historical fiction books | historical romance books

Words with a Wordsmith: V.E.H. Masters

By Jonathan Posner
February 23, 2024

What was the inspiration for your most recent book?

The Familists, which was released a few months ago is the fourth in my series The Seton Chronicles. The mid 1500s is ripe with material and it’s also a time of great religious turmoil. I found some remarkable stories when I was doing my research. For instance Jews fleeing Europe, as the newest Pope clamped down headed for Constantinople and so part of the book is set there since one of my main characters is a Converso (a Jew forcibly converted to Christianity). And the famous Frankfurt Book Fair was around even then and I have a section of the book set there. Finally during the 1562 siege of Rouen a man escaped when the city was taken because his captors threw him out a window – he landed in a midden and survived, so that was great material too.

I’m now working on the final book in the series, which takes place partly in Anstruther on the East coast of Scotland near where I grew up and partly in Edinburgh. It’s set in 1588, a fascinating period to research. It’ll be released next November and my biggest headache currently is finding a title that fits with the rest of the series.

What do you worry about in your work?

Getting it right! I may be writing historical fiction but it’s all drawn from real events and so when, for example, I was writing my first book (The Castilians) about the siege of St Andrews Castle, Scotland and set in 1546, I was very anxious that the history was accurate – especially since St Andrews is my home town. I kept picturing an academic from St Andrews University picking it up and tossing it aside. But in the end Dr Bess Rhodes from the university, whose period it is, read it and was a host at my book launch so I took it that I’d passed muster! There’s also been some great reviews from people who know my home town as well as I do which was reassuring … “I approached this book with some trepidation, knowing the history surrounding the real events of this time and it was a revelation to find fact and fiction so wonderfully combined.”

What period of history do you wish you knew more about?

I have a rough plan to write a series set during WW2 but there’s a huge amount of historical research out there and it’s also still, just, within living memory. I’m reading about the era in between doing the research for my current books set in the 1500s. I want to base the story on my mother-in-law’s experiences during the war but she was everywhere… torpedoed in the Mediterranean, all through North Africa and up through Italy and then in Germany at the Nuremburg Trials. The subject is so vast I can hardly touch the sides and don’t know where to start… but as I write this I realise I just need to begin with one incident and let it grow from there.

What’s the best compliment a reader has ever given you?

I love this Amazon review because it captures what I was trying to do with the series…“I’ve read The Familists and all of the books in the series that preceded it. I feel as if I know Bethia, Mainard, Will, their families, religious and business associates, and it is as if I have been moving throughout Europe with them during the 1500s, as they escaped various forms of religious persecution, yet survived, stayed united despite their differences, and still found ways to prosper. I have not enjoyed a series of books so much for many years, if ever.”

What piece of clothing tells an interesting story about your life?

My family are farmers and farming weddings are a big event. My mother had talked about my wedding from when I was a small child and even started a savings account for it then. But it was the 1970s when I married and my now husband and I wanted to go to a registry office, preferably in our jeans, and do the deed quietly. Yet my father had been very sick and I knew this was important to my parents. We compromised. My parents could have the reception they wanted with nearly two hundred people there, many of whom I didn’t know, but the ceremony would be in the registry office and I was not wearing white. Somehow my husband got talked into a dinner suit but there I am in maroon. The dress perfectly exemplifies the romance of the clothing of the 1970s. I wore it at a party for our 25th anniversary and since the golden is coming up in a few years, will no doubt dig it out again then – fingers crossed it still fits!



V.E.H. Masters is an award-winning author of historical fiction, and her books are regularly on the best seller lists. She was born and brought up on a farm a few miles outside St Andrews, Scotland and now lives near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. Her first novel The Castilians tells the story of the siege of St Andrews Castle in 1546 which has expanded into a series – The Seton Chronicles. She writes about events in history with which she feels a strong connection, working to understand how and why people acted as they did.  Many of these significant moments have led to who we are today, which she finds endlessly fascinating and hopes her readers will too.

Find out more on her website where there are a couple of free short stories available so you can get a taste of her work
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Jonathan Posner

Written by Jonathan Posner

Jonathan writes action and adventure novels set in Tudor England, with fiesty female heroines. He has a trilogy that starts with a modern-day girl time-travelling back to the 16th century, as well as a spin-off series (one book so far, with the next due in 2023), and also a prequel.

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