Posted in Writing

September Update

Another month over. I’ve had my Cornish break, a relaxing week enjoying some fabulous food, visiting two amazing houses and gardens and soaking up the atmosphere in Fowey in preparation for my next book: the third and final part of my Cornish trilogy.

Back in July I’d booked all our evening meals weeks before our trip to South Devon. This time, however, I convinced myself that things would be back to normal. That meant booking Sunday and Friday lunches, our first and last meals, and working from there.  So when we returned from Sunday lunch, I scanned my mobile for the names and numbers of places in Fowey where we had previously enjoyed great food.  The first restaurant I called apologised and told me they were fully booked until the following Saturday!  It appeared staycation was very much alive and well.  The return of the new autumn term may have seen families disappear but a new and older set of holiday makers had arrived and the place was buzzing. However, all came good in the end and I managed to book us in on all but one of the remaining evenings.

One of the pubs I managed to book (twice actually) was The Old Ferry Inn at Boddinick. Luckily we were staying right next to the Boddinick Ferry which takes both cars and foot passengers. It meant we could hop on the ferry, enjoy our meal, and hop back on again to return to the apartment.  The pub’s dining room had a wonderful view of the estuary, looking up towards Polruan. On our first meal there, it was a warm, clear evening and we not only had the benefit of a great menu but also a fabulous view from our table as you will see from the photo below.  The white house with blue shutters on the left side of the picture is where author Daphne Du Maurier wrote her many novels.  

As with most holidays, the time went quickly and soon we were packing our cases for the homeward journey.  Fowey had became a bit of an oasis. Time to just chill out and think about nothing in particular – whether we were spending time with a glass of wine on the apartment’s patio, or watching the water traffic on the river. In my case there was an element of busman’s holiday.  Walking through its streets, I soon became drawn back to my fictitious estuary town of Kingswater.  My third and final book of the trilogy features one of the lesser known characters. Until that week, I still had no idea about her life or her family background. That had still to be created.  Happily, it wasn’t long before it all  began to come together. Now I’m almost ready to begin, and feel quite excited at the prospect of creating another story, which like the others, will contain not only romance, but an element of mystery and suspense.

In my last post I mentioned I would be talking about real life characters who had inspired my writing. In my first books, set in the fictitious Somerset village of Meridan Cross during the 1950s and 60s, I took the opportunity to incorporate one or two individuals I remembered from childhood. One character in the book was an old village man called ‘Doggie’ Barker. He lived in a cottage in the village with his canine companion, a border collie. Doggie’s character was taken from someone in the small Wiltshire village where I grew up. I remember him as ‘Brusher’ Stone, a nickname given him on account of the heavy moustache he sported, so my grandfather told me. A retired farm worker, he would spend most of his time during summer evenings leaning on his gate, chatting to locals who passed. His dog, a black and white Labrador cross, was named Toby, a name I kept for my fictitious canine. Central character Ella’s grandmother, Laura Kendrick, was also based on someone I ‘borrowed’. Marjorie Welch lived in the manor house and was our Sunday School teacher. Married to a retired army colonel and a former debutante (in the time when debs were presented at court), she moved in with her family when I was around eight years old. She thoroughly immersed herself in village life, running the elderly to GP appointments, collecting prescriptions, and even personally delivering a barrow full of logs to a young couple with a new baby when we were snowed in one winter. A wonderful character on which to base Ella’s strong, capable grandmother.

Of course drawing on childhood memories proved useful for my first novels, but as I moved on into contemporary romance, it became all about visualising my characters instead of ‘exporting’ them from the past. Having said that, I have to admit to still getting inspiration for my heroes from stars of both the big and small screen.

And just before I sign off, I’m pleased to announce that I have completed my Goodreads challenge for 2021. However, I’m planning to continue reading until the end of the year – there are so many good books out there. These are my September reads. I don’t usually make recommendations, but have to say Sarah Goodwin’s Stranded and Sheryl Browne’s The Liar’s Child are, in my opinion, a couple of the best psychological thrillers so far this year.

So that is it for the moment. Will catch up again at the end of October.

And now off to write, wish me luck!

Best wishes

Jo

Posted in Writing

NEVER WORK WITH CHILDREN OR ANIMALS…

Or so says the famous quote. As a writer, I avoided both, although in the Little Court series, my first set of books based in rural West Somerset there were two collies – Gaffer and Laddie – owned by farmer Richard Evas. They were working dogs who got a few mentions. Someone I used to work with way back owned two collies. The younger dog, called Gaffer, became the muse for one of the fictitious duo. Then there was ‘Doggie’ Barker the old village man who had his faithful friend Toby.

There were no more canine characters until my eighth book A Cornish Affair and mother and son Gussie and Gulliver, Cat Trevelyan’s father’s much loved Labradors. Cat’s great aunt Emelia (Em) also got in on the act with her West Highland Terrier Hamish, a small dog with a reputation for absconding. During one of his bids for freedom, as Em searches for him she becomes a key witness in a murder investigation.

Up until that moment, dogs had only played a minor role in my stories. After all, as far as I was concerned, there was only a limited amount canines were capable of. That’s until I introduced Erik into my storyline for A Kingswater Summer, released today (Tuesday 10th August). Erik is a Schnauzer and owned by Stella Wynter, a retired actress who lives at Penmarra, a beautiful old house on the banks of the Kings River. An unexpected meeting sees my central character Kiera Merrick employed to assist in creating a memory room for Stella in the old house. I did not have any plans for Erik beyond being Stella’s companion. As far as I was concerned his role would be similar to Hamish. But as often happens, the characters take over and in this case, as the book progressed, so Erik’s role became more prominent.

First, he was instrumental in bringing Kiera and brooding actor Jake Paterson together. Without giving too much away, when he became parted from Stella, and Kiera took over responsibility for him, he gained a whole load of new fans. Kiera’s father Eddie, not a great lover of dogs, became his companion for evening walks by the river. On some days he kept the team at Merrick’s boat builders company, on others he’d spend time with the crew of the Estuary Princess on her afternoon excursions. And on occasions, he even accompanied Eddie and Kiera’s brother Jory to the local pub. Finally, he became a real hero, attacking an intruder and burying his teeth in the burglar’s leg, sending him bolting for the door.

As always happens when I finish a book, I’m sad to say goodbye to the cast, and I can say hand on heart, I’m going to miss Erik. He really was a great character!

So there we are, a small dog who ended up with quite an important part to play. As I wrote I grew to love him. I hope you will too.

A Kingswater Summer, is now available in e-book at a special publication price of 99p/$1.37 Or read for free with Kindle Unlimited…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s with Serena Fairfax

Sally Lunns Tea Houseserena_fairfaxWelcome Serena to Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns, it’s lovely to see you here in Bath today.

This is a treat in more ways than one. A scrumptious tea in Georgian Bath, following where Jane Austen did not fear to tread.  The last time I visited this architectural gem was ages ago when I came with a boyfriend who had a job interview scheduled. I wandered around sight seeing whilst he underwent a gruelling afternoon being asked a lot of trick questions. He didn’t get the job – the feedback being unsuitable as lacking in entrepreneurial ambition although he eventually ended up employing himself with outstanding success!160bulbul

Now that we are settled and waiting for our food to arrive could tell me a little about yourself? 

I spent my childhood in India. My father was an international businessman (I kind of persuaded myself that was his cover story and that he was really a secret agent!)  so wherever he was posted –  we followed. Then I was sent to boarding school in England – a really fun place with inspiring staff- midnight feasts in the dorm etc – and thence to University where I read law. Joined a large London firm and am still in the day job!  wilful_fate_160

When did you start writing and what was it that made you decide to be an author?

There were the usual juvenile compositions  but I started writing category romances in the early 1990s when I heard Mills & Boon were looking for new authors ( I’ve not been able to crack that nut!) Robert Hale published my first two and they went into large print. Then nothing for ages, as I was busy earning a living. When I’d laboured sufficiently in the vineyard, I became eligible for a Sabbatical so grabbed it and not being someone who does things by halves, traded bricks and mortar for a houseboat, dusted off a mothballed typescript from the bottom drawer that eventually morphed into WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS which I self-published as an e-book and hard copy.

in_the_pink_160 (1)And what was your route to publishing?

Well, like true love it didn’t run smooth! More downs than ups but always exciting and challenging. Being an indie – author is like setting off on a journey without a compass or road map. There are unknown perils and pitfalls but ultimately there’s the real pleasure of unchartered waters and a safe haven.

You have written five books, all different.  Was that a conscious choice or did the inspiration for each just strike and make you think ‘yes, this is what I’ll write next?’

Six at the last count. Four – STRANGE INHERITANCE; PAINT ME A DREAM; GOLDEN GROVE and WILFUL FATE are unashamedly 50,000 word romances. WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS is a sprawling saga of 150,000 words that cried out to be told and IN THE PINK   (40,000 words ) is  an experiment and quite different from the others.  I can’t say it was a conscious choice  as it depends on what mood I’m  in when type that first sentence. It’s capable of luring one down an entirely different path.golden_grove_160

What is your advice for would-be writers?

I wouldn’t presume to give advice, as I’m not a household name.  All I can say is enjoy what you’re doing, keep b—-g on and drink lots of red wine.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be?

I’d like to experience a process that would render me invisible. That would be amazing because you’d be able to everything people normally only say about you behind your back and don’t dare to say to your face! Also I could happily gatecrash  celeb dos  and no one would be the wiser.

paint_me_a_dream_160And lastly, who would you most like to meet and why?

That’s a difficult one. If I’m allowed to time travel I’d choose William Harvey (he of the circulation of the blood) a brilliant, short, rather irascible man whose innovative theory was truly revolutionary and impacted hugely on modern biology and anatomy. He became known as the person who arrived to a great proficiency in Cat and Dog cutting.

Many thanks Serena for coming along today and giving such a great interview, it was lovely to meet you.

strange_inheritance_180

You can learn more about Serena and her novels by clicking on the social network links below.

Website      http://www.serenafairfax.com/
Blog         http://www.serenafairfax.com/serena_fairfax_author_blog/
Email:       info@serenafairfax.com
Linkedin     http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/serena-fairfax/4a/852/a67
Twitter      http://klout.com/user/Sefairfax?n=tw&v=connect_twitter
Facebook     http://www.facebook.com/serenafairfax

Posted in Writing

Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s

Welcome to this, my very first writers blog interview.   I decided, well, you’ve probably heard enough about me, so it was about time I started to shine the spotlight on some of my writing colleagues.  And what better place to chat than Sally Lunn’s, one of the oldest houses in Bath and a favourite place of mine for tea and cake or maybe even one of their famous Bath buns. To launch this new feature I’d like to welcome fellow author Lynda Renham.

JL: Lovely to meet you  Lynda and now we’re settled with our tea and a delicious selection of cakes, tell me a bit about yourself.

LR: I was born and bred in Essex. So I’m an Essex girl and proud of it although everyone I know tells me I don’t sound in the least like one. My days of living in Oxford and being married to a Surrey chap have knocked it out of me I think. I was previously a teacher.

JL: When did you first start writing?

LR: I have been writing since the age of 13 so I’ve been knocking out stories for many years. I gave up for about fifteen years during the time my first marriage broke down. After re-marrying I found my second husband to be very supportive of my writing and I continued
again. I’ve written several serious novels not yet published bar one titled ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ which is available on Amazon.

JL: How did the idea for your first book come about?

LR: The idea for my first comedy novel ‘Wedding Cake to Turin’ actually came from a visit to Turin that my husband and I made. We also went there for a wedding and my
mother-in-law did escort a wedding cake. The whole novel came out of that. I decided I wanted to write humour as I’ve always lived my life using humour to get me through everything.

JL: Your publishing process, how did you make the decision on which route to take?

LR: I’m a strong advocate of self-publishing although I am now published by a small independent publisher ‘Raucous publishing’ I however, did self-publish ‘Wedding Cake to Turin’ I also learnt a lot from doing that and made many mistakes. I think self-publishing is great but it is hard to get noticed even then but it certainly helps. You also need to be very critical of your own work, more so than normal. It’s nice to have a publisher who does all the work for you. It’s nice to know the books are now available from Waterstones and WH Smith. But I would recommend self-publishing as a way forward. Many authors are looking at that as an alternative.

JS: So what kept the ball rolling and made you want to continue writing?

LR: I think I continue writing because I can’t not write. Ideas are always rushing through my head. It isn’t hard to keep the ball rolling in that respect.

jl: Did you find it easy to get that second book underway?

LR: Yes the second book ‘Croissants and Jam’ was very easy to get underway. I think it is my most popular too. Although I am hoping the new one will be better. It is similar to ‘Croissants and Jam’ and currently has a working title of ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’ but that could, of course, change.

JS:What about new projects?  Are there any in the pipeline?

LR: Currently though I am having an extension on my home which is almost half a house. It also means the other half is an absolute mess. I am very much struggling with all this. We are practically living in our summer house at the bottom of the garden. I am working there also so things are awkward. I have become very stressed. My next project is the new book ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’ I am pleased to say that I have so far written 58,000 words so I am doing it.

JL: I know you love photography.  Do you see writing and photography as creative kindred spirits?

LR: Photography is my second love and yes I do see it as a form of expression. In fact for me it is a more personal form of expression than writing. I try to express a lot of emotion in many of my photographs. I love capturing the moment. The moment is something special.

JL: What do you love doing when you aren’t writing?

LR When I’m not writing I spend a lot of time on the internet. I have a passion for Cambodia and sponsor a child there. I visit the country whenever possible and also the Orphanage where my little girl is. I have friends there and contacts. It is my second favourite place in the world. When not writing I also like to watch DVDs. I don’t own a TV so DVDs are my entertainment. I am also an avid reader. I love everything. I’m currently reading PG Wodehouse coupled with Salman Rushdie’s book ‘Joseph Anton’

JL:Thank you so much Lynda for coming along today, it was great to meet you.  To learn more about  Lynda, her books and her photography contact:

Web page link: http://www.renham.co.uk/

Blog: http://lyndarenhamauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

If you would like to join me for Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns just drop me an e-mail at http://www:taurusgirl185@gmail.com

Joining me for Tea and Talk  next time will be a Canadian writer with Scottish roots – Melanie Robertson King, who has just released her debut novel A Shadow in the Past

And if you are interested in reading more about Sally Lunn’s historic eating house and museum check out  http://www.sallylunns.co.uk