Fenella Forster - Love me, love my character

denise-launch-of-julietToday is the start of a new, possibly disruptive series, ‘Love me, love my character’. I’m inviting authors and their characters to give us their separate views. Hopefully, we may get some unexpected results.

Fenella Forster (the writing name of Denise Barnes) writes sagas with a difference: all involve ‘voyages’, physical as well as emotional ones. Her heroines live in the early 20th century, the recent past and the Second World War; we travel from Norfolk to Australia, London, Cairo, Italy and across three generations to discover deep family secrets, some shocking. Annie’s Story and Juliet’s Story are published through SilverWood Books and Kitty’s Story is in the works.

Thanks, Alison, for inviting me on to your blog to talk about Juliet’s Story. It’s great to be here.

Why did you write this book?
It was a natural progression to Annie’s Story, which is Book 1 of The Voyagers trilogy. Although the first book is a historical saga set in 1913, Juliet’s Story, Book 2 in the trilogy, is a present-day heroine who is Annie’s granddaughter. I wrote them together in a dual timeline story to begin with as they both sail to Australia, though Juliet has very different reasons from her grandmother, but was advised by a couple of agents that it was too long and to split them into two separate novels. I was really upset at the time, but am so pleased with the result as both women now have their own far richer stories to tell.

Why do you think Juliet is like she is?
Juliet is an intelligent and attractive woman of 47. She’s recently divorced and brilliantly runs her own business selling other people’s businesses, but she doesn’t have much success in running her own life. She’s full of insecurities and feels a failure where men are concerned and not a little cynical. So when she’s confronted by the gorgeous Jack on the freighter to Australia she’s confused by her strong feelings of sexual attraction. In her nervousness she is unjustifiably acerbic with him. Most of these insecurities stem from her background and the secret she holds close in her heart. She goes to pieces more than once, big time, but on the whole she thinks she handles things pretty well. We know she doesn’t. She’s quite selfish and opinionated, yet she’s generous and would be demonstrative and loving if only she could stop being so cynical.

What does Juliet think she is like?
‘I’ve made a balls-up about a lot of things in my life but I try hard not to let it make me bitter. My parents encouraged me into a marriage where it was obvious to anyone I never loved him. I was trying to please them and let myself be talked into it because I thought Gerrard would help me get over my terrible mistake when I was a teenager. Then I found I couldn’t talk to him about it because he was always so judgemental. I just felt I needed to escape my problems and that’s why I couldn’t wait to leave the business and sail off to Australia. But I wasn’t prepared to meet someone like Jack. I became tongue-tied like some silly love-struck teenager. And every time we got a bit close I’d spoil things and say something hurtful. I hated myself but I couldn’t stop it. But I was terrified of falling in love with him and he was just using me for a shipboard romance. So I had to pretend I didn’t care.

But in the end it was the voyage which began to change me, and I’m sure for the better. I think I became more compassionate because so many people on the ship, and in Australia, showed me great kindness. It’s made me realise how lucky I am. And maybe – just maybe – I am loveable enough to be loved.’

(Well said, Juliet!)

Back to Denise…Thanks, Alison, for having me. It was fun talking about Juliet, and I must say I was quite surprised with what she came out with about herself. She knows her own shortcomings more than I’d realised!

Thank you, Fenella (and Juliet) for stopping by.

So what’s Juliet’s Story about?

Juliet's StoryCan secrets destroy love?
It’s 2005. Whatever the risk, businesswoman Juliet Reece grabs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands.

She’s been given the freedom and time to sail to Australia to trace her emigrant grandparents’ story back in 1913. But buried under the surface is a more compelling reason – a secret she has held close since she was a vulnerable sixteen- year-old, which only her grandmother, Annie, shared – and whose answer may lie in Australia.

When Juliet boards the Alexandria at Tilbury she doesn’t count on meeting the enigmatic Jack Delaney. But is it wise to fall for a man from the other side of the world who seems to be carrying dark secrets of his own?

Available as a paperback from good bookshops and online retailers, and as an ebook from Amazon, Kobo iBooks, Nook; all links here.


Connect with Denise via Twitter, Facebook and her blogsite.

STOP PRESS! I’ve just heard that Denise has been snapped up by the hhb literary agency who will be representing her for all her work.

Congratulations, Denise/Fenella! 



Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO,
PERFIDITASSUCCESSIO and AURELIA. The fifth in the series, INSURRECTIO, was published in April 2016.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines…

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