It's my birthday today - a sort of a milestone one - which means it's also just three more weeks until A TASTE OF HOME is published and combined together, the two things have put me in a rather reflective mood.
I know that turning 49 might not mean much to some, but I feel it's important to celebrate the last year of my 40's. It has certainly been one heck of a decade. The highs have been monumental, the lows have been crushing and there's been a lot of in-between stuff too, but today, I'm thinking more about what's happened in my life over the last 49 years to turn me into the writer I am today.
Who and what has been responsible for shaping my writing?
A sense of place...
Until I started to take my writing ambitions seriously and settled down to properly write with intent, I had no idea how formative my early years had been. However, as you may already be aware, a sense of place is a key theme in all of my books. I love my settings every bit as much as my characters and that, I think, was something destined to become embedded from an early age.
The first setting I created was beloved Wynbridge. I made no conscious decision, when I started building that little market town in the Fens, to begin imagining the town nearest to where I grew up and yet that was exactly where my mind set off to. The memory of that place became the building blocks for an integral part of my writing journey and, in turn, my future publishing success.
And my imagination didn't stop there, because as well as places, people have played a major part in shaping me as a writer too.
The influence of my much-loved Nanna and Grandad are sprinkled throughout the pages of each and every book I've written. It might be a brief mention of the joy of the old-fashioned button tin or more detailed descriptions of the trials and tribulations of strawberry picking, but they are always there in some form or another.
As is the family farming tradition, the joy of gardening and precious memories stored up from trips to the seaside. Mum, Dad, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, they're all to be found in Wynbridge, Nightingale Square and more recently, Wynmouth.
My love of fiction has also played its part. There are certain books I read every year, on a sort of seasonal loop -
Spring - The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Summer - The Darling Buds of May, H E Bates
Autumn - Village School, Miss Read
Winter - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
These four familiar titles herald the arrival of each new season and I can identify elements from them all in my own writing.
My love of family and home, the strong connection to nature and seasonal cycles, the importance of community and kindness can be tracked in all of these books and are prevalent themes in my own writing too.
Here's hoping that the influence of my formative years, family and my love of books will help me create even more magic and enable me to bring to you many more books for decades to come!
With love to all the fabulous Swainettes out there!