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Guest Post: How 'The Highwayman' Poem Inspired me to Write GLIMPSE

13 Jun 2014


Liz just wants to be normal. Her life is anything but.

Seven years ago Liz lost her mother and ten years' worth of memories. When she inherits the infamous Highwayman Inn, she hopes the move will be a fresh start. Then she meets Zachary. Zachary who haunts her by night and in dreams; who makes her question everything she is and wants to be; who seems scarcely real - yet makes her feel so alive.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes' classic poem 'The Highwayman', Glimpse is a ghost story, a love story, and a story of a girl fighting for her future by confronting her terrible past.

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

How "The Highwayman" Poem Inspired Me To Write GLIMPSE

I have a confession: I've never been a big poetry fan. English was my favourite subject at school, and I studied it at university, but novels were always my thing, not poems. Yet there are poems that have stuck with me—like those that tell stories as dark and dramatic as the classic gothic novels I always loved. Poems like Poe's 'Annabel Lee', Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Christabel', or Alfred Noyes' 'The Highwayman'.

I don't remember first reading 'The Highwayman'—it feels like I've always known it—but it must have been when I was at school. (Incidentally, I find it very cool that 'The Highwayman' was taught to my eighty-six year old grandmother, and is still taught today—impressive work, Mr Noyes!) I love everything about it—the dashing highwayman, the ill-fated romance, the ghosts. It's the perfect YA paranormal romance, only published in 1906.

So when I decided to write a romantic ghost story of my own, 'The Highwayman' poem instantly came to mind. I wondered, how could I write a story that captured the same passion and darkness as this amazing poem? I could write a retelling, of course. After all, retellings of fairy tales are fairly common in YA, why not do the same with a poem?
That's what I initially set out to do, but I quickly realised that a straightforward retelling was a little unimaginative. So I decided to set my retelling in the present day. Bess would be the daughter of a pub landlord, the highwayman would be the sexy bad boy, and the stable boy Tim could make it a love triangle. (Paranormal romance clich├ęs—tick and tick! Please don't judge me, I know better now!) But it still wasn't imaginative enough, and I knew I'd get bored writing it.

So finally I about I write a modern setting, in which the inn is now ancient and cob-webbed. How about my main character isn't Bess, but a new character, with her own story and her own mysteries to solve. Bess and the highwayman's love story will have to be important—after all, that's what 'The Highwayman' poem is all about—but it doesn't have to be the sole focus.
So that's what I started writing, and Glimpse was the result—a story that wouldn't exist without Noyes' poem, but is also something fresh.

I'm looking forward to hearing what readers who love 'The Highwayman' think, as well as introducing the poem (which will be printed at the beginning of my book) to those who haven't read it. Whichever camp you fall into, I hope you'll enjoy it! 

Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK 

I have a copy of this book myself that I will be reading shortly so keep your eyes out for a review coming soon.


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