GUEST BLOGGER - CHRISTINE STOVELL
I'm delighted to introduce Christine Stovell, whose debut novel, TURNING THE TIDE, has just been published by ChocLit.
Since both Chris and I earned chocolate for our first writing endeavours, we have a lot in common! The book is a delight, but here is Chris to tell you about it - and give you a chance to win a copy for yourself...
I suppose the story of ‘Turning the Tide’ began when I met a keen sailor and thought how romantic the thought of sleeping under starry skies in a quiet anchorage sounded. We married and bought our vintage wooden boat that same month... and then I discovered how dreadfully prone to seasickness I was! Nevertheless, we did manage to sail half way round Britain, from the east coast of England to the west coast of Wales. The sleepy backwaters, picturesque harbours and fascinating characters we met along the way all worked their way into my imagination and into my writing, but one day I suddenly ‘saw’ an image of a troubled young woman sitting by the water’s edge and knew I had to tell her story...
Harry (Harriet) Watling has spent five years trying to keep her father’s boatyard afloat. Now all she wants to do is enjoy the peace and quiet of her sleepy backwater. Property developer, Matthew Corrigan, has other ideas; he wants to turn the boat yard into an upmarket housing complex for his exotic new restaurant. And the odds seem to be stacked in Matthew’s favour. He’s got the colourful locals on board, his hard-to-please girlfriend is warming to the idea and he has the means to force Harry’s hand. Meanwhile, Harry has to fight not just his plans but also her feelings for the man himself. When a family secret from the past creates heartbreak for Harry, and neither of them is prepared for what happens next...
Here’s what happens when Harry meets Matthew for the first time.
‘On a fresh May morning, Harry Watling headed out for her favourite spot a contented woman. She liked to come to this secluded coil in the creek because nobody else did.
Only today someone else was sitting in her place. Harry pulled up and considered the dark brown hair curled into the pale nape of his neck, the black tee shirt stretched across broad shoulders and the long, athletic back which was turned against the world.
‘I don’t mind you staring at me, sweetheart, but your mother might have something to say about your manners,’ he said, without even looking round.
Harry sucked in her breath and waited for the temperature round her face to cool before proceeding.
‘Well, are you going to join me or not?’
No way, thought Harry, arranging herself further along the bank and staring firmly ahead to discourage conversation. Whilst her land didn’t strictly stretch to this side of Campion’s Creek, he had another think coming if he thought that acting as if he owned the place would make her back off.
Mercilessly carved away by the wind and waves, the soft shore had slowly retreated to leave Little Spitmarsh isolated from its neighbours, divided by miles of salt marsh and hemmed in by the sea. There was a sense of loneliness about the landscape which made it an acquired taste for many people, but which Harry loved. In winter the raw north wind could cut you to the bone, but in summer the sky over the marshes shimmered with heat and was alive with wild cries and flickering wings.
‘Perfect,’ said the stranger.
Harry gave him a swift sideways glance. Maybe she’d been a bit quick to resent his presence, after all. ‘It’s a world apart here,’ she volunteered, surprising herself. ‘You wouldn’t even know there was a town nearby, it’s so peaceful,’ she said, nodding her head at another inlet where the single spire and assorted rooftops of the town centre could just be seen against the dim sky. ‘Mind you, it’s not for people who come here looking to escape – then moan there isn’t an M&S. They’re usually gone within a year.’
‘Sounds as if you know a bit about the place.’
‘I ought to. I was born over at the boat yard. My mother was supposed to have been booked in for a hospital delivery.’
‘But you had other ideas?’
‘Not just me! Mum and Dad had always wanted a home birth, so they deliberately left it too late. They must have been mad,’ she joked.
‘Or so crazy about each other they couldn’t bear to be apart. Are they still the same?’ he asked. ‘No, don’t tell me. They live in a solid middle-class villa now, and take nice holidays abroad, right?’
Harry clasped her knees and looked at her feet. ‘Not quite...’
‘Turning the Tide’ is available to purchase at all WH Smith airport and station stores. Plus most online bookstores including Amazon and The Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. You can also order at Waterstone’s and most major independent bookstores. The Ebook is coming soon in multi-formats from Smashwords and in pdf and prc here.
Now it’s competition time! As you’ve heard, I suffer badly from seasickness, so for your chance to win a copy of ‘Turning the Tide’, I’d love to hear your suggestion for a cure! Send your answers to me using the comment box on the contact page on my website and I’ll pick the suggestion that appeals to me the most!