What was the inspiration behind An Endless Cornish Summer?
Most of my books come about from three elements coming together: the central idea, the characters and a location. The idea for a woman – Rose – who was looking for her bone marrow donor was actually suggested by my doctor daughter who used to work at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The setting came to me on a visit to the Helford Estuary in October 2018. The tranquil creeks, lush scenery and waterside community made an indelible impression on me and I started to imagine who might live in the cottages along the banks. After that, the characters just flew into my mind. I returned in 2020 to visit a local boatyard and went out on a yacht around the estuary for research. Sometimes I think I have the best job in the world.
You have set a number of books in Cornwall; do you have a favourite part that you like to visit?
I love every part of Cornwall but if I had to choose a favourite, I’d say the far west near Land’s End. It’s so wild and unspoiled, with some stunning remote coves for wild swimming and beautiful views over the ocean. You can find a quiet spot even on the busiest summer’s day.
What encouraged you to first start writing fiction books?
I honestly never meant to write a book. I began in the most unexpected way after watching the TV series North and South in 2004. I suddenly had the urge to write a fanfic about the characters and joined an online creative writing group where we shared our stories for fun. Just over a year later, I’d written my first novel, Decent Exposure, which was published by Headline in 2006 and made into a Lifetime movie called 12 Men of Christmas.
Do you have a set routine for writing? What do you do if the ideas stop flowing?
I generally start writing quite early – before seven am some days – and carry on until lunch. Then I try to get out of the house for exercise or to see friends, before working again before dinner. If I come to a thorny point in a novel, I try to move on to a different part or brainstorm with my agent or my group of close writer friends. Going for a walk or run often helps relax my mind and start the ideas flowing again.
We love it when you create a series of books, do you have plans for any more?
At the moment I’m at different stages with all three books in my new Falford series, which are set around a fictional estuary village in south Cornwall. An Endless Cornish Summer is the first, and I’m currently doing edits on A Special Cornish Christmas. I’ve also started my Summer 2022 novel, also set in Falford. After that I might write another book set in the Lake District, where the mountains and lakes are a great source of inspiration.
6. What make a perfect weekend for you?
Any weekend spent with my husband, daughter and her partner. In fact, we’ve just enjoyed a holiday in Cornwall, where we celebrated my parents’ Golden Wedding anniversary. We visited Lands’ End and arranged for photos of them to be taken by the signpost then had a barbecue overlooking Porthcurno beach. That was very special.
See our review of Phillipa Ashley’s new book – An Endless Cornish Summer