The story behind The Cornish Hideaway by SJV
Here at @TeamBATC we LOVE hidden chapters, secret sneaky peaks and access to exclusive content, and we know you do too, so, as a special treat, Jennifer Bibby has kindly shared the story behind The Cornish Hideway!
The Cornish Hideaway has been on quite a journey, one that has taken it over 1,244 miles and spans almost five hundred years. Let’s first travel back to Easter 2004. I was in my second year at university studying Creative Writing when the BBC put out a documentary called The Divine Michelangelo that detailed the life of the Renaissance artist. Watching it, the actor who played a dramatically over-the-top Michelangelo in a big wig inspired me to create Angelo, a temperamental artist discovered bruised and battered on Tuscan farmland in the year 1500. Alessandra, the farmer’s daughter, helped nurse him back to life and saw in him a chance to shift her horizons beyond the small village she was born in. In return for the village saving him, Angelo painted religious frescoes on the church wall, but his presence, and his association with Alessandra, were not welcomed by everyone.
Over the years, no matter what else I was writing, I always returned to this story, dreaming of writing a sweeping historical romance before realizing I was a bit on the lazy side to do all the research! I knew I wanted to tell the story of Angelo and Alessandra so attempted to move them first to modern Tuscany before relocating them to a seaside town in England. But nothing quite worked until in 2014 I took a trip to St Ives with a friend. Something about the rugged Cornish coastline, the sea, the feeling of being at the end of the world, made me realize I had to set my story in Cornwall (accompanied by a groan at becoming yet another writer who’d fallen prey to Cornwall’s charms!).
It took me until 2019 to get the right voice for the novel and this primarily lay with the Alessandra character. She went through multiple name changes from Alexa to Lexi until I realized the key to the novel was creating her anew and Freya was born. The name conjured up a more free-spirited artist and, along with swapping from a first to third person narrative, the novel slowly began to form and the quaint village of Polcarrow and its colourful cast of characters were born. I wrote most of the novel in 2020 as an escape from lockdown and submitted it as my New Writers’ Scheme novel to the Romantic Novelists Association. A favourable report encouraged me to tweak the latter half of the book and I submitted it to Simon & Schuster through the Books and the City’s #DigitalOriginals #OneDay open submission day in September 2020. I think it’s safe to say the rest is history!
At lot of the original Renaissance story is still woven through my modern tale. Angelo rides a bike because he originally arrived on horseback. Like Alessandra, Freya desires to make her life better through painting. An old wise woman called Nonna became vibrant, Tarot card-reading Lola and the young priest who gave council five hundred years ago was reborn as Tristan, the new vicar. The tattoo on Angelo’s back, well, that’s supposed to be a copy of the fresco his sixteenth-century counterpart painted.
After an eighteen-year journey with my characters I think I’ve found the perfect home for them, and I hope you’ll enjoy spending some sultry summer days with the Polcarrow crew.
The Cornish Hideaway, the debut #DigitalOriginals novel by Jennifer Bibby is out NOW in eBook.
A beautiful village. An artist who’s lost her spark. And a community who help her find it again.
‘Charming and romantic, sweet and sunny. I loved it’ MILLY JOHNSON
‘A warm and charm-filled story about community, passion and following your heart, The Cornish Hideaway is a feel-good delight. Its dreamy seaside setting and cast of loveable characters quickly became a world I didn’t want to leave. A holiday romance in book form – I adored it!’ HOLLY MILLER
‘I absolutely loved the gorgeous seaside setting and the wonderful sense of community!’ HOLLY MARTIN
‘A sun-drenched delight, an absolute joy!’ HEIDI SWAIN
‘A wonderfully charming debut’ JACKIE FRASER
‘A sun-drenched summer in picture-perfect Polcarrow – I didn’t want it to end’ HOLLY HEPBURN
All Freya has ever wanted to do is paint. So when she fails her Master’s Degree in Art, on the same day that her boyfriend decides he needs a ‘more serious’ partner, to Freya it feels like the end of the world.
Luckily, she has a saviour in the shape of best friend Lola, who invites her to the sleepy Cornish village of Polcarrow, to work in her café. With nothing keeping her in London, Freya jumps at the chance of a summer by the sea.
Freya needs time to focus on herself. But then dark and mysterious biker Angelo blows into town on a stormy afternoon, with his own artistic dreams and a secretive past, and Freya’s plans of a romance-free summer fly straight out of the window…
Heart-warming, heartfelt and romantic, The Cornish Hideaway is a novel of community, friendship and learning to love again, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Cathy Bramley and Heidi Swain.