Happy Christmas

Sending best wishes for the festive season, in a year when so many plans have had to be revised. It may not be Christmas as usual but I hope it’s enjoyable, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

A little end of year update on the writing front. Large print versions of A Maid’s Ruin, under the original title of The Margate Maid, arrived just before Christmas. You should be able to get copies via your local library. And the paperback version of A Maid’s Ruin will be published on January 21st. In these difficult times, please support your local bookseller where you can – most of them will be offering collection or delivery.

Look out for exciting news about The Secret Child, Book 2 in trilogy, in early January. In the meantime, stay safe and warm – and I hope you get lots of books for Christmas!

Starting a story

It was back on a glorious day in October 2017, just after my first book Ella’s Journey had been published, that I began thinking about the story that would be published in March 2020 as The Margate Maid (and now A Maid’s Ruin). Following up on a bit of my own family research, and with the help of a map from the early 1800s on my phone, I started to explore the area in Margate where my ancestors once lived.

The cow barn in Church Street, which I’d discovered on the 1811 census, had long gone, but I found Princes Crescent and a pub nearby that had been there in the early 1800s, when it was known as The Liverpool Arms. (I preferred its later name The Spread Eagle, so kept that).

I had a wander around Margate, taking photos of the harbour from outside the Turner Contemporary and along the harbour arm, little knowing at that point that both Turner and the harbour would come to play a part in my story. A visit to the Foundling Museum in London just after Christmas led me to another part of my story – all I had to do now was write it! The title went through many revisions – my working title was Molly, then The Pomegranate Tree, then The Apothecaries’ Garden, then The Girl with the Chestnut Hair, before we arrived at The Margate Maid and, finally, A Maid’s Ruin for publication. If you’ve read the book, which title do you like best?

November ramblings

November came in, along with Lockdown 2. There was little to be done except make the most of the sunny skies and get out on some walks. This time we were encouraged to exercise as much as possible, so the first lockdown weekend found me walking out from Sandwich quay on the Saturday, and along the beach to Kingsdown then back via the church and Hawksdown on the Sunday.

Reading through the page proofs of The Secret Child, Book 2 of my latest trilogy, saw me through several more days, interspersed with more walks with friends. The sun shone and late autumn light illuminated a circular walk from Ramsgate to Dumpton Gap and back. And we had some spectacular sunsets, too.

November evenings are long, though, with darkness creeping in from about 4pm. I embarked on some cooking, using the Quick Roasting Tin book I recently received as a gift – Keralan prawn curry, nigella-spiced dhal and baked gnocchi – not all on the same day, I hasten to add! I freestyled a bit with the gnocchi, using vegetables I had in and making it in the style of macaroni cheese. All delicious, all satisfyingly quick and easy to make.

I had window sashes replaced during the last week of the month, while I hid in the basement for the duration as the house was very chilly! But on the last day the sun came out and the job I’d intended to do in the garden – pruning the climbing roses – was forestalled by the amount of blooms. So it earned a reprieve for another week or two.