I live in Westbury, Wiltshire but when I started writing these stories I lived in France, located near Orange/Bollène/Avignon (complete with the unfinished famous bridge). Provence is wonderful, full of sunshine, good food and wine. Breathtaking ancient sites, lavender fields, olive groves, vineyards and restaurants abound. Driving along suddenly a fabulous Roman amphitheatre pops up or an unexpected fort from the 11th century – amazing!
My memories: that part of the south of France was very dry. Even after a storm the ground dried out quickly so a watering system was always needed in my garden. On the perimeter there were five wonderful oak trees, full of birds and small animals and a fence created by planting laurier rose (oleander), honeysuckle and forsythia. Two olive trees were growing vigorously as they are indigenous to the region. English roses grew happily in large tubs. The only downside was the mistral – a cold strong wind that blows in from the north and lasts three to four days – but on the upside, a mistral was welcome in high summer!
Working on a computer for hours is still way out of my comfort zone, so my creative writing is done longhand and then transferred onto the computer. I think my hand and brain work very well in tandem whereas the lit screen is not a creative tool for me. In France, mornings were allocated for work but I always allowed two hours in the sunshine (but never sunbathing under fierce sun), as a reward. The only problem lying on a sun lounger on the terrace was in autumn when the squirrels targeted me with acorns. I tried to chuck the acorns back at them but I could hear them laughing at my aim as they leaped around the branches!
French people love their dogs and friendships are often founded on a chance meeting. This love of dogs extends to restaurants and cafes where dogs are welcome. They behave beautifully, sit under the table and are always given a bowl of water and often some scraps of food.
In May 2022 I shall be relocating to Ireland where I shall be building a log cabin on my daughter’s land. The lovely rural setting will soothe my ageing soul but the fabulous Irish joie de vivre will stimulate me to write more fantasy stories for children. I look forward to reading again in primary schools and doing literary workshops with the children. This was such fun work in England – I just hope the young ones can understand my strange foreign English accent – but more importantly, that I can understand them!