Guest Post | Beneath Cornish Skies

Today I have author Kate Ryder here talking about what draws her to Cornwall as a setting.

To an outsider, Cassandra Shaw‘s life looks perfect. She lives in a beautiful, luxurious house in the English countryside, with a handsome, wealthy boyfriend who insists she needn’t do a day’s work in her life. But Cassie knows that something is not right. Her boyfriend has grown colder, treating her more like a housekeeper than a future wife. And her time feels empty and purposeless.

Cassandra has always been riddled with insecurities and self-doubt, but, just for once, she decides to take a chance on a new beginning. She answers an advert for a live-in nanny, dog walker, cook and all-round ‘Superhuman’ for a family living in a rambling manor house on the rugged North Cornish coast. The work is hard and tiring, but Cassie has never felt so fulfilled.

As Cassie learns to connect with the natural beauty unfolding around her, Cornwall starts to offer up its secrets. Soon, Cassie starts wondering if she was drawn to this isolated part of the coast for a reason. Why was she guided to Foxcombe Manor? What are the flashes of light she sees in the valley? Is it her imagination or does someone brush past her? And who is the mysterious man living deep in the woods?

A beautiful romance with a hint of ghostliness, Beneath Cornish Skies is for anyone who has ever longed to start their lives again.

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Thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog and for providing me with the opportunity to explain why I set many of my books in Cornwall.

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a love affair with the county. The sea, the rugged cliffs, the bleak yet beautiful moors, the flora and fauna, the black haired/dark-eyed locals with their distinctive dialect, the myths and legends – all these held a fascination for me. It seemed a magical, faraway land and at any given opportunity I would head west. 

Cornwall is a land of many faces: from the undulating, relatively soft landscape in the east, where the mighty River Tamar acts as a shared border with Devon; to the ruggedly remote area steeped in legend known as West Penwith. It has the longest stretch of coastline in England with over 300 golden beaches, and thanks to its isolated position in the furthest South West corner of the country, much of it has remained untouched for centuries. However, the industrial revolution had a huge impact and Cornwall was amongst the most industrialised part of the UK, if not the world, at that time. Littered throughout the landscape, often set against a dramatic backdrop of pounding seas and craggy cliffs, are haunting reminders of its past industry.

They say that once you’ve felt the magic of Cornwall its invisible ivy will never let you go, and it’s true. Cornwall has always had a magnetic pull for me. Early in my teenage years I holidayed on the North Cornish coast. We stayed in a substantial thatched cottage overlooking an unspoilt, wooded valley leading down to the cliffs and the sea beyond. The property and its private location made a huge impression on me, but little did I know that all these years later it would feature in Beneath Cornish Skies – my fourth novel with Aria.

The stunningly rugged landscape around Morwenstow, together with its famous and eccentric nineteenth century vicar, Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker, has inspired many a writer. On clear days you can see for miles along the coast to Tintagel, with Pentire in the distance, while on the horizon, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bristol Channel and with nothing between it and America, is Lundy Island. It’s easy to lose yourself out there on those cliffs. Not only is it a tough and unforgiving landscape, but also beautiful and tranquil, fragile and yet incredibly resilient, providing a wonderfully complex backdrop in which my characters could develop and grow. It was important to me that I blended historical fact with the mystical energy and magical folklore that abounds in these ancient places, and to give the heroine affinity with nature and the animal kingdom. I also wanted to represent the countryside of the north Cornish coast in all its glory, which is as much a character in its own right. Beneath Cornish Skies is not simply a contemporary romance; it is the story of Cassandra Shaw’s journey towards her true self.

Kate Ryder is an award-winning, Amazon Kindle international best seller who writes timeslip and romantic suspense in a true-to-life narrative. On leaving school she studied drama but soon discovered her preference for writing plays rather than performing them! Since then, she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely.

Kate is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.  In 2017, she signed a 4-book contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus).

Summer in a Cornish Cove, a contemporary romantic suspense set on the Lizard Peninsula, gained her a nomination for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award, while its standalone sequel, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, reached the heady heights of #2 in Kindle Literary Sagas.

‘Secrets of the Mist’, a mysterious timeslip romance, not only achieved #1 Kindle best seller flags in the UK, Canada and Australia, but also reached #49 in Amazon UK Paid Kindle. In the original, self-published version (The Forgotten Promise) it was awarded the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.

Originally hailing from the South East of England, today Kate lives on the Cornish side of the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.

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