With the air clearing and restrictions lifting, it has been time to make hay while the sun shines. After the dull summer days, the skies above the county of Hertfordshire have turned, sporadically, to blue and gold. Whenever the weather was apt for photoshoots of charming English villages redolent of Amanda Cadabra’s beloved Sunken Madley, with camera batteries charged and memory cards with plenty of space, I ventured forth.
It has been quite a journey and one that I shall share with you. However, this week I wanted to tell you of my most recent outing to a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a medieval church. It sits upon a hilltop of what was, long ago, the ancient county of Saxon Middlesex, once home to the Amanda’s village before it was subsumed by Hertfordshire.
This was founded well over a thousand years ago, before that most famous date in English history: 1066 marking the Norman Conquest. On the plus side, the Normans brought with them some novel notions on cooking, castles and cathedrals. They were also into building churches. Lots and lots of churches. Many of our existing ecclesiastical buildings owe their founding to this medieval period. Including … wait for it … the fictional St Ursula-without-Barnet of Sunken Madley fame (based on St Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley), and, my latest discovery, St John the Baptist, parish church of Pinner.
It was quite by accident that I found that St John’s was about to celebrate the 700th year since its founding that very weekend. It was to be marked with a resplendent Flower Festival, the like of which had never been seen by that historic structure. Next time I will tell you more of the strange and wonderful chain of events that led me there.
The church and it’s long history reminded me so much of our dear (even if imaginary) St Ursula of Sunken Madley that it was even that I simply had to attend.
I was moved by the warmth of the welcome from the busy flower arrangers there, and amazed by the sheer beauty and creativity of the designs expressing thanks for nature, the arts and other aspects of life. Some of the ladies were from St John, others from neighbouring parishes; flower clubs and a local florist were taking part. They kindly allowed me to take photographs both during preparations and on the day. These images, Chartreuse has compiled into a video to commemorate this extraordinary and dazzling. Here it is for your delight:
Meanwhile, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth have been elected to be this month’s Giveaway by the Feathered Quill website. This is the home of the Feathered Quill Book Awards (Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr had been submitted for the Adult Fiction Award for Mystery. I’ll hear more next year.) So if you know of someone who enjoys a free cozy mystery, then here is the link for a spin of the wheel for just the addition of your email address. (This is deleted at the end of the offer.)
Earlier this month, I received news from journalist Katherine Russell that she had included an interview with me in an article about the experience of women in the publishing industry. I have to say that as an indie author, it has been a happy ride for me. However, Katherine certainly had some interesting questions, and, if you’d like to read the article, you can also hear from the four other authors who responded so thoughtfully.
Book 7’s Progress
This is all very well, I hear you say, but what about the next sequel in the Amanda Cadabra series? I have not been idle on that front, I promise you, and can supply supporting photographic evidence for your inspection, as you shall see.
Book 7 is probably the most intricate plot to date and came to me in odd excerpts, in no particular chronological order, and usually in the hours normally associated with rest. This meant a succession of scribbled notes, dialogue and narrative passages in my journal that had to be typed up. Until I found that reading my notes written bleary-eyed was more of a challenge than actually getting up and beavering away at the computer. After all seemed ready, each and every Word document had to be compiled into a single file. That file had to be printed out. All to the tune of … 50,000 words on almost 250 pages of A4 paper.
The Magic Semi-Circle
Next came the task of applying myself with marker pen, scissors and paperclips, to arrange the pages, passages, and conversations. I set them out on the floor in a semi-circle around me, into something approaching the order in which they appear in the book. This is a process that takes many hours. And this is what it looks like:
I have now completed the next stage but news of that next time. More to come: photos and a strange and wonderful journey on the trail of Amanda’s favourite fruit and more Sunken Madley inspiration. Until then, dear readers,
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print