A big welcome to fellow Urbane author, Amanda James, today and very happy to be the last stop on her blog tour for her latest novel, Summer in Tintagel. This is Amanda’s fifth novel but her first with Urbane…
I thought I’d have a chat to you about my novel that’s just out, Summer in Tintagel, and also about one of the main threads weaving the story together. I have always wanted to visit Tintagel and so went with my husband one cold but sunny winter’s day, not too long after we moved to Cornwall. It is known for being a place of magic and mystery; so of course, the writer in me immediately woke up and started taking mental notes.
As we climbed the very steep and precarious hundred or so steps up the cliff edge to the ruined castle, surrounded by the myths and legend of King Arthur and his sidekick Merlin, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow arched across the ocean. The title for my book came to me then, as did the bare bones of the story, though it was a bit sketchy to say the least. I was working on another book at the time, so put Summer in Tintagel on the back burner for a while.
We went back to Tintagel in June and visited the ancient church on the headland and then everything fell into place, the beginning, the middle and the end. I don’t believe in any organised religion, but I am a spiritual person. I do think there is something beyond the flesh blood and bone of a person – something ‘otherworldly’ that not all of us can tap into perhaps?
Or is it because we don’t have time to contemplate those ideas, as we’re so caught up in our busy day-to- day lives? Now, I’m not saying I have the gift of tapping into otherworldly things … but I once met a woman who did. A few years ago I went with my daughter to see a psychic. It wasn’t the first time I’d done this over the years, but this experience topped them all and certainly gave me something to think about. We sat across a table from each other, in the very ordinary sitting room of a very ordinary house, while the psychic, Maureen shuffled a Tarot pack and then I chose a selection of cards. She turned the cards and said random things that could really apply to anybody, then she started telling me the names of members of my family.
By this stage I was trying not to let my mouth gape open, just nodded here and there, not really trusting my voice. Maureen also told me that I had some lovely vegetables growing in my garden and commented on which ones. She said, ‘Ooh, you’ve some lovely tomatoes and cucumbers there.’ I managed to nod. Then she said, ‘You like to feel the earth under your bare feet while tending them too, don’t you?’ I often did walk around the garden without shoes, still do. As you can imagine, I was gobsmacked to say the least. I asked her how she knew – she said, ‘Well I can see you there in the garden.’ She said it as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world. That really freaked me out I can tell you!
Because of this experience, I was able to create a character in Summer in Tintagel called Morganna, who happens to be a white witch. Maureen wasn’t of course, nor was she remotely anything like her in appearance or personality, but they are very similar in their abilities. I really enjoyed incorporating a little of what I experienced into the scenes between Morganna and my main character, Rosa.
So, I wonder what you think about all that? If I were you I might find it all hard to swallow, but it happened to me, first hand, so I did swallow it and have wondered how on earth she had the ability to do it ever since. I asked Maureen if she’d always been able to do it and she said yes, from being little. She seemed reluctant to be drawn further though. I would be interested to hear your comments or any similar experiences you might have had!
Many thanks for coming, Amanda. I too find spiritualism fascinating and there is a whole storyline related to it running through my first novel, As If I Were A River.