Today’s guest is Eliza J Scott, who is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Lucky Eliza lives in a 17th-century cottage in a village on the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden, fighting a losing battle against the weeds. Her novels – which always have happy endings – are, unsurprisingly, inspired by her beautiful surroundings. Today she’s here to tell us all about her own “Life On The Moors”.
Hi Sharon, thank you so much for inviting me to write a post for your wonderful blog, I’m thrilled to be here. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to share the inspiration behind my Life on the Moors series (there might me a little hint in the title there!). So, without further ado, here goes:
I was born in the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-sea on the North Yorkshire coast, but from a very young age it was the stunning moorland villages, just a short car drive away, that captured my heart. It was then that I resolved to make my home there one day.
My family would seize every opportunity to head to the moors, and I can remember the excitement bubbling in my stomach as we took the turn onto the winding road that was the gateway to the moors, with its rugged beauty and free-roaming sheep. It’s a feeling I still get when I return from holiday, and I can never resist the urge to wind the window down and get a good lungful of moorland air. Bliss!
I started writing in secret several years ago now – I’ve got piles of notebooks with drafts of stories in them, each one patiently waiting its turn before I decided whether or not to turn it into a book. Some of the earliest drafts are of a fictional seaside town that’s a hybrid of Saltburn and some of the smaller villages further down the coast, like Staithes, Runswick Bay and Robin Hood’s Bay. But it wasn’t until my eldest daughter went to university that I made the decision to start writing seriously, with the books that were set on the moors calling me the loudest. And so began the Life on the Moors series …
I’ve loved every minute of writing about the comings and goings of my fictional moorland village of Lytell Stangdale, and there are several villages on the moors that have served as inspiration for it. Harome in particular, with its pristine cottages topped with heavily thatched roofs definitely needs a mention. And its heavenly Star Inn is always at the back of my mind when I’m writing about Bea and Jonty Latimer’s beloved gastro pub, the Sunne Inn. Beadlam and Pockley are other quaint villages with the sweetest vernacular cottages, complete with wonky walls, inglenook fireplaces and eclectic mix of mullioned windows and Yorkshire sliding sashes. Many of these are trimmed with beautiful gardens that brim with typical English country cottage blooms and, I have to say, they’re rather easy on the eye.
So, if you’ve read any of my books, you’ll now have guessed that the cottages that feature in the Life on the Moors series, particularly Kitty’s and Zander’s respectively, are actually based on these! My own home even features in there, too.
I can’t imagine living anywhere else than on the moors; I love nothing better than going for a long, bracing walk, taking in the stunning scenery that abounds with a whole host of wildlife. And if we finish the walk with a visit to a tea shop for some tea and cake then even better! I love that the moors change constantly depending on the light and the season.
I adore spring when everything seems to burst back to life, all lush greenery punctuated by the vibrant golden yellow daffodils on the roadsides. Winter can be pretty dramatic out here – cue inspiration for A Christmas Kiss! – the snow can settle thick and fast, with some roads soon becoming impassable. But, I’d have to say that autumn – or ‘backend’ as us Yorkshire folk call it – is my favourite season, with all its warm shades of burnished copper, golds and reds, studded by the bright shiny berries in the rowan trees and hawthorn bushes. And I’ll never tire of looking out over the broad, sweeping valleys, peppered with farmsteads whose lights twinkle out at night, looking achingly cosy; they always take my breath away.
The moorland villages have more than their fair share of colourful characters, too, and, yes, there is the occasional craggy faced farmer wearing a tweed jacket with twine – or Charley band as we call it – tied around his middle, serving as a belt. There’s nowt like a bit o’ make do and mend! For those of you who’ve read my books, you might recognise these chaps as my inspiration for Hugh Heifer!
Living in a small, close-knit community definitely has its pros and cons. The sense of belonging and the fact that people look out for one another is heart-warming, the pace of life is a little slower and the peace and quiet is blissful. But one of the drawbacks is that everyone more than likely knows your business, and gossip can spread like you wouldn’t believe (not all the time, I hasten to point out, but it’s still a high possibility)!
Also, class sizes in village schools tend to be quite small, which on one hand, is a bonus, but it can also mean that there’s not too much choice as far as friendship groups are concerned; the children with the ‘stronger’ personalities are less diluted than they would be at larger schools, and their behaviour can make more of an impact. Kitty and her children, Lucas and Lily, in The Letter had to tackle these problems.
Another thing I love about the moors is the rich dialect, with its Norse influence and deliciously flat vowels. There’s a farmer who lives near me whose accent is so strong, I can honestly say I’m aware of my brain playing catch-up as it translates what he’s saying. Wonderful!
So, as you can see, everything from the people, to the houses, to the scenery and the capricious weather has served to inspire my writing. I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!
Thank you for reading my post, I hope you enjoyed it and getting to know what inspires my writing. And thanks, once again, to Sharon for letting me have a spot on her blog.
Here’s a look at the books in the Life on the Moors series: The Letter, The Talisman, The Secret, and A Christmas Kiss.
Thank you so much, Eliza, for a truly delightful post. Your love for the Moors shines through, and who can blame you for that? You can find my review of Eliza’s festive novel, A Christmas Kiss, here.
If you’d like to get in touch with Eliza, view her books or catch up with what she’s up to, you can find her here: