In this regular feature for Essex Life, Emma Jackson picks out some local literature that she has enjoyed and shares her favourites
INTERVIEW ESSEX AUTHOR JAMES HENRY
How long did it take you to write your first book?
It seems so long ago now, but I would guess it took around one year for the first one.
How do you come up with your plot lines?
I always start with the opening as an idea, like a body on a train track or at a farmhouse, and then start to work back from there: who, why and how.
Who or what inspires you to write?
You could say I’m inspired by Essex itself. After writing the Inspector Frost prequels and living in Wingfield’s world, I was keen to write about places I know, so I wrote about West Mersea and Colchester in Blackwater, and Kelvedon and Coggeshall in Yellowhammer.
How did you come up with the name of the book, Yellowhammer?
I became interested in birdwatching when I moved to a rural location some years ago. I run quite a bit too, mainly through country lanes, and in the summer I started to notice yellowhammers in the hedgerows. I was so struck by their presence – they are quite exotic, if you’ve never seem them before – and what a great name they have. I had to use it.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, a third Lowry novel called Whitethroat. If Blackwater is loosely about the Essex coastline and Yellowhammer the countryside, then Whitethroat is about the town. If you haven’t already guessed, whitethroat is also the name of a bird.
Yellowhammer by James Henry is published by Quercus