Seaside cottages, disobedient dogs and the magic of muse

A Cornish Summer's Kiss ebook cover jpgI 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 thatchedimage5 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.

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The dogs in the background today and the selfie face I always pull when I’m desperately trying to look thinner!

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 image3in 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 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.

Jo Bartlett

A Lake in Switzerland

The first time I saw Lake Constance was when I spent a long weekend there with a girlfriend and her parents, way back in the eighties, shortly after I came to Switzerland. We arrived at the hotel, went up to our second-floor bedrooms, and – wow. There it was, a huge expanse of blue, stretching from Austria on the right, all the way along the Swiss bank in front and to the left, with Germany just visible on the opposite side.

Little did I know back then that one day I’d be living on the banks of this lake, and even less did I imagine I’d ever be a published writer. Now, X years and nine books later, I finally have a novel set here.

The view I saw that first time is the one admired by Stacy and Emily at the start of A Lake in Switzerland. Like me, they were gobsmacked, and like me, they visited many of the local tourist attractions during their time at the Lakeside Hotel. It’s a very picturesque area, though maybe not as well-known as the Matterhorn, for instance, or Lake Lucerne, or the mountains of the Bernese Oberland.

And that’s part of its charm. We have tourists here, but not in swarms. There’s space, and peace along the lakeside even in summer. Stacy and Emily have a hard time sightseeing at first, due to Emily’s injury, but with a little help they manage a cable car trip, a visit to the truly spectacular Rhine Falls, and of course, a boat trip on the lake. And all the time I was writing, I was sitting at my desk by the window, blue water flickering through trees along the lake bank in front of me, remembering my own visits to these places.

How lucky am I that I can re-visit so easily?

 

If you’d like to know more about life in N.E. Switzerland, have a look at my blog – regular posts about books, writing, and of course, lovely Switzerland! https://lindahuber.net/blog/

Or follow me on Twitter: @LindaHuber19 and @MelHuberCH

And you can read about Stacy and Emily’s adventures in A Lake in Switzerland here: getBook.at/ALIS

Are You Ready for More Eighties? #NewBook @MyEighties

The phrase “Creativity Breeds Creativity” is often bandied about. However, shortly after starting the interviews with songwriters and musicians for my latest book ‘More Eighties’, I began to realise the truth behind the statement. My aim in writing the book was to explore how the Eighties worked as a backdrop for artists, and examine how the decade that encouraged individuality, and saw huge technological, political and social change, impacted on their creativity. Their recollections were humorous, touching, entertaining and thought-provoking, but more than that, they were inspirational.

Listening to Fairground Attraction’s Eddi Reader, a woman with one of the most beautiful voices I have heard live, describe the terror she felt when performing proved to me that self-doubt does not discriminate by talent. Her telling of the hilarious incident which led her to actively challenge any negative thoughts will not only have you crying with laughter, but make you consider how your own thought processes affect your actions. Her journey from Glasgow’s tenements to top of the charts is one which highlights how artistry cannot be ignored, even when the artist may be their own worst critic.

‘More Eighties’ features interviews with those at the forefront of popular culture during the era, and includes a range of contributors as diverse as the decade itself. The electro sound synonymous with the decade is discussed with synth pioneers Martyn Ware (Human League and Heaven 17) and Dave Ball (Soft Cell), along with the changes that have taken place over the last forty years in music and in wider society. Issues including multiculturalism and racism form part of the conversation with Dave Wakeling (The Beat), Pauline Black (The Selecter) and Junior Giscombe, while Rusty Egan (Visage) discusses the manifestation of creativity in the UK’s nightclubs in the form of both music and fashion. I was also fortunate enough to talk to Suzi Quatro, Ian Donaldson (H2O), Nathan Moore (Brother Beyond), Karel Fialka, Jona Lewie, and The Lotus Eaters’ Peter Coyle about their memories and insights.

Dave Wakeling and Peter Coyle were incredibly generous in sharing their creative processes with me, sending me some of their unfinished material to listen to, followed by the completed tracks. Not only was it a privilege to be entrusted with those early pieces of music and to have my opinion valued, but it helped me further understand what we had spoken about in our interviews and, I hope, better relay those discussions in my writing. As I said, creativity breeds creativity. Being involved in those songs from the early stages and seeing them develop into the wonderful final recordings was really a ‘lightbulb moment’ for me. I realised that even those artists I had listened to since I was 12 experienced the same frustrations, doubts and eventual pleasure I do when writing. The key was harnessing creative flow when it came. That realisation freed up my writing immensely, and I even found myself writing poetry again, something I had not done so prolifically for about 25 years.

You may well now understand why ‘More Eighties’ is, for me, the best book I have published. It achieved everything I had set out to do, in examining how the decade facilitated a huge surge of creativity, but it also allowed me to rediscover the joy of submitting to my own creative driving force. It is something I shall endeavour to hold onto in future when facing some of the more onerous aspects of writing, such as transcribing interviews (despite what some may think, I actually can’t bear to hear the sound of my own voice!). I hope when readers have finished the book, they will have also found inspiration, as well as nostalgia and entertainment, in its pages.

You can buy More Eighties here.