The moment when your editor sends you a visual for your next book’s cover has to be one of the most fun parts of a writer’s job. And here it is, the stunning artwork for my next novel The Keepsake.
1832. The morning after her father’s funeral, Prudence Merryfield wakes to the liberating thought that this is the first day of her new life. At thirty-five and unmarried, she is now mistress of her own fate. But a cruel revelation at the reading of her father’s will forces Prudence to realise that taking only the most drastic action will set her free.
Present day. Eliza is gifted a family heirloom by her aunt – a Georgian pocket book, belonging to her ancestor, Prudence Merryfield, whose existence reverberates through the lives of generations of Eliza’s family, the Ambroses. Intrigued by what she reads inside, Eliza is drawn more and more into the infamous ‘Merryfield Mystery’. What happened to Prudence who so bravely dared to defy convention two hundred years ago – then disappeared?
Ebook and Audio available 29 September 2022.Hardback and trade paperback available January 2023. Pre-order now using the link below.
The furred and feathered friends you make are the highlight of any road trip.
One of the best aspects of research has to be the road trip. In researching The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay I made several road trips. I dragged my partner around south west Victoria a couple of times (posts to follow) but exploring North Devon on a trip to the UK was most exciting for this Australian author.
The rugged coastline is wild and reminded me a great deal of the Victorian coast. The biggest difference between the two is that North Devon is so green and lush, whereas the south west coast of Victoria is sheer rock with windblown coastal scrub. The Devon coast is known for its smugglers and wreckers in centuries past, while this region of Victoria is known as the Shipwreck Coast. Both are highly dramatic and make for wonderful scenery.
She noticed the headlands jutting out into the Bristol Channel, like giant paws clawing a tenuous hold from the sea
The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay
Our road trip around North Devon included getting lost on Exmoor in a fog because I thought I knew better than the satellite navigation. I still say it deliberately led me astray! We had a few close calls on those narrow one-lane country roads too until we got the hang of the lay-bys.
We were charmed by Ilfracombe, Lynton and Lee Bay but it was Valley of the Rocks where we had our most surprising encounter. I’d read about the feral goats living in the area and was scanning the rock formations searching for them, quite excited to spot a few in the distance, when I turned around and discovered these fellas walking along the top of a stone wall. Of course I had to include them in the book.
When I decided to set the first chapter of The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay in a Victorian coastal town, Port Fairy came to mind immediately. It’s a popular holiday town but also one of the oldest European settlements in Victoria. On the banks of the Moyne River, adjacent to a small historic island that is home to a colony of shearwaters and with a great surf beach, Port Fairy has plenty of atmosphere. It’s also a fishing port and its streets are lined with early colonial architecture.
She listened to the water lapping at the pylons and fancied it beckoning softly to all those who would venture out into unknown seas.
The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay
The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay is a dual-time novel and my contemporary protagonist’s family hail from this region of Australia. I decided I needed to find her grandmother a suitable house in Port Fairy. The house where she discovers that first clue to the disappearance of her great-grandmother Rose.
There are numerous simple stone cottages in Port Fairy, mostly built in the first half of the nineteenth century. Many are built from the local basalt, a volcanic rock found throughout the area. South-west Victoria is pockmarked with 400 volcanoes, now long dormant, but they have left behind craters filled with lakes. More of that in another post.
For the moment, imagine my character Molly sifting through the contents of her dead grandmother’s home and wandering along the boardwalk by the river, haunted by the ghosts of her own past.