Who is the Girl on the Beach?


In January we released Morton S. Gray’s fast-paced and suspenseful The Girl on the Beach, which is set in the fictional seaside town of Borteen. Today on the blog, Morton talks about her love for the seaside – and who ‘the girl on the beach’ might be … 

I do like to be beside the seaside … It’s quite apt that my debut novel is called The Girl on the Beach. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being by the sea. A walk along the sand, especially with incoming waves, is good for the soul like nothing else on earth.

We used to holiday at the beach when I was a child, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Woolacombe, being amongst some of the resorts I remember. I’m the blonde one in the picture with my sister – didn’t I look sweet? I must be about nine here.


Ironically, I probably live as far from the sea as you can get in England, but then maybe that is why it’s special for me to go to the coast.

There is nothing I love better than beachcombing, trawling the edge of the surf for interesting stones and sea glass. I’m fascinated by those who produce jewellery incorporating things found on the shore and I want to learn to set stones and glass into silver jewellery sometime very soon.


Llandanawg, near Harlech, North Wales – Morton Gray with little white dog.

My favourite beaches these days are Bamburgh in Northumberland, Llandanawg, near Harlech in North Wales and Barricane Bay Beach at Woolacombe.

My fictional seaside town – Borteen, from The Girl on the Beach is an amalgamation of many seaside places I have visited. When we first meet my hero, Harry, he is disappointed that Borteen doesn’t have a surfing beach like those in Devon and Cornwall he’s used to. Ellie, the heroine, has her gallery in one of the alleyways off the High Street in the town and she loves the beach. A lot of the action in the book takes place on or around the sands and the promenade behind the beach.

I’m busy writing more books centred around this fictional seaside town and its beach, so I do hope my readers like the setting too. The sound of the waves and the wind near the shore, the smell of the sea, the soothing feel of the sea and sand on bare feet – I’m sighing just thinking about it!


Bamburgh Sands, Northumberland

One of my favourite memories is sitting on the café steps above Barricane Beach in Woolacombe, sipping hot tea and watching the sun go down. That moment when the sun merges with the water is truly magical.

Who is the real girl on the beach? It’s me! In my heart, anyway.

The Girl on the Beach is available as an eBook on all platforms. Click HERE for buying options. 

 For more on Morton visit:

Website: www.mortonsgray.com

Twitter: @MortonSGray


From the pen of Christina Courtenay 

I love going to art galleries and always make sure I see the latest ones on offer (unless it’s modern art, which I’m afraid I just don’t “get”).  Sometimes though I just wander round the permanent exhibitions, such as the National Gallery here in London, where some of the artwork on display is truly fabulous.

It was during one such trip that I came across a portrait by Anthony Van Dyck, my favourite painter, and it triggered an idea for a story then and there.  ‘Cornelis van der Geest’ was the title of the painting and it’s just a face with an enormous white ruff underneath the chin, almost as if the head of this man is sitting on a huge plate.  It wasn’t this that fired my imagination, however, but his eyes and the way his face had been painted.  They looked so real, I was sure Cornelis was going to start talking to me any second!

‘Cornelis van der Geest’  by Anthony Van Dyck

‘Cornelis van der Geest’ by Anthony Van Dyck. He’s eerily lifelike!

Van Dyck was a genius when it came to painting portraits, and in this one he had excelled himself.  He had created what seemed like a living, breathing man.  One who, if he’d had the rest of his body painted too, could have climbed out of the frame and walked off.  And I couldn’t stop looking at him!  That’s when the “what ifs” started to crowd into my head …

Tomorrow is official publication day for my new time slip novel The Secret Kiss of Darkness, and the above is more or less what happens to the heroine.  Except in her case the painting she sees isn’t of an old man’s head, but a complete man – young, handsome, charismatic and irresistible.  So naturally she has to buy him and of course, she falls in love. There’s just the small matter of her fiancé, who isn’t massively happy with this turn of events …


Must forbidden love end in heartbreak?

Kayla Sinclair knows she’s in big trouble when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a life-size portrait of a mysterious eighteenth century man at an auction.

Jago Kerswell, inn-keeper and smuggler, knows there is danger in those stolen moments with Lady Eliza Marcombe, but he’ll take any risk to be with her.

Over two centuries separate Kayla and Jago, but when Kayla’s jealous fiancé presents her with an ultimatum, and Jago and Eliza’s affair is tragically discovered, their lives become inextricably linked thanks to a gypsy’s spell. Kayla finds herself on a quest that could heal the past, but what she cannot foresee is the danger in her own future.

Will Kayla find heartache or happiness? 

TSKOD_packshot copyKeep in touch with Christina on Twitter and Facebook!






Christine Stovell says, ‘Picture This.’

Ahhh! It’s that time again! Having just delivered Book 3, it’s time to open a brand new notebook. My notebooks aren’t so much about the writing, but for gathering all those fleeting thoughts, feelings, words, and clippings that will provide the creative compost for the next novel. I really enjoy this stage; it’s like falling in love again and, yes, I know I’ll wonder what the attraction was at some point along the way, but my notebooks serve to remind me of what excited me about the project in the first place.

I can hardly call myself a photographer, but I do carry a camera with me when I’m out, so I’ll start a photo file for the book, too. That way I have a factual record of locations or the changing seasons and can see exactly what that bluebell wood, for example, looked like in the rain.Bluebell wood in the rain

And then, oooh, there’s Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/chrisstovell/) … I was a bit hesitant at first, but so enjoyed setting up what I call my ‘springboards’ – because they illustrate some of the images and inspiration which provided the ‘jumping off’ points – for Turning the Tide and Move Over Darling, that I set up a secret board for my third novel as soon as I began work on the book. For me, images are a great way to evoke the mood and sense of the story I’m trying to tell… mind you, there are so many lovely pictures out there it can get a bit addictive, so be warned! Anyway, my secret board for Book 3’s no secret any more, but I now have a new board for Book 4 and the perfect excuse to peruse Pinterest in the name of research…


Christina’s Wednesday W

swelake2Like Evonne, I was having trouble coming up with a suitable topic for the Wednesday W feature and flicking through my dictionary didn’t produce any worthwhile results. (Couldn’t think of anything to say about “worthwhile” unfortunately). So I asked my daughter to suggest something. She said “water”.

fairybridge2At first I said no, I can’t write about that because Mandy already did a post about the sea, but then I thought – why not? There are lots of other types of water! Lakes, ponds, rivers and waterfalls. Moats too and, of course, rain!

waterfall3There’s something very soothing about water, just looking at it I mean. All the above are peaceful in their own ways and very often something you stop to stare at for a while. Is there anything more beautiful than a still lake at sunset? A river gently flowing under an old stone bridge? A little pond full of shiny koi fish? Or a waterfall, shimmering in the sunshine? They all calm the spirit. Even rain is wonderful, especially if you’re indoors, snug and warm, just listening to it or watching rivulets running down your windows.

ragmoat3I spent all my childhood summers in a little cottage by a lake, swimming almost every day no matter the temperature of the water. (Yes, I was and am a complete water baby.) I even swam when it was only 16 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit), only emerging when my lips were turning blue and my teeth chattering so much I couldn’t speak. I just loved it! And when I wasn’t in the the water, I was on it, messing around in an old boat, learning how to row, trying fairly unsuccessfully to fish, or pretending my friends and I were pirates. I’m sure this all fed my imagination no end!

fish2Whenever I can, I go and sit by the waterfall in the Japanese Garden in London’s Holland Park. It gives me inspiration for writing and is a great reminder of the stark beauty and orderliness of Japan, which I often write about. The pond beneath the fall (or one like it) has featured in two of my books and it’s a wonderful place to just sit and think.

But my favourites are, of course, the Swedish lakes near where I grew up and although I don’t get to go there as often as I’d like, they stay in my memory so I only have to close my eyes and I’m there.

rain2How about you, what kind of water do you prefer and does it inspire you in any way?

Christina’s Wednesday Hottie

bradIt may be a bit cliched, but I don’t think any line-up of Wednesday Hotties (or any other hotties for that matter) would be complete without this guy – Brad Pitt.

bradpitt5He stole the show in Thelma & Louise and he’s gone on stealing it ever since whatever movie he appears in.  He made me watch a vampire film (Interview with a Vampire) long before they were fashionable, he was the only reason to watch Legends of the Fall and I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched him as Achilles in Troy.

He’s not afraid to play strange roles either, but whatever he does, he’s good at it and he lights up the screen for me.


Linda’s Wednesday Hottie


Ewan McGregor? What can I say? – even his name says swishing kilt and slashing sword, I think. He’s been in so many films, played so many characters, but for pure romance I don’t think he can be beaten as Renee Zellweger’s love interest in Miss Potter. Now Renee, bless her, might be a great actress but she’s no looker……but in the scene where Ewan sings to her as he teaches her to dance is pure romance. There’s no hasty ripping off of clothes, or heavy breathing up against a door/wall/car boot, but he transforms Renee with that dance, makes her beautiful. And his voice……his natural one, I mean. Wonderful diction, fantastic pitch. Voice is often overlooked in fiction……must remember to make mention of it more……and go and take my cold shower now!!!

Special Places

moreblossomsmallThe world is full of amazing and beautiful places, but there are some that just feel special somehow. Perhaps because of a memory connected with that particular spot or because the sight of it fills you with awe. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot and have visited various well-known sites such as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Acropolis in Athens, the Pyramids in Egypt and Himeji Castle in Japan. They take your breath away and you store that feeling away in your mind to think about from time to time.

But sometimes there can be special places closer to home, somewhere to go when you need to recover some of your inner harmony, or wa as the Japanese say. Or when you just want to sit and contemplate the beauty all around you. For me, the Japanese Garden in Holland Park here in London is one such. No matter what time of year it is, this is always a special place.

In spring, there are cherry blossom trees, just like in Japan. Watching the pale petals blowing in the wind, I always think of the many haiku poems written about them, reminding people of the transience of life both for us and for the blossom. In summer, the cascading waterfall gives a sense of coolness when the air feels too hot to breathe and it’s curiously calming to watch the koi fish splashing in the pond below. In autumn, the fiery reds and oranges of the acer trees come into their own, only to give way to bare branches for winter. Even that is beautiful though in its own way and whenever I go there, I never come away disappointed.

There is peace and quiet for thinking, helping to unravel difficult plot strands, and I often find inspiration for specific scenes here. In the middle of the bustling capital it’s an oasis that feels foreign, and yet familiar. It’s a place where you can’t help but contemplate nature and admire its many guises.

Do you have a place that’s special? Somewhere you go to escape or to think? I’d love to hear about it.

Wednesday Choccie Hottie (on a Thursday)

hephaistion10Slightly lost track of the days this week, so here’s this week’s Choccie Hottie a little later than planned – Jared Leto (of course – did you think I’d choose anyone else?). This guy is a veritable chameleon, with his various hairstyles and hair colours, but I still like him best with it long.

jaredlonghair2As I’ve said before, he was partly the inspiration for Killian in Trade Winds and he will no doubt continue to inspire other heroes of mine. Killian’s younger son for instance, hopefully coming next year …

Trade Winds is available on Kindle at only £2.10!

(Come back tomorrow to see what Chris has to say)