Thursday, June 8, 2017

Home Town Inspiration by June Gadsby

HOME TOWN INSPIRATION:  It’s amazing how places and the people who reside in them inspire you as a writer. I haven’t lived in many places, but have travelled quite extensively and the countries I’ve visited invariably end up as the background to my stories. 

But there is one place that turns up more than most and that is the little mining town where I was born. Felling is perched high on the banks overlooking the River Tyne in north-east England. As a child, I would stare out over the wide valley below and wonder what kind of world was out there, and this memory inspired the beginning of my latest novel, “Rosa”. My world, at that time, was a small miner’s cottage, where my ancestors had lived since the street was built in 1901 over an old, disused pit. I lived there with my grandparents [my grandfather was one of a long line of miners], my mother, my aunt and, sometimes, her sailor husband, who was something of a rover, but such a character that you couldn’t help be fond of him. 

The street and part of my grandparent’s house sloped because of the ground sinking. It was condemned just before the second world war, but was still standing many years later. I was eleven when we moved into new housing a few miles away, but I paid a nostalgic visit to the town when I was in my thirties and there was my street – George Street – in process of being demolished. And the end wall that was visible was highly recognisable as the room at No. 15, in which I entered this world to the sound of the All-Clear siren. The floral wallpaper had never been changed.

My name is June, but I was born in January, so it was something of a joke, especially when Bing Crosby came out with the song: “It’s June in January”. And that’s how I became known. Our milkman used to greet me, singing ‘my’ song. I still get a tingle of nostalgia when I hear that song and think: “Oh, they’re playing my tune!”

Moving forward too many years, when my life took twists and turns that some people would find hard to believe, I was no longer living in the north-east of England, but in south-west France, where my husband and I have been for 26 years. No longer working full-time, looking after two of three step-children and two houses, I could now devote all my time to my passion of writing.  While doing some research for the book I was writing [When Tomorrow Comes], I came across a Facebook site for my birth town of Felling. Although much changed from the town I knew and for which I carried a warm spot in my heart, the Felling residents welcomed me with open arms. Some of them even remembered me from my school days.

Although advertising was not allowed, it soon came out that I was a published writer and the founder of the group, who has read all my books, christened me as “Felling’s own Catherine Cookson”.  Catherine, whom I knew personally, was born only a few miles from Felling and we had a lot in common.  It was quite an accolade, but I could never attain the same fame as she has and, I must say, that my books are quite different in many respects. However, she did inspire me to write my first saga, “Rosa” – originally titled “Where The Wind Blows” long before I was published.
Now, I have a growing band of readers from Felling and the surrounding areas, who are supporting me. Who would have thought that the working-class miner’s granddaughter would have her stories in print? My family, if they were still alive, wouldn’t. But I think I always knew that the dream of ‘June in January’ was just waiting to be realised – and it was, even though it took half a century to achieve.

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The Jealous Land
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When Tomorrow ComesThe Raging SpiritThe Ironmaster
When Tomorrow Comes
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The Raging Spirit
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