My guest today is a fellow Write Romantic, Deirdre Palmer. Deirdre writes women’s fiction for Crooked Cat, under her own name, and also writes feel-good novellas for Fabrian Books, as Zara Thorne. Deirdre has kindly agreed to share her Five Photos with us today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
I’m lucky to have a lovely family, but it’s also important to have good friends, isn’t it? In the photo with me are Angie, Val and Marion. The four of us got together in our first year at grammar school, although Val and Angie were already friends, and I had met Marion as a five-year-old in infant school. Our friendship as a foursome has lasted 60 years and means the world to me.
When I was writing ‘Dirty Weekend’, the first book I wrote set in the 1960s, the four us talked through our memories of that time, and the more wine we had, the more vivid our remembrances became! Much that came from those sessions centred on communication. In the early years of our friendship none of us had a phone at home. We relied on calling each other from phone boxes (press button B….) at carefully appointed times, and any poor soul who had planned to use the box at the same time got short shrift. If we were going to be apart for any length of time – call that a fortnight – we wrote letters, and what a joy it was to receive them.
This limited communication played a great part in the plot of ‘Dirty Weekend’, and very useful it was too. Poor Carol-Anne spent most of her weekend in Brighton cloistered in a smelly phone box, trying to track down her friend Jeanette who had mysteriously disappeared during a night out.
So, cheers girls, and thanks for the inspiration!
This is Willow. Isn’t she beautiful? She’s a pedigree whippet, now eighteen months old, and she belongs to my elder son Christopher and his girlfriend, Kerry. I wasn’t much into dogs before but when I met her it was love at first sight. She’s very funny and extraordinarily clever – at least we think so! – which means she needs endless entertaining, and has those doggy puzzles with treats sussed out in minutes. She has her pensive moments, too, as you can see from the photo, one of my favourites of her. It was taken on a walk near where they live.
The countryside is typical of our part of Sussex, with its gently rolling hills, yet we have the sea close at hand too. Somewhere near where this photo was taken lies the pretty village of Charnley Acre. You won’t find it on any map because I made it up. I used it as the setting for ‘Christmas at Spindlewood’, the first book I wrote under my author name Zara Thorne, and I’m now writing a sequel, set in the same village. There’s also a whippet in ‘Spindlewood’ but he’s a male called Wilf.
Well, I couldn’t include a photo of Willow without having one of Chester, too. He’s our cat, and my constant companion when I’m at the computer, although true to say he’s asleep most of that time. It’s also true to say that cat people are the tiniest bit bonkers… Don’t answer that! There’s not a lot more to say about this photo, except I wouldn’t be without this cat. Pets give such a lot of pleasure, don’t they? Cats of course provide the means to much procrastination. You can’t open Facebook or Twitter without seeing a cute or funny video of a cat, and that’s fine by me.
I was looking for somewhere to send two of my characters from the book I’m currently writing and chose Woods Mill, which is a wild and pretty nature reserve near Henfield, in West Sussex. It’s mainly woodland, with lakes and ducks, and a great place to wander. In Spring there’s a marvellous display of bluebells – this photo doesn’t really do them justice. Walking in woods like this always reminds me of Mum and Dad, and our Sunday afternoon ‘mystery tours’ around Sussex in our old banger. We would usually end up climbing over a stile and going into the woods to pick bluebells or primroses. Not allowed now, of course, and rightly too.
I enjoy making up towns and villages in my writing, but it’s sometimes useful to include actual places, too, so I tend to have a mixture of the real and fictional. In this new book, which is called ‘Coming Home’, a serious conversation takes place at Woods Mill when Holly reveals something of great significance to Isaac; in fact the main premise of the story hangs on that. The idea is that the gentle rural setting provides a contrast to the event, throwing it into sharper relief. I hope it works!
I’ve included this photo just for fun, and because I like it. When my younger son, Luke, worked at MTV, he was invited to tour the Big Brother house before filming began and here he is, testing one of the beds. I can’t believe he’s about to turn forty! How can I have a child of that age? But all mothers say that, don’t they? Luke champions my writing efforts and I can always rely on him for an early download. His idea of promotion leans towards the direct approach: ‘This is my Mum’s new book. Please buy it.’ You have to love ‘em, don’t you?
Deirdre is the author of six women’s fiction novels and one anthology of short stories. She is published traditionally by Crooked Cat, and independently with Fabrian Books. To find out more about Deirdre and catch up on the news about her books, visit her website.
You can buy Escape to Sunrise Cottage here.