No, I won’t be giving plot spoilers for my upcoming novel, Ten Things My Husband Hated, which will be on sale November 12th.
Instead, here’s a peek at three themes which play a supporting role in the story, with a behind-the-scenes writing nugget for each.
Two of them might be unfamiliar to non-British readers:
The Shipping Forecast
At its most basic level, The Shipping Forecast is a BBC Radio 4 broadcast telling maritime traffic about the weather around the British Isles. But actually, it’s a “national treasure” of soothing tradition, and a much-loved bedtime ritual for thousands of people who have no intention of setting sail, yet love to listen to the announcer’s gentle tones as 31 sea areas are covered. Over 150 years old, the forecast follows a strict format, and there was quite a rumpus in 2002 when Finisterre’s name was changed to FitzRoy. To find out more about The Shipping Forecast, a BBC collection of fan resources can be found here.
Behind the scenes: meditation app Calm has a special version of The Shipping Forecast, designed to help you fall asleep. I’ve used it on several occasions, and was inspired to give main character Maggie similar help with her insomnia.
Apparently, the word lido might only be used in British English. Wikipedia tells me it conveys a public outdoor swimming pool and its surrounding area or facilities. Typically built in the earlier part of the twentieth century, many lidos fell into disrepair, but in recent years have enjoyed a revival. The BBC offers this charming overview of Brits making the most of unreliable summer weather and mentions a new book, The Lido Guide.
Behind the scenes: In the novel, Maggie loves to swim. The outdoor pool she visits at Jesus Green in Cambridge is real, and open to visitors in the warmer months. The ice cream shop featured in the following scene, sadly, is fictional.
I realise we all know what a treehouse is! But a leafy hideaway – so often an escape or private refuge for a young person – plays a big part in this story. In writing this book, I learned lots about treehouse design and construction, although I admit I played fast and loose with some of likely regulations in force these days. I spent several happy hours gaining writerly inspiration from this website, so I’m linking to it here in case you’d enjoy a similar distraction. After all, a treehouse could make an ideal reading retreat for adults, too!
Behind the scenes: I had to juggle the timeline of the novel at least twice, so that the final scene could occur before the British autumn weather made treehouse play impractical. I encountered a few other timeline headaches too, which I hope you don’t spot!
Ten Things My Husband Hated follows happily(?) divorced Maggie Moone, as she embarks on an outlandish list of projects aimed at convincing the gossipy village of Saffron Sweeting that she really has moved on from her failed marriage. It’s available for pre-order now.
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