The Secret of Creek Cottage is a tale that follows the lives of two families, almost a century apart.
1916: While the Great War rages through Europe, in the small coastal village of Trunrowan, Cornwall, life for Loveday Nance could not be more different. With her husband Will away fighting, the reality of having a longed-for child of her own seems to be slipping away with each day that passes.
Present-day: Kitty and Ben Gridley decide to leave their busy lives in Bristol hoping for a quieter way of life in the pretty village of Trunrowan, Cornwall. Little do they realise the impact that moving into Creek Cottage will have on them. When Kitty begins to experience strange things happening at the cottage, she is certain there is a secret harboured within its stone walls.
Well, I guess I should start my first blog of 2021 with … Happy New Year, but I know those words are bitter sweet. There is so much going on in the world at the moment, personally and globally, and it’s hard enough getting through one day at a time let alone thinking about what 2021 might bring each of us! So, I am not going to write about C-19, Trump or anything else that conjures up negativity or frustration (although of course there is a glimmer of positivity associated with C-19 and the roll out of the two vaccines). I guess this is a blog of hope,survival and the expectation of better things to come … and for me that means a whole host of things, but it also means I have started to write book II. I’m not quite sure how that happened … especially amongst all that is whirling around at the moment, but it is happening and I’m grabbing the inspiration while I can and rolling with it. Let’s face it, as all writers know, when inspiration hits …
I’ve been tempted to write another book in the ‘Trunrowan’ series; people have asked me to, wanting to know what happened to Kitty & Ben and whether Loveday (the second) was born with psychic abilities. And, of course, what happened to Loveday (the first) and the loveable Mrs Cromp? Yes, there is certainly another book somewhere in the future for sure, but for now I have changed genre and am five chapters into a CRIME novel. YES! Something I have ALWAYS wanted to write and after studying Forensic Science & Anthropology over the last year at Durham, Strathclyde, Sheffield & Kings College London Universities, I feel fully armed and committed to do so. My medical background will also help but rest assured … it will still have the wonderful Cornish backdrop and relatable characters along with a mystical and pagan element. I am so excited to be creating new characters which I hope you will all love and inspires YOU to believe, that even in times of adversity, there is always creativity and hope. Hopefully, soon enough, I will be introducing you to DI Nancy Treen, her DS – Giles Reeves, and a whole load of other characters living on the North Cornwall Coast, but for now … stay safe. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I wanted to talk about a few things now we are almost four months post publication. One could be forgiven for thinking that all the hard work now stops, where actually, it’s only just begun. For an independent author the promotional work is as much or as little as you are prepared to put in and I’m not going to beat about the bush … it’s hard work. Getting bookshops interested in your book to start with is a huge task and the independent bookshops are not necessarily any easier. Do not think that because they are local and independent they are going to want to support local authors and stock your book. There are many reasons why, and I won’t go into them here (it would take far too long and be rather boring), but having positive reviews does help. Never underestimate the power of others words and the impact they can have. Generally, decent people don’t write bad reviews, but when you publish a book you are ‘putting yourself out there’ with your baby that you have nurtured and loved for many, many months. It’s brave and it’s tough.
Come on bookshops ~ support your indie authors.
Do I have any tips from my own personal experience? I am still working hard … building connections through social media and contacts. Think outside of the box. Approach libraries. Use the press and other literary outlets. It goes without saying that whatever avenue you decide to use as an independent/self published author (using a publisher or going it alone), your book has to be the very best it can possibly be. Traditional publishers of course don’t always get it right, how many of us have discovered typos or other mistakes in books from big publishing houses and well known authors ~ the difference here though is that they are forgiven. As an independent author, unfortunately, most of the time this will evoke a shake of the head and some ‘tutting’. But hopefully things are beginning to change. Self publishing gives you more control over your book and the finished product, producing a book that you can be really proud of. Don’t be under any illusions but do be brave and take that step … it’s hard work but it only makes the journey more rewarding.
My love of books and reading was no doubt aided by visits to my local library as a child for weekly story time sessions. I vividly recall the sweet smell of the polished wooden floor that somehow mingled with a musty smell at the same time. I now know that the victorian building was built in 1914 by Sir Frank Wills in the Edwardian Baroque style and its impact was great even on such a small child. My favourite author when I was young was Enid Blyton and I lost myself in the Famous Five books following the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne & George and of course not forgetting Timmy the dog. I believe books are for all and I am proud to say that The Secret of Creek Cottagewill soon be available in libraries throughout North Somerset and Cornwall.
I recently revisited the Men An Tol, but this time with a slightly different perspective. It is still otherworldly, with an atmosphere that quietly slips under your skin and at times takes your breath away with its energy. You can feel it under your feet, smell it in the sweet smelling gorse, see it in the weather beaten trees and the low growing heather. At this visit I was visualising it through the eyes of Loveday having now published my book, The Secret of Creek Cottage. What was spookily eerily was that the hedgerows were scattered with spider webs, just as Loveday had seen in Chapter XXVII – ‘The sun was low but bright, searching out all the cobwebs in the hedges that had been spun overnight, highlighting dewdrops which glistened as though left by the spiders to entice flies into their lairs. Nature was a wonderful thing’.
As I walked the same stony path that Gribble Gummo & Loveday had walked in Chapter XXV, stepping over the granite stone, cattle style stile (theres a mouthful!) and into the field where the standing stones waited, the mist was low and tangible, wetting everything that it touched. I could not have picked a more perfect day for atmosphere! If you are ever down in West Cornwall, I highly recommend a visit.
The stones are thought to be from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age era, making them approximately 3,500 years old. It is highly probable that they were at some point part of a stone circle. Grid reference SW 426349
As the sun began to slip behind Shepherd Delight clouds, 266ft above sea level, a small group gathered upon an Iron Age hillfort in North Somerset to share poetry, prose and the love of a good story. Organised by Michael Loader – 4 Communities, 3 Trees, 1 Hill Green Arts Wellbeing and funded by the Arts Council Emergency Fund, we listened to an eclectic mix of readings from Dylan Thomas to poems written by a participants eight year old (she’s now 24!). As well as sharing one of my own poems, I read an excerpt of chapter VII from my debut novel, The Secret of Creek Cottage, where I introduced one of the main characters from 1916, Loveday Nance, as well as the Cornish Droll Teller (Story Teller), Gribble Gummo. It was a magical evening and we were guided down the hillfort at dark by the almost full Harvest Moon.
As you will know if you have read the book, Loveday was partial to a good old cuppa of nettle tea. An acquired taste you may think, but coastal and country folk would make do with their surrounding flora in many ways, from medicinal cures to food and drink. The Cornish also make a delicious Yarg cheese that is coated with nettle leaves and is very yummy!
Nettles are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are high in Vitamins A & C, as well as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. They are earthy in taste and similar to spinach and best eaten when tender from early to mid-spring.
Make sure you wear thick gloves when picking and pinch the tips of the young leaves.
Lay on a tray to wilt or wash in hot water (once wilted they lose their sting).
They must always be cooked (never use them fresh in salads).
Crush leaves, add water then steep for 5-20 minutes depending on personal taste.
Add a squeeze of lemon or/and sugar if required.
A sprinkle of magic.
Drink no more than 4 cups per day.
Check with a Doctor or Herbalist if taking medication to ensure there are no interactions.
Side effects can and sometimes do happen. Always test a small amount first. Be sure to only pick what you need from nature and also that you are sure you know what you are picking.