This week has seen the release of my fourth Choc Lit book, number one of the Hartsford Mysteries series, Watch for me by Moonlight.
If you’ve been following my blog, or reading any other bits and pieces I’ve written in the run up to this book, you will know that it was inspired by the Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman. It is one of my favourite poems, and I first encountered it when I was in primary school. It has stayed with me ever since, and never fails to give me chills when I read about Bess and her bright red ribbon, sacrificing herself to save her Highwayman lover. How is this for some of the most atmospheric words ever?
And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
In Watch for me by Moonlight, the heroines are blonde, but there is a red ribbon involved, and a love knot. And there may just be a road like a ribbon of moonlight hiding away in it as well. How could an image like that not be used?
Poetry is not one of my greatest talents, I’m afraid, as you have to have the perfect words to create that image in the reader’s head, and often those words have to be in a certain format – if you do ‘old-fashioned’ poetry, that is, which I prefer. I love a bit of Byron and Keats and Shelley – the Romantics had the edge, in my opinion. Most of my books start with a poem, and that is where I often get the start of an idea. It happened when I read Sudden Light, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and that was the start of my first Choc Lit novel, Some Veil Did Fall – the title of which, in itself, is a line from the poem.
I might not be great with poetic images, but I like to think I try to write in a cinematic way. And one day, perhaps, my books will make it onto the big screen. I can but dream! And on that note, here’s another picture of a lovely highwayman!