The six girls in our debut novelEight of Cups came from far and wide. Their birthplaces shaped them, their University days in Edinburgh matured them, and their eventual homes both nurtured and challenged them.
But how to describe a place? And how to reflect how it might have been at the time of the action in the novel?
Our fictional characters become so much a part of us, and are so clear and vivid in our minds, that when Mirren passed through Tregaron on her way to Aberaeron recently, she found herself looking for the old Vicarage where Carys from Eight of Cups was brought up. Of course she didn’t find the house itself but the Memorial Hall, the local church dedicated to St Caron and 13th century Talbot Hotel which is supposed to have an elephant buried in its grounds were all there. She enjoyed Welsh cakes and mature Welsh cheddar in the low-ceilinged bar of the hotel.
The wonderful Gower Peninsula in South Wales: big skies, wide empty expanses of beach, deserted moorland, sleepy villages down winding roads to the coast, and an old cottage with low ceilings and small windows. The setting for Mirren Jones’ November writing retreat. Car loaded with laptop, printer, Kindle, files, flip chart paper, woolly jumpers, walking boots, boxes of assorted vegetables and other provisions, and of course, Jones’ nail polish. All this for only four days?!
And now as we get ready to go back to our respective homes, we can reflect on bracing walks, circuitous routes courtesy of chief navigator Jones, a very palatable Pino Grigio (only one empty wine bottle – that’s all Mirren is owning up to), several memory lapses regarding house and car keys by said Mirren, but above all – PROGRESS! The remainder of ‘Never Do Harm‘ is scoped out, priorities are established, timescales are agreed. But first some of Jones’ legendary cooking. Do you know the story of The Magic Porridge Pot? At the start it produced chicken curry, which by tonight has become cauliflower, squash and apple soup with Bulgarian dumplings!