Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Do drop in to Appley Green ... as you're passing by!

My three novels are all set in Appley Green – an amalgam of many lovely Surrey villages. I think it is the village green that makes them so special – so English!
Leaves beginning to turn in Frimley Green
I have been lucky enough to take holidays in beautiful, culturally varied and sunny parts of the world.

So, why would I not set my novels in a more exotic location?
A shady spot in Elstead
It is wonderful to see new and exciting places; very stimulating, as I am sure other holiday-makers will agree. For me, a visit does not dig deep enough into everyday lives, try as I may to talk to the locals and soak up their culture, history and traditions; so stretching my imagination into the realms of their reality would be risky.

Surrey is a lovely place to live. There may be prettier places – the chocolate-box honey-stone cottages in the Cotswolds, where I come from originally, for example. But perhaps ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, as the saying goes.

‘Rush-grass and bog-cotton could look bleak on a rainy day though, she knew that; but Steph loved the wilderness she was used to; the golden gorse and purple heather of summer, the all-pervasive bracken that would change its hue from springtime acid green to the copper tones of autumn.’ (from Shades of Appley Green)
I feel blessed to have lived in Surrey for about 35 years – with its relatively low crime rates, desirable homes, good amenities and really rather nice people, as well as an abundance of trees and panoramic views. Traffic can be irksome, in places, but an author can do something about that! This was one of the delights in creating my own village!

Although within easy reach of London, it is  ‘ …a village not blighted by the throb and fumes of through-traffic. Locals generally stuck to an unwritten code that the able-bodied should walk or cycle to local amenities when possible.’

Taken today ...

Anyone living in, say, Chicago, Manchester, Helsinki or Delhi might read about people’s lives in Appley Green and feel  transported to another world; while British residents will recognise a place they know, in some way or another; as well as the sense of community, family relationships and the human spirit rising against the odds.

I set my first novel Gypsies Stop tHere  in Appley Green, giving the village this name for two reasons. I wanted the word Green in it, and I thought Appley would loosely resonate with Appleby in Cumbria famous for the Gypsy Horse Fairs. Later, I stood on Appley Beach on the Isle of Wight and decided then that the name of my fictitious English village would be Appley Green. It just sounded right.
My first two novels, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served  do venture into another world that is on our doorstep all around England, but only as far as I feel I should, as a non-Gypsy.  Shades of Appley Green  is about something else.

‘Steph is a special, but troubled young woman. Chosen by the most venerated man in Appley Green to fulfil his mission, she feels publicly admired rather than privately loved. She certainly does not trust men!

In helping a once famous, elderly architect with Parkinson’s regain a social life, she finds herself taking personal risks, fending off objections, blind to danger. We wait for the moment when it dawns on Steph what is driving her deep-seated obsession; for only then can she find the happiness she deserves.

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.’

The book cover’s summery photograph was taken in Tilford Green. Landlord of this ‘quintessential English Country pub’, The Barley Mow, built in 1705, a stone’s throw from the park benches, told me the reason one of the seat arms was missing. A Gypsy had tied up his horse and … well you can guess. He had no idea about my first two novels, so that was quite strange.
“Nestling quietly in a middle-England wasteland of sandy heath, Appley Green straddles the boundaries of two counties south west of London.”


  1. I think it looks absolutely beautiful, Miriam...in fact I'm a little envious! The name of Appley Green is just perfect too :)

  2. It looks and sounds heavenly. What's the property market like....??? LOL, great post, Miriam, gives a real flavour for the books. Thank you!

  3. Beautiful Miriam and lovely photos - all seasons, except the snow! Think I might drop by Appley Green sometime soon....ha! ha!

  4. Thanks so much everyone - Linn, I was going to put in a snow scene (just like one in Shades of Appley Green) but decided to keep it for another day - watch this space!!

  5. Looks absolutely gorgeous! I agree that a holiday is never enough to get under the skin of a place, especially in a hotel or campsite - so much better to live with a 'native' - or just move there permanently, as you have done!
    Ali B