Friday, April 14, 2017

Serendipity is a Book Club...by Sheila Claydon



Mending Jodie's Heart, Book 1 of my When Paths Meet trilogy, has just been chosen for next month's read by a local book club. It goes without saying that I am beyond excited. I'd like plaudits of course but even if I don't get them, just knowing a group of people are going to read it and discuss it is enough.

How did this happen?

Well Mending Jodie's Heart is a story woven around the countryside and the village where I live. This is unusual for me because the ideas for most of my books are triggered by other places. Maybe getting away from the humdrum of everyday life gives my imagination the freedom it needs to create. This wasn't the case with Jodie however. She didn't need creating. She arrived fully formed in my mind the way the best characters always do, and so did Marcus, the hero, and the other important characters in the book.

Why?

I know it started when I spent an evening listening to a jazz band with a fantastic pianist but how that segued into Jodie's story I have no idea. Maybe it was the closure of a local bridle path and the ensuing campaign to get it re-opened. Maybe it was the demolition of an old farmhouse. Maybe it was the sight of a pretty, dark-haired girl on horseback. I'll never know exactly what started the story, and what made me continue it into Books 2 and 3. What I do know, however, is that to write it I had to 'borrow' the old farmhouse and the new house that replaced it, the same as I had to 'borrow' the bridle path, and the local riding stables.

Once the book was published I moved on, as writers do, except that I always thought of the 'borrowed' house as Jodie's house whenever I walked past it. Then Books We Love decided to make its digital books available as paperbacks and that changed things. As soon as I received a print copy of Mending Jodie's Heart I crossed my fingers and wrote to the owners of the 'borrowed' house explaining what I had done, and offering them a copy.

I posted the note into their mailbox  when I took my dog for a walk, and then turned into the adjoining woodland and set off down a narrow path between the trees...too narrow for dog walkers to pass one another without giving way. And this is where it gets weird but in a good way. I was halfway along the path when  I saw a pretty blonde woman walking towards me with her dog...a dog I recognised as belonging to Jodie's house, even though I had never seen the owner. With no option but to stop I introduced myself and told her about the letter I had posted. After all if she did decide she wanted a copy of my book I was going to meet her anyway.

How was I to know that she was an avid reader who has run a book club for the past ten years? How was I to know that she would be thrilled beyond belief that I had written a story around the building of her home, and how was I to know that she would be unbelievably friendly and interested. She even joked that she was going to see how her husband scored in comparison with the hero.

So there you have it. I, in true writerly fashion, nosey around other people's lives watching their house being built, and my eventual reward is a new friend and a book in her book club. And what of the happy coincidence that took us down the same path on that windy morning when we had spent the previous 5 years never setting eyes on one another. Serendipity is a curious thing that might just be prompting me towards another book...the second of my Mapleby Memories, but that's another story!

And there's still another copy of Mending Jodie's Heart to give out...to the Riding School that let me watch the stable girls take their horses through their paces, so maybe some more friends too.


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