Ciji Ware - Reporter Turned Novelist Creates "You Are There" For Readers
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In my former career as a reporter for ABC radio and TV, based in Los Angeles, and as a magazine journalist, I have traveled extensively to cover stories all over the world, so I didn’t hesitate to head for the British Isles—specifically Cornwall known as “The West Country—as well as Wyoming to do the research required for That Summer in Cornwall, the recently-released contemporary, stand-alone sequel to my bestselling “time-slip” (set in the 18th and 21st centuries) novel, A Cottage by the Sea. For me, the exotic locales featured in my work, are, in themselves, “characters” in my novels. I love to take readers to worlds I know well, but places they may never have seen like the cliffs near Polperra, the smuggler’s village not too far from the setting of the new novel—and create surroundings as real as I can make them. In my books, I want them to have a “You Are There” experience, and the only way I know how to create that is to go to the locale myself.
It’s probably fairly unusual to plan a sequel set in the modern era for a novel whose dual-story plot centered on events that took place in the eighteenth century, but I’ve always been interested in what I’ve come to call “genetic memory.” That is: the theory that the impact of traumatic events that happened to our ancestors can echo down through the years and continue to affect descendants in ways we aren’t aware. In the case of That Summer in Cornwall, I always wondered whatever happened to the three-month-old girl born to the odious British film director, Christopher Stowe, and Ellie Barton—that husband-stealing sister of my wonderful heroine Blythe Barton who eventually became Lady Barton-Teague in a novel first published back in 1997? Out of such musings comes months of work, which to me have been pure joy, including the creation of the new characters-- former British Army Lieutenant Sebastian Pryce, veteran of a bomb-sniffing K-9 squad in Afghanistan, along with pet therapy specialist (and Blythe’s cousin) Meredith Champlin-- introduced into the Barton-Teague-Stowe constellation that were so central to A Cottage by the Sea.
Both the original novel and That Summer in Cornwall had their origins back in August of 1994 when my writer pal of long-standing, Cynthia Wright, and I rented a stone cottage through the National Trust, an old lime kiln near Fowey, Cornwall, next to a creek and a half mile from where our mutual heroine Daphne du Maurier wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit, in 1931. On that trip we explored the many National Trust paths along the Cornish cliffs, falling in love with the one that begins at Bodinnick across the river from Fowey, runs past the footbridge near our rented cottage at Pont Pill, and up a few miles along a sylvan path to the village of Polruan.
On our most recent research trip in October of 2012, Cynthia and I retraced our steps of nearly two decades earlier so that I could refresh my memory of that region and learn more about the wonderful work of the volunteer K9 groups dedicated to search and rescue efforts all over Britain—research that provide the “back-story” to the new novel. The trip also allowed Cynthia to research her new series of novels that deal with eighteenth century smugglers that inhabited the region we both love to explore, so we kept laughing that all our readers would have the benefit of this joint research trip.
One of the great joys of that sojourn was our stay at Caerhays Castle near Gorran Haven, the model for “Barton Hall” nearly a week in Bottom Lodge across from Portluney Beach was an idyllic way to soak up the magical atmosphere of that area of mid-Cornwall. And the more I learned about the links between Cornwall and its emigrants to America (and especially to the Wyoming mines and ranches), the more the story of That Summer in Cornwall simply fell into place
A further example of serendipity when a writer embraces the notion of bringing readers into the “world” of the novel was the exhibit “Risking Their Lives to Save Yours: Search & Rescue” that was featured at the National Maritime Museum in nearby Falmouth during my most recent research trip. There I found amazing displays featuring everything from photographs of rescue efforts a hundred years ago to the presence of a full-sized Westland Sea King helicopter. My wandering through this major exhibit for hours provided the vivid, accurate details regarding the amazing volunteers and professionals whose bravery and skill save lives every year in Great Britain. At the Maritime Museum, it was all there for me simply to observe and absorb in a way merely going on the Internet or reading a book wouldn’t provide.
To be eligible to win an e-book copy of That Summer in Cornwall, I hope many of you will comment on and describe your own experiences reading books that gave you a sense that you had traveled to the locales described by the authors--novels that truly swept you away and gave you a feeling that “You Are There.”
For more images of the beautiful places I’ve explored in Cornwall, visit www.cijiware.com, www.facebook.com/CijiWareNovelist andwww.pinterest.com/cijiware
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Meredith Champlin is stunned to find herself the legal guardian of Jane Barton Stowe, an unruly eleven-year-old “Beverly Hills Brat” whose mother—Meredith’s first cousin—died in a private plane crash. At the urging of their British relatives, Meredith decamps from her family’s Wyoming ranch to spend the summer with the ill-mannered, computer-addicted Janet at Barton Hall, a castle perched on the cliffs of Cornwall, with hopes that three months in the land of their ancestors might transform the troubled youngster into a happier child.
Then former British Army Lieutenant Sebastian Pryce—veteran of a canine bomb squad in Afghanistan—arrives at the estate with family secrets of his own. Soon, Meredith begins to wonder if their immediate attraction and his empathy for her young charge is a blessing, or merely the prelude to yet another heartbreak. Who could predict that her Corgi, Holly, The Pet Therapy Dog, and a novice search-and-rescue Border collie named T-Rex hold all the answers…
Praise: "That Summer in Cornwall by Ciji Ware is an enjoyable read that features a complex and interesting cast of characters. The story does feature a charming love story, and I relished the twists and turns of the relationship between Meredith and Sebastian." ~ Christy Carlyle of Night Owl Reviews
Ciji Ware is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, an Emmy-award-winning television producer, reporter, writer, lecturer, and host. Perhaps best known as a commentator and personality for seventeen years on ABC Radio in Los Angeles, she has worked for PBS and all three major networks, covering a wide range of topics in the areas of health, consumer and lifestyle subjects. Her novels and print journalism have won many awards. She has been married for 36 years to Internet executive, Tony Cook. A graduate of Harvard in History, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Honors and Awards
Dorothy Parker Award for Excellence for Historical Fiction
Finalist in the WILLA (Cather) Literary Award, 2012 for A Race to Splendor
Best Historical Novel, Romantic Times
Emmy as Producer, KCET-TV
Silver Gavel Award for Magazine Journalism
President, Emerita, Harvard Alumni/ae Association, Worldwide