On Saturday, I joined my mum, my daughter, my sister, niece and sister-in-law for afternoon tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel in Bristol. We were there to celebrate two big family birthdays, but one of the reasons I chose that hotel from all the others in Bristol is that the Avon Gorge is the model for The Grand in “Picking up the Pieces.”
Being brought up in Bristol and going to school just down the road, this hotel had always intrigued me. Clinging to the side of the Gorge it looks out on the Suspension Bridge and the river far below. I imagined it as a romantic place and conjured up an Art Deco Interior with a large Victorian conservatory, where my characters would meet and Elsa would break the devastating news that sets off the action of the novel.
In real life, however, it was very different. There was no glass Palm Court with a small orchestra playing tunes from the shows, or supercilious Maitre d’ and the customers were a greater cross section of people than I had imagined.
None of this distracted from the day. We had a lovely time, chatting and laughing and eating. It did, however, give me food for thought.
As a writer, I find that my ideas often come from places I know. So far my novels, “House of Shadows”, “Picking up the Pieces,” and the forthcoming “Shadows on the Grass” are all set in Bristol.
Although in most of the books, I am fairly accurate there are times, as in “Picking up the Pieces” when it is either not possible, or I don’t want to be accurate about what I am describing. After all, this is a work of imagination not a travelogue and I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to find my way around the city from my descriptions.
Places are a starting point, then the imagination takes over as do the needs of the story. At least this is how I work.
The first chapter of “Picking up the Pieces” won’t tell you much about the Avon Gorge. It will, however, introduce you to Liz, Elsa and Bernie, three women in their fifties who have to face the total collapse of their lives with the help of each other and much cake.
The novel is currently on offer on kindle for 99p and makes a good summer read. Enjoy.
Publisher: Penkhull Press
In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.
Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?
Winter Downs is first in the Bunch Courtney Investigates series.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Winter Downs. I have a Q and A with the author to share today.
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
I don’t have a…
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There’s a new genre on the block. It’s been around for a bit and comes into its own around this time of year… it’s the holiday read.
You can recognise them by the covers.
That’s for the romance market. Or
For those who want the darker touch of crime.
Most of us will go away with one, or other on our kindle, or, in the case of paperbacks, in our luggage.
They will be read at the airport, on the plane, on the beach or by the pool and for many people it will be almost the only books they will have time to read in the whole of the year.
So what makes a good holiday read? There are certain characteristics that they must have.
1 They’ve got to be easy to get into. When you’re stretched out on your sun-lounger, or tying to get comfortable on a plastic seat in Departures you have to be taken straight into the narrative. Whether it’s the finding of a dead body, the kidnap of a child, or boy meets girl, the reader’s involvement must be instant and sustained.
2 The characters have to be strongly drawn and not too complex. This is why Jack Reacher is a great read. He is the archetypical loner and man of deeds not words. A few spare sentences and you know what he looks like and how he thinks, then it’s straight into the action.
3 Which brings me to my final point. The story has to flow and it has to flow fast. There’s no scope for interruption, for having to go back and mull over details or cues, the reader has to be engrossed from the start. After all there are so many other things you might be doing, like wandering over to the bar for a drink, going for a swim, or simply having a snooze.
4 Short chapters, short sentences, not too much description and certainly no angst. Not all holiday reads will follow this pattern but it’s true for many of the most successful.
There are one or two strange people who go away with tomes of non-fiction, philosophy or economics, to while away the hours relaxing in the sun, but for most of us it will be either crime, psychological, cosy, historical and every permutation of those, or novels which at other times of the year are described as “Women’s Fiction.”
Anyone got any titles they can recommend for summer 2017?
PS Picking up the Pieces is now only 99p. Special summer offer on Kindle
Interesting insight into the dark side of rural Sussex.
Today I have a guest blog with Sam Stone on the Sam’s Lair page.
“Winter Downs grew out of a deep affection for the South Downs, and of Sussex in particular. My parents were from Wales and Northumberland but Sussex was the area that I grew up in, on the cusp between the Sussex Weald and the Downs themselves. Perhaps the very fact that I was something of an outsider in a close knit community allowed me to view the place and the people with a dispassionate eye; even though I may not have realised it at the time.”
Read more at Sam’s Lair
Half term has come and gone. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve just about survived, and am now counting the minutes until they go back to school. I’ve never felt that way about the holidays, and after twenty years as a parent, I feel that way even less. You see, I now know from experience that one day your children grow up and fly the nest, and then you don’t get to see them for weeks and weeks at a time. And then you miss them like hell. That, without doubt, has been the hardest part of parenting for me.
After a couple of days away from home I’m usually good and ready to come back to my gingerbread-latte cottage on the edge of the woods (this is no word of a lie – my house really is just five minutes walk away from the enchanted woods at Bradwell…
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