About five years ago I went on a press trip to the champagne region of France. I was working at the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer at the time and one of the perks of the job was getting to go on press trips. This one was particularly fantastic as it was organised by the Champagne Bureau so it was wining and dining in top class restaurants, drinking the best champagne and of course doing lots and lots of research!!
It was probably one of the best press trips I've been on, although it really was hard work, as we were taken to one champagne house after another and there was so much to take in... no I don't mean the booze! I mean info.
We met the wealthy owners of vineyards, had a wonderful home cooked meal in one of their sumptuous homes on one occasion, ate out with important champagney-type people, wandered through vineyards, went down into softly-lit cellars and spoke broken French/English with the champagne growers.
Back home I wrote my articles and features on the trip then filed the notes, photographs and memories safely away under one word, Champagne.
Then, only about a year ago, after getting a romance novella published by My Weekly, called A Tropical Affair, and flushed with success decided to write another one, I started to think what my next romance could be about, and where could I set it.
It didn't take long for me to realise I had the perfect setting filed away, the perfect opportunity for romance to blossom, I even had a whole hoard of dialogue that I could dip in to.
Out came the notes, the photos and the memories. Add a story line where, not so surprisingly the protagonist was a journalist, and off we go!
Champagne Harvest was the result, which in the end was accepted by People's Friend as a 50,000 word pocket novel. It came out on 6th September, and enjoyed life on the newsagents shelves for a week before it was overtaken by the next pocket novel on the publisher's list.
That's fine however, as then I can try and get it accepted as a hardback or large print book by another publisher, which happily is what has happened with A Tropical Affair. And of course get it out there as an ebook.
Naturally I'll be changing the cover for the e-version, so now I'm wondering if I can utilise one of those photographs which we took over in France, but maybe, in the meantime I'll just pop the cork of one of the bottles I brought back and drink to those fond memories which have happily provided me with both the non-fiction and fictional stories I needed.