Reflections

The past eighteen months have been incredibly busy. Riding the tidal wave of success which followed the publication of Tall Chimneys I revisited all my back catalogue, revising and re-editing, updating the covers and, in two cases, creating audiobook versions.

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Danielle Cohen, my talented narrator, and I were thrilled to find that the audiobook version of Tall Chimneys had been awarded a Silver Medal in this year’s Readers’ Favorite Awards. This adds to the the Silver Medal which the book won in its written form the previous year.

I have also been busy writing, producing the three books in the Highbury Series during that same eighteen month period. Mrs Bates of Highbury, The Other Miss Bates and Dear Jane have helped me by introducing me to Austen Authors, a website which showcases the talents of twenty Austen and Regency inspired authors. This involves writing a monthly blog post using a platform I am not used to - quite a challenge!

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I’m delighted to let you know that Dear Jane also received an ‘Honourable Mention’ award from Reader’s Favorite, as well as a five star review.

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Once the launch of Dear Jane was over with I decided to take a short break from everything. I had a 60th birthday celebration to organise as well as a trip to the Outer Hebrides. I had a TBR pile as high as Snowdon. Deserving honourable mention themselves are the following books.

A beautifully written book, funny and heart-breaking. It made me ashamed. It made me proud.

A beautifully written book, funny and heart-breaking. It made me ashamed. It made me proud.

An extraordinary story about the drama, tragedy and fragmentary nature of ordinary life.

An extraordinary story about the drama, tragedy and fragmentary nature of ordinary life.

An absolute page-turner of a book.

An absolute page-turner of a book.

The kind of book I love to read, with two time frames intertwining beautifully to one well-crafted whole.

The kind of book I love to read, with two time frames intertwining beautifully to one well-crafted whole.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, I began writing. I have long felt that The Hoarder’s Widow and that posse of middle-aged women she has gathered to herself had more stories to tell, and I set off to winkle out the story of Minnie Price, the impecunious widow who lives in the big house by the golf course. I have returned to it from time to time but, frankly, have struggled to get Minnie’s backstory successfully seagued in with Maisie’s on-going efforts to put her house and new-found freedom to good use. However, I am about 40,000 words into it now and am hoping that I can pull it off. I know, more or less, where the stories are going and how I will unite them, but the structure is testing me. The new book will be called The Widow’s MIte. This references the bible story which compares the ostentatious charitable giving of various Pharisees and hypocrites with the quiet, sacrificial donation of a widow. She gave so much less than they did in monetary terms, but so much more in that she gave all she had.

Two other potential projects have rather occupied my thoughts. The first is a story set locally but tinged with mystery and perhaps even a hint of the supernatural. It has been inspired by something I discovered on a walk along the dunes. A structure; man-made, but constructed of flotsam and jetsam from the beach, clearly of some purpose… but what? Who had built it, and why? It has clearly been there for some time but has been spared the vandalism you might have expected of such a thing in such a remote location. What about its form, its purpose or its provenance which has engendered this respect? Hmmm. It’s all very intriguing and I find my mind returning to it again and again.

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Last of all, (and just to write it down gives me a sort of eerie thrill) is the idea of returning to the strange house in the hollow of the Yorkshire moor. Many readers have asked for a sequel but I don’t feel the story pulling me that way (yet). What I do wonder about, though, is that house, and who built it in such an odd and inaccessible location, and why? What, I wonder, did they wish to hide? Tall Chimneys tells the story of the stately home in decline and Evelyn Talbot, last of her line, as she lives through the years 1910 to 2010. But doesn’t the idea of the house in its heyday intrigue you? And what of her forebears?