Delighted to share some inspiration behind the novel with you all, but first I will introduce the book.
Jude & Bliss
the Victorian era, for many young women, going into domestic service
was a significant source of employment where they found suitable work
but with extended hours for a reasonable salary, receiving free
accommodation as well as enjoying the perks and prestige of working
for the aristocracy or other members of the upper or
As a matter of course, employers had a moral obligation, but one without a legal requirement to ensure their servants were kept clean, healthy and well-nourished. However, for one poor girl, that, unfortunately, was not the case.
In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old from Woking, Surrey, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London's Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems.
As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer.
This story is NOT for the faint-hearted!
Tag Line: A Victorian Tragedy
Publication Date: 12 November 2020
Publisher: Publish Nation
Page Length: 234
Genre: Historical Fiction
You can purchase a copy of the book via -
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Jude-Bliss-Mal-Foster/9798550129265
Now for the inspiration behind the novel -
The inspiration for ‘Jude & Bliss’ manifested itself as far back as 1994, at a time when I hadn’t even considered writing a novel.
On a hot Sunday afternoon at the end of June that year, I attended the Strawberry Fayre, at Bisley Village Green with my then-wife, Jeannette, and our four-year-old son Chris. The Surrey Heath Museum had a display in a gazebo which contained marvels of local history.
Among the artefacts, was a crudely bound court account of a young girl from nearby Bagshot who was systematically killed by her employer. The employer, a Mrs Camilla Nicholls, of Pitt Street, Kensingston, was ultimately tried for manslaughter and sentenced to seven years penal servitude. An extremely light sentence for her crime, in my opinion. The young girl who died was one Emily Jane Popejoy, (1880-1897).
After a pleasant chat with the museum’s curator, I attained a copy of the court report for £5.00, which was quite extortionate in 1994. However, it never really told the full story from Emily’s perspective, nor that of her family but for some reason, it all had a profound effect on me, and I made sure I kept my purchase in a safe place for years to come.
It wasn’t until 2015 after I had finished my debut historical fiction novel, ‘The Asylum Soul’ that I considered turning Emily’s tragic tale into a novel. It took me a few more years to decide how to achieve my goal of actually getting down to business and writing the book. I knew my story had to be original and written as fiction. ‘Jude & Bliss’ is truly inspired by a real-life tragedy but importantly, it is not based on one.
As part of my research, I visited Emily Popejoy’s grave in March 2020 whilst I was in the early stages of writing. The whole experience was rather poignant and felt quite spiritual. I then created Jude Rogers, a character similar to Emily and one I hope Emily herself, would have endeared to.
As the writing progressed, I slightly amended the timelines and changed the locations albeit, keeping them quite local. There were a lot of gaps in Emily’s true story. This is where fiction came to the fore and played its part. I knew I had to make the whole story of Jude, my own, therefore the storyline is completely detached from the real-life account of Emily Popejoy’s life, and sadly, her ultimate demise.
Mal Foster was born in 1956 in Farnham, Surrey and grew up in nearby Camberley. He was educated at secondary modern level but left school at just fifteen years old to help support his single mother and younger brother. It was around this time that he began writing, and indeed, his first poems were published soon after.
In 2007 his most widely read poem The Wedding was published in the Australian Secondary Schools anthology Poetry Unlocked' a book that formed part of its English Literature exam curriculum. The irony of its inclusion has always amused Mal considering he left school before gaining any formal qualifications himself.
A former local journalist, his first novel The Asylum Soul, a historical tale of incarceration was published in 2015. A second book, Fly Back and Purify, a paranormal drama appeared in 2017. Described as an explosive conspiracy thriller, An Invisible Nemesis was published at the beginning of May 2019.
In November 2020, his fourth novel, Jude & Bliss, was published and marked a return to historical fiction for Mal. "This book is close to my heart, it's the one, I think, which will define the course of my future writing," he told one observer.
You can connect with Mal Foster via the following platforms -
You can learn more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs on the tour.
That's it for now.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe