Good morning, everyone. Isn't it a glorious day today?
The last time I hosted a coffee morning for the Novel Racers I was on holiday in Ibiza. Guess what? I'm on holiday again, in Challaborough Bay in Devon, visiting my brother, Steve, who works here and has a very nice little flat above the surf shop. Steve is waving from his rooftop terrace and says hi to everyone.
There's no mobile phone signal for miles - BLISS! There's just a lonely little wif-fi connection in the waterfront bar, which is where I'm sitting now. If you want coffee and biscuits you'll have to fetch them from Steve's flat because the bar isn't open yet.
When we arrived here last Sunday I sat outside the waterfront bar, sipping a welcome cold drink after a seat-gripping ride from Northamptonshire in an Audi TT - 253 miles in just under three and a half hours. (I don't think I need to do the maths - but it was fast!) Nature went a bit crazy with its canvass in this little valley - there's too much green, blue and beige-yellow. It shouts a bit loud too - it gave its gulls hearty lungs and ear-piercing screeches; its cows low, rumbling moos and its sheep incessant whining bleats. It also daubed its canvass with a bit of eccentricity as an afterthought - Burgh Island. The huge expanse of sand that separates the island from the mainland is tidal. There is a white-walled timewarp hotel on the island and a pub. Loads of people get caught out, apparently, and unfortunately have to spend six hours in the pub until the tide goes out again. What - with no mobile phone signal and cut off by the tide I can only imagine how annoyed they must be!
Anyway, I've wittered on enough about the scene before me, but it does provide a brilliant setting for the new novel that is swirling around in my head. Burgh Island has just acquired new owners, too .... mmmm - interesting!
This is very clearly a scenario where a novel forms and dovetails quite nicely around a real place. But what do you do when you have a story, you have your characters and nowhere for them to act out their little dramas, bodice-ripping squidgy scenes and toe-curling scandals. Do you drive around until you find the right place (like Sue Moorcroft recently told me she did with Honeybun Cottage in 'Starting Over') or do you invent a place, too. If you invent a place, do you draw a little map of it?