Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Treasure means different things to different people.....

What comes to your mind?

(I have to admit that this post is an expansion of an earlier one) 

The arena in which my latest story takes place is archaeology.  So the reason I decided to call the book BURIED TREASURE is self explanatory.  It is an accurate description of what most people's view of archaeology is - the search for treasures of the past, hidden beneath the earth we walk on.  But it's a simplistic definition. There is a lot more to the discipline than that. 

The main players in  BURIED TREASURE are two, very different, people - a conference planner and a university lecturer.  Each is marked by issues from their past, but each has closed off the hurt. There is nothing in their first meeting which suggests they should expect, let alone want to  connect again. But they have more in common than they could imagine. Each has an  archaeological puzzle they would like to resolve. 

And so begins an unlikely friendship, which develops - after many alarms and diversions - into something more profound. 

To design my cover, I looked endlessly at images of treasure and of archaeological digs.  Nothing I saw, though interesting and attractive in themselves, really spoke to me. My quest for the perfect image prompted me to ask the question: But what is Treasure?  

There's the magic crock of gold, but to find it you need a rainbow and a method to locate the spot where it touches the ground.

There’s the cave in the desert, lit by the jewellery, gems and tumble of golden coins and artefacts which fill it.  But to conjure the genii who will transport you there, you'll need a magic lamp.

To discover the location of the pirates' chest of gold you must first find a dusty old curiosity shop. Hidden in a dark corner amongst the jumble, there's bound to be a parchment scroll which, smoothed out, will reveal a map of a desert island. A dotted line leads to the spot, marked with an X.

But BURIED TREASURE is less about material treasure (or even archaeology) than it is about the damage that burying the past can inflict on the present.  It is easier to suppress hurt and humiliation, and erect barriers against the world. It is only by trusting again, and exposing your mistakes to the light, that you can rediscover the best of yourself.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


So what did a Hairy Hobbit have to do with the major turning point in my life?

There are probably many turning points in life that you simply don't recognise as such  How can you know what might have happened had you missed that train? Was your life unwittingly changed by coming off the roundabout at the wrong exit that time?

There are also those moments when you did make a deliberate choice, and in looking back you are able to recognise your decision had significant consequences.  But which of these was the most life changing?

The only subject at school I was demonstrably good at was art. I’m from an arty family, and parental expectation encouraged me in that direction, despite the fact that my all-consuming hobby was writing endless romantic sagas. They assumed that this was more to do with my hormones than a form of self-expression that required fostering. I agreed with them and as soon as I was able, left school and went to art college.

Croydon Art College was something of a disappointment.  Not only was it a time when abstract expressionism was ‘the thing’, and what you said about your work was taken more seriously than the skill with which you’d executed it, but the college expected us to work harder than I was prepared for.  It was the social side and the friendships I made there that illuminate that short period of my life.

After two years I decided to get a job in the ‘art world’. As a nineteen-year-old art school drop-out, who had little to show in the way of a portfolio, it would have been more surprising if I had been successful in my quest. But because I’d left home to flat-share I had to support myself somehow.  With no obvious skills other than the ability to draw, I worked as a sales assistant - selling shoes, then accessories, then children's and teenage fashions, and then wigs in various London Department stores - and I intermittently supplemented my income with bar work.  Increasingly depressed, I eventually decided to ‘train’ as a beauty consultant for Revlon - then one of the major cosmetic and skin care brands - but after just over a year I came to realise that the only face I am really interested in is my own (and I prefer it not to be orange).

A cartoon I drew shortly after I quit the job. 

I then found a commission-only job as one of a group of girls ‘picking-up’ U.S. holidaymakers in London’s tourist hot spots, in order to inveigle them onto a free sightseeing coach tour of London, plus a free lunch at the Hilton.. What was the catch?  That these unfortunates were then subjected to a high-pressure sales pitch to buy Real Estate in Florida.
Everyone I knew was amazed I’d taken this job. It was clearer to them than to me that I’d not be able to hack it. The first (and most disabling) of the drawbacks was that I’m shy and found it hard to approach anyone.  Second - we girls had to find married couples (not shacked-up, not brother and sister, not 'just friends'). Third - it’s sometimes harder than you’d think identifying Americans; I had my share of Germans and Canadians. Fourth - we were supposed to only offer the freebie tour to people in employment (not students, not retired).  And fifth - black married couples were acceptable but not mixed-race couples (in case it made the rest of the tour feel awkward)!  This, the longest job to explain, was the shortest job of my life.  I managed 4 weeks and spent most of the time weeping in coffee bars. I hardly earned a bean.

All the while, but only in fits and starts during these barren years (no boyfriend, no money, low self-esteem), I was still on the look-out for my mythical art job.  I considered editorial illustration or book illustration or fashion drawing, and applied for junior positions in the art departments of anyone I could think of, while gradually building up an increasingly competent portfolio.

My father was an Ad man all of his working life, but by the time I left college he was the casualty of an advertising agency takeover. He had gone from Creative Director to working for himself. Although he was unable to help me directly, he was the unwitting channel to my big break.

He had a photographer friend, Harry Scotting, who was more than just an industry colleague.  Harry had long been a family friend and as a favour had quite recently converted all of my best art-work into photo copies. But even with a far more professional portfolio I had yet to make an impression on any likely employer.

Harry was throwing a party at his studio in Midford Place, near Warren Street tube station.  My parents were invited.  I was out of work, had no boyfriend, and was in need of cheering up, so I went along too. There I met a man, Peter Sutton who had not long arrived in the country (but with British friends in advertising, had wangled an invite to the party). He too was unemployed and looking for a job as an advertising copy-writer, .

Up until this time I’d been told over and over that I was too choosy about men. So when this very small man, a good ten or more years older than me, with wild hair and a wild beard, and a very plummy accent despite being South African, took a very determined fancy to me and kept badgering me to dance, I eventually capitulated. The man who that evening my parent’s nick-named my little hairy Hobbit was extremely persistent and, although I didn't find him physically attractive in any way, Peter had the gift of the gab and he made me laugh. I decided the time had come to take my friends’ advice and accept his invitation to 'go out'. From the start he had a misguided view of me. I was 'an artist' and therefore must have far more intellectually adventurous and alternative tastes, than I actually did. His own enthusiasms tended towards esoteric jazz, art house movies, ‘happenings’’, and shows where the whole performance was conducted in mime!!!!

Peter was always late to our various rendezvous in London.  I was coming to the end of my patience. I knew he had higher hopes of the relationship than I did. I never slept with him - I don't think I even kissed him hence the nickname he awarded me Frozen Camelia! - and fed-up with hanging around waiting for someone I was not that bothered about (but not wanting to lead him on) I knew I would have to take a stand soon. To make things even more awkward he'd taken to calling me his 'lucky charm' as he'd got the job he was after with one of London's top ad agencies.

The major turning point in my life came after I’d spent the day hawking my specimens round various artists’ agents and magazines with no reward.  So the luck which might have swooshed past me without stopping that evening, was temporarily halted by the fact I had my portfolio tucked under my arm when I met (or rather, when I began waiting for) Peter, outside the South African Embassy on Trafalgar Square.  Standing alongside the permanent Anti-Apartheid picket there (with them in spirit if not actually demonstrating) I began checking the time. Twenty-five minutes passed. I was tired and fed-up and decided to go home as soon as the minute hand reached the half hour.

Persis as Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek The Motion Picture

The beam - focused on me from that lucky star hovering overhead - turned up a notch when Peter arrived with a minute to spare.  He told me we were invited to dinner at the home of a friend of his, Alan Austin.  Dinner was not what I expected. I ate my portion of Indian takeaway sitting on the floor as Alan’s small flat was under-furnished, and his table wasn’t big enough to seat all of his guests. His girlfriend, Persis Khambatta, an Indian model and actress - who’d been Miss India and Miss Universe and was in several Hollywood films in subsequent years – was there, as were some of her friends or family (I was never sure who they all were) who were in the country.

After a slightly boozy lunch
Note the calendar!

My lucky star now turned its beam up to full strength.  Alan, it turned out, was a senior illustrator with David Judd Studios – an advertising design company.  During the evening he looked at the portfolio of my work (which I of course still had with me) and seemed impressed. He told me the studio had just lost its junior illustrator, and suggested I phone them ASAP.

I called the following day and made an almost immediate appointment to see the studio manager. I was offered the job there and then, and started the following Monday. My confidence soared and with it my sense of being in my proper place in the world.  I am afraid I did stop seeing Peter Sutton.  It seemed my only purpose in his life was to get him his job (by unknowingly sprinkling my magic).  His part in my life was to do the same, but in a more direct way.  His continuing lateness was also a factor in our parting of the ways.

About fifteen months later, my husband-to-be came into my life.  Geoffrey is and was very interested in art and actually more knowledgeable in the subject than I am. He may deny it, but the fact that when he met me I was an artist, (even if not of the 'fine' variety) had to make more of an impression than ‘shop girl’. Not only that, I was self-assured, confident, and at ease in my own skin. I can’t be absolutely sure of this, but I often wonder if we’d met when I was a demoralized and depressed shop assistant, would he have been so attracted, and pursued me with such determination?  And it is my husband who has supported me, been my best friend and given me the life that has enabled me to become a writer.

That crucial moment, outside the South African Embassy, when my little hairy hobbit managed to arrive in the nick of time, was very possibly the crucial turning point in my life.
Author pic by Harry Scotting for Desires & Dreams

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Talking About Myself (again) But This Time There's a Vibrator in the Story

On  Claire Sheldon's Site A STORY ABOUT A GIRL

(Read on to see how this is image is relevant in my life - other than as neck massager which, after falling off our patio a few days ago,  dong a back flip and landing on my head, I currently need!)

Q What inspired you to write the book?
A  Unfortunately I don’t experience ‘inspiration’ in the way many writers do. Mine is a more pragmatic approach. If I’ve witnessed, experienced or even heard about an incident, it can find its way into a plot in the most unexpected places. But the way a story pans out, is totally unpredictable, and only reveals itself to me AFTER I’ve started writing.  This is how it was with BURIED TREASURE. The scenario and building blocks of the story were derived from my own experience and elements I had ‘easy’ research access to - treasure, archaeology, a Cambridge College and conference planning.

* My great uncle unearthed a hoard of silver Roman table-ware on his Suffolk farm, known as the Mildenhall Treasure.

* My son - pictured here in the British Museum beside his great great uncle's discovery, is now an Early Medieval historian and desk-archaeologist. (He worked in the British Museum as project curator of the Viking Life and Legend exhibition in 2014, and since as curator of early medieval coins.)

* And I have been involved for more than a decade in the organisation of biannual conferences held at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

I reasoned that if I made my hero an academic archaeologist, and my heroine an events & conference planner, and the back drop for a proportion of the story a university college, it would be easy to flesh out the detail,  trusting that once set loose in the world I’d created, my imagination would do the rest.  What could go wrong?  In fact, it was probably the hardest book I’ve ever written.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know?
A There are loads of facts readers won’t know about me, but are they interesting enough to recount here?  The fact I used to be a commercial artist is something many people know.  It was the kind of job where I had to be able to turn my hand to drawing anything, from a motor bike to a baby. But I’ve not told many people that I once drew a woman holding a vibrator against her face. The product was ostensibly being marketed as if its purpose was to massage the cheek muscles! I no longer have the artwork nor ever knew if the idea (which would ultimately have been conveyed photographically)  ever made it into print. But I've found an image which gives an idea of the kind of ad it would have beae.

Q  If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece of advice would you give yourself ?
A   Not to take anything for granted and not to have unrealistic expectations. The world of publishing has changed a great deal since the digital revolution.  I started writing seriously back in the days when the only way to make your book available was to find a mainstream publisher.  Within about 4 months of finishing my first book, Just Before Dawn, I was lucky enough to interest a publisher, and the book hit the bookshelves the following year. But my visions of being a best-seller, of fame, of going on chat shows, and the money pouring in, were soon dashed.  Making a name for yourself is still as difficult. These days, although it is relatively easy to self-publish and put your book out in the marketplace, it is another matter entirely to raise its profile above the myriad others and to sell it.

Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

A  To play Jane Smith I wouldn’t want a drop-dead gorgeous actor. This could be taken to mean that my ‘either/or’ choices are plain. They are not, of course, but both are more quirky than classically beautiful, and both have character and are very good actors, which is often more important than looks.  Carey Mulligan or Anna Maxwell Martin.

To play Theo Tyler, who is nearing forty, I need an actor who will look good with white hair.  I have found one actor who has played a white-haired character in Game of Thrones – Harry Lloyd.
My other suggestion, in case Harry is unavailable, is Tom Riley.

Q  If you weren't writing what would you be doing?
A  I would be doing art.  I went to art school and, as I’ve already said, my first career was as an  illustrator on advertising. I still do art, in the sense that I’ve produced an annual family Christmas card, since I was seventeen and have attended life drawing classes forever.  In recent years I have also been involved in book illustration.

Q  Why did you decide to self-publish?
A  I was mainstream published at the beginning of my writing career.  But after bringing out two of my books, my small independent publisher ceased trading having found it difficult to compete with the big boys in the industry.  I banged my head against brick walls for some years until the invention of the ebook, when I self-published my books TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY OR FALL.  Accent Press became interested and took me on, republishing them under their own brand. Having been a little disappointed with my sales figures, when I finished BURIED TREASURE, I decided to try my hand at self-publishing again.  So I am currently a hybrid!!!!

Q  What writing tools do use, and which one could you not live without?
A   I use the desk top computer in my study.  I can’t write seriously on anything else.

Q  What would you say to someone who wants to write?
 Don’t postpone starting to write until you “have the time” or because you think there’s some magic formula, and if you read all the ‘How To’ books or go to enough writing courses and workshops, then you’ll discover the trick. In my view the only way to get better at writing is to do it … NOW!
You may only be able to grab a few moments here or there, and I’d never tell anyone not to read books on the craft of writing, or deny that you can be inspired or pick up tips from courses and workshops, just don’t let these activities replace doing it

Which authors inspired you to write?
A  Many books captured my imagination when I was a young reader. But if I am really honest, the first book that inspired me to try to write romantic fiction was not Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre, or even one of Georgette Heyer’s sparkling Regency Romances (all of which I read and enjoyed at a ridiculously young age).

I must have been around 12 - a critical moment for girls, when hormones are on the rise – and I was actively looking for someone or something to feed the romantic impulse which was blossoming inside me.  I found a dusty old hard back on the book shelves at home - the book - The Knave of Diamonds - by Ethel M Dell, was dated 1913. It had probably originally belonged to my great grandmother.

Although she didn’t try to stop me, my mother did try to dissuade me from reading this book. Looking back, I don’t think it was the subject matter or the sexist attitudes that worried her so much as the critical disdain then prevalent about the quality of Ethel's writing.
Prolific and a huge bestseller, Ethel was, arguably, the first writer of romance, as we understand the term. Shy and reclusive, she had begun writing young and had many short stories published in magazines.  Her writing is characterised by its focus on love and longing, repressed passion, a lot of heavy breathing, unutterable emotions and pounding hearts. For the times they were considered very racy. The Knave of Hearts ticked all the boxes for me.

Q    What are your writing routines?
A     I don’t really have a writing routine.  This can be a problem because it’s too easy to do something else.  Once a book has caught fire, however, the routine I need to impose is on the rest of my life.  Writing is all I want to do.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


I am reposting my recent interview with Sylvdotnet-Authors Services  

Q  When and where were you born?
  I’ll tell you the where but not the when.  Orpington, in Kent.

Q   Where do you live now?
A   In Gloucestershire, in the Cotswold Hills. Not the posh and sedate part, beloved of Tory grandees, but in a village near the far more counter-culture and alternative town of  Stroud.


Q  What is your favourite colour?
A   It’s got be yellow, the colour of sunshine, daffodils and baby chicks. When PVC was all the rage, I had a yellow oilskin (a proper sea-going garment).

Aged seventeen on the ferry going to
Southern Ireland on our family holiday 

Q  You didn’t go to university.  Why not?
A   My performance at school was indifferent. The only subject I was good at was art. (I have belatedly come to the conclusion that I’m dyslexic.  I can tick nearly all the markers.) I left to go to art school at sixteen but dropped out after 2 years.

Croydon College of Art and Design 

Q  When did you first start writing?
A   Influenced by my older sister, I first decided to write a book when I was around ten, but the difficulty of dreaming-up a coherent story soon blighted the creative bud.  I resurrected the hobby in my young teenage years and carried on writing – beginning but never finishing – a number of ‘books’. I did it to please myself, never considering it a serious ambition.

Q  What were you doing when the idea ‘to take writing seriously’ occurred to you?
A   I was doing the ironing, while listening to the radio. I had a three-year-old son, and was unenthusiastic about the idea of trying to resume work as an illustrator in advertising.  What else could I do that would enable me to stay at home?  What else was I good at? A radio programme came on about Mills and Boon, and the light bulb went on.

Q  You say you are unable to write a category romance, what do you mean?
A   I fully intended to try to write this kind of book but found I couldn’t do it. Once started the plot instantly took a very non-M&B direction. I am not dissing the genre, but in giving myself permission, as it were, to try writing seriously, I was instantly gripped by the magic and potential.  I knew I HAD to complete the story that was unfolding before my eyes, whether or not it proved a commercial prospect.

The fact that I can only embark on writing a book if my heart is in it, is strange in a way; I had no problem whatsoever turning out whatever was asked of me when I worked in advertising, however risible or tacky the brief.  I was a commercial artist. It was what I did.  Perhaps the lesson I can draw from this is that I’m not, and never have been a REAL artist.

Q  Do you have strongly held beliefs
A   I am fairly fatalistic about life, but I am more political than religious. I have a code I live by which could broadly be described as Christian; summed up by ‘Do as you would be done by’ and ‘He’s not heavy he’s my brother’. But I don’t take my scepticism about the super-natural as far as Richard Dawkins.  His certainty about the materiality of life annoys me, as his position discounts many people’s mystical and paranormal experiences. My own experience and that of members of my family, leads me to the sense (I wouldn’t put it as strongly as belief) that there is more to life than meets the eye.

The astrologoical chart drawn up for me by my
 uncle at the time of a serious road accident
Q  Have you achieved what you wanted to achieve in life?
A   How long have you got? As a child my ambition was simply to be rich and famous.  As art was the career I seemed to be heading for, a famous artist was the goal. I then decided I wanted to go out with and ultimately marry a pop star.  Every girl at school would envy me. The riches were a given, the fame would come vicariously.

Around the same time, I rather liked the idea of being a famous fashion model.  I was forever pulling ‘the face’ in mirrors, and wishing other people would see what I could see. The fact I was short, stumpy and not a beauty, could all be overcome by dieting, a growth spurt and good lighting.

Eventually I got to a point in my life when I was content, but….
I’d decided to try my hand at writing seriously.  If only I could be published, life would be complete.  That happened so quickly that my ambition instantly changed to becoming a bestseller and going on chat shows.

The trouble with ambitions is that they are either completely unattainable (the cover of Vogue has been unsullied by a photograph of me), or if they are you don’t notice getting there and fix your sights on something further off in the distance.  I have reached a stage in my life when to become famous would be a huge and unwelcome disruption.  I certainly don’t crave riches or ‘things’; I am proud of re-using, up-cycling, and making-do and mending.  I have garments in my wardrobe that go back to my twenties!
Now, I just want people to read my books.  Sales (and even more importantly, good reviews) are the only proof I've not been wasting my time all these years.

Oh, I’ve just had a thought. A major movie deal would be nice!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


When I bring BURIED TREASURE out in paperback later this year I have every intention of designing a brand new cover.  In the meantime I have given my current cover a face lift and added some sparkle.

I hope you approve.

Monday, July 15, 2019


Yesterday I received the publicity banner for my up and coming BlogBlitz, for BURIED TREASURE now only a fortnight away.  I am very excited. 

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey and her 'Rachel's Random Resources' book promotion service for authors.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Author of a Cornish Affair - Jo Lambert - Drops in for a Chat.

Gilli, thank you so much for asking me to come along today to chat on your blog.

A pleasure, Jo, we’ve been writing friends for a long time. Tell me, and the readers, a little about yourself?

I live with my husband and one small grey cat called Mollie, in a village on the eastern side of Bath, which is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.  It gives me the best of both worlds. I’m within a five minute walk of open countryside if I want fresh air and space but I’m also within easy reach of the city with its excellent shopping and restaurants.

I grew up in rural Wiltshire where I went to grammar school – a year in Marlborough and, after a family move, four years in Bradford on Avon.  After school I attended college where I took a secretarial course which combined shorthand, typing and audio with an OND in Business Studies. Later I completed my Higher National in Business and Finance.  My working life has been a mix of NHS and commercial companies.  My NHS posts included typing pool supervisor, PA and PA/Office Manager. Outside the NHS I’ve worked for two different car companies, a truck and bus dealer, a tyre manufacturer, a couple of international building companies and three architect’s practices - a bit of a mixed bunch.

After managing to reduce my working hours by moving to a job share at the local hospital for a couple of years I eventually  closed the door on my nine to five in 2013 to concentrate on full time writing.

Well done! When did you start writing and how did it grow into your sole career? 

It began way, way back.  I’ve always loved books and I guess writing was a natural progression.  I can remember writing stories in junior school and reading them to my friends.  So I imagine it was at that early stage that the seed was planted.  I’ve written on and off all my adult life but never really thought seriously about getting published until about ten years ago.   After completing my first full length novel I submitted to various publishers without success. Deciding to self-publish, when Tomorrow Comes became my first in a series of five connected books following the loves and lives of four girls growing up in the West Country in the 1960s.  This was followed by Summer Moved On and Watercolours in the Rain, two connected contemporary romances set in south Devon. Keeping to my mix of rural and small-town locations I set my next book on the north coast of Cornwall in the fictitious fishing port of Carrenporth.

Although as an independent author I enjoy being in control and setting my own pace, it’s always been a dream of mine to get a publishing deal.  In February 2018 after completing my Cornish novel, The Boys of Summer, I decided to submit it to Choc Lit. I heard back from them on 17th May 2018, the day before my birthday, with the offer of a contract.  I couldn’t have received a better birthday present!  The Boys of Summer, with its new title A Cornish Affair, has just been published under their Ruby Fiction imprint.

So what’s next?

Well, I’m currently writing another Cornish romance, this time set on the south coast.  And when that’s completed there are two other projects in the pipeline.  One is a sequel to the current book I’m writing, the other a completely new story.  My usual worry after I’ve finished a book is what comes next. On this occasion there are no worries, I’m spoilt for choice.

What do you read when you are not writing?

I have a very broad taste - favourites are romance, historical fiction, thrillers and contemporary fiction.   I do try to fit in as much reading as I can around my writing.  I like to review too, but that’s not always possible.  Memorable reads from this year are The Man I Fell in Love with and The Truth About You Me and Us by Kate Field, The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook, The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth and The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.

In your writing life, what have been your most memorable moments?

One has to be lunch with author Lesley Pearse and the other that all important e-mail the day before my birthday last year.

Congratulations, Jo.  I hope it leads to bigger and better things!

A Cornish Affair

Even in your hometown, you can feel like an outsider …  

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

 Available on Amazon : Kobo : Nook: Google Play and Apple iBook Store


Jo Lambert lives on the eastern edge of Bath with her husband, one small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.  She has been writing since 2008. Her first five books, a set of linked romantic sagas following the lives of several families in West Somerset, was followed in 2015 by Summer Moved On, a contemporary romance set in South Devon. A sequel, Watercolours in th Rain followed in 2017,
 In June 2018 Jo signed to Choc Lit and her debut A Cornish Affair, set in North Cornwall, has just been published. Jo is currently working on another coastal romance, this time set in South Cornwall.

When she isn't writing she reads and reviews. She also has an active blog.  Jo loves travel, red wine and rock music and she often takes the odd photograph or two.

Where to find Jo

Website:     http://jolambertbooks.com
Blog:           http://jolambertwriter.blog
Twitter:     @jolambertwriter
Instagram: jolambertwriter185

Friday, June 7, 2019

What do you think of when you hear the word treasure?

In celebrating the cover-reveal of my new book Buried Treasure I'm prompted to reflect on what treasure means to us. 

I have two opposing elements in my personality, the realist and the dreamer. They were both present, even when young.  I was a prosaic, feet on the ground sort of child.  I wasn’t the cleverest, prettiest or most popular girl in the class.  In fact, to be entirely honest, I was awkward, a bit of a loner and an outsider. I wasn’t unhappy and there were advantages to being on the sidelines.  I was an observer.

The contradictory aspect to my make-up is that I believed in fairies, Santa Claus (until quite late on) and crocks of gold at the end of rainbows. I couldn’t help but dream how wonderful it would be if by chance I came upon a magic wand or a fairy godmother.  Then I would be transformed.  I would be the focus of admiration and envy.  How I longed to be envied.

The idea of discovering treasure was the most desirable thing I could possibly imagine. And where to find it was simple. All you needed was a magic lamp to transport you to Aladdin’s cave, that dark rocky place in a desert, illuminated just by the brilliance radiating from the gold and silver coins, the precious gems, the caskets and jewellery piled in breathtaking heaps on the cavern floor.  The only fly in the ointment - the rather disturbing presence of a giant, bare chested genii.

A little later, as my reading expanded, the fairy-tale image was superseded by the possibility of finding a pirates’ map.  A scroll of old manuscript on which a desert island was depicted, with a dotted trail leading from the sea’s edge to a red X marking the spot where the treasure chest had been buried.

The Count of Monte Cristo, was soon added to my list.  On holiday in Cornwall, I was always disappearing into caves in the hope that a treasure chest might still be tucked, undiscovered somewhere in the depths, behind a boulder.

When we were asked to produce a project in my final year at junior school, I decided upon archaeology, probably the nearest science to treasure-hunting that I could imagine. (My family also has a connection to the Mildenhall Treasure. The hoard of Roman silver tableware discovered – in his account - by my Uncle Sydney Ford).  I was very proud to win the project prize - a book token for W H Smiths – and I still have my project somewhere in the house.

My son, Tom, standing beside the Mildenhall Treasure 
My precis of the incredibly broad and complex subject ranged from cave paintings, through the Romans at Verulaneum, to Tutankhamen.  I still find it easy to imagine the visceral thrill that must have gripped Howard Carter and his team as they peered through that first hole punctured in the wall and saw the treasures inside King Tut’s tomb.
Forget the so-called Dark Ages in the history of the British Isles.  I'd probably not even heard of Celts and Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings were just those men with funny hats.

Archaeology remains a fascination, although I'm wise enough to know that looking for treasure (or indeed finding any) is not really the point. I have gone on digs and I have provided archaeological illustrations for several books, either written by, or contributed to by my son Thomas Williams. So, it was an obvious subject when I came to write my seventh book.

Although the title  accurately reflects a material element of my new book, it is also a bit of a tease.  BURIED TREASURE may largely be centred around archaeology, but the title is also a metaphor about the damage that burying the past can inflict on the present.  It is easier to suppress hurt and humiliation, and erect barriers against the world, but it is only by trusting again, and exposing your mistakes to the light, that you can rediscover the best of yourself.


isn't always what it seems

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined.  Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.