FEATURE: How Becky met her Mr Wright.... Years before she found him
It’s not surprising Becky Wright fell for her husband, James. He could have stepped straight from the pages of a novel she wrote years before they met.
Not only did he have the same fair hair, blue eyes, and boyish looks as the character in her book – he had the same name as well.
So when Becky met head chef James at the hotel where they both worked she was drawn to him, even though she didn’t spot the coincidence until her daughter pointed it out.
“I’d more or less forgotten about the book. It was from another part of my life and I didn’t really think about his name,” said Becky who lives in Great Waldingfield.
But the story she’d written to distract her from life as a busy mum of four young children contained a remarkable glimpse into her future.
This month she republished ‘Remember to Love Me’ – a heartstring-tugging, supernatural, time-slip romance set in Bury St Edmunds.
It features two generations of a family, set almost 100 years apart.
In 1997, central character April moves to her grandmother’s house where she encounters a ghostly apparition in the attic.
The shadowy presence links her to sisters Annabelle and Emily whose lives were thrown into turmoil in 1900 by the onset of the Boer War.
Becky, 45, grew up in Bury and lived there until a few years ago when she and James, who have a three year-old son, moved to the Sudbury area.
“I’ve heard so many times that you should write what you know. If it’s your home turf it’s so much easier to write about and describe.
“In Bury there is so much history, and architecture and beauty at your feet.
“I love the Abbey Gardens... a lot of the book is set in and around there.
“And the grandmother’s home is based on an early-Victorian house in Crown Street, where I went ages ago to do some dressmaking alterations for an elderly lady who lived there.
“When people who know Bury read it, they say: ‘I know exactly where you mean.’
“James Wright in the book is tall, lean, and boyish looking with blond hair and blue eyes – eerily like my husband.
“He is a lance corporal who goes to fight in the Boer War.
“I wanted to get all the details right so I went to the Suffolk Regiment Museum in Bury to check the uniform.
“And the soldiers leave in a snowstorm, which really happened.”
Becky has four grown up children – Mitzi, Kayleigh, Lavinia and Zachary – from previous marriages. She is also granny to William, 4, and six month-old Rosa.
Now, with lively three year-old Arthur and a husband working a chef’s unsocial hours, she has to squeeze in writing when she can.
She keeps a notebook constantly at her side to jot down ideas as they occur to her.
One of her most treasured possessions is a vintage 1930s typewriter,
But it sits on her desk for inspiration only – typing on it is too hard on the fingers.
‘Remember To Love Me’ is book one of a trilogy. The second, ‘Rose de Mai’ is due out next summer.
“Family, love and loyalty mean everything to me,” said Becky, “and that spills over into my writing.”
“I met James when we both worked at the Grange Hotel in Thurston. He’s the love of my life.”
The importance of family, and her vivid imagination, are legacies from her own childhood.
Cash was often in short supply, but love and fun were not despite her father’s ill-health.
“When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money because my dad was always poorly.
“Christmas, which I still love, was never about presents but the sights, and smells, and music, and family.
“My dad John, who died 24 years ago, was a great storyteller, a fantastic weaver of the tale.
“He’d been in the Army, and had a colourful past in the East End of London, on the fringe of the underworld.
“I suppose you’d call him a loveable rogue.
“My mum Eva, whose in her 70s now, was always saying, when we win the football pools we’ll do this, or that.
“I think all that encouraged my imagination. She was also a great reader.
“We lived in a council house, but we had a library in the spare bedroom.
“Then, when I was at Howard Middle School in Bury I had a fantastic English teacher, called Mr Amos.
“We did Shakespeare and Dickens and it was this whole thing of getting swept up in literature.
“I remember reading A Christmas Carol and it just caught my imagination with the descriptions and the atmosphere. I could feel I was there.
“I used to write at home. I would staple pieces of paper together to make little books and illustrate them too.
“Even then there was always something ghostly about them, maybe that also came from A Christmas Carol.”
But all thoughts of a writing career were put on the back burner when Becky became a mum.
“I fell pregnant at 15 with my eldest daughter. I left school with no qualifications and never went to college or university.
“At 18 I was married with two children. I had four children in the space of 10 years.
“I’ve been in contact with a lot of other writers on social media and most of them have been to uni, or are journalists.
“I suppose I’m what you’d call a self-made writer.
“When I originally wrote my book it was never intended to be published. It was more escapism from a busy home life.
“It took me four years to finish, and I first self-published it eight years ago.
“I woke up one morning and thought, I’m going to write a book, and in a day I had the plot worked out.
“I’m not really sure where the plot or characters came from ... it was almost like chanelling.
“Sometimes when I read what I’ve written I’m in floods of tears, it’s almost like I didn’t write it.
“In the book one of the characters has a miscarriage.
“Then a few years ago I lost a baby, and I felt that emotion I had already written about.
“The book is quite emotional, but I wouldn’t say it’s a tear-jerker.
“My youngest daughter, who was too young to read it when I first wrote it, read it for the first time last week.
“Now she’s saying what can I read next, which is great.
“As a writer you lay your soul bare. I feel very exposed when I know someone is it the middle of reading the book.”
l ‘Remember To Love Me’ is available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle download.
The cover design is by Hannah Weeks from Bury, a childhood friend of Becky’s daughter, Mitzi.