The story behind The Girl in the Photograph


Yesterday it was paperback publication day for Kirsty Ferry’s third Rossetti Mysteries book, The Girl in the Photograph, and today Kirsty joins us on the blog to chat a little bit about the historical inspiration for the novel … 

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to finally see three of the Rossetti Mysteries in paperback. It is absolutely a dream come true, and they all look so utterly stunning together that I can’t help staring at them and, yes, even stroking the covers.

However, a book doesn’t turn into a book without a spark of inspiration, and my inspiration for The Girl in the Photograph was a lady called Julia Margaret Cameron. Cameron was a photographer who lived from 1815 to 1879. She became known for portraits of contemporary celebrities and depictions of Arthurian legends and other wonderful themes so beloved by the Pre Raphaelites that have coloured this trilogy. As the slightly rebellious nineteenth century Pre Raphaelite Movement, founded in 1843 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt (who you may remember from The Girl in the Painting) progressed from poetry, to art, to photography, so my books have followed this path. I also incorporated some later art movements in this book; Dame Laura Knight who was part of the Lamorna group of artists in Cornwall visited Staithes in Yorkshire and was part of their art community for a little while. Laura and the Staithes Group all deserved a spot in my book too.

I decided I wanted to use Cameron and her photography when I discovered a newspaper clipping hidden inside a second hand Pre Raphaelite Tate exhibition catalogue I ordered from Amazon. The clipping fluttered out as I was looking for a picture of Lizzie Siddal, the muse and lover of Rossetti.  It depicted a profile of a mysterious lady who Cameron had photographed, and there was a discussion over who she might have been. There was going to be an exhibition including this picture and the experts all had their opinions on her. I read the extract with a mounting sense of excitement. This, I knew without a doubt, was to be the premise for my next Rossetti book – a beautiful girl in a photograph, a moment in time captured in black and white and attributed to Julia Margaret Cameron. It was easy to know who would ‘star’ in my contemporary thread – it had to be Lissy, Jon’s sister from Some Veil Did Fall. The question was, what is Lissy really like? She spends all her time matchmaking, but she’s hiding some hurt from her past and has quite a brittle veneer – but then in comes Stefano, the one she can’t get over. Can he change her back to the loving girl she really is beneath all the London polish? And my historical couple – well, I couldn’t resist Julian as soon as I started writing about him. He’s a photographer capturing the last days of the Staithes Group of artists, and staying in the Dower House of Sea Scarr Hall, the home of Lady Lorelei Scarsdale. Like Lissy, Lorelei is hiding some secrets and only Julian can get close enough to discover who she really is.

So yes, I loved writing these books (which is why I did a Christmas one as well – there were only ever meant to be three originally!) and loved the way everything just slotted into them from my research and inspiration. I really hope you enjoy reading them just as much.

THGITPGPREORDERThe Girl in the Photograph is now available to purchase on as an eBook and in paperback from all good book retailers. Click on the banner above for buying options. 

For more on Kirsty Ferry:
Follow her on Twitter: @Kirsty_ferry
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Sarah reveals her unofficial covers



Visual 1. Arun age 8

I thought I would share with you my visuals for No Such Thing…as immortality? Okay, they are unofficial. The official one is currently in the pipeline which is very exciting.

But these are the visuals I currently use (at home) ― produced by my two children. Up until a couple of days ago they would argue constantly, normally on the school-run amidst their constant bickering of who was speaking first, who was interrupting who, who punched who first etc ― about which of them would produce the cover for my book. So I thought, let’s give them a shot at this.

Of course, when it came to coming up with the goods, they weren’t quite so keen. It was so much more preferable to simply argue about it.

The brief didn’t particularly help:

  • A love story (Eurghhh) They are boys
  • With vampires (Yay! ‘But I can’t draw vampires’ my 8yr old advised and then insisted on a £5 fee for his services)
  • Humans (shrugs)
  • And possibly faeries (eurghggh, spit, fingers down throats, raspberries you name it and probably lots you couldn’t). Faeries can be bad, I said cunningly (‘Nah, still not a chance,’ from he who is 8. ‘Can they have horns, mummy?’ from my 5 yr old)
  • There’s a pretty cool scene on a boat ― me at my most persuasive (thoughtful pause from my 5 yr old followed by, ‘Are there sharks in your book, mummy?’ A dismissive shrug said it all from he who is 8 ― you’ve paid for a vampire and not a boat.

Visual 2. Max age 5

Visual 2. Max age 5


Visual number 1. From Arun who is 8 (and a half).arun-master-2

A vampire. He has thrown in a full moon, a couple of bats and eight stars for free, which impressed me. I have to say, I actually think he has drawn a VERY cool vampire. I didn’t give Arun a physical description, feeling Will’s finer points would not be suitably appreciated. But he got the tall and dark right…

Visual number 2. From Max who is 5.

We have vampires, faeries, a boat and bats (one hanging upside down, just as they do). To the left are three vampires. To the right are two faeries…with horns. He advises me they are demon faeries which I must say is providing me with food for thought. They are all above the safety railings on a boat. Max it would appear has gone for a cruise liner style of boat rather than a yacht (my fault, I said boat in the brief!). The boat is complete with potholes. In fact they are portholes (in yellow) but as he was drawing them he confused me for a while by referring to them as potholes. The faerie with the red all over its face has been attacked by a vampire and apparently there are two dead faeries that have gone into the sea out of the picture.

These covers might not be quite right. But I would say, I love them to bits. In fact, I fully intend to put them behind glass alongside my actual cover!

In a post sometime soon, I  hope to reveal the ‘official’ cover of No Such Thing…as immortality?

Thank you for humouring me 🙂