Currency $ USD
Design & editorial
117% funded
176 backers

Three generations of women experience love, loss and conflict in times of war

Set against the backdrop of three wars – the 1991 Gulf War, World War 2 and World War 1 – the novel follows the fortunes of three women who become involved with the Flint family, the owners of Echo Hall.

Phoebe Flint visits Echo Hall in 2014, where she follows in her mother’s footsteps to uncover the stories of a house ‘full of unhappy women, and bitter, angry men’.

Ruth Flint arrives at Echo Hall in 1990 – newlywed, pregnant, and uncertain of her relationship with her husband, Adam. Ghostly encounters, a locked door, and a set of photographs pique her curiosity. But Adam and his grandfather refuse to let her investigate. And her marriage is further strained, when Adam, a reservist, is called up to fight in the Gulf War.

In 1942, Elsie Flint is already living at Echo Hall with her children, the guest of her unsympathetic in-laws, whilst her husband Jack is away with the RAF. Her only friend is Jack’s cousin Daniel, but Daniel is hiding secrets, which when revealed could destroy their friendship for good.

Rachel and Leah Walters meet Jacob Flint at a dinner party in 1911. Whilst Leah is drawn to Jacob, Rachel rejects him leading to conflict with her sister that will reverberate through the generations.

As Ruth discovers the secrets of Echo Hall, she is able to finally bring peace to the Flint family, and in doing so, discover what she really needs and wants.

Echo Hall is a novel about the past, but it is very much a novel of the now. Does history always have to repeat itself, or can we find another way?

Virginia Moffatt was born in London, one of eight children, several of whom are writers. Her eldest brother has written a theology book, one sister is a poet, a second, a translator and her twin is a successful author.

Virginia has always been a writer, but only began to take it seriously in 2004, when she first had the idea for Echo Hall. In 2009 she set up her blog, ‘A Room of My Own' where she publishes flash fiction, short essays, and reflections about writing and reading.

After working in social care for thirty years, she left local government to work for the Christian thinktank Ekklesia in 2014.

Virginia is married to Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars UK. They have three children and they live in Oxford.

“Nearly there,” said Adam, as we came upon a sign for Whetstone. The vapour thinned enough to reveal a collection of slate houses, a church, a graveyard of tomb-stones tumbling in different directions, a tiny village school. At the edge of the village the war memorial loomed out of the fog. As we began to climb the wooded hill, the fog thickened again. The road bent back on itself sharply through conifers and bare deciduous trees. The car’s beams picked out small details: roots grasping the side of the hill; mosses and the remnants of bracken, fighting for space on the black rock. Rivulets of water ran onto the wet road. Adam slowed almost to a halt, as the headlamps lit up an entrance, marked by two pillars, covered in lichen. We drove up a steep path that zigzagged through the closely packed fir trees. Water dripped off the branches. We emerged from the wood onto a gravel driveway, beside a wide lawn, stopping in front of a large square house.

“Wow.” I said. Nothing Adam had told me had prepared me for this. The high front door was framed by two rows of tall windows, their panes, black and vacant against the grey stone walls. Above them a smaller row of gabled windows ran under the roof. They must have been the servants' quarters once, though Adam had said there was only two left now: Mrs Davies, the live-in housekeeper and her son, Tommy, the grounds man who lived in the coach house at the back.

“Here, we are then,” said Adam, helping me out of the car.

Here we were indeed. I had hardly time to take stock before a small woman with curly white hair came out to greet us.

“Mr Adam,” she beamed.

“Hello, Mrs Davies.”

“You must be the new Mrs Flint.”

“Ruth.”

“I like the sound of Mrs Flint, better, my lovie. It’s been too long since we’ve had a Mrs Flint in the house… And so lovely to have a baby on the way too. Come in out of the damp air.”

She bustled us in. Adam strode after, completely at ease in our new surroundings. I followed behind, over-awed by the dark oak panels on the walls, the large staircase on the right side of the lobby, the grandfather clock in the corner.

“You’re gawping,” said Adam.

“It’s a bit...”

“You’ll get used to it.”

Mrs Davies ushered us in through a door on the left, into a room that was panelled like the hall. Red velvet curtains were drawn over the window. The long, dark table was laid for two. Even though there was a roaring fire, it had a desolate air.

Mrs Davies shepherded us to our seats.

“Your Granddad is asleep, Mr Adam.” she said, pouring red wine for him and water for me. “He’s not so good today. The doctor’s been. He said, with a bit of rest, Mr Flint should be right as rain in the morning.”

“Thank you,” said Adam.

“You must be starving. I’ll get your dinner.”

Adam sat back in his seat, and raised his glass, with a broad grin, "Welcome home, Mrs Flint.” I raised my glass, and smiled back. I knew how much Adam loved this place, how keen he was that we should move here. For weeks I'd been letting his enthusiasm convince me; but now we were here, I’d never felt so far from home in my life.

After dinner, Adam insisted on letting me rest as he unloaded the car. I sat in the sitting room on the west side of the house, watching the news of Mandela's release with delight. I switched over when Adam entered; even a dull Poirot story was preferable to an argument on our first night. Though the plot was ludicrous and the solution, obvious, it passed the time until the fire began to die down, and we were ready for bed. Adam killed the remaining flames, spreading the white ash across the hearth to make sure no spark remained to reignite the flames. Immediately the room temperature plummeted. The hallway outside was even colder, our breath steaming the air as we made our way up to bed. After years of living in small well heated houses and flats, this was going to take some getting used to. I was glad to fall into bed, thankful for the familiar warmth of Adam's body. I was asleep in minutes.

It was pitch black when I woke again. I waited for my eyes to get used to it, but the room remained absolutely dark. So dark, it felt physical, as if the night itself was pressing down on my chest, crushing the life out of me. I could barely breathe. I didn’t want to disturb Adam, but I couldn’t sleep like this. I had to let some light in. I climbed out of bed. The air was icy. I felt my way along the side of the mattress and the furniture till I reached the window. Grey light entered the room as I drew the curtains and I began to breathe more easily. The fog had lifted, and though the night was cloudy, shafts of moonlight lit up the driveway. In the distance I could make out the shapes of the fir trees we’d driven through earlier, standing eighty feet tall, like guards on the edge of a prison. I shivered and turned back to bed, but the light from the window didn’t reach very far. The room was still dark. I needed to open the door too.

As I was doing so, I heard a sound. At first I thought it was just the wind. Then I heard it again: a voice speaking in the hall. There was a pause and another voice replied. I wondered whether Adam’s grandfather had got up and was talking to Mrs Davies. It was none of my business, I knew, but something drew me to them. I crept to the top of the stairs. The first voice was a man’s - clear and cold.

“She is dead then?” A mumbled assent.

“And the child?”

“Yes.”

The voice sighed, “So be it – it is God’s will.”

Hesitantly, I moved down a stair or two. The hall below was black, except for a single beam of moonlight that danced off the face of the grandfather clock. I moved forward, to see who was talking. No-one. I went further down. Still no-one. I reached the bottom of the staircase. The hallway was empty.

I stood there for a moment, not sure what to do. Then in some panic, I went back to Adam as fast as I could. I switched the lamp on and shook him.

“Adam.” My heart was beating fast. He groaned and rolled over. It took me several shakes before I was able to wake him.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, peering at me with alarm “Is it the baby?”

“No, no, nothing like that.”

“What then?” As I explained, I realised how ridiculous it sounded.

“You dreamt it,” said Adam.

“It was real,” I said. “I mean, I don’t believe in ghosts, but it was real.”

“You’re pregnant, you’re in an unfamiliar place, it was a bad dream that’s all. “

“It was real.”

“I’m sure it felt real, but it wasn’t." He yawned. “Things are always weird in the middle of the night. Come here.” He turned off the lamp and pulled me towards him, but gradually, as my shivers reduced, he relaxed, his body slackening into sleep. Soon he was snoring, leaving me alone with my thoughts. It was just a dream, I kept telling myself. It was natural enough to be anxious about birth at this stage of my pregnancy. It was just a dream. But the disturbing voice stayed in my head, repeating the words over and over again.

I lay awake for a very long time.

Read more...

The Joy of Editing (2)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Well I said it would hurt, and it did.

Though the amendments to Ruth and Elsie's stories weren't too bad, amending Rachel's letters was much more challenging.  I knew Scott was right in that I had to cut a lot of words to make them less 'novely' and more 'lettery'.But oh it was a struggle. For they were my words,  which I had crafted lovingly over several years and they were beautiful. So there…

The joy of editing.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Letters

I find the process of writing immensely interesting, as it takes two very different sides of my brain. The first stage allows my freewheeling creative side begin the process of telling the story. The second uses my analytical objective side as I begin to edit the words that I have written.  I know some people who do this painstakingly sentence by sentence as they go along, so that their first drafts…

A new chapter begins...

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Celebration

It doesn't get old, coming on here, seeing that orange circle emblazoned with 112%. Knowing 'Echo Hall' will finally be published has been a lovely way to end the year. It's been a long time coming.

If you've been paying attention to my shed posts, you will remember that I first had the idea for 'Echo Hall' in early 2004, nearly 13 years ago. Back then, the children were very small, and I had neither…

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

I wrote this years ago in a class,led by a wonderful tutor, Jenny Lewis, with an exercise inspired by the beginning of Under Milk Wood. It's a little clunky, but I can't think of a better way to say Happy Christmas to you all, and thanks for your support! 

Midwinter.

Snow falling, snow on snow – some forty years ago.  Returning home from mother's Old Girls, four year olds stand at the…

Fully Funded!!

Monday, 28 November 2016

This time last year, I answered a call for submissions put out by Scott Pack, Associate Editor with Unbound. I was delighted with his initial positive response, and further delighted when he offered me a deal earlier this year.

It's been a long and hard road since then, so it with huge relief and grateful thanks that I learnt that I had hit 100% today.

It couldn't have been possible without…

It's a Wonderful Life

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Ten years ago, my lovely twin Julia Williams called me with exciting news. After nine years of writing, submitting and rejection,she had finally got her first book deal. I know how hard she works and how good her writing is, so I couldn't have been happier for her. That book was 'Pastures New', published by Avon in 2007; since then Julia has never looked back.

It took me ten years to write 'Echo…

Give your loved one the perfect gift - an Unbound pledge!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Ever stuck for pressies for loved ones on those special occasions? Birthdays, Anniversaries, Just for the hell of it days, and the one we don't mention yet?

If they're a book lover, why not take out a pledge on their behalf? Just pledge as normal and add their address in when prompted, and edit your entry so their name appears in the back.

If you'd also  like a  specially designed e-gift-certificate…

Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.

Just Keep Swimming...

Friday, 14 October 2016

This week I was privileged to take part in a panel on the future of publishing, at Oxford Waterstones, alongside my editor Scott Pack, and David Fickling and Simon Mason of David Fickling Books. It was a fabulous evening. My fellow speakers were highly entertaining and it was a pleasure to meet such an engaged and interesting audience, that included Unbound author Klara Piechocki and my former tutor…

Characters on the loose again.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Way back in April, I conducted a writing experiment and let my four World War 1 characters, Rachel, Joseph, Jacob and Leah loose on twitter. It was an interesting exercise in understanding them a bit better, and my World War 2 characters immediately clamoured to have  a voice.

I had intended to follow up quickly with a significant week in their lives in  June 1936. However, life got a bit busy…

Holiday Reads

Saturday, 20 August 2016

I always take an ambitiously large pile of books on holiday with me and usually don't finish half of them...This year was no exception particularly as I'd brought a lot of nonfiction with me, I did however get through most of my fiction ist and even read one we picked up at a second hand bookshop...So here, in order of reading (more or less) is what I read and what I thought.

1. Before the Fire…

Shooting Stars

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The first time I saw the Perseids  I didn't really know what I was looking at. It was 1999, and I was in Cornwall with my friends Angela and Catherine for a totally different astronomical event - the total eclipse of the sun. It seemed like an extra bonus to catch shooting stars at our campsite the night before. We lay on our backs swigging whisky as we watched stars streak across the sky, with high…

The consequences of conflict.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Before John Chilcot took to the stage yesterday to deliver his long expected report, I was filled with cynicism. I was convinced that the pre-publication hype would merely be the establishment’s way of rapping Tony Blair’s knuckles. When it came out, I imagined the document would be faintly critical but that would be it.

So when I turned on the livestream yesterday my expectations were exceeding…

Flash Fiction Fortnight

Monday, 4 July 2016

Over the last fortnight, I have been celebrating National Flash Fiction Day on 25th June  by writing stories in response to people's prompts.

In the week before NFFD, I took prompts from people on Facebook and wrote seven stories which you can find here. Thanks to Kate, Pat, Chris, Andrew, Wendy and Jennifer for providing the ideas.

On the day itself, I was thrilled to be Writer-in-Residence…

NFFD 2016: The Results (4)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The final two flash fictions!

 

Prompt 8 came from Richard an Albion Beatnik regular who dropped in for tea and chat: My girlfriend is coming back from Hull on a train. Why is she delayed?

 

The 11.59 from Hull

The best laid plans went astray before he’d even got started. He was at the station on time for the 11.59 but somehow he ended up at the wrong platform. There he was…

NFFD 2016:The Results (3)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Prompt 7 came from Kate: an Arabic garden in Spain. When she described such gardens as being a series of embedded hedges around a centre, and then how they linked to the structure of The Arabian Nights, I couldn't resist trying four flashes in one story. Makes it a bit longer but...

 

A picnic in the Arabic garden

1.

The argument began over sandwiches, who was supposed to bring…

NFFD 2016: The Results (2)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Here's the next selection of stories from my Writer-In-Residence day at Albion Beatnik.

Prompt number 4 came from Rachel, a friend of Deborah's who was passing by and came in for a cup of tea: the phrase ‘Designing with a Purpose’ drawn from a discussion about architecture.

4. Designing with a purpose.

The University was the newest of new, funded by a benevolent benefactor to whom…

NFFD 2016: The Results (1)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

I had a wonderful time at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore yesterday. It truly is a magical place. Slightly off the beaten track in Oxford, it is always worth schlepping up Walton Street to browse from its eclectic shelves, debate with Dennis the owner, sit at one of the decorated tables with tea and cake reading your purchases. If you don't know it, you really should visit. And often, because it's hard…

National Flash Fiction Day 2016

Saturday, 25 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day 2016 I have been writing  flash fiction to prompts from readers. Though I'm glad I don't have to do it everyday, it's been great fun. Each prompt has taken me off into different directions and I've often ended up in unexpected place. 

I enjoyed grappling with finding a story behind each prompt.  I could see the first, 'Turning Japanese' had multiple possibilities…

Flash Fiction Marathon (7): Lazy Afternoon

Friday, 24 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

This is my prompt: a woman rushes across the road from the pub, throws something in the bin, and then runs back inside.

 

Lazy Afternoon.

 

Heather rushed into the pub, red-faced and breathless. Bill was in his usual…

Flash Fiction Marathon (6): Parallel Lines

Thursday, 23 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Prompt 6 comes from Jennifer Harvey: A commuter walks to the end of the railway platform every morning and takes a photo of the railway track. Why?

 

Parallel Lines

He was doing it again. As he had done every morning…

Flash Fiction Marathon (5): Vote Leave

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Thank you Wendy Tuohy for prompt number 5: A brother comes home from living abroad for many years. He is staying with his sister but won't come out of his room. Meanwhile his wife and family are in Brazil.

Vote Leave

Marcus…

Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.
Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.
Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.

Flash Fiction Marathon (4): Horror Stories

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The fourth prompt is from Andrew Wille: A torch and a wicker basket.

 

Horror Stories

 

‘Ooh...The Wicker Man is on TV on Saturday,’ Sarah grins.

‘Count me out,’ says Andrew.

‘What?’ He loves horror films.…

Flash Fiction Marathon (3): Up on the roof.

Monday, 20 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The third prompt is from my husband Chris Cole: An ladder is left abandoned on the side of a wall leading to the roof of a set of flats.

 

Up on the roof.

 

Clang!  My spade made no dent in the frost-hardened earth…

Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.

Flash Fiction Marathon (2). A budgie called Pat.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The second prompt  is from Pat Watkins:  A budgie in a railway station

A budgie called Pat

The rain starts just as Jess draws up to the railway station. This used to be the point when neither of them wanted the weekend…

Flash Fiction Marathon (1): Turning Japanese.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Here's the first, from Kate Liddle: 'A woman arrives in A&E wearing no shoes, clearly European but only speaking Japanese' 

 

Turning Japanese

‘Name?’

‘Kon'nichiwa’

‘Pardon?’  Kate has had a busy night.  She’s…

The long and the short of it.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

From an early age I knew I wanted to write novels. Whilst I enjoy writing and reading short stories - novels have always had first place in my literary heart, and for many years writing novels was my main focus. 

However, when I started a Diploma in Creative Writing in 2007, I was challenged to write in other formats. Over the course of two years, I completed assignments in writing short stories…

Women, war, peace and politics

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Last Saturday, fellow Unbound authors Alice Jolly (Between the Regions of Kindness & Unbound book Dead Babies and Seaside Towns) and Rachael de Moravia (News from the Home Front) and I met at the fabulous Albion Beatnik Shop in Oxford. Alas, Emma Southon (Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore) couldn't come but we read from her book anyway. It was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed hearing from…

Virginia Moffatt commented on this blog post.

Busking at Hay

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Hay2016

Every May half term, I load the car to the brim, stuff our children and at least one of their friends in the remaining cracks and head off to Hay-on-Wye for the annual festival. It has become such a family ritual, that the offspring who are now all  in their teens, have already laid down plans for how we manage it when they've left home. It's always a great few days - one of the highlights of the…

A Question of Conscience

Sunday, 15 May 2016

In March 1916, as war with Germany continued to rage in France, the Military Services Act came into law. The act introduced compulsory conscription for all adult men, a blow to those who did not wish to fight. The only consolation was that thanks to the work of campaigners, it also introduced the right to conscientious objection.  Over the next two years, 16,000 men were to claim that right, appearing…

Creating a sense of place

Sunday, 17 April 2016

An essential part of novel writing is world building. Whether events take place in the real world  or not, it is important for the reader to feel the characters live and breathe in an authentic, believable place.

'Echo Hall' is set on the borders of England and Wales. Having spent a lot of time in border counties, and in Wales itself, I could have chosen a real place to locate it. However I decided…

Experiments in Twitter

Saturday, 26 March 2016

For a long time I resisted Twitter. Why, after all, I reasoned, would anyone want to listen to my witterings about what I had for breakfast?

But my husband Chris and my twin sister Julia Williams kept telling me that there was much more to twitter than that. They banged on about it so much that eventually I gave in just to shut them up. Of course, when I finally joined, I found it every bit as…

A Little Bit of History

Thursday, 17 March 2016

I once submitted a story that I was rather fond of, to an online magazine that had previously published my work. I didn't mind being rejected on this occasion - they were very nice about it, and it reassured me that they were genuinely discerning - but I was surprised at the reason. The editor felt it lacked authenticity as a piece of historical fiction. Since the story was a whimsical reflection…

Writing protest

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Last weekend, we sat down with our family to watch 'Suffragette'. I had high hopes  for the film, because, when the campaign group 'Sisters Uncut' threw themselves on the red carpet in protest at cuts to domestic violence services, the movie's stars were quick to support their action. Helena Bonham Carter felt the protest was a 'perfect' response, whilst Romola Garai said, 'I’m happy to see the suffrage…

On Writing and Politics

Monday, 29 February 2016

When I was interviewed for my writing course a few years back, I was asked what I wanted to write about. My answer, 'God and politics' produced a wry response, 'So you won't be writing bestsellers then?'. Perhaps not, but I do have to write about my passions. Since God and politics are in my top three most important things in life (the third being husband and family), they are obvious topics to choose…

How it all started.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

In the summer of 2003, my husband Chris and I moved with our three small children to a small hamlet in Northamptonshire. Chris had just been appointed as Director of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Christian charity that campaigns on peace issues, and the job came with accomodation which meant I could stop paid work for  a while.

After nearly five years of juggling childcare and a demanding…

Heather Speight
Heather Speight asked:

Is it ok not to ask a question?! Delighted that your book is fully funded! I am a little confused by the Unbound website, and this seems the only place to write something you might read :-)
I look forward to reading it very much!
Congratulations and warm good wishes
Heather Speight xx

Virginia Moffatt
Virginia Moffatt replied:

Of course it is Heather, and thank you so much for pledging and your kindness to me. Much appreciated. Look forward to hearing your response!xx

Ali Thurm
Ali Thurm asked:

Hi Virginia
Really looking forward to reading Echo Hall... just read the excerpt and it sounds intriguing. Very atmospheric. How long do you anticipate the editorial process will take?
All the best
Ali

Virginia Moffatt
Virginia Moffatt replied:

Thank you Ali,

The manuscript is with the editorial team. I am hoping that there won't be too many major changes as we all want it out as soon as possible. On the other hand, I want the book to be the best it can be, so am keen to hear the feedback and prepared to take a little longer to get it right. I will post in the Shed when I've received it.

Thank you so much for your interest and hope you enjoy the book when it does come out.

Virginia

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question