OK, I’m just kidding – my house is just a tad less grand than Windsor Castle, but since my last post in which I wrote about the houses that have inspired my various books, I’ve realised that I really do have a ‘thing’ about houses and that they’re fundamental to almost everything I write.
If you nip over to my website, www.nicolaslade.com , and click on Short Stories, you’ll find three of my short stories that were originally published in the magazine, My Weekly. In each one of them you’ll find that a house is a significant factor in the story. These stories are illustrated with appropriate photographs chosen, and in some cases taken, by my best friend’s husband, the talented and very patient Keri Thomas, who designed and runs my website and who set up my blog – his fabulous photos form the banner at the top of the home page of this blog and give a real taste of Winchester.
The first story, A Managing Woman, is about a nun at the time of the Reformation in England and the house that is built from the priory she was sent to. The photographs accompanying the story are all taken in and around Winchester while the turreted gateway is Titchfield Abbey, once the home of Shakespeare’s Earl of Southampton. Find out about it here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/titchfield-abbey/history-and-research/
The Tower House was one of the first stories I ever sold to My Weekly. It’s dear to me because it was that rare phenomenon, a story that wrote itself! I sat down at the computer without the germ of a story in my head and half an hour later, there it was. Magic! The picture is one that Keri took of a local Edwardian house that I’ve always rather coveted, though I don’t envy them the frequent road accidents outside the house that regularly demolish the lamp post situated by their fence. It’s on a crossroads and my elder daughter is one of many who found herself eyeballing the lamp post after some idiot failed to notice the Halt sign and wrote off the daughter’s car (though thankfully not the daughter!)
The third story, My Dear Miss Fairfax, is written as a series of letters and each letter is illustrated by an appropriate photograph. However, the plantation house at the end of the story is a patchwork of houses I saw in St Lucia and in South Carolina, so sadly there’s no photograph.
At the moment I’m juggling two works-in-progress and again both feature significant houses; I’m clearly a house snob! One of them is a large Arts & Crafts house of the kind that you still find in Winchester, mostly turned into flats or guest houses these days, so I’ve been prowling around looking over fences to cherry-pick interesting features. Sadly, I plan to despoil my house by having a murder there – I’m about a third of the way through that one, so we’ll see…
The other book I’m fiddling around with is all about a house, or rather, all about the place where the present-day house now exists. The book is about the women who have lived there over the centuries and the sixteenth-century house, along with the previous dwellings on the spot, is the focal point for their stories. So far it’s historical and contemporary, but not (yet) a murder mystery, though there do seem to be quite a lot of dead people, so who knows! About a quarter of the way through though I keep divagating off to other places.
Needless to say I’m always up for a tour of a house – any house, from semi to stately and from castle to cottage. You name it, I’ll be there mentally arranging my furniture in it and – almost certainly – redecorating and changing the curtains!