Author Interview: Gillie Bowen / The Mary White




JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Gillie. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

GB-I live in the beautiful Loire Valley in France, in a little village called St Cyran du Jambot. Apart from my love of writing, I enjoy working in my beautiful garden, swimming in our pool, and cooking and entertaining my friends. A perfect day would be a few early hours of writing, and a long late lunch with my friends or family around the pool.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

GB-The latter part of the 18th century. It’s historically rich in conflict between England and Europe, and the clothes and costumes are so flamboyant.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

GB-Mary White, who lived at that time and was my seventh-great-aunt. She was so brave and took part in many amazing sea-rescues. I would ask her this: “What inspired you and weren’t you afraid?”

JMR- You are a retired journalist, what made you make the leap to historical fiction? Did you always want to write fiction? How did your career influence your choice of subjects?

GB-As a journalist, you try to keep to the facts and report the truth. During my career I often interviewed people who had amazing stories to tell. Now, In retirement, I have the freedom to take the facts and the people and weave a story around them. That’s why I like writing historical fiction.

JMR- You were born in Africa and raised around the world. How has your life experience influenced your writing?

GB-Travelling the world at a young age gave me a thirst for exploring different countries. It seems my ancestors were bitten by the same bug. I have written two fictional novels about my African ancestors, who were 1820 White Settlers in South Africa. My novel ‘The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate’ is about my husband’s great-great-aunt, Emily Bowen, who in 1882 emigrated to Australia. I still travel extensively, usually for three months every year.

JMR- You write about your ancestors. Did you visit any place that had a deep connection to their story? Do you feel  closer to them today?

GB-I have revisited the places where my ancestors lived in both England, Africa and Australia. It was particularly exciting to find Hougham Hall in South Africa, a house built in 1830 by my great-great-great-grandfather, Hougham Hudson. He and other family members are buried there in a long-forgotten, private burial ground. It was an extraordinary experience to fight our way through long grass and undergrowth to find his remains lying there, and it made his story very real. In Perth, Australia, we found a relation of Emily, who had continued to run the family business up until his retirement. He was a charming, elderly gentleman who had some wonderful memories to share. We also found the last house in which she’d lived, which was a very emotional moment. In England, we found Stone Farm in Thanet, where Mary White lived as a child.

JMR- Gillie, tell us about your new book, The Mary White.

GB-My husband is interested in genealogy and when researching Hougham Hudson’s story, he came across Mary White, who was Hougham Hudson’s second-great-aunt. When I discovered that even today, the Royal National Lifeboat Association still has a lifeboat named after her, I had to find out more. She was a fearless and remarkable young woman growing up at a time when girls of her age and class were simply groomed for marriage.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

GB-Whilst researching The Mary White, we discovered Mary’s nephew, Thomas White, took the boatbuilding business to the Isle of Wight in 1802, and his company became the island’s biggest shipbuilder and employer of the 19th and early 20th century. Guess what I’m writing about now…

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

GB-You can read about my historical novels on Facebook ( ) ( ) and ( ). My Twitter handle is @AmuseBoucheCook. You can visit my website at (

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

GB-I was hoping you might ask me if I only write historical fiction? The answer would be ‘No’. I have also written a modern/futuristic trilogy, the Ville Rose series ( and I’ve published two cookbooks (

JMR- Gillie, thank you so much for stopping by today and talking about your writing. 




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