In ‘guest interviews’ I often get asked what inspires me to write. The short answer to that is usually ‘places that capture my interest’ i.e. Gwrych Castle in North Wales became ‘Castell glas’ in my trilogy, The Castell Glas Trilogy, comprising of three books with Welsh Titles: The Hiraeth, Bronwen’s Revenge (with ‘Bronwen’ spelt the Welsh way) and Yr Aberth, subtitled The Sacrifice. I have blogged before about Gwrych and how it looks like a conventional ‘fairy castle’ from the road but is actually now a ruin, much beloved by a boy called Mark, now a man and a professor of Welsh History, who has campaigned since he was ten to preserve this wonderful place.
As I am on the threshold of publishing my seventh story book for adults (and young adults), I felt I should say a little about what really inspires me. My latest book, ‘Aunt Bea’s Legacy’ is set in a lovely old ‘black and white’ farmhouse that I lived in when I was a late teenager. My mum and I loved this house, although we only rented it, and that love lived on. A few years ago I ventured to visit it and met the people who live there and they showed me around and I told them how it was in my day, fascinating for us both.
It is an interesting thing about the human mind that, however old you get, the places and people that have been important to you actually never leave you, even though you might have left them. Therefore, when I wrote my first book, The Sixpenny Tiger, it was my memory of the children’s home I worked in, and my love for the children I cared for that inspired me.
My second book, a novella really, Bell of Warning, grew out of my love for my birth town, Cromer, in Norfolk, and my fascination in the knowledge that whole villages had been swallowed by the sea off that coast for centuries and that one lay just a few yards from the end of the pier. There is even a road in Cromer named after it, Shipden Avenue.
Rosa, book number 3, was inspired by the many beautiful National Trust houses and stately homes I have visited throughout my life. My parents always did that and it was something my husband and I have continued to do. Although the third book I wrote, Rosa was the first book I published, four years ago. It continues to thrill readers, both male and female.
My trilogy I have spoken about already. It has captured the imagination of many readers both sides of the Atlantic. I continue to follow the work that Mark and his team are doing at Gwrych.
So, back to Aunt Bea. When I began to feel I would like to write a story around the beloved farmhouse, the lady who lived there graciously gave me her permission to use an actual photograph of the house for my cover. However, to protect its identity I renamed it River View and set it in an imaginary village sitting on the bank of the River Wye on the west side of Hereford with the Black Mountains visible in the distance. My description of the house is a sort of mixture of how it was when I was there and what it’s like now. I so enjoyed moving back into the farmhouse with Lucy and remembering the atmosphere of the place.
Once I’d written Aunt Bea’s Legacy, suddenly, another story came which I was compelled to write, set in the same village where I’d put River View Farmhouse. And so, The River View Mysteries series was born and I really can’t say where the idea for ‘By the Gate’ came from! So much for knowing where I get my inspiration…