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Moving on and new beginnings

It’s almost the end of the summer and the final days of this ‘weather patchwork’ of a summer. It’s been a season of rain and sunshine and even gales, contrasting weather episodes which were stitched together into summer 23 by visits from friends and family, rare golden days on the beach and evening rides through newly cut hay fields. There is a sense of change in the light now and the hedgerows are crammed with blackberries. Autumn is getting ready to chase the summer away.

In this little corner of Cornwall my farmer friends and neighbours have been working flat out to bring in the crops and make the hay to see the animals through the winter. Watching them work, often through the night to make the most of a good forecast, is a stark reminder that seasons, and time, roll on regardless of weather or human plans. It’s good sometimes to bear in mind that everything has its time and its season.

Just like the seasons, the schedule for publishing novels also moves forward with an inevitably no author can hide from. When I talked to my team about our publishing schedule for 2023 the August 31st publication date for JOURNEY’S END seemed so far away that it was almost dreamlike. That date was right at the end of the summer and while I was writing through February and March it felt as though I had all the time in the world. Editing, copy edits and proofs were months away.

Now the book is out! I have no idea where the time went and I am over the moon to share JOURNEY’s END. It’s a book born into the post-Covid world and does contain loss and reflection and change yet also hope and joy. I’m really proud of this book and I am absolutely thrilled to let it out into the wild. I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it. If you have read the Polwenna series then it’s a big WELCOME BACK and I really hope you enjoy catching up with everyone, but if you haven’t read any of the Polwenna Bay books don’t be afraid to begin with this one as it works as a standalone.

Now JOURNEY’S END has been published it’s time to turn my attention to my next project. As we move into the autumn, and the days are drizzled in honeyed light and the nights draw in, I’m turning my attention to my new Rosecraddick novel. In the past many readers have asked how I write novels and go about the process of crafting a book, so I thought over the next few months I would share this process here in my newsletters.

I’m also writing some ghost stories for Halloween. I love a good spooky story and I’ve just finished working my way through the ghost stories of M R James and reread Susuan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Next it’s time to set out around Cornwall to gather some locations and legends to spark a story!

My next Rosecraddick novel is ‘cooking’ and at the moment I’m gathering ideas, researching historical events and following new ideas for plot lines. Often these come to me when I am in the saddle or walking by the river. Sometimes I take a notebook and write in the spot where I intend to set a scene. I did this with the clifftop war memorial and Talland Church in THE LETTER and the river bank in OYSTER SHORE. The river is going to be an important setting once again, so last weekend I headed to a secluded stretch of the Fowey with my notebook to begin gathering ideas. I tend to sit and write snatches of description and turning it into prose is a fluid process. I also take pictures, often while out riding, and find images online that inspire me and pop them onto Pinterest as a springboard to anchor my new world.

So far I have some names of new characters, a very short outline and these images and locations. The characters are starting to speak to me and the wider story is taking shape. I’ll keep a lot of it close to my heart for as long as I can because it becomes my own special and magical world.

My next task is to go through the previous novels in order to reacquaint myself with the world of Rosecraddick and be very familiar with the locations and timelines of the other books. Characters do link and storylines over lap (Kit Rivers is the lynch pin) but I have to be careful not to give anything away for each Rosecraddick novel reads as a standalone. This isn’t easy and I have to make sure I check my first draft carefully. Fortunately my experience of writing the 5 Hen Night Prophecy books (published by Little Black Dress back when I I was Jessica Fox) taught me many valuable lessons as to how to do this. It was a gruelling period of my writing career, but it was an amazing ‘apprenticeship’ and has instilled into me a way of working that allows me to keep track of all the plots and characters without spoiling other books. I also have an amazing editor who keeps an eye on what I write as well as my fantastic team of Advance Readers.

My job over the next couple of weeks is to plan out a detailed story line and make character notes. So I had better get to it!

x R x


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