August 1st is Yorkshire Day, so today I thought I’d share some photos and a post about my county.
Many years ago I spent a week in a hostel in the middle of the Yorkshire moors with a group of teenagers from an industrial city in Germany. They were on an exchange with a group of English lads from a similar cities in Yorkshire. All had spent their teenage years in difficult, sometimes extremely tough circumstances, and were from various cultural backgrounds, ranging from Turkey to Korea to Pakistan. One thing these lads all had in common, though: they’d all been born and bred in a city.
As we sat in the coach on the way from Leeds/Bradford airport, gazing out at the rolling heather, the moors stretching into the distance, all greens and purples, with not a bar, or a café, or a MacDonalds in sight, one of the young men murmured, with his face pressed to the window: ‘Ich habe Grün-Schock.’ Literally: I’m suffering from green shock. What a great expression!
Over the years I’ve thought a lot about that week on the moors, and a few years ago I began to turn the experience into a story. I thought up a heroine who is a Londoner. Kate Hemingway, born Katerina Rudecka, spent time living homeless as a teenager and now volunteers with teenage girls, helping them in their turn to mend their broken lives.
I wondered how it would be if I took Kate and her group of London teenagers away from the city and into the middle of the Yorkshire moors. And then I wondered how it would be if they had a journalist accompanying them – someone from a completely different background; male, upper-class, and (outwardly, at least) appearing to have all the advantages a public-school education can offer. So, a completely random group of people, brought together out of the city and surrounded by sheep and moorland for a week. How would they all get on?
One of the teenagers in my novel is from Afghanistan, and I took the theme of my story from an old Afghan proverb: ‘There is a way from heart to heart.’
My story is filled with differences in culture: between town and country, between East and West, between rich and poor. And yet despite all these differences, where basic emotions are concerned, the human heart is the same the world over, with the same capacity for love. At the core of my novel is a romance (of course!), but it also deals with the love between best friends, between families, and with the intensity of teenage love.
These have been troubled times for all of us this year. ‘There is a way from heart to heart’ is the positive, uplifting message I wanted to leave readers with at the end of my novel, The Summer of Love and Secrets.
The cover reflects the lovely greens and the purple heather of the Yorkshire moorland, and the bright blue skies of summer, as the story is set in a heatwave.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my virtual trip to Yorkshire. Happy Yorkshire Day!