This week, I’d like to welcome fellow RNA member Lin Treadgold to talk about her romance Goodbye Henrietta Street. First, the lovely cover and the blurb …
I love Scilly; it’s a place I feel at home. For me it’s relaxing and full of welcoming faces. My first trip was in 1969 and since then I had to keep going back. Having travelled around the world several times in the 1970’s and been to many remote places and interesting cities, I found the peace of the islands beckoning me to return. It has always felt as if I was travelling abroad and yet it was a ferry ride or a short air trip out to sea and I was still in England. It felt safe and cosy.
Could you tell us more about the Isles of Scilly setting?
I have always wanted to write a book and in my earlier years, I was raising children and working full time with my own driving school as an instructor, I had very little time to sit and write. It wasn’t until I came to Holland for my husband’s job that I was able to explore the possibilities. It’s strange, really, how you live abroad and then keep coming back to England for holidays, although we did use our caravan to explore Europe too. We discovered a way to get to Scilly easily from Amsterdam. although it was very expensive we couldn’t help ourselves, we loved it so much. Scilly is one of those places with all the ingredients for a romance novel. The white beaches, the palm trees in the summer breeze, the blue sea and yes, it’s cliché and very self-indulgent, but oh so ‘writeable’.
A friend of mine from Austria, her husband was a doctor, and sadly, he had pancreatic cancer. His wife brought him to Scilly for his last holiday. They both knew he was not going to live beyond the next six months, although they kept trying to find help to make his life more bearable. He couldn’t eat properly but spent his days on the islands, painting and drawing the scenery. We sat alone together and I told him I would like to write a book inspired by our story, he told me to do it or I might regret it. There is a scene in Goodbye Henrietta Street, where Pippa Lambton realises that Jan and Marijke from Holland have been very unlucky in their lives and it was a turning point in her plans. She realises that Jan doesn’t have long to live and learns from Jan’s strength to carry on. I wrote that scene in memory of my friend, Franz.
Without realising it at the time, he gave me the strength to write this book. We sat discussing what I would write and how it might turn out. He inspired me greatly. He loved the islands too and so it was, the book had to be written, not only for Franz but because I wanted to show the folks on mainland Britain how important it was to help protect the islands, they are the jewels of our heritage. Many people have never visited and I wanted to encourage them to see it as I have done. Scilly depends heavily on tourism.
The islands sound absolutely beautiful! Tell me, what is your heroine Pippa’s most admirable quality?
Pippa has been through a lot in her life. She lost her mother when she was twelve and had to learn about the facts of life from her friends at school as she lived with her father and found it hard to talk about these things. After her father passed away, she was already courting Rob and she’d had to learn to be resilient. Later her son, Daniel, met with tragedy and after much confusion, there was no wonder she needed to search for happiness again. I admired her strength to know what she wanted in life and to stick to her gut feelings. She is stronger now and yet she still has to face adversity and distant memories all around her. Can she find a way to gain her confidence to carry on? I admire Pippa because she knows what she wants, but can she get it?
You can go to my blog at www.itslinhere.wordpress.com to read the rest of the story behind the book.
Have you started your next book yet, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?
I have two books. Publishers are currently assessing the Tanglewood Affair. Once again, inspired by a true life story, based in the mid seventies.
When Jessica Stamp embarks on a new life from Yorkshire, she could never imagine the events that would unfold at Tanglewood Farm. Upon meeting the eccentric owner, Connie Dijkman, all is not as it seems, and the unlikely goings-on at the farm arouse Jess’s suspicions, as do the colourful characters that reside there. Soon, Jess can’t help believe the rumours that circulate around her. And then there’s Jonni, the dashing herdsman who ignites feelings of lust and longing that she didn’t think were ever possible …
My third book is from World War II. Harold, the Good Soldier is a work in progress. The story is partially written by my father who passed away in 1997. I have all his war letters and the research from those letters I can use. I plan to use my father’s own words here and there as it is all very realistic and interesting. I shall have to ensure that it blends well with the whole fictional story.
Ellie and Harold grew up at the same school before the war. Ellie’s mother is very controlling and in their teenage years, they meet in secret until Ellie is accepted into Harold’s family and they begin courting once they leave school. Ellie would like to be a hotel receptionist and Harold goes to work in the office of the local steel works. War is declared and they go their separate ways. Ellie joins the ATS and Harold has been captured in the desert, in Africa, and sent to a prison camp in Italy. Ellie becomes an actress with the army concert party and loses all contact with Harold after the war. She is now engaged to someone else. Harold never loses hope of finding Ellie again.
I have big plans for the rest of the story, but I think it now needs a twist and many highs and lows for the reader to endure with the characters. I know this could be my best work yet. I feel that my father would be proud of this one. I just wish he were still around for me to ask him questions. I would love to have known more about his trip on the ‘Empress of Russia’ en-route to Africa. He writes about the ‘crossing the line ceremony’ and I will use this in the book.
Sounds like it will be a fascinating read! And now a little about you. Where do you do your writing?
I have an office with a roll top pine desk. I can shut the door and hide away.
If you could have your dream space to write, where or what would it be?
I think after you have read this, you will undoubtedly agree with me that a little hut on the beach, similar to that of the detective in Death in Paradise on TV, would suit me. I don’t even mind having his little gecko lizard visit me either as I am into wildlife and birdwatching. Of course, it would have to be on one of the remote islands on Scilly. If I could get the internet across there (which I can’t or maybe that’s a good thing) I would build my hut on the island of Samson. The beach there is so wonderful with the views of all the other islands and when the sun goes down in between the two hills of Samson every night, I will be sat with my glass of wine saying ‘cheers’ (or should I say ‘up yours’) to the rest of the world.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Helen.
Oooh yes, that beach shack on Death in Paradise would be just the job … Thank you for visiting, Lin!
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