A guest blog from author Glenda Young.
This month we are thrilled to welcome a guest blog from author Glenda Young who has had a lifelong affinity with Scarborough, she shares some of her very moving and personal memories of visiting the town, an abiding connection which has resulted in her setting her new crime trilogy here. Our very own Rose Garden even has a pivotal appearance in the first novel!
Over to Glenda…
Murder at the Seaview Hotel is a fun, cosy crime set in a B&B in the seaside town of Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. It stars a troupe of 12 Elvis impersonators, called Twelvis. When one of them is murdered and has his blue suede shoes stolen, Helen Dexter, landlady of the Seaview Hotel is on the case to solve the crime. I love my strong female leads and yes, I chuck everything and the kitchen sink at my amateur sleuth, Helen.
I was inspired to write the cosy crime in Scarborough as it’s a place I adore. It’s my happy place, and I’ve always wanted to set a novel there.
Scarborough holds a special place in my heart. It’s where we went as a family for two weeks of “Shipyard Fortnight” in the middle of August in the 1970s. We’d stay in the same guest house and spend as much time as we could on the beach. The most vivid, happy memories of those days with my parents and brothers are of happy pub lunches in beer gardens, eating scampi and chips in a basket under a pub umbrella in the sun. Very special memories are of the Tree Walk in Peasholm Park, then the most magical place in the world to a girl like me, the place twinkling with fairy lights. Happy days indeed. We all loved going to Scarborough.
And then we grew up, left home, Scarborough was forgotten as holidays were spent more than 200 miles from our front door. And then one of my brothers and his then wife had two lovely little babies and as a family they’d go to Scarborough too, carrying on the tradition of a traditional seaside holiday to a new generation. Fish and chips, ice-cream, donkey rides on the beach, the cliff lifts, little steam train, water slide and outdoor theatre.
Anyway, time passed, as it does. My parents started to take their growing grandkids to Scarborough whenever they could. Everyone was happy. More time passed. And then after a long illness, our dad passed away.
Lost, trying to cope with our grief, one of my brothers said: “You know what we should do?” We looked, we waited, we had to know what it was he was going to say. “We should all go to Scarborough.” And so we did. We all went, grandkids included, but we were missing one person who couldn’t be there. We played bingo, frisbee on the beach, sang karaoke, ate ice cream and chips, and all the time, did all the things he used to love doing, all the things we did when we were there with him as kids. And although he wasn’t there, he was with us all, in our own way. And he’ll always be in Scarborough because he loved it more than any of us. His love for the place carries on in all of us, his kids and his grandkids, their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, our own partners and mates.
And after that weekend when we went to celebrate dad’s life with a weekend as a family in his favourite place, we started going at least once a year, for a weekend, for a day. We’d rediscovered the joy, the childlike enthusiasm the place brings out in you, it’s a seaside town with bells on, it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. I love Scarborough so much I was married there, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre (and yes, this gorgeous art deco building is in the book!).
Book reviews say that the sense of place in the novel is so strong, that people who haven’t visited Scarborough before now want to go… this makes me very happy indeed!
Writing about Scarborough and Elvis, listening to his upbeat music daily was the perfect way to help me cope through the first lockdown. I couldn’t wait to begin writing each day, transporting myself in my head to the seaside and into my story with Helen and her friends, her dog, and twelve Elvis impersonators. I’ve even created a playlist so you can sing along as you read the book.
I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
A huge thank you to Glenda for sharing her reminiscences with us and now we want to hear your memories of South Cliff Gardens!
We recently launched a new project called “Dear South Cliff Gardens…” The idea behind it is to invite people from near and far to share their thoughts, feelings and memories of South Cliff Gardens in the form of a post card.
Local artist Amy Kendall has created two fabulous designs which invite participants to write or draw their special message to the gardens, these will then be curated by local poet Charlotte Oliver and used in an exhibition to celebrate the opening of our new hub Beeforth’s Hive early next year.
If you are in town keep an eye out for one of our postcard workshops, the next will be on Tuesday 28th September. You can find us by the Clock Tower between 11am -1pm. All you need to bring are your happy memories and we will supply the rest.
We know that the gardens are beloved by people like Glenda from all over the country, even the world and to ensure that as many people can take part as possible we have also created a digital version of the postcard which can be filled in where ever you are.