Friday, September 6, 2013

Renee Duke, The Disappearing Rose

AUTHOR: Renee Duke
BOOK TITLE: The Disappearing Rose
GENRE: Middle Grade Historical Time Travel Novel
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.

I lived in both Canada and England while I was growing up but according to most people I have the accent of neither.  All those ocean crossings must have just resulted in a mid-Atlantic accent.  My family finally came to roost in Kelowna, B.C. and we’ve been here ever since.  Except for trips back home to England, of course.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was seven. My teacher wrote several topics on the board and said we had to make up a story about one of them.  I chose ‘The Life Story Of A Banana Peel’, and while I can’t remember what I wrote (other than that there was a Banana Spider involved), I do know I wrote several pages more than the teacher was anticipating and even divided it into chapters. I had probably been making up stories long before that, but that was the point at which I realized books were actually written by someone. From then on, I wrote all the time, both at home and at school.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Again, a teacher.  I was in the last year of primary school in England, and when that teacher suggested writing and illustrating a little reader for the Infants class I happily produced The Adventures of Ralphie Rabbit, which was duly published on the school’s printing press.  I do not, incidentally, still illustrate my own work.  Rabbits are about the only thing I can draw and I am greatly indebted to the various artists who have, over the years, illustrated my stories so much better than I ever could.  I especially like the cover that MuseItUp artist, Marion Sipe, did for The Disappearing Rose.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

Up until now, I’ve only been involved with a few talks at a local school, with children I know very well. And that was more to promote writing than to promote my writing. Being technology-challenged, Internet publicity is a new field for me. I’m not at all comfortable with it yet, but I suppose I’ll have to learn because, as my son says, “This is the twenty-first century, Mum.”

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I don’t have writer’s block so much as writer’s procrastination. Once I’ve finished with research and know what I want to do, actually settling down to write can take weeks. Well, I can’t start today because I really have to go down the shops … or, I can’t start today, because the cats have to go the vet for a check up … or …  that sort of thing.  After I do get going on the story, it’s usually full steam ahead.  

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

MuseItUp Publishing.  I connected with them through meeting Nancy Bell for a pitch session at the 2012 Surrey International Writer’s Conference. After The Disappearing Rose was accepted, I was also fortunate enough to have her as my content editor.

What are your current projects?

I am in the midst of edits for Book Two of my Time Rose series, The Mud Rose (Victorian era), which should release in January, and a little ways into Book Three, tentatively entitled The Spirit Rose.  Unlike the other books, which were set in England, some of this one will be set in Canada.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

I worked in the field of early childhood education for over thirty years and am still a qualified ECE supervisor. Concurrent with being an ECE teacher, I was also a playground supervisor for Grades K-7 at a private Catholic school, and have more recently been doing interactive history units with 6-13-year-olds at an Out-of-School Care centre. Back in 1977, I also went to Belize, Central America and spent some time working with 3-8-year-olds through World Peace & Development.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done? Why did you choose to write a children’s book?

No, it’s not my first published children’s work.  I’ve had children’s stories and articles published in Zamoof! (Canada), Pockets, Spider, Story Friends, and Wonder Time (U.S.A.), and The People’s Friend (UK).  I’ve also put together life books for internationally adopted children who came to Canada through Families for Children.  As regards other types of writing, I’ve had adult articles and humour pieces published in Okanagan Life, Our World 50+ (yes, I am 50+), Reader’s Digest, and Stitches (Canada), Catholic Digest, (USA), and My Weekly (UK), and was once a stringer for a newspaper. I chose to write a children’s book because writing for children and young teens is what I most enjoy, and I wanted to do something with more depth than a short story.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

The idea that history can be fun, and a desire to learn more about the princes and their era.

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why?

I didn’t find any of the characters especially hard to develop.  I had my three central characters, and the others just sort of introduced themselves and went on from there, playing off the main ones.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

Any book involving history requires a lot of research.  If you set a story in a specific era you have to make sure that everything your characters see, hear, smell, taste, and touch reflects that era.  They have to think and act in accordance with their times, and do so in ways that seem natural.  And if they’re involved in certain documented historical events, you have to know when and how they happened.  You can’t just look up dates and stick people in period clothing. You have to know about every aspect of life at that time, such as what people ate, how they cooked it, the kind of furniture they had in their homes, what tools they used, how they travelled, how different social classes interacted, how holidays were celebrated and a host of other things.  Even if you don’t use all the information you collect, you have to know it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read, watch TV, go to the theatre, look after home & family, let two cats in & out of the house, feed, water, and pet these same cats on demand, and, occasionally, travel.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

Having it written in the present tense.  Unless it’s supposed to be an ongoing diary, I really don’t get off on everything being that immediate.  After I open up a book I’m interested in and find it’s written in the present tense, chances are very good that I won’t read it.  Another thing that will keep me from going on with a book is coming across several errors. Not just one or two – several. This mostly just applies to books dealing with historical eras or foreign locales with which I am familiar, or some aspect of child behavior that is off in some way. If it was to do with cooking, art, sports, maths, or something technical, the author could make a hundred errors, and I’d never know. 

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

I have a website,, and I am on Facebook, both of which are to be re-vamped soon.


The box was made of basswood, a light, almost white coloured wood. Delicately carved roses adorned each of its sides, with larger, but no less intricate, roses on the lid.
Prying the lid off, Mrs. Marchand said, “This medallion’s solid gold. It’s of Armenian origin and had already been in the family for generations when it came into the hands of a William of Roseheath around  ten-seventy-seven.  Like most English surnames, ours wasn’t in common use then, so that’s probably a reference to some place he lived near.
 “In any case, this William was quite taken with the medallion. He claimed it had mysterious powers. It was just kept in a pouch in his day though. A couple of centuries later, a Roswold Wolverton commissioned someone to make this box for it and had a rather curious verse put inside the lid.”
She turned the box lid over so Dane and the others could see the words carved into it.  “’Tis for youth to call its own,
By speaking words in proper tone.
And up to five times be guided,
To those whose fate be not decided.
For divers lives must come to blend,
Ere the roses’ peregrinations end.”
“Peregrinations?” said Paige. “What on earth are peregrinations?”
“Travels,” said Uncle Gareth.
“Then why couldn’t he have just said travels?”
“Because people back then seldom used a small word if they could use a big one.”
 “Hmph,” said Paige.
Dane had a different question. “Which rose is it talking about?” he inquired. “The box is covered with them.”
“It must be the one on the medallion,” Jack said as Mrs. Marchand lifted the finely crafted object out from the folds of a piece of dark blue velvet. 
The front of the medallion had a solid, perfectly formed five-petal rose projecting from its otherwise flat surface. The back was completely flat, but when Mrs. Marchand turned it over, a stamped image was revealed. One of the two human figures depicted was a weary-looking old man with a long beard. He was seated on the back of a huge eagle with his right hand resting on the shoulder of a young girl. The girl stood before him, her own hands cupped and elevated to receive the single rose he held in his other hand. Both wore simple robes and beneath their sandal-clad feet were the words: ROSAE ADULESCENTIAE OMNIA TEMPUS REVELAT.
“That’s Latin,” said Jack. “It means, ‘To…to the rose of…youth…time reveals all’.”


  1. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Penny

  2. Accuracy in historicals does take a lot of time, doesn't it?

    Nice excerpt!

    1. Thank you. I love reading about different periods in history, even when I'm not researching.