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Linn B Halton on the inspiration behind Finding Happiness at Penvennan Cove

Linn B Halton on the inspiration behind Finding Happiness at Penvennan Cove

Whether it’s bathed in glorious sunshine, or the wind and rain are battering the coastline and whipping the sea into a frenzy, Cornwall has an inherent sense of both astounding beauty and drama to it. With such a diverse landscape, from the rugged cliffs and awe-inspiring beaches to the small towns and rural communities, its rich and vibrant history is visible everywhere you turn.

For me, Cornwall evokes memories of childhood holidays and, as an adult, it became my go-to place to unwind and be at one with nature. And yet when it came to writing the Penvennan Cove series, my research trips were very different. What I wanted to do was to people watch and see life through the eyes of my main character, Kerra Shaw.

Wandering around Charlestown, I could imagine the fictional cove nestled close by. Having myself lived in several remote rural communities over the years, I know what it’s like to experience that old-fashioned neighbourly spirit of one for all and all for one. I’ve known what it’s like to get caught up in devastating floods and cut off for days at a time by impenetrable snow drifts. I even ended up stuck in a ditch after losing control of my car on black ice and within twenty minutes I was surrounded with helpers, as a local farmer and his crew came to my rescue.

But while there are many benefits to these wonderful little communities, for Kerra Shaw growing up in the fictional Penvennan Cove, this shy and rather serious young girl struggled to fit in. As an eighteen-year-old, she headed to London and soon began to thrive on a freedom she’d never experienced before. It came from a sense of anonymity that allowed her to blossom. But returning home some ten years later having sold a very successful business, the past quickly comes closing in around her again.

It was on some blustery cliff walks one November, that Kerra’s fear of the sea revealed itself to me. And the following May, a glorious week spent soaking up the ambience and chatting to the locals in Charlestown, I felt I was walking in her footsteps.

What Kerra discovers is that happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Along the way a lot of old ideas, beliefs and people, fall by the wayside.

As the story unfolded it made me think about the various crossroads I’d reached throughout my journey so far. Points at which I thought I knew where I was heading, until something happened that made me stray from the path. And, when I look back, I’m now able to link the steps that would end up taking my future in a whole new direction. From interior designer, to becoming an author being one of them.

The thing I took away from the journey of writing this series is that letting go can set you free. Embrace the things that make you feel happy in the now, rather than blindly following a dream that is way off in the future. Kerra followed her dream and was successful, but it wasn’t until she returned home that she realised what was truly important: people.

Linn B Halton’s latest book Finding Happiness in Penvennan Cove is published in paperback by Aria for £9.99 on 10 November 2022

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