Without further ado (or rather, further lateness on my part), here is the inimitable Justine Elyot, to talk to you lovely people about her shiny new book, Diamond, a novel packed full of heroism, satisfying villainy, and romance.
Are trilogies still the in thing? They certainly were when I was asked to write this one by the gang at Black Lace, and I hope they will continue to prosper while the Diamond Trilogy plays out.
My original inspiration for this story was the idea of a kind of modern Lady Chatterley's Lover, with Lady Chatterley as a working-class girl made good rather than an aristocratic wife, and Mellors as a fugitive hiding out in her attic.
My Lady Chatterley is Jenna Myatt Diamond, who has made a fortune as a talent-spotter in the Simon Cowell vein after promoting her rocker boyfriend to stardom when they were both teenagers. She is not an ignorant, innocent flower but the pressures of her life have meant that she has put her old ideals of what love and sex should be on the back-burner while her career took over. Meanwhile, her rock star husband turned his attentions elsewhere…
One nasty LA divorce later, and Jenna is taking a year off in her home town, the former Nottinghamshire mining community of Bledburn. (Not so far from Eastwood, where D H Lawrence grew up…)
She has decided to spend that year renovating the crumbling old home of the locally hated Harville family. Little does she know that the crumbling attic of the crumbling home contains a surprise…
Here's an excerpt:
In many ways the place hadn't changed. Not in every way – the high rises were gone, replaced with nests of tiny newbuilds. The pit head was a museum now, and there was a ring road encircling the town, keeping it in, separate from the old coal mining landscape that had been its life blood - as if to say 'This isn't part of you any more'.
The signs of modernity were calculated to comfort, but they didn't do much for Jenna's mood and she found herself in uncertain spirits as she parked the car and wandered down the lone pedestrianised street that made up the 'town centre'.
Perhaps this had been a mistake, she thought, looking into the shop windows - those that weren't boarded up. The only businesses that seemed to be flourishing on this wet Wednesday afternoon were the bookmakers, the pound shops and the glorified pawnbrokers that had sprung up on every corner.
A big chain pub with a happy hour that lasted until teatime was full and bright, as if its façade of good cheer had sucked everyone off the street and left it empty. She thought about going in and getting a nip of something to keep the shivers off, but there was no guarantee she wouldn’t be recognised, and conversation was the last thing she was after.
The high street drifted into nothingness, the old covered market abandoned now, just a shed earmarked for demolition. She stepped under its dark old awning and tried to remember it the way it was: the smells of overripe fruit and veg, meat and fish all competing to hit the back of her throat the hardest. The little stalls full of knitting wools or costume jewellery or model making kits. The slow crowds of old ladies in five layers of clothing and kids in tracksuits. And at the centre of it all, Smash Records, where she had spent every Saturday afternoon. Where she had met Deano.
She made a sharp about-turn and walked swiftly to the end of the street and into the residential area beyond, her umbrella charging before her like a weapon. Densely-packed terraces gave way to more spacious environs within a ten minute walk and soon she saw the church tower that confirmed she had taken the right route and was near her destination.
She decided to walk through the churchyard rather than keep on the straight path – something about churchyards in pouring rain encouraged contemplative peace, and she was in need of it. Among the lichened stones bearing names of people who had breathed their last centuries before, she stopped and looked up at the sky. Its grey threat was not the best omen for a day on which her life would change.
But she didn't believe in things like that. She believed in making your own luck. She had made hers, and now she could afford to buy the house that had fascinated her since childhood. And if she didn't get a shove on, she'd be late to pick up the keys.
There it stood, just the other side of the churchyard, mostly hidden behind a high yew hedge. The grounds of Harville Hall had been the scene of many a childhood exploration, ever since the family had abandoned it during the miners' strike, when she was five. She and the other kids from the estate had used its ever-more-overgrown gardens and woodland for innumerable games of A-Team and Robin Hood. She had never managed to get inside the house, though, because the walls had bristled with alarms and those new cameras that filmed you. The big red spray painted 'TRAITOR' on the side gable hadn't been washed off for years.
Of course, it would be long gone now.
She went to stand by the padlocked front gate, looking up and down the street for signs of the keybearer. The house had been lived in again since its abandonment, but little had been done to it in the way of renovation. Although structurally sound, it had a blank, neglected look.
Within half a minute, the door of a shiny red sports car parked up the road had opened and a man in a very smart dark blue peacoat stepped out and strode towards her. Having no umbrella, he held a leather satchel over his head to keep off the rain and he grimaced at her as he drew level. The grimace did nothing to disguise his handsomeness, though. Jenna was pleasantly impressed and couldn't help giving him one of her brightest beams back.
'Hi,' she said. 'Jenna Myatt.'
'Thank God for that,' he said, holding out the hand that wasn't occupied with the satchel. '
Harville. What a day. Shall we step inside? Or I could hand over the keys in my
car, if you prefer?' Lawrence
The book is available right now from Amazon