I don’t post on the Fabrian Books’ blog as often as I probably should, but every once in a while I have more to say than can be confined to a tweet or series of hashtags on Instagram. Today is one of those occasions. I am (very quietly) celebrating the launch of book fourteen, which might extend to an extra squeeze of syrup on my pancakes tonight… or it might not!
After thirteen previous occurrences, book release day is just another day. So I took the dogs out for a walk as I always do. Whilst I was out, I thought I would take a photograph of a house on the beach close to me, which reminds me of the book cover for A Cornish Summer’s Kiss. You might question whether there are really any thatched cottages that overlook the sea, with white cliffs in the distance, but I can promise you there are. It might not be cut off from the rest of the world at high tide, like Myrtle Cottage in A Cornish Summer’s Kiss is, but I think it’s lovely all the same.
I almost ended up acting out the first scene from the new novel, just to get the photos today. When Lexie heads down to Port Kara to work out a way forward after the death of her husband in a surfing accident, she finds herself stranded on an impassable cliff path after her wayward Labrador, Albie, takes an unexpected leap of faith. I often find myself in slightly precarious situations with my dogs because, let’s just say, they’re not exactly trained the Barbara Woodhouse way – for anyone else who’s old enough to remember who that is! Their default position is to run off and pretend to be as deaf as posts when someone or something more interesting than me comes along; that could be anything from a rabbit, to another dog, or even dancing leaves swept up on the breeze. This means, if I’m going to let them off the lead, then it’s usually somewhere off the main path, where we hopefully won’t bump into other dog walkers with their far more obedient canines.
I was in the Llyn Peninsula in Wales when I actually got stuck on the wrong side of a gap in the cliffs, getting myself into serious trouble, just like Lexie, trying to rescue my own Labrador, Lola. Sadly I wasn’t saved by a rugged lifeboat crewman, as Lexie is in A Cornish Summer’s Kiss, but I have to say I’ve never been as grateful for my husband’s ability to keep far calmer than me, than I was that particular day. On that same Welsh beach I spotted a row of old fisherman’s cottages, that were cut off by high tide, and it was the combination of these two things that inspired me to write the first chapter of what became A Cornish Summer’s Kiss.
My plan when taking the photos today was just to post the pictures and the front cover, side by side, but it got me thinking about why I write about seaside settings more often than not. I was born a couple of minutes from the sea and only once ever lived more than a few miles away from the coast. I lasted twelve months in Warwickshire, but the lure of the sea soon drew me back home to Kent. I’ve now written seven books set on the Kent coast, three in Cornwall (a favourite UK holiday destination), two in the Scottish Highlands and one in the Kent countryside. I suppose it’s in the blood and living so close to the sea, even now, I can’t help but imagine my protagonists living their lives with the smell of sea salt in the air too.
It also occurred to me, when I was scaling the banks of the slope today, that dogs feature in almost all of my stories as well. Like the sea, they’ve been in my life from day one, and I couldn’t imagine my house without at least one dog thumping its tail on the mat to welcome us home. Walking the dogs always helps me get the next phase of the story straight in my head, so it’s no surprise that they should frequently appear as integral characters in my stories. These days, with teenagers in the house – one of whom has turned mood swings into a semi-professional occupation – escaping with the dogs is even more of a draw.
In A Cornish Summer’s Kiss I write about the big skies and endless horizons that you just don’t find elsewhere. Walking the dogs today, and taking some photos to mark release day, reminded me just how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much inspiration. It looks like I’ll be writing about seaside locations, and the dogs that love them every bit as much as their human companions, for some time to come!
A Cornish Summer’s Kiss is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. With a big thank you to all at Fabrian books and my lovely friend, Toni Jones, for helping the book over the finish line.