Author’s Advice: Have Faith in Yourself

SHADOW OF ATLANTIS_front onlyYes, we CAN travel back in time…with books. Today Wendy Leighton-Porter, author of the Shadows of the Past time-travel novels, talks about a few of her sixteen time-travel adventures, and more. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know this interesting woman who spends her time writing and enjoying life in the United Kingdom and southern France. 

Wendy, my first question – what inspired you to write your Shadows from the Past series of time-travel novels?

My mother had always told me I should write a book. However, with a full-time teaching job, complete with lessons to plan, books to mark, exams to correct and reports to write in the evenings and on weekends, I never quite found enough time. When I gave up my teaching career, I found I no longer had an excuse. But what would I write? For some unknown reason, I had a sudden epiphany whilst on a flight from the UK to France. The idea for my “Shadows from the Past” series just popped into my head, almost fully-formed. I couldn’t wait to get started and, as soon as I was able to sit down at my computer, I found the first story just flowed out of me!

How did you decide which time periods to include in your stories and how many books to write?

I started with Atlantis, because it’s a legend which captures everyone’s imagination and I’m a firm believer that the myth is probably founded on a real place and a real cataclysmic event. Then, moving forwards in time with each subsequent story, I arranged for my young time-travelers to stop off in places and periods of history which interest me, but which I thought would also interest my readers. Because I’m from the UK, some of the books which are still to come may lean more towards key events in English history, but I’m hoping that they’ll still make an entertaining read

Which book in the series is your favorite and why?

 If I had to choose just one, it would probably be “The Shadow of the Trojan Horse,” because the story of the Trojan War has long been one of my favoriteTrojan Horse front tales from Greek mythology. I can read Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” time and time again – they are wonderful adventure stories. I love the way the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece meddled in events during the Trojan War, and I’ve incorporated that aspect into my re-telling of this epic tale. Despite the fact that my version is a something of a twist on Homer’s story, I’ve included many characters and events from the original, and have also sneaked in a few of his famous epithets when describing people and places such as, “rosy-fingered dawn” and “the wine-dark sea.” But I must confess to a tendency to prefer each new book I’m working on! I loved writing “The Shadow of the Volcano” because I used to teach all about Pompeii in my Latin lessons, and then I had such fun writing the latest adventure, “The Shadow of Camelot” .…

What was your favorite part about writing the books?

I just love writing – I get really carried away when I come to an exciting bit, completely losing track of the time as my fingers fly over the keyboard, but I have to admit that the parts I enjoy writing most involve Max, the adorable talking Tonkinese cat. I’m more than a little biased here, because he’s based on my own lilac Tonkinese, Bertie – and, like Max in the stories, he is a very large cat in real life, weighing in at 8 kilos! I want my readers to fall in love with Max, as I’m totally in love with him myself. And I also hope they’ll find him funny. Most of the humor in the books comes from the things Max says and does – he’s quite a character!

Can you describe your research and writing routine?

 I don’t really have a routine as such. If I had staff to do the housework and cook meals for me, then I’m sure I could probably have a strict timetable. But, as it is, I write when I can. If possible though, I do like to set aside at least a few hours each day.

wendy&bertie1What would you most like to leave readers thinking?

I would love to think that I’m encouraging my readers to discover that history can be enjoyable and leaving them with a thirst to find out more. I also hope that they’ll learn something new in each book, which perhaps they didn’t know previously.              

What are your top suggestions for writers?

Above all, have faith in yourself – if you believe you can do it, that’s the first step!

I find that on days where I’m struggling to get going, I try and make myself write at least a few hundred words –I might end up deleting them all the next day, but sometimes, when you’ve had to wrestle each and every word on to the page, you read it back and it’s not half bad – it may even kick-start the creative juices! Whatever happens, I fully believe it’s never time wasted.

Make sure you love what you’re doing! If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, how can you expect anyone to enjoy reading it?

And finally, never ever give up in the pursuit of your dream! 

 What is next on the horizon for you? 

At the moment I’m just focusing on the “Shadows from the Past” series – I’m currently working on book number seven, but am planning for there to be sixteen in total. I already know what each of the books will be about and where the last one will end. There will be a lot of loose ends to tie up and questions to be answered as the journey reaches its final destination. However, I do already have the grain of an idea for something I intend to write when I’ve finished the series. It will be a ghost story, based on the true tale of a haunted house in the village where I live in the UK.

So you’re already thinking ten books ahead? Wow. Anything else you’d like to share? SHADOW OF THE VOLCANO_front_v5 copy - Copy (2)

One of my hobbies is genealogy – researching my family history – and I’ve been lucky enough to trace my family back quite a long way. One day, I discovered my five times great-grandmother, Jemima Lancelot, who was born in 1721. I thought she had such a marvelous name that, if ever I wrote a book, I would have to call my heroine after her! And so, when I embarked upon my “Shadows from the Past” series, Jemima Lancelot was reborn. Since then I’ve borrowed names from my family tree for the rest of the characters in my stories too.

Finally, just in case you hadn’t already noticed, I totally adore cats, particularly Tonkinese! I have two of them and they are such characters – they’re probably more like dogs in the way they behave and bond with humans. They are very sociable creatures and want to be with you all the time – this can get a bit tricky, especially when you’re trying to write at your computer and a furry paw insists on helping you out! Our female cat Clio is half the size of Bertie, but considers herself to be the supreme ruler of the universe and is constantly telling us what to do. I once read somewhere that you don’t own a “Tonk,” they own you … how true!

Thank you, Wendy, for stopping by. For my review of Wendy’s “Shadow of Atlantis,” please see (Short version: I loved it!) You can find out more about Wendy and find links to buy her books at  She also welcomes new Facebook friends and fans at

 And visitors, please bring your questions and comments!


  1. And I have to thank you too, Renee, for promoting my books so wonderfully on your brilliant website!

  2. Thank you, Renee! And it’s fun that I first read of Wendy’s books via Thank you for the introduction. 🙂

  3. I love Wendy’s answer to which book is her favorite. I can imagine that it would be difficult to choose just one! Each book is definitely a history lesson – they are pretty great! Thanks for joining us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. 🙂

  4. Thanks for your interest and kind words, David. Hope you get a chance to read the books!

  5. Thank you, David, for stopping in. Enjoyed stopping by your blog; I love middle-grade books. Hope to see you again, and for the other middle-grade book fans out there, stop by and see David at

  6. Great interview! I’m officially hooked on the idea of reading these books. It is always interesting to see where the ideas come from, and being able to visit great moments in history via time travel would certainly be a gift!

  7. Will do!

  8. Thank you, Katie, and you are welcome. When I first heard of Wendy’s books I knew I had to read them. And then she agreed to an interview – bonus! Happy to share.

  9. My pleasure! Thanks for coming by my link-up. I hope you’ll mark your calendar and join us each Thursday!

  10. What a fascinating interview!
    Thank you for sharing this with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  11. Thank you, Tina, for stopping in all the way from Malaysia! I visited there once and found it a fascinating place. I will stop in on for your link-up – thank you for the invite.

  12. I love books that make history come alive for kids. It was so dead to me through most of my schooling until I discovered my first historical fiction book. I will NEVER forget reading Johnny Tremain. It was such an epiphany for my 4th grade brain! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this interview. I found you at the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I also host a weekly link-up on Thursdays for all things book related at my site, I’d love for you to join us anytime! Here’s this week’s link if you’re interested:
    Have a magnificent week!

  13. You are quite welcome, Wendy, and thank you for sharing some of that precious time on this blog.

  14. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi. Yes, I agree finding one’s passion is key. And I am very inspired by Wendy’s ability to make the time to write sixteen books.

  15. You’re right, Sandi – time is precious and there never seem to be enough hours in the day but, once you find your passion, it’s important to set aside a little “me” time each day so you can indulge it!

    Thanks, Valerie, for such interesting questions and for giving my interview a slot on your blog!

  16. Very inspiring. I guess the secrets are finding the time and finding your passion.