Hi guys! It's been a while since the last post, but the ball's rolling soon, so let me begin with The Heart of Stone Blog Tour! Today's the final day of the tour, and I'm pleased to have Melanie Welsh with me, author of the Mistress of the Storm and its sequel, Heart of Stone! Both are magical books I'm sure younger teens will enjoy!
This month sees the publication of my second children’s novel, Heart of Stone, the follow-up to Mistress of the Storm. Both books are adventure-mysteries, and both feature a young girl called Verity Gallant and her friends.
For each book my editors, Bella and Hannah, were always very keen to emphasise that one of the most important things to aim for as a writer is creating a strong ‘sense of place’. In other words they wanted a world that was accurately described, so the reader found it believable and felt satisfied they could see it in their own mind.
My solution to this – in part – was to set both Mistress of the Storm and Heart of Stone in a fictional version of Ventnor, a remote town on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Although I actually grew up in Cowes, which is on the north coast of the Island, I always had a fascination with Ventnor. It’s such a quaint town with a lot of privately owned shops but it’s also very striking: with steep tree-covered cliffs that tower over the houses. It felt like the perfect setting for an old-fashioned adventure story.
Using the south coast of the Island for Verity and Henry to sail around also meant that I stood a better chance of making my descriptions of their racing more accurate. I’m not a strong sailor at all, it’s just something I love, so knowing how the tides work and what the coast is like made me feel more confident that everything would hang together realistically.
I think if you get down to the nitty-gritty of why I chose the Isle of Wight in particular, then it’s probably also because, when I first started, I’d recently moved from London to Suffolk with my husband and was feeling very homesick. Writing the Verity stories gave me an excuse to at least be on the Island in my head.
Perhaps as a consequence Wellow is a very vivid place in my imagination, and it’s lovely when people tell me they feel like they can see the town and the coast themselves. I think possibly the ingredient that made this possible was that – to me – there’s something quite magical about the southern Island. I took a trip back there earlier this year to make notes on the places I was writing about and it was incredibly inspiring. There are so many hidden spaces, mysterious buildings and atmospheric places – all the story elements I used to love when I was a child. I’ve tried to fit as many of them as I could into these two books. And I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
This is the last of Melanie’s blog tour posts to promote the hardback publication of Heart of Stone. If you’d like to know more about her first two books or ask her a question about writing go to www.veritygallant.co.uk