As an author of over 20 novels, I am often asked where I find my ideas. The answer is quite straightforward for I get them everywhere – a snatch of conversation, an image in a photograph, a newspaper headline, or a moment of inspiration in a beautiful place.
Not all my ideas turn into books, but there is always one which refuses to fade away, demanding to be told as if the tale is being channeled to me by some irresistible force – and that is how I came to write Echoes From Afar.
My French publisher invited me to attend a book-fair and stay in Paris for a couple of nights to help promote my latest book. Having always loved Paris my husband and I eagerly accepted.
The seductive atmosphere of Paris cannot be denied, and after a very pleasant evening at a reception for my readers and bloggers, my editor suggested a different route back to our hotel. The night was warm, the sky sprinkled with stars that glittered on the fast-flowing Seine, and we walked hand-in-hand along the embankment, drinking in the sights and sounds of our last evening in this most romantic of cities. As we reached the Pont Neuf we paused to watch the lights twinkle on the Eiffel Tower, and to admire the way the old street-lamps illuminated the cobbles and the elegant bridges.
I eventually turned away from the river and looked across the narrow street to the line of stately buildings with their delicately-wrought iron balconies and long French windows. As my gaze trawled slowly along them I felt as if I’d drifted into another life-time, for I thought I saw a shadow behind one of those windows – the shadow of a still figure that seemed to be watching us intently.
I was transfixed as we stared at one another and I came to realise that my silent watcher was a man in a wheel-chair. As his intense gaze held me, I felt he was reaching out to me, silently telling me his story and beseeching me to pass it on.
It was one of those rare and magic moments of inspiration which are the life-blood of all authors, and I stood there in awe as his story unfolded seamlessly, and I learned who he was, why he was in a wheelchair, and most importantly, why he maintained his sad, but hopeful vigil over the Pont Neuf.
The moment passed and in the blink of an eye he was gone – the window empty of all but the shifting shadows cast by the moonlit trees. But I knew he’d been there once upon a time; knew his life-story of love and loss and heroism, and knew without a doubt that a book was born. That book is Echoes From Afar, and I hope that between its pages, you too will fall in love with Paris.
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