20 July 2020

Guest Post by Cassandra Clark, Author of Murder at Whitby Abbey (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Despatched to Whitby Abbey to barter for a Holy Relic, Hildegard of Meaux is plunged into a baffling murder investigation in this 
gripping medieval mystery.


One of the questions people always ask at writer events is:  how do you get your ideas?  A better question would be, how do you choose one idea to run with when there are so many tripping you up?

I’m often stuck for an answer.  Ideas bombard the mind at all hours, aggravatingly, often in the middle of the night.  May as well ask: why do we fall in love? Love settles where it wills.  And so do ideas.

I was musing on this topic as I scrubbed the porridge pan this morning and my thoughts went to a scene in MURDER AT WHITBY ABBEY where the young, naive, very pure-of-heart monk, Brother Luke, falls instantly in love with a lady of the town, Mistress Sabine.  Love at first sight indeed.

As a sceptic I was somewhat doubtful about this scene and I wondered how I’d come to describe such a phenomenon.  Pure invention, I supposed as, thoughts meandering, I scrubbed away.

Just before this I’d been looking at a carton of Oatley over breakfast and admiring its design and wondering who thought of it and what they were like. I was charmed by its down-home quirkiness and thought it might have been the invention of a bunch of people chatting round a kitchen table one morning, people I’d rather like to know.  Then I remembered a scene from the past.

I was lying on a beach in Thailand where I’d spent the afternoon with a handsome young man about twenty years younger than me.  No, it’s not that sort of story, Mrs Robinson.

The reason we were together was because he had fallen instantly in love with a particular girl the moment we all stepped, bleer-eyed, from the coach at our holiday-island destination.

He was russet-haired.  So was she.  He was tall.  She was small.  They were both of an age. They had the good looks of the young and they looked like twins. Like soulmates, no other word for it…and their eyes met.  Love.  As instantaneous as that.

I know this because I was chatting to the girl as we stepped down and was nearly knocked over by the electricity that passed between them.  From that moment they were almost inseparable.

Why I was lying on the beach in the lover’s exclusive company was because his sweetheart had gone off on a pre-booked boat trip round the bay and, unable to bear losing sight of her for a moment, he sat on the beach all afternoon waiting for her to set her beloved feet back on the sands.  Some older lady (me) gave him the excuse to be there without looking as if he was howling at the moon like a demented calf.

No, he didn’t babble on at length about her.  He had no need.  His eyes never left the horizon.  And after asking me if I didn’t think she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen we talked pleasantly at random for the rest of the day.

He was a designer of packaging.  Sounds unromantic, doesn’t it? But given the gloss of his present emotional state it sounded like the most romantic career imaginable.  I could easily see these two sweethearts with a brood of little bronze-haired angels living in the immaculately designed house a man such as he would naturally summon forth.

What was the upshot of all this, this holiday romance?  I’ve no idea.  I hope they found the happiness of that first moment in the life ahead.

But where did such a long-forgotten memory come from?  How was it summoned forth over the breakfast pots?  I hadn’t thought about this time in Thailand for years until this morning, but there he was, the lover:  alive and well, and embodied in the fictional, besotted Brother Luke.

To answer the question I started with, there’s no one explanation for where our ideas come from.  Sometimes we can track them back to a particular source, sometimes all we can do is go with the flow, give thanks, and catch the random gifts where next they fall.

Cassandra Clark

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About the Author

Cassandra Clark has an M.A. from the University of East Anglia and taught for the Open University on the Humanities Foundation course in subjects as diverse as history, philosophy, music and religion. Since then she has written many plays and contemporary romances as well as the libretti for several chamber operas.  Find out about Cassandra's other books on her website at www.cassandraclark.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @nunsleuth

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed that, thank you. Inspiration is a wondrous thing, for sure; sometimes, it's like a little window opening inside your head which allows a hint to peek out from behind the curtains.


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