My guest today is Christine Stovell, author of the Little Spitmarsh series for Choc Lit. I remember when her latest novel, Moonbeams in a Jar, came out, I was blown away by the gorgeous cover! Chris has very kindly agreed to share her Five Photos with us, and it’s been a great pleasure to look back with her at some wonderful, emotional memories. Over to you, Chris.
Thanks so much, Sharon, for inviting me to share my five photos with your readers. I’ve loved reading the wonderful stories here so it’s a little bit daunting to step up and add mine!
At my lowest points as a writer I’ve thought how much easier it would be to give up, but everything I write – long and short fiction, poetry and home interiors stories for The English Home magazine – is about making sense of the world, so it’s not that simple. Then something happens; a lovely review, for example, or seeing my name on a new cover or in a magazine and the sun comes out again!
The writing journey is full of ups and downs, but along the way I’ve been supported and inspired by some very special people. My five photos are a tribute to them.
Photo One: Me with Mum and Dad
My dad was a carpenter and joiner. Mum, when she went back to work, was a school cook. I think because the war had been so disruptive to their education, they were both great readers and our home was full of books. On Sundays, Dad would go out to buy the ‘papers and, even when I was very little, he’d come back with a comic for me. What Mum and Dad didn’t realise was that I’d taught myself to read from the Beano, Dandy and Hotspur – whatever Dad could find! – so they happily let me loose with The News of the World until they heard me trying to pronounce the word, ‘prostitute’. To their great credit, they never dictated what I could or couldn’t read… I was the one who baulked occasionally when I picked up a book that was a bit too ‘grown-up’ for me!
Photo Two: Rosebery Grammar School with Mrs Huggett
I flourished at grammar school but only realised later what a financial strain it was for Mum and Dad just to buy the uniform. ’What?’ I can hear Mum exclaiming, ‘a science overall and an art overall? A games sweater, shorts and culottes?’. I remember many of my teachers with fondness and admiration, but it’s my English teacher, the magnificent Katharine Huggett, who still inspires me. Like the best teachers, she wasn’t only an expert on her subject but she also had plenty to say about life. ‘Remember girls,’ she’d tell us, ‘it’s not just about bed-time, it’s being able to talk to someone over breakfast too!’
Photo Three: Epsom Allsorts Running Club
Eighteen (gulp!) years ago a dear friend introduced me to Epsom Allsorts, a running club for women of all shapes, sizes, ages and stages. Running’s been an important part of my life ever since and has taught me that seemingly impossible goals – like running 13.1 miles or writing 90,000 words – can be achieved by taking them one step at a time. This year marks a decade since I ran my first half marathon and when I run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October, I’m hoping to raise as much money as possible for Pancreatic Cancer UK. My dad was taken by this brutal cancer and five-year survival rates are still shockingly low.
Photo Four: Holding my newborn granddaughter
I was there when my dad took his last breath and I was privileged to be present when two of my granddaughters took their first breaths. My family means everything to me.
Photo Five: Tom, my husband
When I fell in love with a keen sailor, the thought of sleeping under starry skies in quiet little anchorages sounded very romantic. That was until I discovered how prone to seasickness I am! However, our sailing experiences worked their way into my imagination and formed the basis of my debut novel, Turning the Tide, the first of my ‘Little Spitmarsh’ series. Whenever the writing seas get a bit rough, Tom’s my safe harbour.
Thank you so much for sharing these photos, Chris! They gave me some “Ah!” and “Aw” moments, as well making me laugh out loud. Your parents were clearly very broad-minded, and your teacher sounds fantastic! So glad you agreed to take part in this feature.
Winning a tin of chocolate in a national essay competition at primary school inspired to Christine Stovell to become a writer. Setting off, with her husband, from a sleepy seaside resort on the east coast in a vintage wooden boat to sail halfway round Britain provided the inspiration for her ‘Little Spitmarsh’ series of novels, but never cured her seasickness although she continues to sail.
As well as writing long and short contemporary romantic fiction and poetry, Christine has written features for various magazines and is a regular contributor to The English Home magazine.
Christine lives on the beautiful west Wales coast where long-distance running helps her plan her plots. Half marathons, she thinks, especially when the going gets tough, are like novels; both begin with small steps.
When Chloe Potter wishes on a star that she’ll find a man who’ll accept her and her noisy dachshund Wilma, she doesn’t think that she’ll bump into one quite so soon …
But almost immediately she meets Ryan Green and his boisterous basset hound, Fred. Ryan is larger than life, ruggedly handsome and, most importantly, a dog lover – surely a match made in heaven?
But Chloe soon finds that trying to tie a man like Ryan down is like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar. Ryan’s job as a photographer means that when he’s not in the middle of a war zone, he’s trying to catch just the right light at the top of Mount Snowdon.
Chloe wants stability and when it becomes clear that Ryan will always put his job first, she knows she has to move on. But then a once-in-a-lifetime trip unexpectedly brings them together once again …
You can buy Moonbeams in a Jar here.