Award-winning author Claire Dunn is preparing to publish the fifth novel in her The Secret of the Journal series – and Stamford has a starring role once again.
Claire, 53, spent many happy days in the town during her childhood visiting grandparents Leslie and Dorothy Turnill, who lived at 2 St Mary’s Place.
Her father, Bill, was a Vulcan pilot in the RAF and consequently the family moved from place to place as his postings dictated.
But the one constant during her childhood was her grandparents’ Georgian home, which is now a five-star rated bed and breakfast venue.
Claire said the home provided the ideal setting for Emma D’Eresby, protagonist in her five-book series, to grow up in.
She said: “I have lasting memories of climbing the great stairway to the first landing under the watchful eye of a huge stuffed pike and of my great-uncle – on whom I based Emma’s grandfather – a survivor of the Somme, telling us about trench-foot and rats, and challenging us to orange pip spitting contests, which he always won.”
Based between Maine, USA, and Stamford and Rutland, the The Secret of the Journal series began with Claire’s debut novel, Mortal Fire, which won gold in the adult romance category of 2012 Forward Book Of The Year Awards.
In it, Emma D’Eresby finds that a vicious attack by a psychotic colleague is the very least of her concerns as she discovers an intriguing link in an old journal which leads her directly to a relic of the past.
The final book in the series, Fearful Symmetry, is due for release in September and sees Emma once again back in the region of her birth and closing in on the journal’s secret.
Old Stamfordian Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, is a fan of Claire’s work and has acted as a mentor.
He has predicted great success for Claire and believes her books would make a great television series or film.
As well as being a novellist, Claire also runs a specialist dyslexia and autism school in Kent which she founded with husband Richard.
Diagnosed with dyslexia herself at the age of 18, Claire struggled with reading and writing as a child.
She studied history at university and dreamed of becoming a historian but difficulties remembering dates meant she decided that path was not for her.
Claire said: “Using computers now for writing makes life much easier for me.
“I can cut and paste words and reorder my work much easier than I could with pen and paper at school and university.
“The school is thriving. We now have 88 pupils and we do our very best to ensure everyone reaches their full potential.
“My parents always instilled in me there was nothing I couldn’t do – and that’s something I’m keen to pass on to our pupils.”
Claire has two daughters, Kate, 23, and Sophie, 19.
She is currently working on a new series of books, set during the Wars of the Roses, and also partially based in Lincolnshire.