Hermie…. by Paige Toon
I have got serious wanderlust. Luckily, my job enables me to travel for a living. If my family holiday isn’t dictated by where my next book is going to be set, then I’ll set a book in the place that we’re visiting on our next family holiday. The long and the short of it is I always aim to write about places I’ve been to – being in the same surroundings as my heroines brings the stories to life for me, and hopefully that has a knock-on effect for my readers, too.
A few years ago, we bought a campervan, a twenty-year-old Mercedes Vito Marco Polo that we promptly named Hermie (shortened from Herman The German and born out of a family in-joke). We went to Cornwall for a week in the summer of 2016, but it wasn’t until we were driving out of the campsite in Padstow that I thought, this would be the perfect setting for The Last Piece of My Heart. My heroine, Bridget, lives in her very own ‘Hermie’ for three months while ghost writing the sequel to a novel by a late author.
On our return to Cambridge, we parked Hermie down at the end of the garden – partly for inspiration, but mostly so I could get some peace and quiet as I was behind on my deadline. I wrote a big chunk of that novel while sitting at Hermie’s little yellow table. I could even make myself a cuppa on the gas fire. It was sickeningly idyllic.
I loved Cornwall so much that we decided to go back in 2017, this time incorporating my research for Five Years From Now – my characters grow up in a cottage on the Helford River, so we stayed, you guessed it, in a cottage on the Helford River.
But I missed Hermie. And the wanderlust I’m experiencing right now is a little bit different to everything I’ve felt before. My husband and I are longing to see more of Europe. We’re desperate to travel far and wide. We particularly want to go to Norway, to explore the fjords, to pull up at the side of a lake and make a cup of tea while the kids kick a ball around. We might only have a few more years of them wanting to join us on family campervan holidays and we want to make the most of every single second of it.
But sadly, Hermie has had to be retired. He’s become very unreliable, so it was time to look at buying something a little younger, a little spritelier, something a little less likely to break down while approaching a roundabout in the middle of God only knows where.
We might still make it to Norway this summer – if we get another campervan in time – but if not, I’m hoping the view from the end of our garden will be plenty enough inspiration instead. I’ve wanted to build a writer’s studio ever since we moved to the Cambridge countryside from London seven years ago. Now, I finally have one. And his name is Hermie.
Love P xx
Five Years From Now is out now in all good bookshops.