Tassie Morris is everyone’s favourite wedding photographer, famous for her photos of offbeat ceremonies and alternative brides. Yet commitment is proving impossible for Tassie herself, who cannot forget her first love.
When she’s sent to photograph a ceremony on Schiehallion – the Fairy Hill of the Scottish Caledonians – she meets Dan, who might be the one to make her forget her past. That is, until a family crisis begins a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only Tassie’s love life, but her entire career.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
Anywhere, any time. I once interviewed Julian Fellowes who told me that, writing as a jobbing actor – long before Downton – he couldn’t “develop that whole thing of: I’ve got to have this mug… this rabbit… these pencils”. And he seemed like a pretty good person to take advice from. Having said that, when I’m really stuck into a book, I do quite like writing in bed, with a lap-desk my daughter gave me.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Nope. The only thing I aim to do is, as Stephen King suggests, always write 2,000 words a day. Then the next day I’ll go back over what I wrote the previous morning.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
I am always just so delighted when my husband appears with a surprise cup of tea.
– What is your favourite book?
Tricky one; I love so many. I think that Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance is extraordinary as it ‘explains India’, in narrative form. When I was little I absolutely loved a book called The Swish of the Curtain, by Pamela Brown. So much so I covered it in sixties swirly fabric, and I’ve still got it today. It’s about seven children who set up their own theatre company.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’ve written two other novels, which I hope to get published under my real name, Jess Morency. They are also women’s fiction – but not as light as Shoot The Moon. I would be interested in writing non-fiction too, particularly about aspects of parenting.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Always! I am notorious for stealing from the lives of my friends and family. They know – because I always ask permission, and luckily they’re remarkably tolerant. A friend once told me that she knows when I’m mining for information, for my voice changes and I get this intense stare. I will often end up incorporating experiences I’ve had at the time of writing a novel, into the novel. For instance, there’s a scene in Shoot The Moon when Tassie and Dan hear Dolly Parton music being played from speakers hanging off the side of a horse – and I saw that on a walk in the Lake District. There’s also a story about a lion and a newly married couple. I was told the story by a safari guide, when on my honeymoon.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, but I have a watch that records voice notes, and I’ll often record notes on that, or on my phone.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I don’t tend to read much crime or fantasy – although I recently reviewed The Night Circus for a literary column I write for a local magazine, and absolutely loved it.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
My daughter – except you’d be able to tell which passages she’d written and which I had as she writes so much more poetically!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
A lot of my travel is incorporated into my novels – I’ve always loved backpacking. When I was in my twenties I lived and worked in India and kept diaries at the time. And a lot of those experiences are incorporated into The Fire Tree. My favourite place in the world is Il de Ré, and the island features in my third novel, The Happiness of Now. However, what I also love doing is research on-line, using things like Google Earth, then visiting the places after the book’s finished. I’d never visited Skye or Aberfeldy before I wrote Shoot The Moon – and it was just so much fun, visiting after the event. It was quite spooky how much I knew about the towns and terrain, despite never having been there. I can’t imagine how writers used to cope before the internet. I feel very lucky to be writing in a time when it’s available.
Thank you, Bella Cassidy and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Bella Cassidy grew up in the West Country – reading contemporary romances, romances, historical novels, literary fiction… just about anything she could lay her hands on. After a few years in London, working as a waitress and in PR and advertising, she went to Sussex to read English – despite admitting in her pre-interview that this rather sociable period in her life had seen her read only one book in six months: a Jilly Cooper.
She’s had an eclectic range of jobs: including in the world of finance; social housing fundraising; a stint at the Body Shop – working as Anita Roddick’s assistant; as a secondary school teacher, then teaching babies to swim: all over the world.
She’s done a lot of research for writing a wedding romance, having had two herself. For her first she was eight months pregnant – a whale in bright orange – and was married in a barn with wood fires burning. The second saw her in elegant Edwardian silk, crystals and lace, teamed with yellow wellies and a cardigan. Both were great fun; but it was lovely having her daughter alongside, rather than inside her at the second one.
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