Posted in Contemporary Romance, Costal Romance, Holidays, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, Writing


Yes, I know that seems a little depressing, but for me, the August Bank Holiday weekend has always been a symbol of the ending of summer. It feels like a door closing behind us, moving us on towards autumn. Looking back on this month, I have to confess that it’s been one of the most uncomfortable ever. Sunshine is definitely therapeutic. It energises me, makes me feel relaxed and puts a different face on the world. However, although the heatwave that arrived in the UK during August was very welcome, it soon turned uncomfortable. Despite having all the windows and doors open, some days there was little air. And nights, with most of those windows still open, still meant at times it was difficult to sleep. Open windows also proved an irresistible invitation for insect life. Moths are an expectation. Crickets maybe not, but the worst intruders were spiders, who seem to get bigger and bigger each year. All were given a helping hand out of the bathroom window never to be seen again.

I was around during the 1976 heatwave/drought (whatever you want to call it), when we had ten whole weeks without rain. Gardens were watered with bathwater, lawns went from green to brown (as they have this summer), and stand pipes were issued in some places, leaving people to queue with buckets to collect water. The stand pipes didn’t reach my road and thankfully the country has not experienced such draconian measures now. I remember ironing in my underwear because it was so hot and wondering if it would ever rain again. Comparing them both, Summer 2022 has definitely been the worst experience of the two. In those days there were no talks of global warming, it was just a very long, hot summer. Now what is happening has far reaching implications for both the planet and us in general. Looking forward, I guess the downside of all this is that we will have a very wet autumn. Mother Nature normally balances the seasons, and despite global warming, I have a feeling when the rain does arrive, there will be lots of it.

WRITING: At the beginning of the month my manuscript left the building for editing. Unfortunately, part way in my editor hit a problem. One which needed it to be returned and some comprehensive rewrites undertaken before she could continue. It’s the first time this has happened to me, and I guess it won’t be the last. Even after eleven books, I’m still learning. The delay has meant my hope of a late September publication date has had to be shelved. Instead, I’ve moved it to the New Year, probably late January or early February.

HOLIDAYS: In three weeks we’ll be in Cornwall. Fowey is a place I never tire of. It’s somewhere that really influences my writing. It’s a place where Daphne Du Maurier wrote in her house on the estuary next to the Boddinick Ferry. In fact, in my latest novel, I have taken something from the town – the Old Quay House Hotel – as inspiration for the Estuary House Hotel, which is central to my story. At this moment, with the completion of the third and final part of my Cornish trilogy imminent, I’m fairly open minded about what happens next. It’s always good to discover another part of the West Country where I can put down ‘roots’ and create another community, weaving romance and mystery around the lives of everyday folk. However, there are still characters in my fictitious estuary town of Kingswater who might be able to provide enough interest for a fourth book. I’ll just have to see what soaking up that Cornish atmosphere does. Watch this space!

READING & REVIEWING: And finally, my reading for the month. You can find my reviews on Goodreads

So that’s all for now. I’ll be back at the end of September. In the meantime take care everyone…

Posted in Writing

Okay, we’ve sorted out the location, now what’s next?

Earlier in the month I posted about the locations which had inspired me to create the coastal community of Kingswater – a town of two halves facing each other across the estuary of the fictitious Kings River. Fowey in Cornwall is the main setting, with a few additions from the town of Dartmouth in Devon.  The backdrop to a story is important, but another essential part of this parallel universe is what lies within that setting. In Shadows on the Water,  Heron’s Gate House and Vineyard played an important role.  The inspiration for this came about on a river trip up to Totnes (used for the fictional town Kingshead in the novels) where I spotted what we were told by the tour boat manager was the Sharpham Trust’s Sandridge Barton Vineyards. A new state of the art winery has been built there and a future visitor centre is planned.  The vines which sprawl over the hillside towards the banks of the River Dart, produce award winning wines and on September 9th this year the winery will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary.  You can read more about the business, their history and the wines and cheese they produce by clicking on the blue and white Sharpham WordPress logo below.

Sandridge Barton Wines

The Sharpham Trust also own a 18th century grade I listed Palladian villa which overlooks the vineyards and faces the river. The house hosts everything from weddings to holistic and art experiences as well as walks, tours, and the opportunity to help in their working garden. I enclose a link below for more details

In Shadows on the Water Heron’s Gate was purely and simply a home, and not a place offering a host of courses and creative activities as Sharpham does. It’s also pale stoned, Georgian and listed with terraced gardens which reach down to the river. It was Sharpham’s location which made me decide it would work very well as Heron’s Gate

In book 2, A Kingswater Summer, one of the main characters, Stella Wynter is a retired actress who lives in a large house up river from Heron’s Gate. No prizes for guessing the inspiration for her home, Penmarra. Of course, it was Agatha Christie’s Greenway which we visited in September 2019. Seeing this amazing house, with its extensive grounds overlooking the river, my imagination began to go into overdrive, recognising the potential for a place where my fictitious actress could have her home.

Stella’s house is a little smaller than Greenway and built of local stone and while Agatha Christie’s home is filled with memorabilia, Stella has instead chosen a designated area in her house. With main character Kiera’s assistance, this will eventually become a place which holds all her treasures and awards from a long and successful acting career.

Greenway perfectly captured this wonderful home by the river with extensive gardens, woods and a myriad of pathways. I also added stables and a boathouse with an apartment over. The boathouse and its apartment were important because I needed somewhere away from the main house for Kiera’s love interest, actor Jake Paterson, to stay. I wanted him to remain a bit of an enigma. A previous and rather unfortunate encounter with Jake, means Kiera isn’t exactly pleased to find him living there. But she’s also curious, and, although she denies it, attracted to this infuriating man. Therefore keeping him at a distance added to the mystery surrounding who he was and why he was there.

So there we are. Location is essential in order to give a book a firm framework in which to tell your story. But equally significant within that setting are the places where people live and work. It gives the characters a proper identity; something I feel is important, especially when writing about communities, as I do.

Next time: Some of the real life situations and characters that have become incorporated into my fictional worlds.

Jo LambertWriter of Modern Romantic Sagas

Posted in Writing

This week Tuesday Talk is chatting to Choc Lit’s Search for a Star finalist Lisa Hill

Lisa Hill WriterGood morning Lisa and welcome to Tuesday Talk. First of all congratulations on being short listed for Choc Lit’s 2016 Search for a Star. To kick off the interview can I ask you to tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Jo, and thank you for inviting me to Tuesday Talk! I was born in Cheltenham but moved to a little village called Bussage, near Stroud, when I was fourteen months old. My Dad was from Slad, where Laurie Lee grew up and Cider with Rosie is set. I had an idyllic childhood growing up in the Cotswolds, dancing around maypoles and riding ponies until I returned for schooling in Cheltenham as a teenager. My first encounter of an author was Jilly Cooper who lived in Bisley, the next village to us. My Dad would take me for summer walks (he was a photographer, always after his next best shot) and he used to chat with ‘Mrs Cooper’ over her garden wall. It wasn’t until some years later I realised how famous Mrs Cooper was! I have three sons; Hamish, 13, Archie, 10 and Laurence, 7 who is named after Laurie Lee (as my Dad was Godfrey and I couldn’t bring myself to name any of the boys after him!). I have been married to my Superhero, Matt, for two-and-a-half years and I carry out the admin and accounts for his electrical firm. Before I met Matt my career was in property which is where I drew much of my writing inspiration to begin with. We have a bonkers Vizsla x Weimaraner called Sparky who I enjoy taking for country walks even though he has a propensity to go missing!

When did your writing journey begin and what was the trigger?

I have always been a book worm. When I was a child my favourite series were The Worst Witch and Sweet Valley High but GCSEs, A-Levels and then College kerbed my appetite for reading and it wasn’t until Hamish was born, when I was twenty-three, that I really got into reading romance; lots of breastfeeding gives you plenty of time to read! I enjoyed writing stories at school, I was always writing up little books of some description or other (mainly about horses) but it had never occurred to me to write a novel until I started reading romance. At first I would find myself coming to the end of a novel and continuing the plot in my head. Then, when my first marriage became an unhappy one, I would imagine myself as the heroine in my own novels, a lot of the time with Sean Bean as the hero. The threads of stories came together and I decided after Laurie was born to take up creative writing evening classes. I joined the RNA New Writers Scheme in 2011 and have written three full novels in my time as a member.

Who are your favourite authors and did any of them inspire you?

Anyone who knows me will know how star struck I am by Jill Mansell. I don’t even try to hide it. If we go back to the breastfeeding period for a moment, that was when I discovered her novels. It was in 2003 and she had a decent back catalogue even then. The first novel I read of hers was Head Over Heels and I fell in love with her writing, her characters and her sense of humour. A few years later I read an article in a newspaper about her writing career and realised that if Jill could go from being a medical professional to being a bestselling author then there was no reason why I shouldn’t try either (although I’m still trying!).

What is the best part of writing for you? And the worst?

For me, it’s when the unexpected happens. I love coming up with characters and a setting (I even draw a picture of the town or village where my characters live) but it’s when I start writing and the characters come to life and do something, make a decision or act differently to how I expected, that I really enjoy the writing process. My worst has to be editing. I wish I didn’t but I find it hard to juggle so many plates in the air. Although my good friend and Choc Lit Author, Alison May, has helped me with coping strategies i.e. not trying to edit everything at once. Now I do one read through to deal with plot issues, a second read through for grammar and spelling then a final read through for anything I miss. Hence why it’s my worst; it seems to take so long!

How do you spend your chill out time?

Well, funnily enough, writing is my chill out time. We recently went to Corfu and I spent most of my time sunbathing and writing! With three lively boys and an even livelier eight-month old puppy there is precious little chill out time and writing is creative for me; I find it therapeutic.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Ashamedly, I am thirty-six and have only been abroad four times (this is what happens when you spend your twenties reproducing), something I intend to rectify as the children get older. However, I am quite a home bird. I am very lucky to live in the Cotswolds; sometimes an afternoon out can feel like a holiday. My favourite holiday destination has to be Devon and Cornwall. We are off to Cornwall again later this summer, to Port Isaac where Doc Martin is filmed (another favourite of mine).

If you were able to go back and live in any historical time period what would it be and why?

I think it would have to be the 1920’s. Women’s appearance and independence changed dramatically during this era and it would be amazing to experience (not to mention all the wonderful couture and dancing!).


You can catch up with Lisa on her Social Media Links
Twitter & Instagram: @lisahillie
Facebook – Lisa Hill (