A NEW book giving an insider’s view of Dorset village life has just been published by former Bridport News editor Margery Hookings.
The novella, A Year in Lush Places; Tales from England's Rural Underbelly, is taken from and inspired by The World from My Window, a blog based on life in a West Dorset village.
Mrs Hookings writes under the pen name Maddie Grigg – a character born during her Open University creative writing course.
Mrs Hookings said: “I’ve been writing the blog since 2007 under my pen name, which is a combination of my two grandmothers’ names.”
Ms Hookings was editor of the News from 1999 to 2005.
She said: “I was doing my OU course and looking for something to write about when I realised it was right here on my doorstep in Broadwindsor.
“I call it the enchanted village because there is always something magical and strange happening. Lush Places was the name of the kindly nature column written for the Daily Beast by William Boot, the hapless hero in the classic novel, Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh.
“My book is a round-up of the year 2010 which saw election wars break out in Lush Places, a singing group set up in memory of a dear friend and various events happening in the village.”
Real-life people such as Oliver Letwin, Martin Clunes and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall all get a mention.
“The characters in the book are based on my village friends, and in real life they actually refer to each other by their blog names.
“But while a lot of what is in the book really happened, a lot of it didn’t. There is a vague plotline in there somewhere which I’ve used to bind the daily goings-on together.”
Mrs Hookings, who also worked in communications for Dorset Primary Care Trust and Magna Housing Group, is now living with her husband, Andrew, a retired social housing consultant, in Corfu for twelve months.
She added: “We are renting a house belonging to the writer, Emma Tennant. It’s a lovely spot and very conducive to writing. But I’m as homesick as anything and putting the finishing touches to A Year in Lush Places has made me feel even more affection for the village I’ve left behind.
“I am keeping up the blog on the website www.maddiegrigg.com, but this time it has a Big Fat Greek Gap Year slant, and I will be writing a book about our experiences.
“In the meantime, I’m working on a couple of projects, including a novel about a Stuart time traveller and something I’m calling The Bridport Trilogy, which will see the publication of three first novels from me and two other creative types, all based on manuscripts which have been languishing in the bottom of drawers for some time.
“We think these will give a flavour of Bridport a few decades ago. We’re planning to publish in the autumn.”
A Year in Lush Places: Tales from England’s rural underbelly is now available for Kindle on Amazon for £3.38. It will be available as a paperback, priced £6.99, from booksellers in July.