Books, buses, long-lost diaries …. all can inspire a writer!

This is the final part of my interview by Trisha (Writer at Play) about writing and being a writer …

 

http://www.writeratplay.com/2017/07/21/i

nterview-with-janet-macleod-trotter-conclusion/

 

Discovering the house in Simla where my grandparents and mother had lived in 1928 and inspired the novel:    THE GIRL FROM THE TEA GARDEN

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The Falklands War of 1982

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands war, which is being commemorated at the National Memorial Arboretum with the lighting of a single flame. This will burn for the length of the conflict – 74 days:

Several of the hundred ships that sailed for the South Atlantic less than a week after the invasion were built on the Tyne – HMS Bristol, HMS Glasgow, HMS Exeter, HMS Glamorgan, HMS Argonaut, HMS Penelope, HMS Cordella, RFA Omleda, RFA Stromness, SS Atlantic Conveyor and SS Atlantic Causeway.

It was through discussion with my husband’s family who lived in Wallsend, and a meeting with John Mew who served on HMS Coventry that I came to write For Love and Glory.

Over the next ten weeks, I (along with the rest of the British media!), will be covering the events in the Falklands from thirty years ago. Later THIS month, a new edition of For Love and Glory will be published – initially for Kindle, but the paperback version will be ready soon after.

Tea On Tyneside

The Newcastle firm Ringtons Tea was part of the inspiration for The Tea Planter’s Daughter. My husband, Graeme, worked for them during school holidays when he was a sixteen year-old school boy in Wallsend, and I was always intrigued about this family business whose delivery vans are such a feature of the North East – seen in this film from the time of my teenage years:

Rington’s was established in 1907, so I’m sure you can see the close links with my character Clarissa Belhaven – the story of The Tea Planter’s Daughter starts in India in 1905. Prior to the problems with her father’s plantation, I imagined her life being fairly similar to my mother’s and uncles’, who were brought up in India in the 1920s and 30s when my grandfather was a forester in the North of the country:

My uncles photographed with the gardener in India

Mum and her brothers in Lahore

Clarissa returned to Tyneside shortly after (at about the time Ringtons were making their first delivery) with dreams of opening her own tea room to be a safe haven for the locals amidst the grinding poverty of the time.

In Edwardian England everyone shopped in the high street, but many firms ran a home delivery service – something that’s still the cornerstone of Ringtons. When they started out it was horse-drawn vans:

Ringtons is still based on Algernon Road in Byker:

It was through a conversation with the man who in the 1940s drove the last of Ringtons horse-drawn vans in Blyth that I decided to write about the tea trade in the North East of England. As I got further into the research, I visited Ringtons and spoke to the current generation of the company’s founding family, the Smiths, who were very helpful in my research, telling me about the early history of the firm.

You can read more on the history of Ringtons on their site – do make sure you take the time to look at the images at the bottom of the page!