The Finishing Touches

Bognor Beach

After two years writing my first psychological thriller I have finally reached the end, though looking back, it seems hard to believe it was in 2015 when the idea of this story first came to me. 

Inspiration

Walking the dog along the beach, reflecting on stuff in the news, I would occasionally stop to chat to a group of homeless men in one of the beach shelters – but somewhere in my sub-conscious mind, the threads of a new idea were beginning to unwind.

A professional career woman whose life appears balanced.
A homeless man who has lost his way in society.
Two characters poles apart, yet friends who share memories; a year they met in a children’s home, a sinister place where a third friend went missing.

This weekend, I will be sending the complete draft off to an editor. I won’t reveal who yet, but let’s say, I am both anxious and excited. 

So today I took another walk along the seafront and happy I chose my home town, Bognor, as the setting for this book. This blog is about some of the places I have featured but with many more to add as I go…

The Waverley Pub

The Waverley Pub. Bognor Seafront

The Waverley provides the local watering hole for main characters Maisie, her friend Jess, and later Joe. With outside seating it faces the sea. It was also at the Waverley I interviewed Graham (see previous post) so it has a special meaning now and a place I would most love to hold my launch.

Waverley Pub opposite the sea in Bognor

Mamma Mia Italian

This friendly Italian restaurant (which lies within walking distance from us) is a venue where two characters feel a first spark. It offers a nice selection of pizza and pasta dishes and just around the corner for a Waverley.

Mamma Mia Italian restaurant in Aldwick

Bognor Beach

Like Maisie I am always taking photos of the beach in different seasons which I like to post on Instagram. Her feed would be very much like mine, as mentioned during a conversation in Mamma Mia.

“Beach shots are my favourite. The way the light shines at different angles, it changes the colour of the sea…”
Scrolling through her photos, he understood her passion; the calmness of the sea at dawn so still it shone like glass – a stark contrast to the next image, a thunderous black sky folding shadows into the waves as they went galloping over the breakwaters.

My Instagram feed, showing beach shots

It is one of my favourite places for walking, where no two photos are the same depending on the time of day, the tide and weather.

Seaside Apartments

At least Jess doesn’t have to walk very far and with her own seaside apartment, she resides only a couple of blocks from the Waverley. The seafront is lined with flats, so it could be any one of these.

Bognor Promenade

The white posts at the bottom of the road led to the prom, the blueness of the sea dazzling. Gulls sat like sentinels upon a column of breakwaters and today it was high tide. Glancing out to sea, I heard an explosion of froth as the waves hit the shore, the rattle of pebbles that followed.

A bit like today then… a refreshing breeze perfect for blowing the cobwebs out and I always like to revisit the places I write about.

White posts at the bottom of Victoria Drive leading to Bognor Promenade

What will do with myself when this book goes off for a professional edit I do not know. Thinking about promotion, arranging blog tours for reviews, wondering whether to approach a few publishers or agents… we’ll see.

In the meantime I hope everyone gets to enjoy Christmas and let’s hope 2021 will be a better year.

A Short Break in #Wales

Funny how our travels often take us to the homes of famous writers.

In June 2014 we visited Grasmere in the Lake District, home to William Wordsworth (famous for his poetry, “I wandered lonely as a cloud.”) July 2016 is best remembered for our trip to Yorkshire where I had a spooky experience in the home of the Bronte sisters. I never forgot my pledge, where a brand new book of character stories is well underway.

This year, we enjoyed an unplanned diversion to Wales.

The beach in Ferryside

I haven’t actually travelled around Wales much, a delightful country with a wild coast and miles of unspoiled countryside. I have vague recollections of a geography field trip near Snowdonia but apart from a week in the Brecon Beacons with my family, that’s as far as my exploration goes.

My brother in law, Garry, is Welsh and loves the country with a passion. More recently however, two of our best friends embarked on a life-changing move.

Up until summer, Nicki lived in North London working for various ethical companies. I enjoyed staying in her flat on occasions, between yomping around the Capital, doing research for my books. Jason (who my husband has known since school days) is someone I’d describe as entrepreneurial and adventurous. More accustomed to a unconventional lifestyle that combines living in a narrowboat and working as a carer, he has a talent of crafting old bits of wood into beautiful pieces for the home and selling them at craft shows.

To cut a long story short, they have embarked on a move to South Wales, having invested funds in a fabulous house in Ferryside, (an idyllic coastal village in Camarthenshire.) The house is simply gorgeous with exposed brick in the dining area, terracotta tiled floors, a homely interior and plenty of space. With four bedrooms, the couple plan to start their own Air B&B next year, so both hubby and I had the pleasure of staying with them.

So what does any of this have to do with writers?

It was Garry who recommended a visit to Laugharne. He must have guessed we’d love it there, a pretty town with pastel coloured houses, enchanting tea houses and the rambling ruins of a castle.

Laugharne

Visiting the castle, we enjoyed the views over the richly wooded hills, marsh lands and long sandy beaches. There is a gazebo in the same grounds, where Dylan Thomas did much of his famous writing. Even the guidebook suggested I would find inspiration there, as a budding writer. (The photos below are in a slideshow format.)

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Seated by a very old typewriter with the sea shimmering through the glass, I scribbled out a few lines just for the fun of it. A glance out to sea drew my attention to a sunken puddle in the middle of the marsh, so I let my imagination run loose… but didn’t keep it.

Talacharn Town Trail sign

Moving on from the castle, you can take a circular walk which brings you along the coast to the boat house of Dylan Thomas and also his house. It’s a pretty route and you do eventually end up by the church where he is buried.

Sun dial near Laugharne Castle

Seaview Former home of the Poet Dylan Thomas

Laugharne Square

So it was nice to pay homage to another writer, but purely a co-incidence. For the rest of our visit, we enjoyed relaxing with our friends in their lovely new residence, savoured the views of the coast, enjoyed many a walk there and were rewarded with a tranquil sunset.

The whole area seems very peaceful, far removed from the overcrowded roads back in Sussex. We hope to return next year when Nicki and Jason’s Air B&B is more established and will recommend it to others.. I will finish this post by saying I wish them all the luck in the world for their new venture and cannot wait to return.

Now we are home, I have resumed the writing of a new work in progress, the Rosebrook Chronicles, and hope to deliver the stories soon.

Winter Sunsets – 4th December 2013

If there is one thing I really love about winter, it is the sunsets.

As a writer, I am very privileged to live in such a lovely location (although some people snigger when I say I live in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, which  is also the butt of many jokes, especially in reference to the dying words of King George V ‘Bugger Bognor’).

But when the clocks go back and the winter months arrive, I am wowed by the unusual beauty of our beach. At low tide, the sea rolls back to reveal row upon row of unusual rocky outcrops (called the Bognor Rocks after which our very town Football Club is named) and as the sand settles into ripples it gradually reflects the shifting colours of the sunset.

Sunset on the beach

This year has been exceptional. In the last week of November, the skies have been transformed into a swirling palette of shades, from soft blue to shocking pink and every conceivable shade on the spectrum in between. I love photographing sunsets and today, I decided to feature some of the best on this blog.

My walks along the beach with our dog, Barney, have also been great inspiration for my writing and I love describing things  I especially love to find ways of weaving words together, to create a canvas; and where VISIONS in particular lent itself to numerous opportunities to depict some of these amazing skyscapes.

Bright winter sunset

I’ll finish with an extract from Chapter 4 ‘New Friendships’ (Book 2 Visions)

‘As the conversation ensued, the sun sank lower in the sky, until it disappeared beneath the circle of trees. Clouds gathered and twisted themselves into weird shapes as they absorbed the fading sunlight, painting the sky into a swirl of colours, from an angry mauve to the softest peach, before a rim of fiery orange glared out from below the edges.’

We are blessed to have the pleasure of observing such magical skies in our environment.

It’s starting again…. I seem to get my best ideas when I’m walking the dog – 8th October 2013

Well, here we go again. 

Same process – I’m walking the dog along the beach, staring at the sea, seeing the first golden hues of autumn in the clouds, as the sun sets and breathing in the salty air… and my mind starts to wander. Before I know it, I start visualising the story lines in my head for up and coming book 3, Pleasures. The feeling is familiar. This is exactly how it happened before (2010), in the months before I started writing the first and second books of the series – and it’s happening all over again.

I’m throwing Barney’s ball across the sand and he goes bounding after it. There is a spreading circle of seagulls flying above and with the gentle sounds of the waves lapping in the distance, I’m already writing the opening scenes in my head.

Image

I have two books now and a very well established cast of characters. Where the first book was an explosive start to this series, the second did involve a lot more character building. I’m already considering a similar process for book 3 only this time, I’m going to be working on the evil characters – delving into their lives in order to reinforce their ‘not so nice personalities’, as they plot and scheme, hold their secret meetings and decide how they might oppose the growing army of followers that, the story’s main character, Eleanor, has been gathering over the last couple of years.

I am already working on a new synopsis now. But when I feel as inspired as this, the first thing I do when I return home, is jump straight on to my computer and bash out all my new ideas, while they are fresh in my head. The synopsis is growing daily and it is a wonderful feeling. Books 1 and 2 took shape exactly as I hoped they might – I’m delighted with what I have created. Yet, the older synopsis I had for the 3rd book has now changed – I’m gunning for more powerful story lines, than ever before; and different to those I had originally thought of. Once I have a water-tight synopsis in place, I hope to deliver a sequel, which might even see a few bad characters in this story, finally getting their just deserts.

What is Pleasures about?

The story will start where the last book left off – there will be a concentrated fight for a piece of land, in Rosebrook – desirable land which will either allow villainous property developer, Perry to profit from yet another lucrative housing scheme – or allow, fearsome ex-gang leader, Dominic, to establish the night club he has always dreamed of – at the same time, instilling fear in the community, especially for arch rival, Eleanor and her family. Eleanor and her allies want nothing more, than the land to be passed over to the visionary community leader, Peter, to set up his own affordable housing trust for local residents. Yet, lurking in the shadows, corrupt council planning officer, Robin, will do whatever he can to manipulate matters – determined to see Peter’s plan fail, whilst Eleanor’s enemies tighten their net around her.

Book 3 will also see a return to organised crime in London. At the same time Eleanor will be gathering her evidence, to seek justice for her beloved Jake – but, where Perry’s spies will be watching her every move; and these are just the opening chapters.

At the same time as I’m planning the synopsis, I can reveal that an outline synopsis for book 4, the finale, has already been written. My rationale being, if I continue with a really well thought-out plan, as to where the next two books are heading, the rest will come easily.

I cannot wait to start writing book 3. The situation at the moment is, I am still carefully picking my way through the paperback edition of newly published ‘Visions’ but as soon as it is word perfect, it will be back to the grindstone and writing again.

So thanks Barney – our walks are as inspiring for me as they are fun for you! May there be many more on the way, throughout this lovely autumn we are having.