Boldwood Books recently published my latest novel, Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff, which is the beginning of a series of four. I thought you might like to know some of the truth behind the fiction.
For twenty years my parents owned and ran a seaside hotel called the Marlborough. It was a beautiful Art Deco style building within a pebble’s throw of Boscombe Pier, which is around two miles from Bournemouth Pier. Not that the beach in between has very many pebbles, just glorious golden sand.So maybe it was just a matter of time until my writing would feature a seaside hotel.
The Bluebell Cliff Hotel was inspired by the Marlborough. But then fiction took over. The Bluebell Cliff is a hotel with a unique USP. It’s a venue where guests go to live out their dreams, however daft or whacky these dreams might be!
If you want to propose to your girlfriend by climbing up a lighthouse (Milk Tray Man style) or you want to break a Guinness World Record then the Bluebell is the place for you!
My fictitious hotel has a different location too. When I was younger I loved long distance running and on Sunday morning, myself and a couple of other OTT runners, most of whom were fitter than myself, did a seventeen mile run that began in Wareham Forest and took in Studland bay and climbed up Ballard Down to the top which is the piece of the Jurassic coastline that juts out over Old Harry Rocks. It was a long hard run across road, forest tracks, soft sand and grass and I think I was probably hallucinating with overtiredness by the time we finally crested Ballard Down. But oh the joy of achievement of being on top of the world. I have memories of the most beautiful scenery in Dorset, no doubt coloured by endorphins and exhaustion.
Much later when I wrote Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff the idea popped into my head, what if there was a hotel up on Ballard Down? A hotel perched on a clifftop that stared out over the sea. What if there was a lighthouse too?
It’s odd isn’t it, how reality creeps into fiction. I don’t think much of it has to do with our conscious mind. Little pieces of reality mingle with little pieces of fantasy and fiction is the result.
I adore Dorset. I have a deep affinity with the landscape: the fields, the forest, the sea. I feel as though my roots are buried deep in the very earth itself. In fact Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff isn’t the first novel I’ve set in the Purbecks. Neither will it be the last. I have just completed the second novel in this series.
There’s a lighthouse in my novel. Lighthouses are hugely evocative. I think I really am quite an old romantic at heart.
And of course there is romance, although not of the slushy variety – I like the kind of romance that is threaded through with dry humour.
My characters are quirky. They range from the mysterious Mr B who is a brilliant chef at the Bluebell Cliff, as well has being a conspiracy theorist who won’t tell anyone his actual name in case they steal his identity.
Then there is Clara King who is the new manager and has been left in sole charge for the hotel’s first season. Clara has a passion for dogs (rather like myself) and a penchant for designer handbags and pastel suits (not so much like myself!).
There are also the Brothers Grim, Adam and Nick Greenwood who own the neighbouring Hotel to the Bluebell and see it as a competitor.
There is Phil Grimshaw, maître D and part time actor. There is Clara’s warm but flawed family full of strong matriarchal women.
There is Foxy the three-legged dog.
And let’s not forget the mysterious saboteur who wants to put the Bluebell Cliff out of business.
I do love a bit of mystery. I do love quirky characters.
I do love a page turner.
I am told that Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff has all of these elements.
I had the best fun writing it. I hope you have the best fun reading it too.
Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff is out now in audio, print and digital formats. Digital version is available HERE.