I’m sitting in The Merrymoor Inn opposite the beach at Mawgan Porth, about four miles from Newquay. The smell of pasties, fish and chips and a sausage or two mingles with a whiff of Cornish Cyder and my stomach is rumbling. Through the window I spy Samantha, or Sam, as most call her. She’s the protagonist in my book, The Cornish Retribution. Sam’s hurrying up the steps from the carpark, her dark curls lifting on the breeze as she walks. As she enters the bakery, her lively blue eyes light up and her smile reflects mine as she hurries over to my table. She looks self-assured comfortable in her own skin. She’s come a long way, and that makes me happy.
‘Hi Sam, how are you?’ I say giving her a quick hug.
‘I’m good, thanks. Really good.’ She smiles again and sits opposite.
‘You look it. Now, can I get you a pasty or a pint?’
Sam looks towards the bar at the delicious food on offer, and then back to me with a mischievous twinkle. ‘Hmm, can we be naughty and have both?’
I laugh, and we order a pasty each and a delicious pint of crisp cyder. Back at the table she regards me thoughtfully over the rim of glass. ‘What brings you to Mawgan Porth today then, Mandy?’
Sam always uses Mandy rather than Amanda. ‘To see you of course. It’s been a while. Also, would you mind answering a few questions, so the readers of The Cornish Retribution can get to know you a little more?’
‘I’d be delighted. Anything to help.’
‘Great. Okay, first question, how old are you?’
‘You know the answer, you gave me life after all.’
‘I did indeed,’ I say from the corner of my mouth as it’s full of pasty. ‘But then I know all the answers. The readers don’t though.’
‘And what do you do for a living?
‘I run a writers’ retreat in the grounds of my home up on the cliff over there.’ She points through the window across the beach. ‘I write full time too.’
‘How’s that going?’
‘It’s so busy! The retreat is booked solid and I have a novel out at the end of the year.’ Sam blows on her pasty and takes a big bite. ‘I like busy though.’
‘You sound happy, are you?’
She swallows and gives me a huge smile. ‘I have never been happier.’
‘Couldn’t say the same a year or so ago though, eh?
A dark cloud slips behind her eyes. ‘No.’
I feel guilty for dragging up the past, but if readers are to know Sam, we must visit it. ‘If you’re okay to, would you mind if we went back to how you were after your husband, Adam died?’
A deep sigh. ‘I guess not. I was distraught over his death and later on, almost destitute due to some daft deals Adam did unbeknown to me.’ Sam takes a sip of cyder and doodles a face in the condensation on her glass. ‘But thankfully all that stuff’s all behind me now…all I can see ahead is sunshine.’
She’s not really given me much, so I take a sip of my own drink and plunge straight in. ‘The fact that your old flame Dan invested in your retreat helped a lot didn’t it?’
‘Yes. I can safely say that if it hadn’t been for him I would have lost the house, lost everything.’ Sam shrugs and chews her pasty thoughtfully.’
‘You didn’t want to accept his help though did you, because he behaved badly towards you when you were teenagers?’
Sam twists her mouth to the side. ‘Behaving badly is putting it mildly. He betrayed me with my best friend, as you know.’
I nod and give her an encouraging smile. ‘What do you mean by betrayed?’
‘Well, just for your readers, I’ll elaborate.’ The pain in her eyes makes me wonder if it’s a good idea raking over the past, but she hurries on. ‘Basically, I refused to sleep with him when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. My oldest friend Penny obliged instead and they ended up getting married.’ Sam’s face brightened. ‘He regretted the hell out of it through later. Couldn’t forget me and was determined to win me back. He had a controlling nature and wouldn’t let things go. I soon put a stop to his games though.’ She alters her smile as if she’s realised she might have said too much, dabs at her mouth with a napkin and stares at her plate.’
‘But he did love you really, didn’t he? Even though he was controlling and ruthless.’ I put my hand on her arm.
She looks at me and nods. ‘God yes. It’s just that I couldn’t cope with what he’d done…what he would have done again.
‘No. But don’t say more as we don’t want to give too much away do we?’
‘Make your mind up. You’re asking the searching questions.’
She’s looking fierce, so I change the subject. ‘Although you were born and brought up in Sheffield, this is where your mother’s from and your grandmother, isn’t it…you see yourself as Cornish don’t you?
Sam gives me a withering look and yawns. ‘You know I do, you wrote the story. This interview is a bit daft really. Can we talk about you for a change? I never really got to know much about your life.’
‘Er, perhaps another time. Humour me.’
‘Okay. Yes. I see myself as Cornish, hence the title of the book.’
‘Do you think the retribution was justified?’
‘I do under the circumstances.’
‘Do you wish it all could have been different?’
‘No. I think the story panned out really well to be honest.’ Sam swirls her glass, drains it and sets it carefully down. Then she looks out of the window at the turbulent ocean.
I decide that enough is enough and ask, ‘How are the family? I bet your grandson is a real handful now.’
Sam beams. ‘He is, and my granddaughter’s arrival is imminent. I can’t wait!’
‘I bet. I drain my own glass and ask, ‘Do you see much of Harry?’
‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ Sam gives me a slow smile but no more information. start with.
I return her smile. ‘I would, yes.’
‘Right. Shall I fill you in with what I’ve been up to recently?’
‘Best not, because that might give too much away too,’ I say and shrug my coat on. ‘Let’s go up to yours for a drink. The readers won’t hear us there. I’d love to hear all your news.’
Sam grins. ‘Now you’re talking.’
We stand and I follow her out of the pub into the bright sunshine.