This week I’m joined by Eleanor Harkstead as she talks about an ornament she loves. Eleanor writes alongside Catherine Curzon and their latest novel is The Colour of Mermaids published by Totally Bound. Over to Eleanor …
A seaside souvenir
I’m sure most people’s favourite ornaments are antiques handed down through the family, or a keepsake given by a loved one. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that my favourite ornament isn’t like that at all. It’s someone else’s souvenir that I bought in a charity shop, a plastic model of the Isle of Wight filled with coloured sand. The sand might come from Alum Bay, the dramatically streaked yellow, pink and brown cliffs near the Needles. Then again, it’s more likely someone has taken some ordinary sand and dyed it.The ornament must’ve found its way to a charity shop after a Brummie went on holiday to the Isle of Wight, or a friend did and thought that their life wouldn’t be complete without it. I lived on the Isle of Wight when I was a teenager and I felt a connection with it, this rather out of place souvenir. I used to see ornaments just like it in the tourist shops on Union Street in Ryde, along with sticks of rock and buckets and spades.
Living in a seaside resort all year round was rather strange. Big chunks of Ryde, the town that I lived in, were designed for inducing glee in tourists. In summer, a lot of town was too busy to visit myself (and you risked being run down by the Dotto Train that travelled up and down the prom as well), then in winter the weather was so awful, sometimes with massive waves breaking over the sea walls along with buckets of heavy rain, that I mainly stayed indoors. Out of holiday season, our school bus was an open-topped bus used in the summer for touring visitors around the island’s beauty spots. We’d deliberately sit on the top deck and get blustered about and rained on.
When Catherine and I decided to set our novel The Colour of Mermaids in Brighton, I drew on my memories of living in a seaside town as well as on my own visits to Brighton. Not that there are any schoolkids travelling on open-topped buses in the story, but when you live on the coast – in fact, when you live on an island that’s twenty-three miles long and thirteen miles wide – you become attuned to being so close to the sea. It’s always there, the waves drawing back and forth on the beaches like a pulse, and it’s partly why I love the novel’s cover because it emphasises the presence of the sea.
The humble souvenir of someone else’s holiday reminds me of where I’ve been in life. And it’s quite a fun thing, really, a memory of someone’s happy time that somehow ended up in a charity shop, and now lives on my shelf.
About Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon
Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.
They are the authors of numerous short stories and two novel series, the de Chastelaine Chronicles, and the Captivating Captains, published by Totally Bound and Pride. Their novel The Ghost Garden has been shortlisted for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.
Find out more at www.curzonharkstead.co.uk
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About The Colour of Mermaids
When artist Eva Catesby is invited to an exhibition in honour of art world enfant terrible Daniel Scott, she’s expected to follow the crowd and sing his praises. Instead she tells him what she really thinks and sparks fly. As they plunge headlong into a wild affair, Eva becomes the target of unwanted attention from an unseen enemy.
Daniel Scott is famous for his paintings. Filled with darkness and tormented imagery, his canvases are as mysterious as his background. Until he meets Eva, Daniel is a stranger to criticism and doesn’t know what it means to fall in love.
Can Eva help Daniel overcome his childhood demons or will a fatal secret from the past destroy their future?
Published 24 March 2020 by Totally Bound. Available in ebook and paperback.
To buy – Amazon: https://mybook.to/thecolourofmermaids
Thank you for joining me, Eleanor. I loved the story about the school bus and that, like me, you find great pleasure in things found by accident in charity shops. Good luck with your latest novel – I’m just off to sign up for your newsletter!