An Indomitable Bill

Towards Little Spitmarsh
My fellow Choc Lit author and friend, the delightful Liz Harris, has invited me to join in a series of blog postings which began with Australian readers and writers of rural romance and has grown to include lovers of the great outdoors everywhere. Liz introduced us to handsome rancher Will Hyde, the hero of her novella, A Western Heart and a man more than one young lady would like to saddle up with. Liz's passion, not just for her hero but also for the American West, is evident in this novella and in her lovely novel A Bargain Struck. Both are set in 1880s Wyoming so it's not surprising to find that Liz has stayed in a working ranch in Wyoming herself, although, as she states, rather more recently.

Liz's evocative covers 
You can find out more about Liz and her varied and interesting books here where you’ll quickly notice that there’s no shortage of material for her novels. Most recently, Liz’s travels took her to Australia and having seen some of her beautiful photos in and around Sydney I’m hoping there’ll be a novel from Liz featuring this stunning location. 

If you can’t wait for some armchair travel and would like a little ‘me time’ this Christmas, Choc lit have put together a trio of mini treats in a collection which features, Liz’s A Western Heart, Angela Britnell’s What Happens in Nashville and my novella, Only True in Fairy Tales here.

Only True in Fairy Tales is set in a little village on the edge of the Downs which is very like the place where I grew up. That sense of living in an ‘in-between’ place beyond a small suburban town and close to somewhere that felt like proper wild space has stayed with me and influenced my writing. All my novels are set in locations off the beaten track because I’m so drawn to those places. Little Spitmarsh, the faded fictional seaside town that is the setting for my novels Turning the Tide and Follow A Star, is an amalgam of some of the down-at-heel resorts and sleepy harbours I fell in love with sailing round the British coast. Penmorfa, my fictional Welsh village, is influenced by where I live now, on the very edge of Cardigan Bay.

My sort of inspiration!

Today though, I'm going to talk about Bill (we Choc lit authors seem to love a good William!) the hero of Follow A Star. When May, my heroine, meets Bill it's not long before they're both at sea, not just with their emotions but also in a little boat offshore...

1. What is the name of your character?
Bill Blythe, a builder with fierce red hair who looks as if he could single-handedly wrestle bullocks to the ground. Bill's a proper bloke; strong, dependable, someone to rely on, the kind of man who'd take the stars right out of the sky for you... but first you've got to get past that rough, tough exterior!

2. Is Bill fictional or a historic person?
I suppose I have to admit that he's fictional but he's real to me. I really enjoy meeting the heroes of all my novels, but I do have a particularly soft spot for Bill!

3. When and where is the story set?
The story is set in the present day. May Starling, the heroine, has had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a ‘crew-wanted’ ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with Bill who isn’t quite what she was expecting ... 

4. What should we know about Bill?
Bill's got so much on his plate he's nearly tearing his red hair out: he's got too much work, a very sick uncle and he needs helps to get a little wooden boat from the south coast round to little Spitmarsh fast. He's intensely loyal to his friends, fiercely protective of his uncle and will do anything for his loved ones.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Ah, that would be May, the woman who's not exactly coming clean about why she's running away to sea. Initially it’s May’s peachy bottom that’s so annoyingly distracting, then it’s the boiling pot of emotions aboard a small boat, but it’s when they reach dry land that Bill’s problems really begin.

6. What is the personal goal of the character?
All Bill wants is to bring his beloved uncle’s wooden boat home so that the old man has a reason to carry on living.

I’m now passing the baton to another friend and Choc Lit author, the very amusing and hugely talented Jane Lovering whose latest book How I Wonder What You Are is out – drum roll – on 1 December! Jane lives out in the wilds of Yorkshire and if you haven’t discovered her blog yet, you’ve got another treat in store. Over to you, Jane!


Liz Harris said…
I very much enjoyed reading your post, Chris.

When I saw the photos of 'Little Spitmarsh', I immediately wanted to visit as it looks just the sort of place I love. Imagine my disappointment when I learned it was fictional!

However, getting to know Bill swiftly made up for the disappointment. Strong, dependable, rough exterior - what's not to lust after (delete that) what's not to love?

There's clearly something about a William. :-)
Clare Chase said…
Little Spitmarsh resonates with me too, Chris, and your photos make me feel nostalgic. My grandmother lived on the Suffolk coast when I was growing up, and I love the wild bleakness of that area. I found Matthew in Turning the Tide a compelling character, and definitely want to get to know Bill next!
Berni Stevens said…
I'm a sucker for a William too, Chris :) I loved both Move Over Darling and Follow a Star - especially the heroes. Can't wait to read Only True in Fairytales.

Fabulous post - and great pictures.

mountainear said…
I've just finished Follow a Star - really enjoyed it too. It was good to catch up with Harry and Matthew from turning the Tide - I wonder if you can be persuaded to write a third Little Spitmarsh book so we can see what happens next to May and Bill.
Jane Lovering said…
Wow, your Bill is going to be a tough act to follow! And I do love a good red-headed man...
Unknown said…
I'm looking forward to getting to know Bill very soon - my oldest son is a redhead so I have a weakness for them too!
Angela Britnell
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you for inviting me to take part. Liz, it was fun to write. And thank you!

Ah, how kind of you, Clare, thank you - it's the bleak beauty of those places which appeals to me too.

Hehe, Berni! No, I hadn't forgotten (how could I?) your darkly delicious Will!

Thank you so much, Mountainear, for buying the book as well as saying such nice things about. I loved seeing what Harry and Matthew had got up to since I left them. It's alwasy a wrench to leave Little Spitmarsh and I do hope to return.

Chris Stovell said…
I'm looking forwards to meeting your hero, Jane... he's guaranteed to be different!

Thank you, Angela - good to hear you liked red heads so much, you made one!
Irish Eyes said…
Much to enjoy over Christmas I think; William [Bill] is a family name here, so needless to remark I am partial to the name.

Waving across the Irish Sea from a frosty garden, brrr!

Love this blog, going back in for a re-read. Hope to put up a blog soon myself on our forthcoming history exhibition.
Bill/William is a very favored name, but what can you do? If the name fits, it fits.

Thanks for sharing about Liz Harris's books and about Bill. He is swoony!
Chris Stovell said…
Sorry to be late replying - I've been laid low by a cold!

Sue - thank you, I'm really glad you liked Bill!

I.E. I'll be over to visit your blog next, forgive me for being so slow and thank you for your kind comments as always.

Chanpreet - you're right! As soon as Bill appeared, I knew he couldn't be called anything else. And thank you! ;)

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