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Archive for the ‘The Girl with the Silver Clasp’ Category

It’s publication day for The Girl with the Silver Clasp, my second novel for Orion!

I’m so excited to finally be able to share the story of Jess, Rachel and Giselle, as they overcome their differences to save a faded mansion in Cornwall and its traditional harbour community, freeing themselves to follow their dreams.

I loved writing this story, which was inspired by the changes that took place in the 1920s as the world recovered from the trauma of the First World War with the hope of creating a better life after all the suffering.

Like The Ferryman’s Daughter, the story is set just outside St Ives, with its beautiful coastlines and luminous light that, especially after the First World War, attracted artists and crafts men and women in a unique atmosphere of creativity. Part of the story comes from my family background and my great-grandmother, who forged nails in a workshop in the backyard of the family home in Lye in the industrial Black Country.

Another comes from my love of art deco, with its clean lines and colours. Sadly, my own attempts at metalwork and enamelling were brief, and a long time ago, and I definitely don’t have anything near Jess’ eye and skill. But I loved researching for the story, just as I’ve always loved visiting St Ives.

It’s also about female friendship, and learning to overcoming differences to work towards a better future. When I was writing the story, I could never have guessed just how important friendship and supporting each other would become for all of us in the time of Covid. It’s given me a new insight into the world after the First World War, where Jess, Rachel and Giselle attempt to come to terms with the past and build a better future – as well as making me realise just how previous was the life we knew before the pandemic, and that I’ll never take for granted the ability to travel the short distance to the coast again!

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One of my favourite bits of research when writing The Girl with the Silver Clasp was Jess’ passion for silverwork and her unique flair for design, which helps her to face the many obstacles she has to overcome to follow her dreams. I had so much help from jewellery makers, but because of Covid it had to be mostly virtual, and my plan to brush up my very rusty metalwork and enamelling skills, and to take a day’s course with a local blacksmith, went out of the window.

Now we are gradually emerging out of lockdown, I can finally get to do those interviews in real life!

My first is with my dog-walking friend Hazel, biomedical scientist for the NHS diagnostic service by day, maker of exquisite earrings by night.

Hazel currently works from a large table in her living room, overlooking the Nant Ffrancon valley and the mountains of Snowdonia. I arrived to interview her to a delicious surprise – a proper afternoon tea delivered in a box, the most amazing treat in the time of covid, and set out in appropriately on 1920’s-style plates.

As we tucked into scones, Hazel told me that since the onset of the pandemic her living room has been gradually transforming itself into her workshop, under the supervision of her three rescue collies.

Working in a hospital has needed light relief over the past eighteen months and Hazel has found being absorbed in jewellery making the perfect therapy, as well as an outlet for her creativity.

Hazel told me that she began making jewellery over twenty years ago, after being trained at her local college. She set up a workshop in her cellar, starting her collection of tools. She loved working with silver and gold, making a selection of rings and earrings, and an identity bracelet for her son.

She thought she would have to give up her passion when the onset of osteoarthritis in her hands stopped her from working with metals, which requires strength and attention to fine detail. But she overcame this by turning to hunting down lampwork beads, unique handmade glass beads that are intricately crafted with beautiful patterns and colours.

Using natural materials to create patterns with silver clay
Working with silver clay

She also discovered silver clay, which doesn’t require the strength to manipulate as real silver, but gives beautiful effects. Hazel uses the natural world, pressing leaves and mosses she finds on her daily dog walks into the clay, leaving imprints to create the patterns, before polishing to stunning effect.

It was inspiring to see so much skill and creativity taking place in an ordinary living room and fitted around the demands of a busy life.

Hazel is hoping to set up an online shop before long, I’m glad to say. I may not have a weakness for diamonds, but I certainly do for such beautiful earrings…

Afternoon tea – laid carefully out of reach of four very interested dogs!

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