I’m really pleased to at last be able to reveal some exciting news. I’ve been keeping this secret for what seems like forever… but now I can announce that I have new book coming out soon – in a new genre, with a new name and a writing partner.
The Heights is a modern adaptation of the classic story of Heathcliff and Cathy – set in the late 20th century, against the backdrop of the miners’ strike and the decline of a once proud mining community in Yorkshire.
Juliet Bell is the pen name for my writing partnership with Alison May. It all started at a conference a couple of years ago. We each led a workshop, and both used Wuthering Heights to illustrate very different points.
This is a book I have wanted to write for years. I am a huge fan of the original. I have often heard people talk of Heathcliff as a romantic hero and Wuthering Heights as a great love story. In my mind, that’s just not true. Heathcliff is a fascinating character… but he’s no hero. It’s not really a story about love, it’s a story about obsession and the destruction it can cause.
As a journalist, I have read and written about the period from the winter of discontent, through the Thatcher years up until the global financial crash in 2008. This time of great social change and discord seemed a perfect setting for the book – but as an Australian, I really didn’t feel I had the cultural background to do it justice. Research can only go so far.
Back to the writing conference.. and Alison who is not only a fabulous writer, but also grew up in just the right part of England at just the right time. She too loves the work of the Bronte’s – and like me tends to think of Wuthering Heights as something other than the romance of popular belief.
At the conference we joked that between us we could write that book – and get it done in time to mark the 200 anniversary of Emily Bronte’s birth in 2018. A couple of weeks later, we decided we weren’t joking, and The Heights is the result.
I thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative process. You can go and meet Alison on her website … and there will soon be a Juliet Bell website, because The Heights is not her only work. Alison and I are part of the way through another book – but shhh … I can’t say anything about that one yet.
I am incredibly proud of The Heights, and will be talking about it on Juliet Bell’s twitter account @julietbellbooks and facebook page too. And I probably also should mention it’s now available for pre-order.