Authors reveal the images that inspired 100,000 words
About the author...
Born and raised in rural Wiltshire, Jo Lambert grew up with a love of books and a vivid imagination. As a child she enjoyed creating her own adventure stories similar to Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Writing always stayed with her, but college, work and eventually marriage found it was kept very much in the background. However in 2009 she finally had her first novel - When Tomorrow Comes - published. Three other connected books - Love Lies and Promises, The Ghost of You and Me and Between Today and Yesterday followed. They became collectively known as the Little Court Series. In 2013 she decided to give up full time work to concentrate fully on her writing. Since then she has added a final book The Other Side of Morning, to her Little Court Series. This was followed by two linked novels set in South Devon - Summer Moved On and Watercolours in the Rain - published in 2015 and 2016. Her new work in progress is set in North Cornwall and will be published at the end of 2017.
She describes her writing as drama driven romance.
Jo is married and lives in a village on the eastern edge of Bath with her husband, one small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT. She loves travel, red wine, rock music and has a passion for dark chocolate…
The one key element in every book I have written has been landscape. When I began writing, I followed the well-worn mantra ‘Write what you know about’. Growing up in a village and having now returned after a few years in the city, I was fairly fluent in all aspects of village life - the kind of people who live there, the culture and backdrop. And I consider backdrop is probably the most important of the three.
Don’t get me wrong, support characters and the day to day workings of rural life are essential for my novels but they also need a home - a sense of place - for the story to work properly.
Countryside is a single word but it has component parts. In my Little Court Series and South Devon Duo I set woods near the village. I have to confess to having a bit of a ‘thing’ about woods probably because a lot of them have rivers running through or near them. It’s both tranquil and shady; very atmospheric. So I gave both Meridan Cross (Hundred Acre Wood) and Lynbrook (Barnfield Woods) their own waterways. Water either flowed lazily by or rushed over rocks and there were wooden bridges and waterfalls too. My characters ride so the wood is a natural place for them to be, and a great background for scenes.
Then there are fields – lush greenery, filled with sheep and cows, expanses of golden grain or dark furrows of ploughed land. The villages themselves had the obligatory pub – a socialising hub for the community – a farm, a manor house and an assortment of old and new dwellings. Once all of this was in place, I was ready to begin to tell the story.
So how did these fictitious villages and their surroundings come about? Did I conjure them up out of my imagination? Of course not. To have any kind of authenticity my backdrops have to have their basis in somewhere that actually exists. In order to write, I have to be able to be there in my mind. For instance I based Meridan Cross on the view across the valley from my house. It’s a village nestling in a river valley, tucked into the side of a hill over which a large wood sprawls. My inspiration for Lynbrook came from a photo of another village, this time south of where I live. I had seen it on line when browsing and I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Surrounded by fields with woods to the west I kept it as my screen saver as I wrote. And the rivers? Well you only have to travel down to Lynmouth in Devon and follow the river up to Watersmeet to see some of the most outstanding waterside scenery.
My new project is set in north Cornwall and I’m almost there with my environment. This time there are no woods or rivers or fields. Instead there’s a rugged rocky coastline with coves and sandy beaches – another great excuse to let my imagination run wild!