Guest Post With Imogen Martin
This week I'm very pleased to welcome fellow RNA Cariad Chapter member, Imogen Martin, onto the blog. Her wonderful sweeping romance novel, Under a Gilded Sky, was published by Storm Publishing on September 15th.
Imogen, welcome. I was privileged to read an ARC of your novel before publication day and I absolutely loved it. Can you please tell us something about the background to your novel?
Over to you!
When I tell people my debut novel Under a Gilded Sky is set at the dawn of the Gilded Age, they often ask me what and when that was.
Here’s a little bit about this fascinating time:
The Gilded Age is a period of American history from the mid-1870s to the end of the 19th century. It was a time of huge industrial expansion which created untold wealth for a few, new jobs for immigrants drawn to the United States, but poverty for many including rural workers and African Americans. I hope I bring some of these contradictions into my story.
The period was coined by historians in the 1920s and takes its name from The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today published in 1873. The novel was written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner (Twain came from Missouri where my novel is partially set). Fun fact: my main character Ginny is given a copy of this book by the male protagonist, Lex.
The period was driven by the rapid expansion of industry: oil, steel, railroads. The West developed farming, ranching and mining with the railroads swiftly taking products to the east and west coasts. Some of the impact is seen in the book. Could my heroine keep her struggling farm going if she were able to get cattle transported quickly to the big cities?
A small number of industrialists and financiers became richer than anyone in history. Sometimes called ‘robber barons’, their names are still familiar today: JP Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockerfeller and Andrew Carnegie. Around the top 10% of the country owned roughly 75% of the nation’s wealth, and the bottom 40% owned nothing at all. My heroine has a wealthy aunt, and her cousin is determined to find a rich husband for Ginny. The final part of the story is set in Boston where I dig deeper into this privileged lifestyle.
Lots of little things pushed me to the Gilded Age. I moved house and my new local library was a ‘Carnegie library.’ What did that mean? I found there were half-a-dozen in my area, each building unique and beautiful. Who paid for them?
I saw a biography of Andrew Carnegie in my brother’s bookcase (must get round to giving that 800+ page tome back to him!). Carnegie was a poor boy from Dunfermline who emigrated to Pittsburgh and founded a steel industry that made him the richest man in the world. He wrote the Gospel of Wealth and dedicated his later life to giving away the money he had made. Hence, Carnegie Hall in New York – and the libraries across Britain and around the world.
Whilst getting the historical detail as authentic as possible was important to me, Under a Gilded Sky is a sweeping, slow-burn love story, driven by two characters I hope readers will fall in love with. I have tried to give enough detail for readers to get a sense of place, but not so much that they are trudging through a museum.
Thank you, Imogen. I love hearing the background to a story and yours is fascinating. Your meticulous research shines through the novel and I definitely didn't feel like I was trudging through a museum. I was there with your characters at the time.
1874, Missouri: It’s been a long winter. Every morning Ginny pulls on her father’s old leather coat before heading out to tend to the cattle.
Since Ginny and her fourteen-year-old sister Mary-Lou were orphaned she’s discovered that Snow Farm is deep in debt, but she’s determined to hold onto it – the one thing connecting them to the memory of their beloved parents, and their only means of survival alone against the elements.
But when a handsome injured stranger turns up at their door needing their help and shelter, he awakens feelings Ginny could never have imagined. Now she has something else to strive for: a glimpse of a life she never dared dream was possible.
An utterly spellbinding story which celebrates the determination and courage of women who’ve learnt to rely on themselves alone. A breath-taking and vivid novel of courage in the hardest times and hope that lights the way in the darkness.
“Enthralled from the very first page.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Breath-taking.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Perfection.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Imogen writes sweeping, historical fiction. Her first two novels are set in nineteenth-century America.
As a teenager, she took the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to New York. Over those three days of staring out of the window at the majestic mountains and endless flat plains, stories wound themselves into her head: tales of brooding, charismatic men captivated by independent women.
Since then, she has worked in a coffee shop in Piccadilly, a famous bookstore, and a children’s home. She has run festivals, and turned a derelict housing block on one of the poorest estates in the UK into an award-winning arts centre.
During 2020, Imogen was selected by Kate Nash Literary Agency as one of their BookCamp mentees, a mentorship programme designed to accelerate the careers of promising new writers.
Married with two children, Imogen divides her time between Wales and Sardinia.
She hopes her books will bring you the tingle of a new love affair whilst immersed in a different time and place.
Under a Gilded Sky multi retailer choice link - all retailer options : https://geni.us/176-al-aut-ch
Social Media Links
Twitter / X : https://twitter.com/ImogenMartin9
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