Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Christina Hollis: A Cure For The Homesick Blues?

Clifton Suspension Bridge, via Pixabay
This year, I’m going back to my roots—and in more ways than one. I’ve been writing all my life, but my first published pieces were non-fiction work for local papers and national magazines. These were written in my spare time, while I was employed in a huge office in Bristol. Sat behind a desk, I
was bean-counting all day then writing at home until late at night. Once I began to get paid for my writing, I left my job in central Bristol and joined Rolls-Royce. Their offices are on the outskirts of the city. The move made commuting a lot faster and easier, as my new full-time job was closer to the country cottage on the Welsh border OH and I bought just after we got married. 

Only a couple of years later, OH suggested I give up office work and become a writer full-time. Trying to make it on my own was scary, but exciting. I’ve always been grateful to my husband for supporting me in what everybody said at the time was a reckless venture. It turned out to be the best investment he could make, and the second best thing I ever did (the best thing I ever did was to marry him).
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The Romance genre has been very good to me. I’ve made loads of friends and sold a lot of books, but I’ve been so busy writing fiction, there’s been no time to do anything else. I’ve missed non-fiction work—and Bristol too, if I’m honest.

That’s why I’m so excited to be starting a new non-fiction project. Women's Lives is a series of books to be published by Pen And Sword Books next year. The release will coincide with the centenary of the successful Votes For Women campaign during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Each volume of Women's Lives is devoted to a single city in the United Kingdom. I was born only a few miles away from Bristol, in what was then the Somerset countryside so I was keen to get involved with the Pen And Sword project. My family’s strong ties with Bristol go back hundreds of years, although we’ve always preferred living in the country and “just visiting” the city—usually to find a life partner! 

I've started work on the Bristol edition of Women's Lives: Women of Bristol 1850-1950, and I’m really enjoying it. The research it needs means I’m spending a lot of time combing through archives, but there’s nothing to beat the real-life anecdotes I’m gathering from women far and wide who have stories to share. Can you contribute any information about life in the City of Bristol in the years before 1950? I’m particularly interested to hear about women who left the city for life in America, Canada and Australia. Were you or your mother a war-bride, or an evacuee sent abroad from Bristol?
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The work on Women of Bristol is absorbing, and I’m unearthing a wealth of stories. They are a mixture of the happy, the sad, and the alarming. There are one or two really tragic tales, such as the new mother desperate to soothe her constantly crying baby. Not knowing any better, she followed her landlady’s dubious advice, and ended up giving her baby a fatal dose of laudanum. We’re so lucky these days, with qualified advice for all sorts of problems at the other end of a telephone, and support groups online. 

Bristol is a fascinating place. Its women are, and always have been, tough, loyal pioneers. They give as good as they get, and they’re always looking to the future. Despite the love I still have for my almost-birthplace and its people, going back there to work makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of our cottage out here in the bluebell woods. Tottering Towers may lack the conveniences of city life, but with its wildlife and tranquility, there’s no place like home…

When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. Catch up with her at, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide.


dstoutholcomb said...

Sounds like a fascinating new venture. My American roots go back to the 1700s, so I can't help you with your researcy.


dstoutholcomb said...


Christina Hollis said...

That's also fascinating, Denise. Life back then must have been unbearably tough. Survivors had to be real pioneers. You must be very proud.