Melanie Dent is back once again to discuss her historical fiction series, The Lynchcliffe Cuckoo. Today, we’re focusing on the Eye of the Storm, which details Lewis Franklin’s story.
Lewis Franklin is unarguably the most adored character in the main series. As part of the prequel series, his story will likely prove to be just a popular as the character himself.
Tricia: Thank you so much, Melanie, for joining us again. What are five words that best describe Lewis Franklin?
Melanie: Sexy, enigmatic, compassionate, courageous, and honest.
Tricia: Those are certainly irresistible traits. What made you write Franklin’s life-story?
Melanie: Franklin proved quite popular, but very little personal information comes out about him in the first two novels of the main Lynchcliffe Cuckoo trilogy. All we learn is that his father and brother drowned when he was nineteen, that he lost his nephew, Daniel, on the Titanic and that he was very much respected by the family he served. Oh and that he is pretty good in bed.
I wanted to get to know Franklin better and so began thinking about the places where he had worked, the masters he had served and the women he had loved before he came to Lynchcliffe Park. I wrote it all down and that became Eye of the Storm: Lewis Franklin’s Story.
Tricia: Did you base Franklin on anyone you know personally?
Melanie: Lewis Franklin is essentially one-third my late partner, David Thomas (to whom The Lynchcliffe Cuckoo Vol I is dedicated), one third my current man, John and one third Sergeant Oscar Blaketon (a character from the popular British 1960s-set police drama Heartbeat). Heartbeat was set in the old North Riding area of Yorkshire and that is where Franklin’s Yorkshire aspect comes from (although Blaketon was actually played by an actor, Derek Fowlds, who is a southerner).
Tricia: Other than Franklin, who is your favourite character in Eye of the Storm?
Melanie: Abraham “Abe” Fleming, a retired merchant sea-man whom Franklin befriends when they share lodgings in London. Abe is brave, compassionate and full of wisdom and is a strong guiding influence on the young Franklin who has not long lost his own father.
It may be interesting to note that, despite having spent much of his adult life at sea, Abe cannot swim. My late partner, David, worked on boats and he could not swim either.
Tricia: Did you find Eye of the Storm easier or harder to write than the other books and why?
Melanie: In many ways it was harder than the others because I had to try and use a male perspective POV which I am not naturally gifted with. I had to ask my boyfriend, John, a lot of questions, especially with regard to first sexual encounters from a male viewpoint. For that reason, it is probably my favourite out of the whole series to date.
The Lynchcliffe Cuckoo Vol 3: Making Peace with the Past is about the characters laying past issues to rest and so I found one for Franklin too. He opens up to Margaret about his past and his emotionally painful departure from Sycamore Park where he worked for the late unlamented suicide, Sir Cecil Everett.
Tricia: You have already said that you like the character of Franklin’s friend, Abe, but what female characters do you relate to in this book?
Melanie: Franklin’s sister-in-law, Alice, is a strong character bullied into a shotgun wedding by her religious zealot of a father and I think she never really stops loving Franklin even when she remarries. She also does a great job of raising her son without a father. Also a young woman, Sylvia, whom Franklin meets later, is quite strong and she is a great comfort to him at a time when he needs it most. Mrs Caroline Merrick, Abe & Franklin’s landlady in London, is also quite a character.
Tricia: Why do you think Franklin felt compelled to leave Scarborough?
Melanie: He felt that there was nothing there for him after losing his family. There were few opportunities available that did not involve going to sea. Alice, his brother’s widow, was trying to make up for lost time with her mother from whom she had been estranged since she married David, Franklin’s brother. Franklin promised his mother that he would make something of his life and he felt that going out into the wider world was the best way to keep that promise
Tricia: What do you think is the biggest challenge Franklin has to overcome in Eye of the Storm?
Melanie: This is where I suspect your readers are hoping for plot spoilers, but they are out of luck.
I think Franklin’s challenge is growing up into a decent man without a father’s guidance and learning about the world; often having to do it the hard way. Yet he has an indomitable spirit which never quite breaks thanks to his eternal optimism and core of personal integrity. He seeks to find his own way in the world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Tricia: Once again, it has been a pleasure speaking with you, Melanie.
For anyone who missed previous interviews with Melanie, please click on the blogroll to the right. Be sure to check out my blog tomorrow. Melanie will be guest hosting again and providing us with some excerpts of Eye of the Storm.