It might be the chillier-than-normal May, but I've found my thoughts of late drifting towards the warm, late August sun in the Roussillon. The salty tang of slurping oysters with a chilled glass of Petit Gris; stiffly lifting a beer to my lips after a long day in the winery; hot and spicy merguez cooked over a BBQ of old vines, slathered with homemade aioli and washed down with Mas Cristine Rose. All these things appear idealised - sort of like a movie trailer. I'm deliberately ignoring the other bits - the early mornings and back-breaking work side of things.
I think it all kicked off a few weeks ago, at a book festival in Hexham. Chatting about and reading from Salt & Old Vines made me long instantly for the foothills of the Pyrenees and the topaz Mediterranean. Bright, vivid colours to cut through the autumnal grey of the book I'm writing at the moment. I'd not picked up the wine book in some time, instead getting lost in the rewrites of the new project, and had forgotten quite how much I dwell on a sense of place in it.
But dwell I do. I'm a dweller. A place I care about impacts me and I linger on the details and memories like an oyster creating pearls, working them over and over again in my mind until they are perfect, and bizarrely reflective. It's that sort of dwelling that drives a great deal of the new book as well, the novel. It's set in a place I know as well as I know anywhere, and every street corner, pub booth, and cobbled wynd brings back 15 or so years of memories. Memories I have to shut out, because the new book isn't my story. It's someone else's. And sometimes it's hard to remember that.
The new book is called In Cathedral's Shadow, and you can help make it happen here.
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