When I moved here from London just over twenty years ago, it was with great reluctance. My partner had gone ‘up north’ for a job and I thought perhaps it wouldn’t last…she wouldn’t like it and would come back to the city.
My first few visits were fairly disastrous. She had rented a flat over a fish and chip shop in what seemed to me a dreary little place with smoke-blackened brick terraces next to a fetid canal. On one occasion, in an effort to show me the delights of the place, we took a picnic up into the hills and sat in a field on a blanket. The tranquility of the scene was disturbed by a herd of cows and a bull that didn’t think we should be there. Our panicked response was to leap (well make an ungainly exit) into the next field and wait until the group moved on. Which they eventually did.
Now, I wonder what took me so long to decide to move (nine months – a precise period of gestation) – the aborted picnic incident aside. The place draws you in. The landscape is dramatic, none of your soft southern county downs, this is wild moorland, Wuthering Heights territory. The history is bleak and fierce.
After a while I realised that what I was feeling was a sense of coming home. My grandparents lived in a town not far from here. It’s where my parents went to school and where they met. They emigrated to Canada and now I’m back where they started, back to my roots. And it does feel like home.
Starting Over, my debut novel, has its roots firmly in the landscape. That was the starting point for the story, the remote farm situated on a hilltop close to the brooding moorland. Who lived there and why? The idea that there may have been a Roman settlement on that hilltop wasn’t too farfetched. Evidence of Roman occupation is widespread across the British Isles.
It’s a time and a place that calls to me. And, I hope, through my stories, it will resonate with readers too.
My debut novel, Starting Over, is set in West Yorkshire with the story taking place on farmland overlooking the moors above Huddersfield with forays into the nearby market town of Hebden Bridge – described by some as the UK’s ‘lesbian capital of the north’. The book was published in October 2014 and is available from Affinity eBook Press, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The sequel, Arc Over Time, is due out in May 2015.