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Shana Abé

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Sweetest Dark, The
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Kate Furnivall
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Kate Furnivall was raised in Penarth, a small seaside town in Wales. She has a twin sister and an older brother and sister. Her mother was abandoned to bring up the four children alone. This gave Kate a strong role model for female self-reliance and self-determination. The early years were difficult financially but it was a household in which the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the poetry of William Blake and Chopin's Preludes mattered more than where the next meal was coming from. This was because her mother, Lily, whose own childhood was a kaleidoscope of life in Russia, China and India, discovered at an early age that the world around us is volatile, that possessions can disappear overnight and that the only things of true value are those inside your head and your heart. These values Kate explores in The Russian Concubine. Kate went to Penarth Grammar School but spent much of her childhood roaming beaches and climbing cliffs with her twin sister. She went to London University where she achieved a BA Honours degree in English. From there she went into publishing, working for Nicholson Publishing, writing material for a series of books on the canals of Britain. Later she moved into advertising at Ted Bates Advertising Agency where she met her future husband, Norman. She travelled widely as a producer of television commercials, giving her an insight into how people function within different cultures, which was to prove invaluable when embarking on The Russian Concubine. By now Kate and Norman had two sons and so moved out of London to the delights of a 300-year old thatched cottage in a Wiltshire village. Kate concentrated on raising their 2 sons and numerous cats, but life changed when Norman gave up advertising to become a full-time writer. Over the next years he had 13 crime novels published and won the Crime Writers Association John Creasey Award in 1987 under the name Neville Steed. No longer tied to London, Kate and Norman retreated further into rural life by moving to the beautiful county of Devon. This is where they still live by the sea, only 5 minutes from the home of Agatha Christie! So yet again Kate is back to roaming beaches and climbing cliffs.

It was when her mother died in 2000 that the new Millennium started with a life-change for Kate. She decided to write a book inspired by her mother's story. The Russian Concubine contains fictional characters and events, and is set in Junchow, a fictionalised version of Tientsin in northern China. But Kate made use of the extraordinary situation that was her mother's childhood experience - that of two White Russian refugees, a mother and daughter stuck without money or papers in an International Settlement in China.

from author's web site.



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