Things are getting quite exciting. I’m into the final draft for Ashgrove Park. It is a blend of gothic fiction, ghost thriller, supernatural suspense, psychological fiction and historical fiction (you can see I know my Amazon keywords!)
You can now read the back cover blurb here (scroll down a bit). I think any writer will tell you that coming up with something that “sells” your book is harder than writing the novel itself.
In the next few posts, I’ll start telling you all the secret things embedded in Ashgrove Park. There’s quite a bit of personal and family history in this novel.
The original name was Bristol Park because my dad lived in a house on Bristol Street, Island Bay (New Zealand) growing up. But in my mind, Bristol Park wasn’t quite fancy enough. One morning I woke up and Ashgrove Park was (literally) in my head.
Another possible name was At Winter’s End. The story begins in December 1918 in the immediate aftermath of WWI and ends in April 1919. The location is East Sussex. My paternal grandmother was born in Ditchling, Sussex and I wanted the setting to be the area she was from and where I’ve visited numerous times.
The novel centres around Lieutenant Jack Collingwood. He isn’t quite sure whether he’s suffering from shell shock and slowly losing his mind or if the ghosts of Ashgrove Park are real. He volunteered for war along with his younger brother, Thomas, who was killed at the front and Jack is caught up in the psychological stress of his loss and the apparent hauntings at Ashgrove Park.
So the theme is grim and dark (initially). But Jack overcomes his past and in April 1919 (when the novel ends) it is spring – buds are opening, trees are unfurling new leaves and it is bright blue sky days. There is a new beginning in nature, just as there is for my characters. Hence the name: At Winter’s End.
I decided on Ashgrove Park because Jack recuperates after the war on a grand English estate complete with ancient woods, a maze and a postcard-perfect village nearby (Oaks Green). It is the ancestral home of the 8th Lord Ashgrove and the manor house itself is a character. At Winter’s End became a chapter title though.
I suppose if I was writing to market, I might choose a different novel title. But I write the kind of stories I like to read. I write for the love of it.
In the next post, I’ll tell you more about my lead character, Jack. He’s been with me for many years and has long wanted to tell his story.