(Illustration: Portrait of a lady reading a book, by William Oliver II (1823-1901))
"Sometimes, after all, a woman’s touch is best. Especially when the touch is that of a flat palm wielded with speed and force against a saucy cheek.”
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When creating the village of Sydney Dovedale I gave it a full history, which I hoped would add a touch of authenticity to the proceedings. In LADY MERCY DANFORTHE FLIRTS WITH SCANDAL, a character speaks of the flint stone ruin that overlooks the village and which was once the fortress home belonging to one of William the Conqueror's warriors - given to him as a reward for services in war. This warrior, having hailed from Saint-Denis in France, took on that name as his own. Over time that became "Sydney" and as the village was built up around the castle tower it took on the same name. Even further back, I decided that the stone with which his fortress was built had been ferried from the mouth of the river Yare, where it was once used in a Roman lookout tower. So the village has a foundation in history, even though it is not a real place (hush, don't tell my characters that!), and that past, I think, helps the story come to life.
In many ways the village is another character in the series, and an important one. It is where the stories start and end. It is the link that connects all the people as they come and go. It is the heart of their world.
I hope, one day, to return there to Sydney Dovedale and continue on a journey through time with the children - and maybe even the grandchildren - of Sophie, Ellie, Mercy and Molly. I am often tempted to go back there and stroll along that lane under the cherry blossoms that hang over Farmer Osborne's wall. I'd love to take shelter again under that ancient oak at the crossroads, enjoy a glass of scrumpy cider at Merryweather's Tavern, or even bang my head (for old time's sake) on the low ceilings of the tiny cottage where Ellie Vyne once spent her childhood summers with her aunt.
There are still many stories to tell about Sydney Dovedale. And my characters are itching to cause more mischief.
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