Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Beautiful North

It's always wonderful to revisit places you've written about, and last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Durham and wander around some of the places featured in THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER. Although these places live vividly in my imagination, it's exhilarating to actually stand there and take in the sounds, smells and texture of the actual settings.
I revisited the wonderful Beamish museum, one of the places that inspired the novel. It was a grey, foggy day and the smell of coal smoke was in the air - that scent like newly-struck matches. We all had tears in our eyes while listening to the lovely mournful sounds of Houghton Brass Band playing Gresford, The Miners' Hymn, a tune that commemorates the terrible disaster that occurred at Gresford, North Wales on the 22nd September 1934, when a mining explosion killed 266 men and boys.
We visited the old sweetshop and tasted pear drops, midget gems, wine gums and my Dad's favourite - buttered brazils!
Houghton Brass
 
I always have to make a pilgrimage to the beautiful cathedral. so we spent a day in Durham, courtesy of my terrific cousins. We wandered through the shadowy stone halls of Durham Cathedral and walked down to Prebends Bridge and along the leafy river bank. The sun finally came out and gave me these gorgeous pictures.

I also enjoyed the great  pleasure of meeting some fascinating readers at The Hetton Centre who had enjoyed reading the book so much they felt transported back to the world of their past. Vera, who's actually writing her own memoirs,  told me the book really took her back in time. And Audrey who had kindly shared her memories of The Astoria Dance Hall in Durham - a place that may be the setting for a sequel to THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER. It's always so inspiring when your work strikes an  emotional chord with readers and it inspires you to keep on writing. 
We did a little detective work to find out the site of the old Astoria Dance Hall, the place where my Mom and Dad actually met! After asking a lot of questions we found what we think is left of the place. Check out this side doorway and the old facade of the tailor's shop - the ballroom was, I believe - above the shop.

Sadly, I've got quite a bit of research to do before I start that novel, but the response to THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER has been so overwhelming I know I have to write another book as a kind of sequel!
Here's a couple of updates before I wrap up.
- UNNATURAL, my new historical novel, is out for submission to over 50 Canadian and international publishers courtesy of dynamic literary agent Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency. Fingers crossed there'll be good news soon!!!
- Thanks to my good friends Janice and Pam who supported me by selecting THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER for their book club read. It was a thrill to meet the amazing women in the group and hear their enthusiastic feedback.
- The cover design for THE PARASITES, Book 2 of the Iduna Project Trilogy, has just been completed. It's incredible and I'll be doing a preview reveal quite soon.

Finally I'd like to highlight DENNIS, a terrific folkrock and brass band from the North East of England. Check them out in this video of their single Third Time Around.