Although my latest novel, Leave Nothing But Footprints isn't autobiographical, there are ways in which it mirrors my own life. For a start it's a romance and I'm very happily married to the lovely Gary Davies. The book is about a gifted famous photographer (Eliot) and the girl (Jess) he's teaching his craft to. My husband is a talented photographer and he's spent years training me up as his assistant.
The main similarity though between the book and my life is that Jess and Eliot are working from a campervan. Gary and I spend about four months a year in our van; him to use it as a base for photography and me as a mobile writing retreat. The fictional Eliot uses his van for most of his 'on location' assignments and, as I know from personal experience, the small space means it's almost impossible for there not to be some level of intimacy and it's great for showing a relationship in its true light. That's really what gave me the idea of using a campervan as the location for a romance. The characters can't hide from their emotions and will be forced to either reveal them or take action to conceal how they feel. Both are good for building up tension and the storyline.
Just like Eliot, I like to write on location whenever I can. That includes taking lots of photos as I use them for reference once I'm back home. I find the places I visit and the people I meet often inspire my writing. I love South Wales and wanted to capture a little of the drama which is to be found in the hills and coastline as well as the beauty of the wildflowers, gorgeous sunsets and friendly people. Leave Nothing But Footprints gave me the opportunity to do that.
To start with Eliot doesn't really want Jess along and had to be practically bribed and emotionally blackmailed by her millionaire father to do so. He gets his revenge by making her trek up steep hills, down rocky paths and along sandy beaches, all the while carrying camera equipment. To be honest, Eliot is jolly grumpy at times, although he does have his reasons for that. My husband isn't so hard on me, but we do walk a lot, searching for good locations, so I know that as well as being tiring, this is a great way to appreciate the landscape. I get tired too and that's when I decide to take a close look at the wildflowers, so I gave Jess a breather in the same way. Eliot's speciality is ecology, so she gets away with it.
The van is a brilliant place to work from. There's a kettle within reach, far fewer distractions than at home and a different inspiring view every day. Even the fact that I can't always get wifi has the advantage of reducing the ways in which I can procrastinate – although I admit the inspiring views tends to cancel that one out.
Jessica Borlase always gets what she wants. From cocktails in the exact shade of her manicure, holiday on Capri with friends, to a spacious apartment, her father's money makes it possible. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and is grateful for his support, but frustrated to always be treated as Daddy's pampered little girl. She tries to break free, by leaving Borlase Enterprises and studying photography.
Now what Jess wants is the utterly gorgeous Eliot Beatty; a world famous photographer who often uses his talents to benefit conservation projects. Her father attempts to bribe Eliot into taking Jess on an assignment in order to teach her the skills she'll need to develop a career. Although annoyed at the interference, she's delighted to discover this means two weeks with Eliot in the beautiful countryside of South Wales and close confines of a campervan. Trouble is, the man can't be bought.
Jess eventually manages to persuade Eliot to take her. She believes she can earn his respect and that she's ready for the hard work, long hours and living conditions far short of those she's used to. She's wrong on all counts. Can Jess learn to cope with the realities of the trip, and is Eliot really worth the effort?
Patsy's Bio -
Patsy Collins will write anywhere she can reach in her campervan. She's the author of five novels; four contemporary romances and one coming of age story with a difference. Hundreds of her short stories have been published in magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa. She's also co-author of From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible guide to writing fiction.