As I’m psyching myself up to write the blurb for the back cover on my latest book – something which is the shortest but for me probably one of the worst parts of the writing process – I thought I would take a trip back down memory lane to where it all began.
When Tomorrow Comes was my very first novel. Published in 2010 it was the start of what became known as The Behind Blue Eyes trilogy set in West Somerset in the fictional village of Meridan Cross. My childhood had been spent growing up in rural England therefore it seemed to be a good focal point to build a story around and also to follow the advice ‘write about what you know’. I was amazed at how the memories came back so clearly and enabled me to weave the characters into this beautiful rural backdrop. I based the location on where I currently live, where the village sits on the slope of a hill under a large sprawling wood. Road, rail and river run through the valley towards Bath, although in the fictional version they run out towards the Somerset Levels.
The book follows the lives of four very different girls – Ella, Jenny, Issy and Rachel, all friends growing up in the late 1960s. It’s all about falling in and out of love, fashion and, of course, the music.
Most of my writing has a musical influence and that particular decade was awash with great songs to use for inspiration while writing. There are some good compilations available on DVD which accompanied me on my writing journey. Central to the story was a club, The Mill and I got the feel for creating that whole environment and its atmosphere through the music. However one of the most important tracks during my writing journey was from The Who’s 1971 Who’s Next album. Behind Blue Eyes although written from a male perspective seemed to be the definitive song for Melissa Carpenter, a woman pivotal to the story and it became the inspiration for the name of the trilogy. Mel is the mother of the book’s central character Ella. An attractive, fashionable woman with striking blue eyes her arrival brings a touch of glamour to the provincial West Country town of Abbotsbridge.
As a young widow Mel mysteriously disappeared leaving Ella and her brother Nick, to be raised by both sets of grandparents. Now eleven years later she is back with a new husband in tow. Her unexpected arrival has nothing to do reconciliation it is more about safeguarding her inheritance now her father, wealthy farmer Richard Evas, is about to remarry. No shrinking violet, Mel immediately sets about interfering in everyone’s lives. She takes over Ella’s life with disastrous consequences, disapproves of Nick’s choice of fiancée and stirs up the other women members of the Rotary Inner Wheel. And as if this isn’t bad enough, it automatically sets Faye Benedict on a mission to make sure her son Matt stays as far apart as possible from Ella.
She is the woman everyone loves to hate. A totally self-absorbed individual, even the man she plans to leave her husband for is a means to an end in her bid for social advancement within the town. While others see her as a vain spiteful woman – someone most people cross the street to avoid – she considers herself much smarter than all the other females around her. In her eyes she is one of life’s winners; someone who is bold enough to take what she wants. Fortunately she doesn’t always get her own way and as we reach the end of book 3 The Ghost of You and Me there are a few unpleasant surprises in store for her.
I followed the trilogy with two sequels: Between Today and Yesterday and The Other Side of Morning. Both these novels had Cruella Devilles wreaking havoc with their own brand of unpleasantness. I guess this controversial character has become a ‘must have’ for all my novels and specifically she has to be female. In The Other Side of Morning I attempted to write a male equivalent but it simply did not work. For me the female of the species is definitely deadlier than the male!
My current WIP although a completely new story has yet another scheming female there to cause chaos and stir up trouble. However since my trilogy days my bad girls do things in a much more subtle way than Mel Carpenter ever did.
SYNOPSIS FOR WHEN TOMORROW COMES
1967: When eighteen-year-old Ella Kendrick moves to the Somerset town of Abbotsbridge to live with her mother Melissa and stepfather Liam she is looking forward to getting to know someone who has been absent from her life for eleven years. Ella is intrigued by this glamorous, fashionable woman and hopes she holds the key to many unanswered questions about her childhood. However, living in the Carpenter household does not turn out to be the idyllic experience Mel has promised her daughter. Scheming and manipulative she has specific plans for Ella. Plans which do not include boyfriend Niall O’Farrell left behind in the village where she grew up with her grandparents, or the university place she hopes for.
After Ella loses Niall to her best friend and her career aspirations have been trimmed to a college course, ambitious Mel puts her main plan into action – finding her daughter a wealthy boyfriend. In doing this, she is looking for a marriage which will give her the right connections and help her own social advancement in the town.
But Mel’s plan stalls when on a cold January evening, local nightclub owner’s son Matt Benedict unexpectedly walks into Ella’s life.
Ella knows she will have to fight to stay with Matt, branded as most unsuitable by her mother; but it is not just Mel she is up against. Matt’s mother Faye has her own reasons for parting them, as does Andy Macayne, the rich, self-indulgent young man Mel hopes her daughter will eventually marry.
WHEN TOMORROW COMES is the first book in the Behind Blue Eyes Trilogy. Ella and Matt’s journey is about to begin………
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