Once upon a time…

Where do you start when thinking about writing a novel? Mine came to me relatively easily…it was handed to me on a plate really!

My novel is based on my maternal grandmother’s life, a daughter of the Raj. My grandmother was a prolific letter writer and hoarder. I am lucky enough to have access to a trunk full of letters, diaries, photograph albums, notebooks, the family cookbook, even her wedding present list. I was brought up with glimpses of her life in India. From stories of the colonial bungalow she was brought up in, to the lively restaurant with dancing and partys that she ran with her sister in the hill station of Nainital. The exciting voyages on troopships from Bombay to England and back again, amidst the second world war.

I feel it is a story that hasn’t been told before. It has a delicious mix of optimism, love, suspense, humour, tension, joy, sadness and prejudice.

My journey began with a lot of research, I mean a LOT of research. I spent a few months reading and trying to decipher hundreds of letters from Phyllis, my grandmother to her sweetheart, Arthur. And from both families in India and England. Some handwriting was easier to read than others.

As I read, I noted down anything of interest and dated the information to build up a clearer picture of who was where and when, and what sort of dialogue they were having.

Within these months I felt I got to know Phyllis, my protagonist, which helped me to carve out her character.DSCN6568

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