. You can clearly see the 'romantic influences' I got when reading huge amounts of Regency Romance in those days.
Lochiel's story -WHEN A LOVE IS SO BLIND I wrote as an entirely separate novel. I did not foresee at all that it would become number 1 in a whole series.
One day my attention was attracted to the historical facts of the rounding up of gays in 'The Vere Street Coterie' in 1810 with the ensuing executions.
That was when I got inspired to write Hengist's story - WHEN MALICE SURROUNDS YOU.
It was not exactly that I was championing gays (and lesbians) rights, as a Dutch woman I don't know better than they all have similar rights and should not be discriminated, but I had to find a reason why Hengist's brother Philip was not remotely interested in consuming the marriage with the beautiful and rich Marguerite. That I put my finger on the shameful treatment of gays in those days is an extra 'bonus'.
I must agree that Novel 2 in the series has a darker quality than e.g. the romantic novel 3 WHEN LOVE IS WITHOUT REASON, but it has everything to do with my development as a novel writer. I was not content with only writing very romantic historical fiction where the heroine and hero are almost superhuman and their romance is the most important item, disregarding the reality of life in those times.
Quite a lot of the men are unfaithful in my novels, but it is truly no wonder as the people of the Quality were mostly forced into advantageous marriages, where love and affection were the most disregaded emotions. How women coped is also an interesting story.
The story in book 4 WHEN GLORY IS UNCERTAIN concentrates on Jeffrey Burroughs' unexpected love for Bertha Dunstead, who is too proud to become his mistress and Peter Wallace, who loves his dead wife's sister Amelia Aubrey, who is married to a very dangerous and abusive spy. UNCERTAIN GLORY plays for a big part in Brussels, close to Waterloo. I do insert a lot of new information about everything surrounding Waterloo and Quatre Bras, information that popped up in the last 200 years and it puts the whole myth around the Battle of Waterloo and Quatre Bras into a different light.
WELLINGTON'S HEROES SERIES consistS of 4 books of between 400 and 510 pages.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE EROTIC DETAILS IN YOUR BOOKS?
I think scenes are erotic when they are written to titillate which is not my goal. Love and sex are as much part of a person's life as food, drink and sleep. I think my sex scenes are not enormously descriptive, I tend to think I am a bit businesslike about it. I personally don't like books in which sex scenes are definitely avoided, because sex is as much part of the package as e.g. a career or a marriage.
HOW DO YOU REACT WHEN YOU GET A LESS KIND REVIEW?
Unkind reviews are not something any author likes to get, but indeed I got a one star review in the beginning of my Indie-publishing and I took it to heart: The 'bad English' could be changed by hiring an editor and the problem about the books being a series, but hard to figure out the sequel, I could easily doctor by putting numbers in the descriptions. I took Mark Coker's advice (founder of Smashwords) to heart: revise revise, revise and I learned not to dislike revising: it's like being a wordsmith, or a poet: fitting in words that make the book better readable. From my personal savings I hired translators and an English editor. The Wellington's Heroes series has been edited by Alex Blackburn, and he helped me translate and edit the Dutch version of A Wisp of Heaven into an English version.
I did notice that on the Internet people thrive on giving as many bad reviews as possible, just for the sake of it. I hope people who are reading such reviews are aware of that fact.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH COVER DESIGN?
I always design my own covers. I use a simple and inexpensive program called Artweaver (Boris Ehrlich) and use Picassa and ... Windows Paint!
My covers have never been 'refused' so I guess that makes them alright. My artistic son told me that nobody is doing what I am doing (he did not really mean it as a compliment, I think) but I am fine with that assumption. I like to do what nobody else is doing. Somebody called me 'a pioneer'. I think that is a great compliment.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN INDIE-AUTHOR?
I was just too impatient to wait for some agent to 'discover' me and after I got a letter saying "that it was a great book but SHE was not going to do it" I was already fed up with the 'old system.' I decided to only work as of September 2017 through my official Dutch distributer CB or Centraal Boekhuis. CB redistributes all my e-books to their known platforms and they work together with an amazing company called PrintForce for their paperbacks. In earlier days you had to get yourself on different distribution platforms to get your books sold, but nowadays about every device can download the different Aps on the same tablet. Aps really killed e-readers.
I actually LIKE to be an Indie publisher. It's not something I feel I do out of necessity.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID THIS INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
I grew up in a city close to Amsterdam in the aftermath of the second World War. We did not have warm water or central heating until we moved to a family home near Rotterdam in 1960. I am a BABYBOOMER and proud of it.
Later we went to live in a bit of an 'uppity' area near Rotterdam and people were not used to the fact that my mom was of Indonesian descent so that my skin was slightly darker than theirs. The sometimes apparent discrimination made me quite shy and observant. My father had a knack for history and I guess I got that in my genes as well. My Dutch father did very well and made a wondrous career. That placed me soon into another sort of world. I think a childhood with so many mixed influences was good for my ability to 'feel,' observe and research.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START WRITING?
As soon as I started to form words, I started writing stories, but it took me into the 2000's to restart writing books 'seriously'.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST STORY YOU EVER WROTE?
It was about a girl who had four brothers who were knights. She desperately wanted to be a knight herself. I never finished it. I was about nine at the time.
DESCRIBE YOUR DESK
It's an organized mess with two laptops and a big BENQ screen that can do miraculous things like open up many windows at the same time. Great for translating, collage-designing, designing a booktrailer or working on websites.
I have piles of DVD's lying around out of which I choose fragments for my booktrailers. Underneath are letters for my household finances and whatever I need to do. Most of my files are in my laptops, I hardly ever print.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I don't have a very strict process. I start thinking about a plot and determine the period in time. I do a lot of research as I mostly write Historical (Romantic) Fiction. I start writing and do revising later. When I am sure to have finished the story I ask my editor to have a stern look at it.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING, HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
I write a lot less hours than I do my work as an Indie-publisher: working on booktrailers, websites, blogs, administration etc. I wish I could only be a writer, but that is impossible. I also have a lot of things to do regarding my household, finances and I write articles for library sites such as Hubpages and Infonu.
I am also in the process of translating my books from English into Dutch although the translations are really eating up a lot of my time. I had to ask two Dutch translators to help me to save time. It's such a challenge to write in that language. Truth to tell my Dutch novels are more rewrites than translations. I love to play extreme golf and to ski (I live often in a golf and ski-resort), when I manage not to break my ankle... (I had 11 trauma's with it!) My husband and I have a very busy social life which involves going out, organising dinners, BBQ's and jamming sprees (my husband plays a big range of instruments and I love to sing.) We also often travel to our parents (who are... Bless them... in their nineties) and our children who are living in different countries. I am often busy helping out family and friends with legal aspects (I read law). Whenever possible I read books. Never a boring minute for me... I often think: I don't want to close my eyes, I don't want to fall asleep, coz I'll miss it babe!
WHAT IS YOUR E-READING DEVICE OF CHOUCE?
I have a pocket book size tablet (Samsung) on which I can load every app: Kindle, Pdf, Kobo etc, so I can have the book of my choice within seconds. I can read on it in the dark so I won't wake my husband when I want to finish to read a book at night. It is the best present my husband recently gave me.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?
In 2016 I published a historical paranormal/spiritual fiction book in Dutch and I worked together with Alex Blackburn (editor of the whole RRW series) to have it translated in English: HEAVENLY WISPS.
In its wake I am now writing another novel: The Lay Sister Part 1: The Years of Hiding. I am not sure of how many parts it will consist: my guess is 3. The main focus of the story is a noble girl called Clarisse who is hidden away in a convent as a lay sister and who attracts the lust of the King of France Philip Le Bel and the love of a Knight Hospitallier who is Protector of the Holy Shroud. When the Shroud disappears during the trials against the Templars Clarisse is asked to find it and hide it. The story plays from about 1290 till 1315.
I also started the book: Elevating Jack. Elevating Jack could be more or less number 5 in my Wellington's Officers Series, although it encompasses the time from about 1780 till 1860. The story is about Lady Sophia Grey, sister to Richard, the Duke of Lindley. After having been used in a cruel game deviced by her mother and Percy Waterhouse she swears never to marry. In 1810 Sophia decides to seduce George, the Prince of Wales, whom she knows since childhood. The result of the seduction is Jack, who can only be a 'bastard' under the circumnstances, until Anthony Andover and Richard Lindley decide to do their utmost to make Jack legitimate, using forged papers, disappearances and long dead priests. Elevating Jack 'visits' the adventures of quite a lot of the 4 books in Wellington's Officerss and answers questions that may have stayed unanswered in Book 1-4 of Wellington's officers.
I still have a trilogy about the Caroling family (714-814) waiting for much needed completion and I would dearly like to write a compelling story with entirely new insights about Nostradamus. Also I did research on Jesus Christ's wife and descendants that might be quite shattering. I think of them as my 'Shroud' stories.
My biggest problem is research (groan, groan).
Laysister plays in the beginning of the 14th century,
the Carolingen plays in the eight century and
Jesus Christ's situation at least from year 1 till 250 after Chr.
My researches take longer than the writing of a novel.
When I am less inspired to write or do research I continue with the translations of my novels in Dutch. It keeps me well off the streets, I might say. On such days my only exercise is cleaning the house I live in at the time: Wax-in, Wax-out.