Friday, 29 July 2016

Guest Post & Giveaway - Ella's Secret York by Sophie Nicholls - Blog Tour

At the time that I wrote my novel, The Dress, I had been living in York for seven years – and it seemed the obvious place to set my story. 

Anyone who has ever visited this ancient walled city in the North East of England will know that it’s difficult not to be inspired just by walking around. As well as the soaring thirteenth century Gothic edifice that is York Minster, there are cobbled streets, stone gargoyles, lopsided beams and a network of ‘snickleways’ – narrow passageways that wend their way between the main streets –
 everywhere you look. 

But it was one particular courtyard, tucked away off Grape Lane – and one particular shop with beautiful curved windows – that fuelled my fantasies when I was writing the story of Fabia and Ella Moreno, the mother and daughter who arrive in York to set up their vintage dress shop. 

Priestley’s Vintage is an enticing place, full of beautifully curated high-end and designer vintage. You stumble across it, like a delicious secret, as you duck under the low beams into Norman Court. It’s easy to imagine a story unfolding in such a place. 

And, in fact, York is a city of secrets. When Ella, one of my characters, arrives in the city, she’s intrigued by what she can see from her bedroom window – the jumble of higgledy-piggledy rooftops, the glimpses of the Minster in the moonlight. 

But away from the main tourist attractions – the Minster, the Treasurer’s House, the Walls – are other layers of history, as Ella discovers as she begins to explore. Katrina Cushworth, Ella’s school friend (if that is the right word), lives in one of the graceful Georgian townhouses that line The Mount. Billy and his family live in the rows of terraces that lead down to the river, originally built for workers in the Terry’s and Rowntree’s chocolate factories. 

York is also a city of bridges and one of the scenes from the book takes place on the new Millennium Bridge. Unlike the older stone bridges, this one is an ambitious curve of steel and wood. 

When I was working on The Dress, I imagined the map that Ella might sketch in her journal of some of these ‘secret’ landmarks. 

If you walk away from the city centre along the riverbank – or even take a boat trip along the River Ouse (and has there ever been a better name for a river?),  you’ll quickly find yourself in a different York altogether. If you look hard enough, down in the long grass by the boat moorings, you might even find a rickety swimming platform or a rope swing. 

Or you may prefer to while away your time rummaging through the second hand book shops, vintage clothing shops and antique emporiums that you’ll find throughout the city. I’m sure there are many more stories there just waiting to happen. 

Thank you Sophie for that interesting look at York.

Giveaway - Win 3 x paperbacks of The Dress (Open to Europe only)

Amazon UK
Carmen Jimenez at Bonnier Zaffre has kindly donated 3 copies of the The Dress to be given away to lucky winners. 

Giveaway open to Europe Only, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 5/8/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win 3 x paperbacks of The Dress (Open to Europe only)

About Sophie Nicholls

Sophie Nicholls is an Amazon bestselling author. The Dress is her first novel – which hit the Kindle Top 5 in 2012, and is followed by two further books in the well-loved ‘The Dress Trilogy”.

She is an award-winning poet and leads the MA Creative Writing Distance Learning at Teesside University. She lives in North Yorkshire, in the North of England with her partner and young daughter. She likes swimming outdoors and eating large quantities of very dark chocolate. // @wordsauce

Don't forget to check out what Sophie Nicholls had to say at the other stops on this blog tour. 

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