how I went to Brighton and came back with a book

Filed under: research, The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’ve been celebrating the launch of my book everywhere lately—including on Risky Regencies, the QVC blog and, today, on the Word Wenches. But I haven’t properly celebrated it here, on my own website.

So for the next few days I’m going to be posting some stuff about my book, The Summer of Living Dangerously. Some behind-the-scenes stuff, mostly: about research, about how I wrote it, about the soundtrack and the influences, about some of the issues in the book that have touched me.

First, how the book started. It’s about historical re-enactors, and I got the idea for it when the Rock God and I were in Brighton for our anniversary. We stayed in this brilliant B&B called The Brighton Pavilions Hotel, where every room was decorated to a different theme. We stayed in the Royal Pavilion room and of course our first priority was to visit the Royal Pavilion, the Prince Regent’s lush folly of a seaside retreat.

As soon as we walked up, we were greeted by a woman dressed as a Regency-era servant. She greeted us, told us which way to enter, and then immediately got into an argument with a man dressed as some sort of groom. In the Long Gallery, a young gentlewoman asked if we were there as guests of the Prince; a servant lounged in the kitchen waiting for his favourite kitchen maid to flirt with. When we got to the Music Room, Prince George himself was there, demanding we bow, and treating us as if we were soldiers returning from the Peninsular Wars.

It was amazing.

Afterwards, we walked down to the sea front and saw a gathering of VW camper vans. (This is, apparently, very typical in Brighton.) Then we went to the pub. And it was in the pub that I turned to my husband and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to set a book in a place like that? And to have a heroine who was a historical interpreter, but in reality her life was a total mess, so she became completely obsessed by her fake historical life so that she could escape from her real life?’

And the long-suffering but perfect Rock God said, ‘Yes, that would be great. Have some more wine.’

And so, the book was born.

Next post…YEAH BABY.

The Summer of Living Dangerously is available from here in paperback and for Kindle, from for Kindle here, and with free international shipping from The Book Depository here.

This week, I’m on BBC Radio Berkshire on Thursday at 2.00 pm, an author guest at the 14/4 Literary Dinner in Windsor on Friday, and signing copies of my new book at Waterstones in the Oracle, Reading, on Saturday 17th March from 11-2.

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