The Big Five-O live and kicking – and set in Broadstairs!

It’s here! My sixth novel, The Big Five O, is now live and kicking on kindle and in e book (the paperback’s in September) and I am suitably thrilled as always to see it finally “out there.”

I particularly love my cover – not just because the very-talented illustrator Robyn Neild has totally “got” all four of the characters and they are just as I imagined, but for the little glimpse of Bleak House (where Charles Dickens wrote part of David Copperfield, don’t you know?) through the window behind them.

It is always a joy to set a book in my hometown. Some novels take longer to write than others whatever you do, but I discovered some years ago that you can save a great deal of time if you set the action in a place you know.

In the early days I made up my locations – and soon found that you can spend an inordinate number of hours working out how long it might take a heroine to walk to the station or drive to London, and what direction the shops are in, while making sure this fits in with where the doctor’s surgery is, since you’ve already declared that’s opposite Tesco. Then you have to remember it all!

If your backdrop, on the other hand, is an area you know intimately, then geography (never a strong point!) and logistics become easy.

The Big Five O is the story of four women who are all about to be – surprisingly enough – fifty years old. They live in the seaside town of Broadstairs and I had great fun with real place names and some real people too!

The joint party the four are planning is to be held in the Pavilion, Broadstairs – where I have attended many a fine event – and the manager Dan, of course, gets a name check. Roz works at Turner Contemporary in Margate and goes for a drink in The 39 Steps – a bar I go to for the odd gin;  Fay runs her removal business from Pysons Road Industrial Estate and likes a drink in The White Swan in Reading Street, a pub which is my absolute favourite. Charlotte sells high-end properties on the North Foreland Estate, our local posh bit, and Sherie has beauty treatments in Bodilight where I get my nails done.

All four have something to be secretive about, but whether I was plotting the route for the car chase, picking a venue for the mysterious meet-up, or choosing a restaurant where the first spark of passion could ignite across the pasta (it had to be the fab Italian, Posillipo, on the seafront!), I simply had to visualise all that my lovely corner of Kent has to offer.

When it comes to characters however, things are a bit different. Do you base them on people you know? is a favourite question for writers, and my answer is quite often: Yes!

But aside from the walk-on parts for those playing themselves, I always mix up the details and blur the edges (I know my laws on libel, thank you) and use my friends and acquaintances as a source of inspiration rather than a blueprint. (While giving my enemies halitosis and a vinyl fetish.) 🙂

I expect readers who live in Thanet to hazard the odd guess as to who has triggered my imagination this time, but if past experience is anything to go by, then I’d wager that anyone who IS in it, won’t recognise themselves, while names thrown into the hat will be the last ones I had in mind.  That’s my story anyway M’lud, and I’ll be sticking to it…

Write Around The Isle and BroadstairsLit

Literary gatherings have been popping up left, right and centre – I go to quite a few of them myself – and there are now more LitFests in Britain than you can shake a stick at. But none, I feel confident in saying, are quite like our own homegrown BroadstairsLit – a collection of writing-inspired and book-themed events that will last not just for the weekend, Ladies and Gentlemen, nor even a full fortnight but – all through the year!

Conceived over a series of mineral waters, coffees and the odd gin (that was me!) the model has taken a bit of tweaking but we now have a line up of stalwart volunteers (step forward Denise Martin-Harker of Dickens Festival Fame – if you went along to this year’s extravaganza you’ll know this lady can organise with bells on! – and Lee and Jacqui Wellbrook, the powers behind all sorts of good local events and her right-hand men for the above). I am to be the resident interviewer (nothing I like better than the sound of my own voice and the weight of a mic in my hand)  and we kicked off with our first event back in June.

 

‘A cup of tea with The Archers’  was a sell-out. I am passionate about the long-running radio four soap but even I was surprised at the depth of devotion filling the Broadstairs Pavilion when scriptwriter Keri Davies joined the beautiful actress Annabelle Dowler who plays Kirsty Miller, and Trevor Harrison, the actor behind Eddie Grundy, to talk about life in Ambridge. One hundred and eighty happy beverage-drinkers listened enthralled  as Annabelle spilled the beans on whether Kirsty really goes in for a proper snog or simply kisses the back of her hand during love scenes, Keri explained the reason why so many of the characters speak with their mouths full and Trevor Harrison – delighting the audience with a burst of his Eddie voice – shared his joy at the Grundys finally getting back to Grange Farm.

As fans queued afterwards for photo opportunities, the delight was palpable.  One local, making a strange bobbing motion as she held out her pen for a Grundy autograph, seemed almost unsteady on her feet. She’d just stopped herself from dropping a curtsey!

The next event on our calendar is 24th September: a cream tea with Hallie Rubenhold – the power behind the ITV series Harlots – and Lucinda Hawksley, great great great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens himself. They will be talking about Harris’s List, the 18th/19th century underworld and those who influenced the great man. Hear Denise talking about them here.

Excitements for the future include Sir Tony Robinson of Baldrick fame on 10thMarch 2018, and top authors Katie Fforde and Peter James when we’ve all coordinated our diaries. Keep an eye on www.broadstairslit.co.uk and watch this space….

And follow BroadstairsLit on Twitter.

You can read this original article at https://theisleofthanetnews.com/write-around-the-isle-and-broadstairslit-with-jane-wenham-jones.

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