I started by asking where the idea for Tremanyon came from. Carol explained that when she was a child the family moved to whichever airbase her father was posted to and by the time she was 15 she had attended eight schools. Having moved from place to place for most of her early life it was only in 1961, when the family settled in Cornwall, that she felt she had come home. It was then she began to formulate the stories based there.
“The stories are pure fiction, as are the characters, however, I am honest enough to admit that Tremanyon and the estate in which it is set are based on the house that was once my home, Trewince Manor on the Roseland Peninsular. The names of the villages have been changed and the coastline altered to fit my stories but anyone who knows the area will be able to picture it in their minds.”
“The Roseland is a wonderful setting and Trewince is a beautiful house, so it’s no surprise it should feature in my books; I stood on the stairs for photos on the day I was married and our first two sons were born there. When Trewince was sold in 1987 we retained the cottage and quay, situated at the junction of Froe Creek and the Percuil River and we visit as often as possible.”
Explaining what prompted her to write, Carol says “I don’t think it was anything particular. It was more a case of ‘the time was right’. One day I found myself with a pad in one hand and a pen in the other and the stories began to flow. I had written poetry, and later fairy stories for my grandchildren, but hadn’t had anything published.”
“Now I write anywhere and anytime. I can’t write to order or set myself specific hours, nor do I have a dedicated space of my own. I don’t write everyday, but when I’m not writing I’m working on the next chapter in my head, however most of the ideas come to me when we are at Trewince Quay Cottage.”
Given the amount of research needed to write a historical novel, I asked Carol how long each one took to write. “In the early 1990s I started writing the first book in the Tremanyon saga but I soon realised that I didn’t know enough about the 1700’s, however I wanted to begin writing so, in 2000, I started the last book in the series, ‘A long summer’s day’ , set in the period 1960-1995, whilst finding out more about events during the18th century. It is amazing what can turn up during the course of researching and can even directly change the story line. I now start out with an idea and let it develop as it goes along.”
“During that time I looked for a publisher, but it’s very difficult for a first time writer, luckily, a chance meeting put me in touch with Polares Press and ‘A shadow falls’ was published in December 2010.”
Meanwhile, ‘A long summer’s day’ lies in the cupboard, waiting for the remaining books to be written. “It’s a funny way to start a series of books, but I’m in good company, for I know of at least one author who wrote that way. For example, Wilbur Smith started his Courtney series beginning in the middle, going forward to present day and finally taking the Courtney family further back through time.”
Carol tells me she has just completed the follow up to ‘A Shadow Falls’, with a working title ‘Jamie/Time brings many changes’, continuing the story of the Tremayne family through the period of the French Revolution and the height of the mining of Cornish tin and copper. She is currently at work on the third book, set in the 1800’s.
Today she divides her life between the family farm in Essex and their home in Cornwall. Like me, Carol has been a great reader since childhood and she describes her books as “my friends…there is nothing like the feel of a book in your hands. I would hate to think of a time when you couldn’t visit a book store to browse through the books by authors you love and new authors whose books you may be tempted to buy”.
Apart from writing, she loves her gardens and enjoys patchwork and quilting, particularly looking forward to visits to Roseland Quilters when she is at the cottage. Having the good fortune to have a wonderful family; a husband, three sons and a daughter as well as nine grandchildren, she has always supported Action Aid* and sponsored a number of children who have not had the life and advantages of her own children. She also supports Cancer Care and Alzheimer’s charities, commenting that “it is having such a great impact on my own and other families, including the author Terry Pratchett who is dealing with it in a remarkable way and speaking openly about how he is handling it.”
Finally Carol makes me promise to mention everyone in Gerrans, Portscatho and the surrounding area who welcomed her family 50 years ago. She says “I hope that they will forgive me for using the Roseland as my inspiration and for altering the coastline to fit my story. My thanks to them and to all those who worked with us at Trewince Manor. I bless the day I drove into the gates of Trewince for the first time on that sunny day in January 1961. It was just like spring and I remember my first sight of the house now as if it were just yesterday. It was the day I fell in love with a house…”
Watch out for Carol’s website which will be up and running soon. This book is reviewed in our reviews pages this month.