Posted in Writing

It’s publication day for Victoria Cornwall’s debut novel for Choc Lit – The Thief’s Daughter…


Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …

Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good, but when her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are more entangled than they first thought. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned …


THE THIEF’S DAUGHTER by Victoria Cornwall


1765, Cornwall

As quietly as she could, Jenna slowly released the breath she was holding, instinctively her body sucked in another. Her eyes widened in fear at the sound of her soft gasp. Did he hear her? She prayed he did not.

She could hear the man’s boots pacing the floorboards in the adjoining room. His boots are muddy, she thought, hearing the grit on his soles scoring the wood beneath. Frightened, she remained silent and hidden, not breaking her cover even when she heard her mother and father begin their cursing. It did no good, more boots arrived and her parents were forced away.

Jenna hugged her knees to make herself smaller. She stared at her little toes, as she felt the vibration from his footsteps through her feet. The vibration grew as the boots came into the room and she tried to shrink even smaller. She fought to control her silent, shallow breaths, while the rest of her body froze with fear. She was cocooned in her hiding place, scared of being found, yet inside her heart hammered loudly as if daring to be heard. She hoped she would wake up and discover it was all just a bad dream. And she was safe. And her brothers and parents were too. But it was happening and the fear she felt was real. Her head began to throb and tingle as she listened to the grit scratch the floorboards with each step. Mother will be angry when she finds out he is ruining her floor, thought Jenna. Such a silly thought, considering the circumstances.

The man shouted and more boots entered the room. He had found what he was looking for: her brother, Paul. A scuffle broke out between them, more cursing, more shouting and more mud on mother’s floor. It sounded like Paul was putting up a fight. It did not surprise her; he always said he would if the man came to get him. A valiant attempt, but Jenna knew that his resistance would do no good. Only moments before they had taken David and he was the strongest of all her brothers. This morning everything had been normal, now she had lost two of them and everything had changed. And she might be next.

For a moment there was silence, but even so, Jenna dared not move. She would wait until her mother came to get her, just as her parents had told her to do. The sound of a man’s boots returned to the room again. She strained to listen for the noise of the grit. She could not hear it. Had it worked loose or was it her father?

The footsteps stopped before her. The silence that followed felt heavy and her legs began to tremble, causing the pile of clothes that covered her to shake too. The slight tremor was enough to give her away. A large, thick-fingered hand reached underneath and grabbed her bare foot, pulling her roughly out into the daylight and causing her dress to ride up behind her head and expose her knees. She lay stiff and motionless at his feet, like a submissive dog, waiting to be slayed. ‘Hide from the thief-taker,’ her parents had told her, ‘for if he finds you, he will take you away.’

The man looked down on her. His dirty beard covered his lips and hid any expression of a smile he may have had at finding a four-year-old child at his feet. He reached down and grabbed her clothing. His fist twisted in the cloth of her dress as he lifted her off the floor. Her face came level with his. As her bare, grimy feet dangled in the air, she dared to look into his face and saw there was no smile.

‘Do I scare you, child?’ he asked her menacingly. ‘Do I make you want to weep?’ He gave her a little shake, making her body sway in the air. His breath smelt of rotten eggs and she could see her frightened face reflected in his bloodshot eyes. Struck dumb with fear, she was unable to answer him. ‘Remember what it is like to be caught by a man such as me.’ He looked down at her thin body dressed in rags. ‘Your family has bad blood running through them and you will turn out the same if you don’t mind your ways. If you don’t, we will seek you out and hunt you down.’ He held her closer until she could feel his breath on her face. ‘Remember, child, we will watch you as you grow, and one day a thief-taker will come calling and he will take you away.’



The story opens with four year old Jenna hiding in a cupboard.  Strange men have come to the house and have taken away her parents and two elder brothers.  These men are known as thief takers and they track down and apprehend those who rob and steal.  Discovering Jenna one of them hauls her from her hiding place and leaves her with a stark warning.

We meet Jenna again twelve years later as her brutal husband is being hung for poaching.  Her only remaining brother Silas, with whom she has a close bond, is currently in debtor’s prison.  Now free from the horrors of her marriage, Jenna is desperate to find the money to pay off Silas’s creditors and get him out of prison.  She sets off for the Hiring Fayre with the hope she will find employment.  There she sees Jack Penhale, the man who helped her escape from the crowd at her husband’s hanging. When her first job ends badly she returns to the Fayre where she runs into Jack again.  After saving her from the clutches of a lecherous potential employer he hires her for one day, pays her and tells her to go. But Jenna is determined to work for the money she has received and follows him back to his cottage.  Against his better judgement Jack relents and soon agrees to take her on indefinitely, unaware she is a member of a local family of disreputable thieves – the Cartwrights.

After his father was brutally murdered by smugglers Jack became a thief taker, working to bring lawbreakers to justice.  He is currently living in a rented cottage and working locally with the militia, trying to root out a smuggling ring.  When Silas persuades Jenna she can earn more money to free him by joining the smugglers she knows although it places her in great danger she can’t refuse him.  Dressed as a boy, she is helping retrieve the goods when the smugglers are attacked by the militia.  She escapes capture only because Jack is there to save her. Jack knows having Jenna under his roof is dangerous for both of them.  For not only are they on opposite sides of the law, he is beginning to fall in love with her.

I love historical romance and this novel really entertained.  Jenna and Jack were both strong individuals.  Jenna is a feisty young woman and the only member of her unsavoury family with anything resembling a moral compass. And dark, handsome, enigmatic Jack shows both determination and compassion in his fight against smuggling.  Silas, a selfish, lying, manipulative individual proves a worthy antagonist too.  Right up until his exit from the story, he endeavours to trick both Jack and Jenna’s and manipulate their lives.

A great debut with a wonderful heroine and a worthy Choc Lit hero.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading Victoria’s next novel.


About Victoria Cornwall
victoria-cornwall-photoVictoria Cornwall grew up on a farm in Cornwall. She can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.
Victoria is married, has two grown up children and a black Labrador, called Alfie. She likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.
Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her the time to write. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society.
The Thief’s Daughter is her debut novel and the first in her series of Cornish based novels published by Choc Lit.

Social Media Links:-

Twitter: @VickieCornwall

Posted in Writing


Good morning Lisa and a big welcome as my first guest of 2017. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thanks for asking me to do this, Jo. I am trying to convince myself that I’m not a fraud being interviewed by you as I’m not a proper, grown-up author yet! However, we all have to start somewhere, eh?
I should have just given you my profile for this part. It got me a husband after all. True story! Although, he may be asking me questions if I’m flirting with the readers of this interview through my dating profile. Moving on…
I’m in my 40s and I am very lucky to live in Bournemouth, close to the sea. I’m originally from Oxfordshire which is about as far from the sea as you can get.
I used to be a secondary school English teacher but I decided that I liked having a life and not feeling perpetually stressed, so I escaped.
I loved the job in terms of encouraging the next generation of readers and writers but this isn’t Dead Poets Society. Often the English teacher is met with groans when poetry and Shakespeare rear their heads. No one ever stood up on a desk and called me ‘Captain’ either.

How did your writing journey begin?

I came late to writing. It’s funny how I’ve spent years teaching writing skills, been an avid reader, and studied the classic authors to Masters level, but have never ventured into writing territory myself.
Here’s my time to boast – allow me this moment if you will, there aren’t many – I wrote a blog post about how I came to writing and won an international blogging competition in the process!

If I am allowed a cheeky bit of shameless self-promotion, here’s a link to the winning post:

In short(ish), when I was 11 years old, I wrote a novel about a child spy called Pete whose exploits were fuelled by cheeseburgers. I handed it over to my favourite English teacher for her praise and adoration. I was gutted when she barely glanced at it and stuck it away in her drawer. It never saw the light of day again.
It may sound silly now but that rejection remained with me. Every time I attempted to write fiction after that, I felt like I was substandard. This lasted for decades!
In early 2016, I took stock of my life in many ways. I got married and was in the best place in terms of confidence and having a supportive partner.
I decided that I had something to share so I started writing. It wasn’t an epiphany; more of a slow burner. There has always been a writer in me wanting to get out shouting and screaming. I cannot shut her up now!

If you hadn’t become a writer is there any other occupation you would have chosen?

Before I became a writer I had so many different jobs, trying to find where I fitted in, that I think I may have exhausted my options!
Trite as it may sound I have finally found what I was always meant to be doing; writing and blogging. I wish I had come to this sooner. I would then have been spared awful jobs such as cleaning, working in a call centre and being verbally abused daily, and being a retail manager (also verbally abused).
I don’t even want to consider any other occupation now *shivers in horror at the thought*.

 Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

One of the aspects that drove me to begin writing was my passion for enlightening people about the pain and struggle of both living with mental illness and being the loved one of people who have it. I have had major depressive episodes, on and off, for 20 years.
I decided to begin by ‘writing what I know’. That was tough in a few ways: to go back to dark places of personal experience, and to have some scathing authors sneering at the ‘newbie’ making the rookie first novel mistake of writing something partially autobiographical. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. So I carried on.
I believe this novel had to be written; for me and for anyone who cares to be informed and entertained by it. It’s about depression, but depression isn’t all doom and gloom. Depressives are some of the funniest people in the world. Many comedians have depression.
I completed the first draft of the novel. I was proud to achieve something and I loved my main character and how she documented her highs and lows. I was just beginning the revising stages and then life imitated art; depression returned.
Long story, but I am beginning recovery now. I haven’t worked on the novel for months. It has been too painful to deal with concerning its subject matter and the illness rendering me incapable of doing much at all. I will, however, be picking it up again. This novel nags at me to see the light of day. It will.
I have also been scribbling short stories, which I really enjoy, and I have an outline and some characters planned for my second novel.
The one thing I have been consistent in writing throughout depression is my writing blog. I love it! I am now going to sound like a really sappy writer but writing that blog every week kept me going. It still motivates me.

Name the top two destinations on your bucket list.

I was extremely lucky to cross one of these off my list last year when I honeymooned in Rome. It is such a wonderful place to discover and eat your way through!
I’d love to travel around more of Italy in the future. I fell in love with Italy years ago from seeing it on the screen. It did not fail to live up to my expectations in real life.
I have wanted to go to Australia since the ‘80s days of Neighbours. I was a huge Kylie Minogue fan back in the day!
I’d love to visit Oz in the future. I even thought about moving there in the past, possibly to stalk Kylie. I’m sure Australia and Kylie are thankful that I didn’t.
Kylie is safe now. I’m over my fandom. Australia? Not so much.

And lastly, you’re planning to get away from it all for a year on a desert island. What four things would you take with you and why?

Do the Husband and cat count as ‘things’? If so I guess they’ve just taken up two of my list. I couldn’t live without them.
The Husband is so encouraging of everything I do, even when I make humongous mistakes. He also makes amazing dinners out of all the bits he finds in the food cupboards, so we’d be okay for meals!
Feegle, the cat (named after Terry Pratchett’s Nac Mac Feegles) is a given. I caved in and got a cat because it’s apparently writer law and I was jealous of all the cat pics on social media.
The next item would be a pen and notebook. I’m counting those as one as they go together, and frankly, I’m cheeky like that.
I would need to write, I’ve written journals since I was a child. Although I do wonder how exciting this journal would be: ‘Dear Diary, The sun is hot, the sea is wet and the sand is, well, sandy.’
My bookcase full of my favourite books is a must. I cannot live without my books! I’m not sure if I’m allowed a Kindle due to possible lack of electricity. Even if I could power it up, I’d still plump for the physical books.
I am old school. I delight in the feel of a book, with its delicious bookish smells, textured pages, and words spilling out across my hands. There’s nothing quite like it.


Social Media Links
Blog, ‘Reader I Wrote It’:
Facebook Page:




Author Bio
Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.