A lover of books from an early age and a linguist by trade, Jessica began writing her own stories after the birth of her children. She and her young family moved to Edinburgh for a few years, where she kept in touch with family back home mostly through letters and emails. "At that time I was exploring epistolary relationships in my own life, trying to stay in touch and depending on words to hold things together," she says.
It was on a week away from the bustle of Edinburgh on the more isolated, quiet and dream-like Isle of Skye that Jessica had the idea for her novel, captivated by the atmosphere on Skye and the hidden histories it seemed to have. She started writing Letters From Skye on the way home.
Letters from Skye takes an unusual format for a modern novel - the narrative is entirely in letters, allowing for an intimate and ultimately very compelling read as we get deep into the hearts and minds of these characters as their lives span both two continents and two world wars.
The story follows Elspeth, a poet living on the Isle of Skye before the outbreak of the First World War, and David (or Davey as he comes to be known), who writes to her from America, initially as a fan of her work but eventually, as time goes on, as her friend and lover. However, their blossoming relationship is cut short by the outbreak of war. It is only several decades later, after an early shell from the Second World War destroys part of their house, that Elspeth's daughter Margaret begins to piece together what really happened.
Now living in Indiana, Jessica's road to publication was not an easy one - she wrote long into the night after her family went to bed and amassed an eye-watering 200 rejections before finally selling her book. Her resilient and tenacious story is sure to inspire every aspiring novelist out there!
Jessica was in the UK in August for the Edinburgh Book Festival and I was fortunate enough to grab some time with her on her whistle-stop tour of London. Thank you again Jessica for a thoroughly enjoyable chat!
You can listen to the podcast here:
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (Hutchinson)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Wordsworth Classics)
Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Egmont)
"Other Side Of The World" by KT Tunstall (buy on iTunes)