Inspiration for Thores-Cross by Karen Perkins

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in 18th Century England, Featured Book, Historical Fiction Influences | Comments Off

Thores-Cross185x280aInspiration. It’s a strange and capricious friend. It can’t be chased; it arrives unexpectedly; and can disappear in a flash. Yet where would we be without it? In every walk of life, nothing would get done or created without inspiration – along with ambition, determination and a healthy dose of obstinacy of course!

My inspiration for Thores-Cross was born out of two very different events a quarter of a century apart. The first came as a child, playing in the fields by the haunted house on the shores of Leeds Sailing Club at Thruscross – the reservoir where Thores-Cross is set. Scrambling over a falling-down dry stone wall I spotted a regular shape amidst the rubble of old stone and pulled out an old ink pot. It was wedged in tight and had obviously been built into the wall over two hundred years before.

Aged eleven, this fascinated me; I just could not understand why someone would build an ink pot into a field boundary wall, and I lay awake many nights trying to think of the reason and story behind it.

Fast forward fifteen years and my childhood at Thruscross has evolved into a passion for sailing, travelling around the UK and into Europe to compete. One injury too many and my life changed. Disabled, unable to leave the house, unable to work, unable to sail, I grew very isolated – sometimes going a week without speaking to another person.

I missed Thruscross – even now that reservoir is my favourite place in the world and where I go whenever life gets too much. I find it calming, refreshing, even energising – although very isolated tucked away in the North Yorkshire Moors. And there, when I was finally able to visit again, ten years after my injury, was my second flame of inspiration.

Despite being so isolated myself due to my illness, I did still have family, friends, neighbours, a phone, the Internet, a television . . . I could reach out if I wanted to and people would be there for me. What if I had lived at Thruscross, years before the technology we now rely on? No phone, no computer, no TV or radio, no cars, taxis or buses, even no books? What if it was many days walk to reach another village? And what if the community I lived within had turned its back on me?

From these questions, the character of Jennet was born. A young girl on the cusp of womanhood, who suffers a terrible loss, then is taken advantage of by a powerful, local – married – man and is left to bear the consequences on her own.

The village turns against her, starts blaming her for any- and everything that goes wrong, eventually calling her witch. How would that affect a young woman? How would it twist her? How would she tell her story?

The ink pot I found so long ago is how, and twenty five years after finding it, I finally had its/Jennet’s story – Thores-Cross.

Karen Perkins, March 10, 2014