I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the summer and such a long time since I last posted on here. Apologies for that! All I can say is that so much has been happening with books/house move/horses/family that the blog has been right at the back of the list. I'll do my best to change that from now on.
So summer 23. What can I say? It’s been a soggy one here in Cornwall and after a scorching June the following months were very hit and miss. At the start of the month the grass was scorched and not growing which meant the horses were hungry and we were dashing around to buy hay – in high summer! Now and with all the rain the grass has gone crazy and we have the opposite problem – the fields are muddy, the horses have far too much food and the Shetland pony’s on a diet which makes him very grumpy. The fun and games of animals and British weather!
Normally there’s nothing I love more than an evening ride in the cool of the day, but this summer has been about dodging the showers and having a hot drink afterwards while I dry off. I may even attach an umbrella to my riding hat! As I type blog post it’s the final week of August and still raining. I really feel for everyone on holiday and hope they are enjoying Eden and National Trust properties until the sun comes out or curling up in cafés with a cake and a good book. On the positive side for me being inside sheltering from the rain is good for writing output and I have been busy planning my new book – another Rosecraddick world novel. Wet weather is also good for reading and I’ve been enjoying an eclectic mix of material from dark thrillers to The Power of Now to revisiting Jilly Cooper for some 1980s glamour – no muddy horses in Jilly world! I'm looking forward to TACKLE when it comes out and catching
When the raindrops haven’t been falling on my head I’ve been out and about enjoying Cornwall with visiting friends and family. There’s always somewhere new to visit and it’s also good to see familiar places through their eyes. I’ve always loved Looe Island, partly the inspiration for THE ISLAND LEGACY, and I was lucky enough to enjoy a day trip there in June. Only a handful of people are allowed on at a time as the island is a nature reserve and was gifted to Looe Wild Life Trust by Babs Atkins, who bought the island with her sister Evelyn in 1965. With a ruined chapel (featured in Time Team), mysterious standing stone and amazing wildlife, it’s a real escape from the outside world and I will definitely be returning there for another novel.
In early June I was lucky enough to visit Mallorca in June with a friend. I was able to do lots of writing and finish Polwenna 9. I then spent a lot of time planning a novel set on the beautiful island. I was inspired by a gorgeous house overlooking the water which was used as the location for Dodi and Diana’s house in The Crown. At night it was lit up and utterly enchanting and magical. My notebooks are filled with ideas and snap shots of description and I have an idea cooking now for a novel set on the island. Gemma, Angel and Andi from the ESCAPE series were also busy telling me it’s time they had an ESCAPE TO THE SUN novel! With husbands and children in tow, and now women in their late thirties, it would be a lot of fun to catch up with them again! Do let me know what you think about that idea and novels set outside of the UK. Are they fun to read? Or do they seem remote?
Over the past month I’ve been busy working on the final edits of Polwenna 9, Journey’s End, and it’s been a labour of love to return to my favourite Cornish village after so long. The novel is a lengthy read but because I hadn’t written a Polwenna book since before the Pandemic there was a lot of catching up to do with all the residents and their lives. I chose to stay away from Polwenna while we were all in the midst of masks and lockdowns because Polwenna is my happy place and I know a lot of you felt the same. Of course the Pandemic has had a huge impact on the occupants and life in the village and the novel does deal with this, but it also provided me with a lovely escape and lots of smiles. I really hope you all enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed reading it and I’m over the moon to let you know that Journey’s End is available from Amazon. It’s in eBook format only at the moment, but a paperback and audio version will follow.
Journey’s End is the story of Jimmy Tremaine, the sixty-something patriarch of the family and erstwhile black sheep. Jimmy’s life has been filled with heartache and he’s been a fascinating character to work with because his behaviour over the years has had a big impact on many of the characters from his mother, Alice, to his adult children to even Jules the vicar. He’s misunderstood and troubled. I loved writing Jimmy’s complicated story and loved even more time travelling back to the seventies to set the scene for what occurs later on. Meeting Big Rog as a medallion and flare wearing twenty-year old was an unexpected surprise!
One of the joys of creating a world for a long running series is getting to know the characters and watching them develop. Sometimes a character becomes far more prominent than I ever imagine and in the Polwenna series Jules Tremaine is a great example of this. Jules was originally intended as a supporting character but she stepped forward and became one of the most important cast members and I absolutely adore her. The same is true of Alice St Milton and Ashley Carstairs. They are so real to me. For me this is the joy of writing; an author may think they know where the plot is going but then the magic takes over and a book goes a very different way. I love that! Another thing I also love is when I meet people in the real world who look exactly like the character in my imagination. The other day I met a dead ringer for Caspar the resident Polwenna author and I couldn’t stop staring…
Of course, people inspire certain elements of characters in my books, but I try to mix fiction and fact to create well drawn and realistic characters. Jimmy Tremaine is a homage to a dear friend of ours who passed away a few years ago and far too soon. Like Jimmy, he travelled America, was great fun to chat to, was a wonderful storyteller, drove his sports car like a demon and found the love of his life in the autumn of his years. He also hid a sensitive and tender heart behind a jokey façade. Journey’s End is dedicated to his memory.
It’s no secret that Polwenna Bay is my own fantasy blend of Polperro and Looe. Having lived in a Cornish fishing village for many years I am able to draw on all the events and concerns that drive everyday life. Writing scenes set in The Ship and at St Wenn’s come very easily as I feel that I am there myself. The festivals and water carnivals are also key to summer life in a seaside village and having taken part and organised these in the past I love writing about them. In Journey’s End the villagers are organising the Festival of St Wenn to raise money for the church - this is an excuse for a big raft race with the villagers competing to float St Wenn on a millstone. If this sounds crazy then that’s because it really is and poor Jules has her hands full trying to keep everyone from getting carried away. I promise it makes sense in the story and you will not be surprised to discover that the Pollards decide to bend the rules…
I’m leaving Polwenna now to return to the world of Rosecraddick and the Great War for my next book. I’m in the planning stages now and more of that later...
Until the next time!
x R x