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.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I approach writing with the same mind-set that I applied to my ‘paid job’, which I gave up in October 2019. I arrive at my desk at 9am, attempt to write something intelligible during the morning, break for lunch, and then pick up writerly things again in the afternoon, finishing at 5pm. I live in the Tamar Valley in Cornwall and during lockdown I tried to walk through the village to the river each day (it hasn’t always worked!). Home is a three-storey cottage and my writing den is on the top floor. It feels cosy and tucked away, separate from the rest of the household, which allows me to concentrate on getting those all-important words down with as few interruptions as possible when deadlines loom.
Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really, but I do try to keep to the above regime.
Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
My husband works from home and as his office is nearer the kitchen, he tends to keep me supplied with copious cups of tea and coffee during the day. We meet halfway on the stairs for the handover!
What is your favourite book?
When I was a teenager I longed to live in Cornwall (it wasn’t until the Millennium that I permanently moved here). Subsequently, I read anything about the county that I could get my hands on. I love Daphne du Maurier’s writing, but the book that made the most impression on that young version of me was Frenchman’s Creek. With an intelligent, swashbuckling hero and a feisty, unconventional heroine, plus adventure, romance and wonderful descriptions of the Cornish landscape, it was impossible not to be transported to the Helford River and the surrounding area. However, the ending of the book left me bereft and I recall rewriting it to suit my yearnings for the main characters. I came across that particular piece of writing not so long ago when clearing out my late mother’s apartment. How I smiled to myself knowing that all these years later I, too, was a published author. Thank you, Daphne, for spurring on that imaginative teenager to write!
Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’m always interested in what motivates people and how far they are prepared to go to achieve their goals. To date, my romantic suspense novels tend to have a dark seem running through the narrative. Even the best-selling timeslip romance, Secrets of the Mist, and, now, Beneath Cornish Skies, which is all about one woman’s journey to her true self, have elements of darkness in them. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to slip into psychological drama/thriller mode.
Do you sometimes base your character on people you know?
Definitely… but I’d never let them know! I’m sure all authors bring to their characters people they’ve known, or elements of their personalities. I always have a visual storyboard for each novel I write, which helps me to refocus should I find the story in danger of stalling. In Beneath Cornish Skies, the Australian actor, Simon Baker, provided the look and inspiration for the hero.
Writing is such a personal thing – at least, I find it so – and behind every word is a culmination of life’s experiences. Once an outline of the main characters appears, if they’re strong enough, the individuals tend to take off at their own pace and relegate the author to being a mere conduit for their story.
Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, but I should! Back in the day when we all enjoyed ‘normal’ life, snatches of conversation at a café or restaurant would sometimes stir my imagination, and it has been known for me to jot something down on a paper napkin. Failing that, as soon as I’m back at the car I scrabble around for any old scrap of paper to note down the latest gem of a possible plot.
What genre do you not like at all?
Horror. It’s not a genre I indulge in. When I was younger I used to watch horror movies, but as I’ve grown older I find they don’t have the same appeal. There are too many other things to discover and apply my energies to. In any case, my own imaginative powers can scare me quite easily without having to rely on someone else’s words to do it!
If you had the chance to co-write a book, whom would it be with?
I would choose Georgia Hill, whose dual-time novel On a Falling Tide captured my imagination. A multi-layered story set in and around the same area on the Jurassic Coast as I chose for my timeslip, Secrets of the Mist, (which, as it happened, she was reading at the same time as I read her book), Georgia’s style of writing and choice of subject matter are very similar to my own. We corresponded and decided that her main characters, Charity and Matt, and the heroine and hero in my novel, Maddie and Nick, would probably know each other and meet up for drinks in the local pub! I love that… it’s taking the idea of characters taking off and writing their own stories to a totally new level!
If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Australia: for two reasons. The countryside of Australia is magnificent with vast skies that can leave one dizzy, and landscapes and seascapes that stretch for miles. I will never forget the first time I visited and being amazed that several hours after having taken off from Sydney we were still flying over the country! With its cosmopolitan mix of people, the cities -v- mining towns in the interior, the diverse range of flora and fauna, a tough but fascinating history, the sacred places and the Aboriginal mythology and legends, I can’t think of anywhere else that provides such a fascinating and abundant plethora of ideas for the imagination to flow. Also, my sister lives in New South Wales and I welcome any opportunity to visit.
Thank you, Kate Ryder and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
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.
Author website: http://www.kateryder.me