June 12, 2023

Best-selling author, Fiona McIntosh, explores the Haunch of Venison

This photo shows the Haunch of Venison, which is one of southern England's oldest hostelries, tracing its first record around 1320 when the building was used to house craftsmen who were working on the now famous Salisbury Cathedral spire. Apparently, beneath the fireplace, there is an old bread oven that contains a smoke-preserved and mummified hand and - I love this - is believed to belong to a demented card player from the eighteenth century who supposedly lost his hand during a game of whist because he was found to be cheating!

The historical records tell us that when the heating system was changed in the Choristers part of the cathedral, the marble tiles that were pulled up were carted to this pub and used in the bar to create the unique floor. And the 'Horsebox' bar at the front of the pub on the ground floor is referred to as a 'Ladies' Snug' dating back to the era in which public houses such as this were for men only. The pewter top to the bar counter is one of only six in the country. There are other rare elements that I won't bang on about but it's a famous watering hole in the city of Salisbury where most of the story is set.

Anyway, I have written a prologue and two chapters of The Fallen Woman. A lovely feeling to be suddenly in the zone and in a new time frame with a brand new cast who I must now get to know more intimately.

My lead character is Jane Saville and she might become someone else if I don't feel that name sits well on her shoulders but she's Jane for now because her sister likes to call her 'Plain Jane' ... not to tease but to insult. In this opening chapter, she's just received a terrible shock and I feel her trauma of family duty versus her horror. Can't wait to see where she will take us.

Fiona McIntosh
Guy Arden is the other character but as I write that I realise he would be G. Arden. Ha! Could work actually because he's involved in horticulture - my gosh, have I really pulled off a pun in a name? Again, whether that name sticks is left to be seen. I have to see him walking around a little longer in that name to know if it works for him. So far it does.

Interestingly enough, when I pitched this story to my publisher a couple of years ago, we did not know we'd have a King's coronation happening as I was researching and preparing to write this story. I mention it only because I believe this story will start with the coronation of Edward VII and culminate with the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Lovely coincidence.

I will have lots more to share on this by the next newsletter but I've got very single focus on writing it from hereon until I have a first draft ready to give to my publisher in December we think. Off I go...

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