Today’s guest is my very good friend and talented author, Jessica Redland. Jessica is well-known for her love of teddy bears. She owns dozens of them, and even used to run a teddy bear shop. But she has another passion, too. Hedgehogs. And her latest series, which kicks off on Thursday 2nd July, features lots of these little creatures. Actually, since the setting is a place called Hedgehog Hollow, there’s no mistaking the fact. I managed to entice the super-busy Jessica onto the blog to tell us all about her forthcoming book, and what inspired her to write it. Welcome to Jessica!
My tenth book, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is released tomorrow (2nd July) and, as is always the case when a new book goes out into the world, I’m feeling a strange mix of excitement and trepidation. This time, there’s possibly a little more of the latter because this is the first book in a brand new series and, not only that, it moves away from my usual setting of Whitsborough Bay. Eek!
A Change of Scene
So far, all of my stories have been set in the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, which is predominantly modelled on my hometown of Scarborough with inspiration drawn from Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay. (You can read an old post from Jessica about the setting of Whitsborough Bay here.) The Hedgehog Hollow series has moved away from the coast into the heart of the countryside on the Yorkshire Wolds. The main character, Samantha Wishaw, is from Whitsborough Bay and is living there at the start of the story so I haven’t completely said goodbye to my coastal setting which so many readers love.
I write uplifting stories of love and friendship. While there is always a romance element, the plot is often driven by the relationships the main character has with their friends and/or family. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow focuses on the amazing relationship Samantha has with some family members, the toxic relationship she has with others, and a family rift that opens up after her cousin, Chloe, marries the man Samantha loves.
Introducing the hedgehogs!
As the title would suggest, there’s a strong connection to hedgehogs. Hedgehog Hollow is the name of a dilapidated farm that Samantha stumbles across after getting lost on the way to Chloe’s wedding reception. The farm is owned by grumpy octogenarian, Thomas Mickleby, who had bought it so he and his wife could set up a hedgehog rescue centre. For reasons revealed in the book, that never happened. Meeting Thomas changes Samantha’s life in ways she could never have imagined. If you’d like to know what they are, you’ll have to pay a visit to Hedgehog Hollow to find out. No spoilers here! (How mean am I?)
Why not! I adore them. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of an animal whose defence mechanism is to curl up into a tight ball. As humans, I think we can all relate to that. At times of extreme upset or illness, our natural inclination is to curl up into a ball ourselves, like a foetus, and long for the source of our pain to disappear.
And how adorable are hedgehogs? That little snuffling nose? Those dark eyes? That furry face? Absolutely gorgeous. So it was perhaps only a matter of time before they featured in one of my books. My auntie is a real-life hedgehog rescuer. She’s looked after poorly and injured hedgehogs and abandoned hoglets for the past forty years and it was at her house that I saw my first ever live hedgehog. Up until then, I’d sadly only ever seen ones that had been run over; something that breaks my heart every time.
I’ve loved doing all the research needed to ensure I have my hedgehog facts accurate for this series. I knew a few bits already but have learned all sorts of fascinating snippets by spending time with Auntie Gwen, watching documentaries, and lots of reading. For example, did you know that hedgehogs are good swimmers, can climb, and are really fast runners in short bursts?
We have a hedgehog that visits our garden each evening and I love it when I manage to spot a glimpse of him. I have no idea whether it’s really a him or not but I’ve christened him Mickleby after Thomas in Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. Confusingly, our neighbour has decided he’s called Albert. If we were to ask the hedgehog which he prefers, I’m sure he’d pick Mickleby although hubby loves to wind me up by saying he’s just spotted Albert in the garden!
We always make sure there’s a fresh bowl of water and a bowl of cat food out for Mickleby. If you have any hedgehogs visiting your garden (or think you might), then please do leave them water and cat or dog food (non-fishy varieties). Hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant so please never give them milk as it makes them very ill and can kill them. If you have a pond, they may be good swimmers but they’re not very good at clambering out of a pond so please have a means for them getting out such as a piece of wood they can shuffle up.
For more fabulous advice or guidance, you can visit:
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society at: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
People’s Trust for Endangered Species at: https://ptes.org
I hope the blurb below entices you to take a trip to Hedgehog Hollow this summer…
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow
Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?
As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.
But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.
Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.
Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…
Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.
You can buy Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow here.
About Jessica Redland
Jessica was born in Teesside but now lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast which inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets all her books.
She lives with her husband, teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel. She’s a self-confessed stationery addict who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love her), 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.
Other than a career detour into retail to set up and run her own teddy bear shop (the inspiration for novel Bear With Me), she’s always worked in HR, specialising in resourcing, coaching and L&D. Writing has always had to take a back seat to the day job. Until now. In June 2020, she left the world of HR to become a full-time author and is so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books, helping her fulfil this dream. She still can’t believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.
Find out more about Jessica by visiting her website.
Read her blog.
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