Historical novel inspired by castle visit

Timaru author Bernadette Joyce with her third novel, a work of historical fiction. PHOTO: CLAIRE...
Timaru author Bernadette Joyce with her third novel, a work of historical fiction. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

Cargill's Castle had such an effect on Bernadette Joyce when she attended an event there in 1967, it became the setting for her third historical novel, 51 years later.

"I had this feeling when I went into the place. I thought it was awesome, and it has stuck with me all those years.''

When Mrs Joyce, of Timaru, turned 65 years old, she decided she wanted to write a novel.

Until then, all she had written was letters.

This week, Mrs Joyce launched her third novel - Cargill's Castle Revisited, Jessica's Story - which is set in Dunedin's Cargill's Castle.

The book weaves together the stories of Andrew, who bought the historic property, and Jessica, a young woman working at the Otago Settlers Museum.

"It was like a big jigsaw puzzle, with two stories running through the book, so they all connect. I felt quite pleased when I had pulled it off.''

Cargill's Castle. Photo: Star files
Cargill's Castle. Photo: Star files

While Mrs Joyce's books are fictional, she takes great care to ensure the historical aspects are accurate.

Friend Lynette Melville designed the cover, and Timaru woman Michelle Denson edited the manuscript.

Her first two books were originally written as one, but when author P. D. R. Lindsay advised her she had two stories, Mrs Joyce separated them into the books The Effects of Henry's Cage, Elean's Story, and its sequel The Effects of Henry's Cage, Roberta's Story.

"If I hadn't met her, I would never have published the book ... and probably would have only written the first book. I wouldn't have gone on to the others.

"I started this book in April 2017. When the sequel was launched, I was suddenly bored. This story had already been there in my thoughts, so it wasn't hard to write, when you know what you want to say and you've got the ending.''

Mrs Joyce, who hones her writing skills with the South Canterbury Writers' Group, writes in the mornings and often returns to earlier writing to fine tune and improve it. Her next plan is to release a book of her short stories.

A farmer's wife all her life, she now lives with her husband on a lifestyle block on the outskirts of Timaru with Saanen goats and Jersey-cross cattle.

"When you retire, you don't have to give up on living, you can still have a full and productive life.''

An indie author, Mrs Joyce self-publishes and sells printed copies directly and through Amazon. E-books are also available.

"You can put your work out there and not have to go through the big companies.''

Mrs Joyce says it is more of a hobby than a money-making venture.

"I have spent hours writing these books,and I want to share them with people who will enjoy them.''

CLAIRE.ALLISON @alliedpress.co.nz


It's a pity Cargill's Castle has been left to fall down, DCC should purchase it and rebuild it. The trust is not going to.