When I was discussing the titles for this series with my editor, we batted various suggestions back and forth. I can’t remember who came up with Bluebell Castle (I’m going to assume it was Charlotte, my editor, because she’s brilliant), but it resonated immediately. I could just picture an ancient wood sprawling out within the castle grounds, a carpet of dancing bluebells as far as the eye could see. It’s just such a quintessential part of the British countryside, and I knew it was a place I could draw the reader into with just a few descriptive words:
Beneath the tangled limbs of what was clearly an ancient wood, a sea of dancing bluebells spread out to a faded blur in the distance. The ground looked untouched, as though no one had walked beneath those ancient boughs for years. A magical place, like the photographer had strayed through the barrier between reality and fantasy and if the observer just looked hard enough, they might spot a fairy, or sprite peeking out between the roots of one of the ancient oaks.
find the bluebells
We are incredibly lucky that the National Trust protect so many of our historic buildings and their surrounding grounds. If reading Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle inspires you, and you fancy getting out and about this spring, what could be more perfect than a walk through one of nature’s most beautiful displays? https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/bluebell-woods-near-you
I was lucky enough to grow up in Wiltshire, which is home to many amazing outdoor spaces to explore, including Savernake Forest. Although still privately owned, it is managed by the Forestry Commission and there are lots of wonderful walks open to the public. In the spring, it is awash with bluebells and well worth a visit.
There are also many ancient stone circles, round barrows and long barrows within easy travelling distance of Savernake, including Avebury, Stonehenge and the West Kennet long barrow. I’ve always found these places fascinating. Like those ancient woods they are a place out of time, and I couldn’t resist placing a tribute to them in the heart of the woods of Bluebell Castle. Historic England have a fantastic database of scheduled sites if you want to find out more about stone circles in your area: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/
I love to start a new series in the spring. It’s such a hopeful time of the year, and the first green shoots and blossom sprouting everywhere are the perfect metaphors for introducing a new set of characters I hope my readers will take into their hearts and cheer for them as we follow their stories through the year.
It’s also a wonderful way to think about romance – so much beauty and potential as the hero and heroine meet and sow the seeds for their happy ever after. And, of course, the weather in spring is very unpredictable, just like a new relationship – sunshine one moment, sharp cold showers the next threatening to wash those seeds away before they can take root.
themes and storylines close to the heart
Family is always at the heart of my books – where we come from, how that influences our actions, the decisions we make to shape and build the family we need to be happy. The internal character conflicts generated by those familial influences – both good and bad – are the most difficult and most rewarding to write.
‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ That Shakespeare chap certainly had a way with words, didn’t he? And this is pretty much the mantra adopted by romance writers, and not just because it’s a fantastic plot device, but because it speaks to one of life’s fundamental truths – nothing comes to us easily, but the right kind of love is always something worth fighting for.
Thanks Sarah Bennett for immersing us in wonderful scenes of bluebells! If you’d like even more, Sarah’s book ‘Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle’ is available to buy now on Amazon. Prepare to be uplifted!