Caroline, thank you for being guest author today.
|Photo courtesy of the author|
On Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me… and what inspired her to write this book…
I grew up in
and attended a very strict girl’s grammar school. I hated it and felt a large part of my education went astray as I refused to conform. Writing was always a secret, something I did furtively; I never dared show anyone my words and spent a large part of my life filling journals and filing away work that would never surface. Probably just as well, it wasn’t very good! Cheshire
In the 1980’s I moved to
Cumbria and fell in love with the Lake District. The beauty of the wild open fells and stunning lakes and mountains has inspired so many writers and artists but it took a couple of decades for me to finally pen my first novel. I revisit as often as I can and there is a lovely little town that has always had a special place in my heart. Appleby-In-Westmorland lies on the banks of the River Eden and is best known for the annual gypsy horse fair. Hated by the locals for the disruption it brings, the world famous fair is protected by a charter granted by James II in 1685 and is the largest of its kind, attracting a huge gypsy gathering each year. The field overlooking Appleby is known as Gallows Hill, due to its usage in earlier times and thousands of travellers set up camp here. During the fair, horses are everywhere – in the river, on its banks and along the roadsides – you can even see them tethered outside shops and pubs. Young people don their finest clothing and show off and half naked men race their horses along Flashing Lane throughout the day. I loved the fair and the characters and the scenes I witnessed inspired me to write Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me…
Set in a late 1980’s when shoulder pads, frilly necklines and Princess Di bows reigned supreme, heroine Jo finds herself alone with her baby son in rural Westmarland, after her cad of a husband disappears into the Spanish sunset with their young nanny. Having successfully sold their pub and with money in the bank a heartbroken Jo is feeling a fat, frumpy failure and on the spur of the moment buys Kirkton House, a run-down guest house. With the help of a cast of colourful local characters she soon converts the lovely old building into a country house hotel and opens her new business two weeks before the annual gypsy horse fair. A week before the fair, the mysterious John Doherty walks into her life and completely steals her heart. Assisted by Hattie, a local woman who becomes a friend, Jo’s business succeeds and a new Jo emerges, attracting the attention of just about every man who comes within her radar. From Robert Mann - the estate agent and Pete Parks, the local garage owner to Hugh Mulberry who has more than a weekend’s grouse shooting on his mind. Jo dodges them all. Her heart yearns for the evasive John who appears when she least expects him much to the disgust of Hattie, who’s convinced he’s a no good gypsy.
It’s Fair Week, and with a full hotel Hattie falls for Bertie, a widower from
and Jo is concerned by John’s growing friendship with Jinny Atkinson, wife of an affluent local businessman. Jo’s errant husband turns up out of the blue and finds a much changed woman. He determines to win her back and begins a campaign. But Black Monday is looming, the stock market crashes and tourism dries up. With difficult days ahead, Jo has to reinvent her business to survive. Ireland
I am returning to the fair this year to do an interview. A production company is making a documentary on Romany travellers and customs and I’m looking forward to going back but wonder if it will still feel the same? Many people ask me if the love interest in the book – gypsy John, was based on a real person to which I always reply “It’s a story, pure fiction!” And it is… isn’t it?
Thank you so much for having me as a guest author xx
Coffee, Tea the Gypsy & Me… is available on Amazon Kindle and will be published in paperback by Ramjam Publishing in July 2012. Caroline’s second novel ‘The Agent’ will be published later this year. Please visit www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk