Setting my stories along the northwestern coast of England has been a tremendous learning experience. I am a landlubber whose knowledge of open water is limited to my neighborhood’s Lake Michigan (see previous post Lost in the Surf). It is one of America’s Great Lakes but tiny compared to the oceans. So, I am constantly reading to expand my knowledge of the sea and how it impacts characters who are bound to the British Isles. Visit my other posts, Out to Sea, What Lurks Beneath, or Buoy, Oh Buoy for examples of some watery research.
My erstwhile travel partner/back-road navigator who joined me abroad led me down another path that ended with a sublime discovery: the Met Office Shipping Forecast. The UK’s continuous sea weather forecast has been offered as a public service since 1867. Countless generations have relied upon this vital radio broadcast to safely navigate across the water. Nowadays, even landlocked listeners tune in to the melodic nightly readings to lull them to sleep while tucked in their cozy beds. The areas touched upon by the Shipping Forecast have delicious names like Dogger, Bailey, Forties, and German Bight—mystical-sounding locales you might come across in a dreamland.
Returning from Scotland, I decided to investigate buoys—you know, those little beach ball things. I spotted an endless array of them on prior trips to Wales and England while traveling along the rugged coastline and recently in Scotland as I drove past mountain-shrouded lochs. Not being nautical in the least, I found myself fascinated by those mysterious, round orbs, so I plunged into the Internet (face it: all fiction writers are closet researchers) where I learned…
I’ve just wrapped up the third novel in this series! The first draft has undergone edits and several rewrites as I wove in a personal journey taken by our sleuth, Remy Lane, with the help of her ardent admirer, William Tremaine. Feeling a bit worn as a writer, I'd love to return to Hadrian’s Wall, the Highlands, and the Isle of Skye for a bit of fun and inspiration. Unfortunately, the pandemic is keeping us all at home, so I'll drool over snapshots taken there two years ago. Ideas for the next novel are already percolating in my brain. Time to take a long walk and think it through. Keep visiting to find out what lies ahead in Barrington Bay!
There had once been hundreds of holy wells dotting the countryside where pagans sought cures and blessings. Most sites were sainted by the early Church then destroyed by less tolerate Christians. Eventually, the holy wells were simply lost to neglect, forgotten by the shifting generations. She tended this sacred spot in exchange for a bit of coin. The well was near Hadrian’s Wall, drawing in a parade of curious travelers who followed her handmade signs to the site. Older residents seeking grace would tie a wishful cloutie to the tree outside the structure and wander home. Tourists, though, would drop coins into the shallow well to beg their favors, because tourists believed that everything has a price tag.
-- Excerpt from The Sheltering Stones
Remy closed her eyes to recall the scene of the crime. “The cave’s entryway is narrow with little light seeping inside. Pitch black everywhere. A few steps in, there’s a partial tree with jutting branches tangled in a heap of seaweed. It probably prevented the body from sweeping out of the cave each time the tide rolled in and out. There's debris all along the floor. My sight line was limited, but I didn’t see any tools, weapons, or even a life jacket.” She glanced at the Inspector in despair and whispered, “Something had been eating her eyes.”
-- Excerpt from The Tide Turns
This was an island nation cross-hatched by rivers, canals, lakes, and estuaries. Lives were often endangered or lost by those who underestimated the sea. The Inspector glanced toward shore to see if the coroner’s van had arrived. He wasn’t surprised to find residents hovering beside the parked police van where men pulled out a stretcher to transport the victim. The Royal Nationals rescued people every day. By now, everyone should be used to the sight of their lifeboats coming to shore. Yet no one could adjust to the fearful doubt that filled their hearts and minds whenever a lifeboat appeared. They wondered if it was a spouse, a child, or a neighbor, not knowing if they survived or if they were far away beyond the caress of the endless surf.
-- Excerpt from The Tide Turns
This blog is where I post my inspirations for each book in the Barrington Bay series as well as behind-the-scenes tips, pics, and other tidbits. Feel free to click 'Read More' for in-depth posts.