A WILMCOTE author has found inspiration on her doorstep for her latest novel.
Helen Watts’ first published foray into writing saw her tackle the true life events in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, which was ripped apart by German SS troops in a single day during the summer of 1944.
She then teamed up with fellow author Taffy Thomas for The Ghost of the Trenches and other stories from the First World War.
But her third novel – No Stone Unturned – sees her return closer to home for a mystery set in her home village.
No Stone Unturned tells the tale of Kelly, an isolated traveller girl unhappy at her new school in Stratford until the day when she meets Ben who offers to help with her history project.
The investigation quickly grows and Kelly begins to discover a surprising secret deep in the village’s abandoned quarry.
And soon the mystery of the past is spilling into her own life, meaning Kelly must bring the long-buried truth to light.
Prior to her career as an author, Helen – who acts as schools co-ordinator for Stratford Literary Festival – had written short stories, non-fiction texts, poems for children and a wide range of teachers’ resources.
She is particularly excited about the prospect of publishing a novel based on local events.
She told The Observer: “I am thrilled that a book inspired by a place I love is being published as I think it shows how great stories can be found in the most unlikely of places.”
Speaking about her inspiration, she added: “It actually came from a walk with my golden retriever, Dexter, around the edge of a disused quarry near my home.
“The quarry is very overgrown and every time we passed I would try to imagine how different it looked in the 19th century when it was in its heyday.
“One day, while browsing through a local history book I spotted an old photo and the accompanying text said the limestone from the quarry was used for the flooring of the Houses of Parliament when it was rebuilt after being destroyed by a massive fire in 1834.
“I was amazed that what is now a relatively innocuous hole in the ground could have such impressive connections and was determined to find out more, so I starting doing some digging of my own and the story of No Stone Unturned was unearthed.”
Helen will be officially launching No Stone Unturned tomorrow (Saturday) in The Arden Workshop at Mary Arden’s Farm, from 2pm to 4pm.
Copies of the book are available from Mary Arden’s Farm, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bookshop and on Amazon priced at £5.99.