By Holly J. Gill (Guest Blogger)
Inspiration comes when you least expect it. You never know when the idea is going to take hold and lure you in, giving the characters the chance to talk and develop their story. For me inspiration comes from everything around me, hearing a tune, watching people, seeing something on the TV, reading a book, pictures, overhearing a conversation, reading an article. The list is endless, but for me, with my latest release Innocence it appeared fate took over.
I am fortunate enough to live in the UK and it’s a two hour drive to the destination I used for Innocence, based in Yorkshire, a county in northern England. Yorkshire is best known for its Roman and Viking heritage, as well as its Norman castles, medieval abbeys, Industrial Revolution-era cities and two national parks. The county town of York, founded by the Romans, has a 13th-century Gothic minster, Tudor houses and medieval walls. The interactive Jorvik Viking Centre recalls the area’s 9th-century occupation. The famous street called The Shambles has old 14th century timber-framed overhanging buildings. I love Yorkshire. Visiting the area for a day’s outing is always a blessing, just giving me time to reflect and admire the rolling hills and the beautiful setting.
I first started writing Innocence back in November 2013. I wrote the first four pages of Kacey on the verge of ending her life, by jumping into the flowing river below her, only much to her annoyance a young man appears while taking a stroll. Angry, she wanted him to go away, but he wasn’t going to do that. Ideas kept creeping into my mind, but weren’t good enough. It didn’t drive me. So I allowed the four pages to sit and wait.
When writing a later novel, I found myself compelled, loving a privately owned estate with a grand hall. The surroundings blew me away. I spent endless hours googling the hall, not only the exquisite style of the hall itself but also the vital river running through the land. Now due to the hall being for sale, I had a great chance to admire the outstanding property, which kept some of its extravagant period features. The landscape left me jealous, so picture perfect, situated in Yorkshire, set in rolling countryside on the edge of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and adjacent to a small yet attractive village. This estate lies 14 miles from York. I longed to use the same location in a book. Then suddenly the four pages that I’d started months previously had their setting, leaving Calvin and Kacey from Innocence to start telling me their story. I re-started the book in April 2014, and I carried on writing the series until it finished four books later.
Now, as I mentioned, the start of the story had already began at a river. The estate and its surroundings were ideal. Kacey was in a bad way, unsure where her life was heading, having no hope, certain that ending her life would be the only answer. While she walked dazed, scared, and lonely, she came across a river bridge. She looked down to the river and decided to walk onto private land down to the river to find the ideal spot to end her miserable life. That private land was Calvin Edward’s parent’s home, which had been in the family for generations.
I have been fortunate enough to visit and get up close to the hall and explore the landscape, getting the real feel of its idyllic surroundings. I have walked the pathway where Calvin found Kacey, so quiet and relaxing, hearing only the sound of the river and the birds singing. Of course being an author I changed a few things around, like the fact that on the land there is a mill that has been restored in recent years. Much hard work and dedication has been put into the mill to have it working in its original state. Another feature that I changed was the barns. In reality, the barns that had once been used by the owners of the hall have been sold to a local developer and renovated into homes. The barn in Innocence remains as a barn and owned by the hall, again this being used as a landmark throughout the series. I also visited the local village where Kacey had grown up and had a meal in the very pub I used in the story. This helped me get a real feel for the atmosphere, as well as letting me enjoy one of their delightful meals and taste their guest ale.
I was excited and got quite emotional, visiting the very place where I had set Innocence. The story itself is powerful, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, yet the novel is funny at times. As I approached the bridge, where Kacey originally stops and looks down to the fast flowing river, I could feel her, sense her state of mind, her anguish, pain—not thinking clearly, seeing nothing but red. This for me was a heart-stopping moment that made the trip extra special.
As for the characters, you cannot help but fall in love with Calvin Edwards, for his sweetness, his fresh faced good-looks, and the way he gives Kacey a chance, help, desire and more importantly courage. The fact that he’s only up north visiting his parents when really his life is down in London working for his father’s real-estate company doesn’t deter him. Although his life is elsewhere, he wants nothing but to make sure Kacey stays safe, and that she knows she has a friend who cares.
Kacey Richards, after a good childhood growing up in the village and educated at an all-girls school, leaves home when she’s sixteen. We pick her story up ten years later, at age twenty six where she has lost everything. She’s heavily pregnant, scared for her future and her unborn daughter. She has no money and no home. Her drug-addict boyfriend has dumped her and she can only see one direction, misery, with her daughter being taken from her and a life in the slums.
Using this hall inspired me, giving me so many opportunities to to develop the story. The land, the hall, the barn, and the stunningly breath-taking countryside that surrounded them, were perfect to arouse my imagination. I never imagined the story leading where it does, and how Calvin longs to help Kacey, get her back on the right path, giving her the stability and importantly someone who would listen to her, a shoulder to cry on. Only Calvin never imagined discovering what he does, turning his life around.
While writing this series, I had to tread carefully. I had to do research, to make sure everything was correct although unfortunately the way things are done in England is different from the way things are done in the States, as I discovered when my wonderful editor and proof-reader got their hands on the book. Thankfully through personal experiences I knew my information in UK was correct and stuck to it.
For me writing this novel gave me a challenge that changed my genre and tested my ability. While I wrote the first book of the series I had many moments of crying. I had to stop writing to calm down, before my return. This story pulled severally on my heartstrings and as reviews are saying—‘unique’ ‘heart-wrenching’ ‘a page turner’—for me Calvin and Kacey have achieved what they drove me to write.
Thank you so much for reading this post and thank you for having me as a guest to celebrate my latest release, Innocence. I’m giving away a PDF file of the book. Just leave me a comment telling me where is your favorite place to read. Don’t forget to include your email address.
The Innocence Series
Innocence of Love
Return To Innocence
Innocence (Book 1)
Calvin Edwards has everything he could dream about— perfect lifestyle, running the family real-estate company back in London. He takes a holiday up north to visit his parents only to find a young pregnant woman attempting to take her life. Wishing to help, Calvin becomes a friend to her, only fears he’s out of his depth. Just when he thinks he can do this his past resurfaces, sending his life crashing.
Kacey is pregnant and her life is out of control with nowhere left to go. She descends on her mum for one last chance for help, only to have the door slammed in her face. At her wits end, she is alone, scared, and helpless until Calvin comes along. He becomes a dear friend giving her kindness, something she thought no longer existed in the world. Only she finds what she’d pushed to the back of her mind through selfish pain is back. Her past with all its mistakes has come back to life!
“What the heck has she been telling you? Honestly, that girl wouldn’t know the word truth if it hit her in the face. She is after money, no doubt to take back to her drug dealing boyfriend.”
Calvin stepped forward needing to correct the evil woman. “She finished it, and she isn’t with him. Instead, she is scared and looking for someone to love her, but clearly the word ‘love’ means nothing to you. What mother,” he said, marching forward pointing his finger in her face. “Would allow their daughter at her most vulnerable state to leave her to walk the streets, how can you not care? No shame? She is frightened and yet, she is the one holding the grudge with you…yet you have turned it onto her. She is broken, has no-one and nowhere to go and yet you…you.” He gritted his teeth.
“Calvin,” he heard his mother’s voice from behind as she touched his left shoulder. “Step back.”
“No,” he growled. “She,” he said, pointing to Rosalind, “What she has done. I saved your daughter. I,” he said, thumping his chest. “I stopped your daughter from jumping off the bridge. I saved her. I was the one who coaxed her down,” he screamed.
Tears ran down his cheeks and could feel his mum holding onto his shoulder for comfort. He had to do it. He had to make her see how weak her daughter was and her mental state.
Rosalind widened her eyes glaring at him.
“Yes, I saved her, I stopped her,” he said lowering his voice in heartache. “All she needed was someone to reach out to and help her take care of her. She has nothing…nothing. You imagine feeling that lonely,” he said, glaring deep into her eyes through the tears.
“I have spent a few days listening to your daughter trying to help her, guide her, get her the help she needs, but as my good friend keeps telling me! She isn’t my problem, but I have made her my problem. I want to help her, and no, it’s not just because she’s expecting your grandchild,” he snarled. Calvin didn’t want anyone assuming that, but they would, of course they would, and he’d be the first to admit when he saw her bump, he had to do what he could to get her down from the bridge.
“Calvin,” his mum muttered.
“No, Mum,” he said, turning his head to glare at her. He watched his mum gulp. “Even you would admit you were fooled into the real reason why she left the village.” He turned his head back to meet Rosalind’s eyes. “Weren’t we?”
Rosalind still looked gormless, frowning like she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Don’t you care your daughter was about to jump into the river and take her and the baby's life?” he sneered.
She stared at him, shocked, like she had no idea what was going on with her daughter, the puzzlement across her face and her eyes roamed all over the room, like the walls would give her answers.
“Sorry! Is that all you can say. Sorry,” he heightened his voice. “Well, you're saying it to the wrong person, but then why would you wish to waste your breath on your daughter, when she is the one who has disgraced you. I mean heaven forbid she would turn out to be the little angel you had wished for, but noooo, she had to get herself knocked up, didn’t she?” he roared.
About Holly J. Gill
A wife and a mum to three grown up children, and lives in the UK. Holly J. Gill is a romance writer, her main genre being erotic romance. She has recently been exploring new channels, including paranormal and contemporary. Holly has been writing since being a young girl, having characters talking to her, and longing to get their stories written. Finally, her dream came true two years ago, when getting her first contract with Secret Cravings Publishing for her Desires series. In Holly’s spare time she loves spending quality time with her family, seeing friends for lunches and sharing her new potential ideas for books. She enjoys listening to music, watching movies and travelling around England visiting the beautiful countryside.
Where to find Holly
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/hollyjgillauthor?ref=hl
Erotic Holly :http://hollyjgill.blogspot.co.uk/?zx=b9ccabad8f15e367
Romance Holly : http://hollyjodygill.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/HollyJGill
Pinterest : http://uk.pinterest.com/gill0839/
Where to find Holly’s books
SCP : http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=174&zenid=2unavehb55185g8ffp99l1oe15
Amazon UK : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Innocence-Book-Holly-J-Gill-ebook/dp/B00Y5OSHS4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1432456496&sr=8-3&keywords=holly+j+gill
Amazon US : http://www.amazon.com/Innocence-Book-Holly-J-Gill-ebook/dp/B00Y5OSHS4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1432456537&sr=8-2&keywords=holly+j+gill
Smashwords : https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/545028
Barnes and Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/innocence-holly-j-gill/1121989627?ean=2940151564076