Category Archives: inspiration

The Garden in Fiction…

The secret garden…

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

I imagine, for most of us, our first encounter with a garden in fiction will be Frances Hodgson Burnett’s wonderful book, The Secret Garden. The garden, locked away by a grieving man, is where Mary Lennox, with the help of a friendly robin, and two new friends, discovers a hidden world full of magic and life that transforms all their lives.

“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite.”

Much has been made during the last couple of years of the healing power of nature. That is what Mary’s secret garden does, for her, for her sickly cousin and for her grieving uncle.

The garden as paradise

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It all began with a garden…

January sees the publication of my 70th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon and in the darkest days of winter, it offers the scents and colour of warm early summer days.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss

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The garden…

When a book is written and has been through the publication process, I often struggle to remember what inspired the original idea. How it got from a blank screen to the physical book that I’m holding in my hand.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss was like that.

blackberries

https://pixabay.com/users/pixel2013-2364555/

I do know that I was thinking about an earlier book in which the garden had featured heavily and which I’d loved writing.

That one had started with blackberries hanging over a garden wall. Continue reading

Cinderella and the Birth of a Book…

December sees the publication of my latest Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. It is also the time of festive fun and pantomimes, so the Cinderella title is very apt, I think.

Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount

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Once upon a time….

Philip James de Loutherbourg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The story is set in Regency England but its origins are much further afield. Spain in fact. The whole thing starts with the Spanish Armada!

Many Spanish ships from that ill-fated expedition came to grief around the British Isles, and the are many stories of survivors “leaving their mark” on the local population in the form of dark eyed, dark haired children. My heroine, Carenza, has this dark colouring, inherited from her mother.

Of course, she isn’t the first literary character to have such a heritage. The one that springs first to my mind is Jimmy Perez in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series (not that the lovely Dougie Henshall, who plays Perez in the TV series is dark haired OR dark-eyed).

Then there are The Westray Dons

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Inspirational oddities : objects, costume, places

The oddest things can be inspirational. For me, at least.

chinese screen © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Chinese screen 1825-1865 © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Quite often, it’s objects or artefacts that inspire me. Take this gorgeous Chinese lacquer and embroidered silk screen, for example. It may date from as early as the 1820s and is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection. I found it when I was looking for ways of illustrating a blog about the Regency pelisse, which ladies wore outdoors to keep warm.

Inside, they wore shawls. Houses, back then, tended to be draughty, hence the need for draught screens, like this one. Continue reading

Spring (in spite of the hail and sleet) for inspiration

garden in April after snowDon’t know about you, but here on the borders of Wales, we’ve got hail and sleet and rain. Not exactly inspiration in Spring, is it?

So today I thought I’d share images of places that inspire me in Spring, some here at home—some even in my garden, including the April snow scene shown right—and some further afield. The places abroad are wish list destinations for now, but they can still provide inspiration.

And maybe, one of these years, we’ll actually be able to visit them. I do hope so.

Inspiration at home

Gardens are wonderful. And, in Spring, when new leaves start to unfurl and buds break into bloom, we can almost feel the joy of new life. Continue reading

Favourite Places and Virtual Visits Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and Joanna took you on a virtual tour of some of their favourite places. We hope you enjoyed the ruins — from all around Britain — and the other inspirational locations they took you to.

Now, since we’re still in lockdown, Liz and Sophie are going to be your guides for a second instalment.

Ready? Your trip starts here…

Libertà’s Favourite Places #3 : Standen House & Garden (Liz)

At the first sniff of spring, the DD and I usually head off to our nearest National Trust property,

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Dawn Chorus in a Time of Lockdown

Redwing, fieldfare. ring ouzel

Redwing, fieldfare, ring ouzel

Welcome to Dawn Chorus Day. Yes, it’s a thing. It’s been a thing since the 1980s apparently, Started in Birmingham. Now it’s international. Makes me feel sort of proud and very grateful.

I was talking about birds with my friend Susan last week, We hear them so much more clearly during lockdown. We both bemoaned the fact that they’re yelling their heads off and yet we can’t identify them.

BBC Radio and the Lockdown Effect

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Favourite Places and Virtual Visits Part 1

Lockdown (with barred window) in times past??

While we’re in lockdown, we can’t travel to favourite places, the kind that inspire us (and sometimes comfort us, too).

At Libertà, we’ve been reflecting on that. So we’ve been digging out both images and memories of some of our favourite places to share.

 

 

 

 

Pack your bag and enjoy our virtual tour 😉 Continue reading

Earwigging, Active and Passive. And James Bond

The Listening Servant, Hubertus van Hove,
image courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

I hooted over Joanna’s post last week. It made me remember a couple of earwigs of my own.

In the first, I overheard a memorable exchange. It came out of the blue, in truly exceptional circumstances. I’d use it in a book, if I could write one good enough.

In the other I was, as it were, earwigged. But I bet the earwiggers remember it. Both cheered me up enormously.

So I thought I would share.

Setting 1: the Exotic Holiday

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Earwigging : because writers do

Times are difficult, scary even, for all of us — especially the older or vulnerable ones — so I thought I’d add a bit of light-hearted distraction. To wit: earwigging.

I do it. Don’t you?
Doesn’t everybody?
Especially authors…

An Earwigging tale

Goblin Court typical English villageI was in a pub, on my own, having a quiet meal. There were four elderly gents — nattily dressed, clearly ex-military — sitting across the way, drinking various beverages and gossiping. They were not trying to keep their voices down, though they must have known other drinkers could hear every word.

One of them was even louder than the others, very keen to be heard. All The Time. And even when the others were trying to hold a conversation about something else.

Must admit that I took agin Mr Loudmouth.

Anyway, Mr Loudmouth told a joke Continue reading