We’re so pleased to welcome author Alex Beecroft and the Foxglove Copse blog tour to TNA today. We’ve got a great guest post to share with you, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway details too.
Having chosen to make Ruan a deeply settled person surrounded by his land and his kin, it was an easy choice to make Sam the complete opposite – alienated from his family and with no place at all to call home.
When I was growing up, the New Age Travellers were often on the news – trying to live a nomadic life in their vans and caravans, moving from one festival to another in the summer, and scaring the uptight middle class folk on whose land they briefly parked. As a child, I remember thinking how romantic that lifestyle was, and very much admiring them for their freedom and their reluctance to play by societal rules that even then felt particularly stifling to me. (Though as an agender, asexual person, I wasn’t to know why I didn’t fit in for a long time afterwards.)
At any rate, when I was evolving Sam as a character, I briefly thought “he could be a new age traveller!” But research proved that, as a movement, they weren’t really around anymore, having been viciously put down during the Thatcher years. Sam would be too young for that. Plus – far from making him solitary and friendless, it would have in fact given him a clan and a vibrant community of his own. So it wasn’t quite right.
But by the time I’d read up on the Travellers, I was very attached to the idea of Sam in his van. I worried that maybe the hero+van combination was played out after Darren from Shining in the Sun had a beat-up white van that he lived in, but I couldn’t get rid of the certainty that Sam was also a van man, and I was sure I could do that a different way, this time.
Looking up “how to live in a van” on the internet introduced me to the world of off-grid living, a kinder, gentler kind of survivalism. Previously, when I thought of survivalists, it was with guns and bunkers, but here were people who were selling their businesses, adapting vans and trucks with all sorts of eco-gadgets and setting out to live off-grid for the minimum amount of money possible.
I learned that you could run a van off used chip-fat that was being thrown out from the local chippy, if you filtered all the particulates out of it first. There were ways that you could stay connected to the internet even while you disconnected from the power grid and the water and sewage systems. You could earn money via internet businesses or art or casual labour, and because you were not paying a mortgage, or rates or rent, you wouldn’t have to work as long or as hard to cover your much lower costs.
Again, the idea really appealed to me, and I was sure it would appeal to Sam, who was also the sort of person whose instinctive reaction to trouble and stress was to pack up and drive far away from it, hoping never to be found again.
Once I had that, I had his back-story – he was someone who once had a high-powered job and a family with unmeetable expectations, who ran away from them both, hoping to find a less pressured lifestyle, sleeping under the stars, getting odd-jobs here and there to afford to eat.
But of course, that sounds lovely in the summer when you’re rolling up into a town full of holiday makers and sitting in the sun in your van doorway, watching the world go by. It’s when mid-winter arrives and you can’t afford to run the water-heater enough for a shower that I imagine this lifestyle begins to bite.
That is the point where we find Sam at the beginning of Foxglove Copse. It’s cold, he’s completely alone, he knows no-one and he’s running out of money. His stress-free life has turned into a nightmare. And then he wanders into what looks like a Satanic sacrifice, and the locals are looking for someone to blame. This is the point where even the most solitary of introverts starts wishing they had people on their side, and this is the point where he meets Ruan Gwynn.
About the Book
After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.
Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.
Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.
About the Porthkennack Universe
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
About the Author
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
To celebrate the release of Foxglove Copse, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook of their choice from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 9, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!