Like most authors, I often get asked if I base my characters or events on real life things, and, like most authors, I always say no! However, now that my latest novel, ‘Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace’, has been published, I thought it would be nice to talk about the elements of reality in my fiction. I bet I’m not alone in using real life things to inspire made up stories. So, here are ten things that feature in my five novels (to date) and their real life inspirations.
- The Strawberry Line footpath, Sandford to Winscombe. This one’s a real no-brainer, and I even call it by name in my first three novels! This picturesque ex-railway line is where a lot of my characters do their walking in the Little Somerby novels.
- An old blue suitcase in ‘A Place to Call Home’. My heroine Holly gets given a blue suitcase from her parents with the contents of her university bedroom inside, from fifteen years ago. That suitcase is currently sitting under my bed, and, yes, it does contain a photograph of someone I’d completely forgotten about but had cause to remember when they appeared back in the public eye! My lips are sealed as to who it actually is, though…
- Jonathan Carter’s ‘drinking tree’ on Wavering Down in ‘Springtime at the Cider Kitchen’. This hawthorn tree does exist, just off the footpath across the top of the plain.
- Matthew and Meredith Carter’s university choice. Well, it could only be the University of York, since I had such a wonderful and formative time there! York creeps in a few times in my books, just because it had such a huge influence on my life.
- Carter’s Cider Most people know this, but I grew up next to the behemoth that is Thatchers Cider in Somerset, so when it came to creating a convincing setting for my own cider farm, I ‘borrowed’ their geography and technology. They don’t seem to mind, though!
- The Great Western Air Ambulance and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance charities. My forthcoming novel was inspired when I saw the DSAA helicopter landing and taking off from the fields near where I live. I was privileged to be able to interview some of the people, including the pilots, who work for both of charities, and that research helped me to create a fully rounded character, Sam, for the novel. He works for the fictional Somerset Air Ambulance, which is created from all of the information I was lucky enough to learn from these amazing people and organisations.
- The mouse up the trouser leg incident in ‘A Place to Call Home’. This was based on my poor sister in law’s experience at my parents’ house, many years ago, when one of their cats caught a mouse and it ran straight up her jeans! She handled it a whole lot better than Charlie does, in the novel!
- Anna’s Tea Shop in ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ is based on a tea room in the village where I live, that even has a fabulous window for Jonathan Carter to look out and watch the world go by!
- The song that Charlie and Holly dance to in her living room is ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’ by Toni Braxton.
- I hadn’t realised that the names I gave Holly’s parents are, in fact the names of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts’ characters, Vivian and Edward, in Pretty Woman. This was pointed out to me by my mother after the book was published, and is a spooky parallel with the actual Pretty Woman reference in the book, which is Holly’s dress from the charity shop!
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