“Jade lies stretched out on a towel on the beach, studying the silver rings on her fingers, the sheen of drying moisture on her faintly tanned skin, the ripples of toneshadow
around her ribs. Thoughts pass through her mind like quicksilver, grains of new ideas bright as magnesium. She is brave shining fortune, newly crafted on this bitter
shore; she feels torn between humility and delight. She is determined and her ambition plain for there is a knowing smile written across her face.”
Searching for Amber is an engaging exploration of love, violence, betrayal and loss, told through beautiful writing, natural imagery and poetry. When Jade, a passionate young photographer, is attacked by drug pushers and saved by the brooding shipwright Martin, she becomes increasingly obsessed with her reluctant hero’s tragic back-story. Her pursuit of Martin’s affection and her consequent obsessive search for Martin’s lost sister, Amber, ultimately leads Jade to discover the truth about her own mother, who abandoned her as a baby in the late 1950s, and the tragic events that led to her disappearance.
I chose the name Jade initially as a counterpoint to the name of the tragic main character Amber. But as I began to develop her character, I found a strong young woman in her own right. A talented young photographer, who is determined the help her new friend Martin find out what really happened to his mother. Her inspiration is both love and curiosity. She is meticulous in her craft and her search, like the lens of a camera, looking for clues, for perspective.
“The shredded scenery flapping around her dances in the rising wind, moving with the giddiness of an incomplete plot. She re-runs her earlier thoughts in her mind to confirm
her own understanding of the next stages of her plan. Between hers and the profile of any child there is virtually nothing; but she is already attractive, desired, exciting. She
brushes the silk of her scarf away from her eyes, takes her faithful camera from the denim bag lying by her side, lifts it and begins to work methodically again, as if physically stretching the pebble ridges of the beach like calico with her lens.”
In fact, I have since used Jade’s character in each of my first four novels. She played a small part as a photographer in Death in Leamington and as one of the two fracking protesters in Love in Lindfield and we meet up with her as a young art student on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Letters to Strabo. Never waste a good character!
“The girls, Jade, Sally and Lucy, were art students on their first trip to Europe. They were mighty excited. Inevitably, unworthy thoughts began to form in my mind as the stars pierced the twilight. OK, it really didn’t take much to put those sorts of ideas into my head in those days.”