Many of you won't be expecting this new book Galene by Ruth Snell (ISBN: 978-1-5376-6225-1).
"Dartmoor is a shadowy, mist-shrouded frontier largely unknown to Isabella Cole, a young woman who resides in Plymouth and is employed as a valuations clerk to a local auctioneer. It is 1898 and her occupation is uncommon for a woman. Her employer is invited to a working weekend at Hazelwood Grange, the moorland country house of Sir Sholto Lelawne, a reclusive scientist and world traveller, who extends the invitation to Isabella. Entering a world far different to the one she grew up in, Isabella encounters the elusive Galene, a beautiful young woman with spiritual powers who is introduced as Sir Sholto's sister. Isabella begins to uncover a complex web of lies and mysteries. Not all is as it seems.
Meanwhile in Plymouth, under the foundations of his valuations business near Charles church, her employer, Thomas Northcott, while renovating the building, uncovers an extensive chamber filled with antiquities from Roman times. Isabella finds herself wrapped up in an intrigue of both ancient and Victorian power struggles involving Freemasons and the churchmen, who will stop at nothing to claim the highest prize of all - and she is key to its discovery."
Why has this come out of the blue? Very few people knew I was writing it. Was there any deliberate secrecy? Only to the point I do freeze if people ask what I'm writing, when I'm struggling to get a plot organized in my head. It can be hard to explain 'what I am writing' when even I don't know where it's going. I gave up Writer's Group's a year ago when I became tangled in two necessary operations for breast cancer. The good news on that front, is the prognosis is favourable and the surgeon seemed to catch it on time. That does however, have a profound effect on your outlook to life. You withdraw (and I've never been a hugely outgoing person). Then you get your priorities in order. Health is paramount.
Aside from the very small family unit I have, my next priority is my job. Most people I know who write, either professionally or as a hobby, don't work full time. I do work full time. Forty-two hours a week and sometimes more. I'll repeat that. I work full time so my spare time is precious. I have to work, I have no choice. What spare time I do have often involves the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, garden or DIY. My weekends are valuable. I discovered through detriment to my health that through throwing so much time and energy into helping others with their writing activities, my health took a bad knock.
There is also an element of nastiness in the writing world in Plymouth (as the poet laureate Michael Sullivan discovered) and I don't want to be part of it. I will occasionally run a Writing Workshop if requested but aside from that .... I also paint. I am not a good artist but I find working with colour hugely relaxing. After two operations I re-aligned my scant spare time. Yoga has been hugely beneficial and painting largely therapeutic. I painted the front cover for Galene (in fact I painted several different scenes) and my daughter Rebecca had the final choice of my painting 'Peacock on Dartmoor' to finish the book cover. To create a work of art, inside and out, is the most rewarding thing.
Where did the idea from Galene come from? A mixture of elements viz: a picture I passed in 1981 and a discussion with my grandmother who came from a very old Plymouth family, a couple of years before she died in 1984. The outline of the book was written circa 2008, just before my father died but never left the computer due to the complexities of life at that time. When you think your life is running out of time, you take remedial action and now the final result is out there.