My guest on the Five Photos feature this week is Liz Taylorson, whose debut novel, The Little Church by the Sea is published by Manatee Books. Here are the five photos Liz has chosen. One of them is very familiar to me! Over to Liz …
I love this photograph even though I don’t know exactly who this woman is. The photograph was left to me by my mother, and on the back is written (in my mum’s handwriting) “Great grandmother” but she didn’t know which great-grandmother. Judging by the style of dress and my mother’s age, that would make it the late 19th century when this young woman was photographed. However, there is absolutely no question that we are related – when I look at her face, I can see my mother, myself and my own daughter looking back at me. It’s uncanny; separated by five generations and nearly 150 years, the relationship is undisputable. It gives me the chills, in fact!
This photograph was taken at the English Heritage event, History Live in 2014. We had started going to this event (then known as the Festival of History) when the children were aged 1 and 3. It had been a difficult few years and it felt like the sleepless slog of trying to hold down a job and bring up two young children was never-ending. The Festival of History, a gloriously sunny weekend in an otherwise dull, grey year, was like a ray of light. We went nearly every year after that, and it was always the highlight of the year for me (“What, even more than Christmas?” asked an incredulous child once. “Yes, because I don’t have to cook a three-course meal in the middle of the day!” was the honest answer.) Though I didn’t know it at the time, 2014 was to be the last ever History Live, so this photo of four knights riding away turned out to be my farewell to an event that will always have a special place in my heart.
Me, aged 18, playing Isabella in Measure for Measure. I have always loved the theatre and wanted to be an actor when I was younger. I went on a year’s course at a college in Stratford-upon-Avon where I got to fulfil a dream and play one of Shakespeare’s leading ladies. The course made me realise that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to be a professional actor after all, but I’ve never stopped performing on the amateur stage. In this picture at least I look like a proper actor! (And look at those cheekbones! Where did they go?)
I would love to have included a picture of my family but I couldn’t find a suitable photograph that would have pleased everybody and not made the children cringe with embarrassment at their younger selves! So here instead is the fifth member of the family, our campervan “Big Blue”, pictured at our favourite campsite in Lealholm, North Yorkshire. “Big Blue” is actually rather small and not entirely blue, but we’ve had some lovely times in him – and there is a novel in there somewhere. It should probably feature a handsome AA mechanic …
Robin Hood’s Bay at Christmas. The North Yorkshire coast is very close to where I live and favourite places for days out include Whitby, Runswick Bay and of course Robin Hood’s Bay. When I came to write The Little Church by the Sea I created a setting which had elements of all three villages, but Robin Hood’s Bay is the largest part of my fictional village of Rawscar. I particularly love this part of the coast “out of season” when it’s a bit quieter – although never empty of tourists, especially when the Victorian Christmas Weekend takes place at Robin Hood’s Bay. I only have to glance at this picture to think of mulled wine and mince pies with the wind roaring outside and a log fire roaring inside …
This photograph was taken by my lovely sister-in-law, Angela Harrison, and used with her permission.
After a childhood with her head in a book and a pen in her hand, Liz worked in academic libraries until children interrupted her bibliographic career. Liz then started writing fiction and hasn’t stopped since, joining the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to learn how to write novels properly. The publication of her first novel The Little Church by the Sea, published by Manatee Books in November 2017 is a childhood dream come true.
You can buy The Little Church by the Sea here.
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