Tag Archives: Channel Islands

Islands of Inspiration (6) Guernsey and Jersey

This is my penultimate post on my series of islands of inspiration this year; a quick hop from one to the other to explain what these beautiful islands mean to me and my writing.

In order to travel on from Alderney to France it isn’t impossible to take a ferry direct, which would make sense since it is the nearest Channel Island to the Normandy, but it is certainly not easy. The only alternative is to fly. On the day we were leaving Alderney there were no ferries direct from Guernsey to St Malo, our chosen destination, either, and the ones from Guernsey to Alderney had been cancelled due to rough weather.

Thus, we hopped over to Guernsey (about 15 minutes) and had several hours on the island before hopping over to Jersey. What could we do? We knew there were buses to the Fermaine Bay Hotel where we knew we could get a light lunch on their patio overlooking the sea to Herm and Sark through a canopy of trees. We had lunched there several years ago, but I also stayed there on a family when I was a child. At the time we still had relations alive on the island with whom my parents were still in touch. I was very young, five or six maybe, but the island made a lasting impression on me; the birth place of my Great Grandfather. I made a memorable trip on my own years later whilst carrying out research. Here’s a link the the blog post. What I had not remembered, however, was the very steep hill to the hotel, fine walking down, but one hell of a trek back up with all our luggage!

How the island helped me in Mind, Body and Spirit

As we sat eating lunch memories flooded back of my parents, holidays on Guernsey, family; a sense of shared history. My roots! It is on the Channel Islands, especially on Alderney and Guernsey, that I understand fully the concept of a family tree. Of feeling rooted to your past. I wanted to move a small Erica which had found itself hidden by other dominant plants in my garden yesterday. The roots were deep; seeking water from the blue spoot which flows under our garden I believe, but there was one root I had to sever and it was long and tougher than the rest. My links with Alderney and Guernsey are like that. I have a long root forever searching for my past; unseen but real; deep within me. It may be severed but it’s still there.

How I was inspired by the islands of Guernsey and Jersey

Later that day we travelled on, the 15 minutes flight to Jersey. Yet again it was frustrating that we could not take a ferry at that time. A storm was brewing. The sky was black. Lightning flashed across the sky. I gripped the arms of my seat as the little plane rose, fell and jerked akin to the Space Mountain ride at Disney! The thoughts flitted by, ‘Was this the end of my life’s journey?’ ‘I still have so much to accomplish.’

Thankfully we landed safely.

Greeted with the Queen’s Jubilee Flags at Jersey Airport

We spent a day and a night on Jersey around St Helier. (I apologize to Heidi and also to other writing friends who might be reading this and live on Jersey, that I did not contact you, but it was only one day)

St Helier Indoor Market

Jersey was my inspiration for MURDER, Now and Then; a Jersey lass in the QMAAC (Queen Mary Army Auxiliary Corps) who was murdered in Haynes Bedfordshire in 1919. I had a wonderful holiday on this beautiful island researching for the book back in 2012, as well as many visits as a child.

Guernsey is almost as important in the story of Harriet, in Riduna, as Alderney is to me. It was where Harriet was shipped when she became too much for her grandparents to handle at 15 years old, exiled from her island home. It was also where Harriet (and my Great Grandmother Harriet) met and married her husband.

Yes, these islands have played a huge part in my writing life and I am thankful!

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Filed under Alderney, Author Diana Jackson, Channel Islands, Family History

Islands of Inspiration (5) Alderney ~ for me the Ultimate Island

Looking out over Braye Beach

Alderney was the island which gave me the original inspiration to write my debut novel Riduna, first published by Pegasus in 2009, then Eventispress in 2012 when its sequel Ancasta was published. How time flies!

I have not been back for eight years due to moving to Fife and increased family commitments. It seemed an awful long way from here. How would we get there? How would a small island community have survived Covid? Would it be in decline or could it have ridden the storms?

What I did know was that I had a burning desire to return; a feeling you should never ignore.

Alderney is an island I have always held dear to my heart; the location of many happy memories of holidays as a teenager; the origins of the Jackson branch of my family and the place of my Great Grandmother Harriet’s birth.

How the island helped me in Mind, Body and Spirit

I am always excited to return. The two plane journeys, first from Edinburgh to Southampton and then on to Alderney seemed a bit daunting at first post Covid, but we took it in our stride and I was filled with an overwhelming joy; a sense of Deja vu of journeys gone by. I was smiling as we were called through at Southampton airport.

Each moment was precious; the first sight of Alderney from the plane; coming into land and into the little airport building, which hadn’t changed a bit, then the taxi drive to our hotel. Oh so very familiar and beautiful.

On our first day we ambled about, first visiting the town St Anne, which appeared to be thriving, relative to some English and Scottish small towns. Then it was down to the harbour and the breakwater and on to Braye Beach. The weather was warm and there was a tiny breeze, which was perfect. The following day we walked to the beautiful bays of Saye and Arch and then got a light lunch in The Old Barn at Longy.

Spiritually I felt so in tune with Alderney and know it is my spiritual home. I always feel a closeness with my Great grandmother there, but I was also aware this time of being extra-specially close to my Mum and Dad.

The sunshine, warmth, exercise and fresh air filled us with life, and my mind cleared of some of the fog of the past couple of years. I could feel a healing power and a setting free. Marvelous!

How I was inspired by the island of Alderney

Alderney, as I said at the beginning, was my initial inspiration to write, as was the story of my Great Grandmother. Walking where she walked and seeing houses and streets much as she would have seen them, with the cobbles and Georgian buildings as well as the tiny stone cottages down at Newtown, I became aware of her footsteps beside me and a whisper of encouragement in my ear.

Alderney Mid 19th Century

This was added to by a visit to Alderney Museum where Guilia, who is in charge of research, spent a couple of hours with me, talking through my projects. She was interested in what I knew of my family history and attempted to untangle fact from imagination, as my talk of my novels wove in and out of Harriet’s true story. (In a nutshell she lost here parents and was sent to Guernsey) Armed with several books to bring home I was tasked with sending her our family tree as we know it, with documental proof wherever possible.

I felt quite light headed as we headed back down to our hotel.

I was not so sad when we took off the next day because I knew I would return soon.

I’ve been inspired to delve into my parent’s family history files, untouched since they passed away.

I’m also inspired to work on Dad’s novella, a prequel to Riduna, in the knowledge that there are experts at hand who will take my work seriously and read the manuscript with a critical eye on its authenticity.

I had reached out and I feel that folks are reaching back over the sea to meet me half way.

It is a wonderful feeling!

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Filed under Alderney, Author Diana Jackson, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration, Reading a novel, Research, Riduna

Anne Allen ~ 2nd Summer Special of Successful Indie Authors

I’m especially pleased to have this interview with Anne Allen; a successful Indie Author of ‘The Guernsey Novels’. Being a lover of The Channel Islands I have read several of Anne’s books.

I hope this will appeal to writers, fans and potential readers alike…

Welcome on my blog Anne! 

Thank you, Diana, I appreciate you inviting me!

Firstly do you mind me asking was the success in your writing career gradual or sudden?

Definitely gradual! I enjoyed reasonable sales of my first book, Dangerous Waters, which was fortunate as I had ordered a 1000 copy print run. Ever the optimist! It took over a year to sell them all, mainly through Amazon and the lovely Guernsey bookshops and I also had decent sales with the e-books. The sales had declined by the time my second book came out a year later and from then on each new book gave the series a boost. The last few years it has been harder to keep the sales figures up as competition grows. An indie author has to  spend as much time marketing as they do writing, something I’m not keen on. I went ‘wide’ in 2018 meaning my books are available worldwide in all e-book formats as well as in paperback.

Are you single minded in your writing? Do you treat it as your main work and plan your day accordingly or write when the mood takes you?

I retired from my work as a psychotherapist a few years ago so writing is now my only work. In theory I could spend all day writing, but I am not always in the mood and tend to pace myself – a benefit of being an Indie author. And there is always marketing/promotion/social media which eats into the day. My last few books have involved a great deal of research, which I love, and I can happily spend a day or two reading textbooks or surfing online.

Would you describe your main genre is Women’s Mystery? How would you describe your writing style to potential readers?

I’ve never been able to quite pinpoint my genre as it’s changed slightly over the series. Romantic cosy mystery probably covered the first four titles, but the latter ones are more family drama/historical/touch of romance. I think it’s a shame books and authors have to fit into categories, don’t you? I just want to write the story! As regards style, my writing has been compared by readers to Maeve Binchy and Nora Roberts. I am happy with either!

I agree with you so much on this one Anne. I always find it extremely hard to categorize mine in one genre too.

Can you give any writers any marketing tips?

The world of marketing is constantly changing which makes it hard to be specific. Personally, I have always loved and relied on bloggers (bless you!) to help with book launches and general posts about my writing. You need to keep your name out there, and eventually the penny drops and people actually check out your books. It is also helps to give radio interviews and write articles for glossy magazines, either national or local. And at the end of the day, price promotions play a huge part in e-book sales and spreading the word about your books.

Don’t forget you were a speaker at the Guernsey Society weren’t you? I am a member and so I saw your name advertised in their booklet!

Have you one annoying habit you can share with us?

As an ex-therapist, I tend to analyse people and their ‘problems’ and give ‘advice’ when it’s not necessarily wanted!

What pastimes keep your feet on the ground, or maybe not, when you are not writing?

I used to love travel, but with the current situation with the pandemic am not sure if I will consider it even if and when it seems safe. I also love museums, the theatre and cinema which are on hold at the moment. Fortunately I can still read books and watch good drama on television. In the past I have sculpted, painted furniture and dabbled with mosaics, but now all my creativity goes into my writing.

Was there a single moment in your writing life when you thought ‘YES, THIS IS IT’? Can you describe that moment for us?

Two years ago I received, out of the blue, an email from a well-known publisher, asking if I’d like to meet up to discuss books. She complimented me on my Guernsey books, indicating she had read at least one of them. Immediately, I thought, ‘Yes, this is it!’ I naturally replied saying yes and although she did write again nothing was ever arranged. I later heard she had commissioned another writer who wrote in a similar genre. So near, yet so far! I continue to be an Indie author and enjoy my modest success ☺

And finally, do you see yourself writing in five years time and have you ever been tempted to write in a different genre to surprise your readers?

I can’t guarantee I’ll be writing in five years’ time, but at the moment I’d like to think I could be, brain cells permitting. Looking back, I wish I had picked up my pen years before I did. Recently I have been thinking about writing in a new genre, though not sure which. My current series will probably end with the book I’m writing now, and I’ll be free to experiment. Will see what happens!

I’ve enjoyed three books in your series and I love the covers Anne. I have yet to read your latest and seventh ‘Inheritance’ but look forward to reviewing it shortly.

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog.

 

 

 

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