Starting Over – Character profile: Introducing Jo Bright Flame

If you’ve read the blurb on the back of the book, you will know the names of the three main characters: Ellie Winters, the potter and owner of Starling Hill farm; Robin Fanshawe, her wandering lover; and Dr Kathryn Moss, an archaeologist.

So today I would like to introduce one of the other characters. She turned up in Chapter One, arriving at the farm in her colourfully painted VW camper van, reminiscent of the psychedelic heyday of the 1960s…along with her rescue dog, Harry.

The intention when I started the story was that she would only have a minor role. Her border collie, Harry, unwittingly sets off the chain of events that leads to a university-led archaeological dig at the farm. Robin had invited Jo to visit because she expressed an interest in learning how to throw pots. However, as events unfold, she ends up having a bigger part to play.

Jo is a free spirit and immediately entrances Ellie, even though she is one in a long line of Robin’s one-night stands. She calls herself a craft worker and makes things out of recycled materials…wind chimes from old CDs, belts and tablemats from plastic bags, and even a dog bed for Harry made with old towels. She sells her wares at local markets and fairs and during the summer makes the rounds of various music festivals.

However, recently she’s started to think about settling down and has found herself drawn to Hebden Bridge, a small market town on the edge of the Pennines. There’s an atmosphere in the town that resonates with her spirit and idea of how she wants to live her life. She can feel the buzz of creativity in the air. She’s attracted by the constant movement…a flow, not just of the river and the road traffic, but the people…visitors passing through, cyclists, ramblers, street performers, outdoor markets, small local businesses and an abundance of cafes and open air seating, meeting places in the square in the heart of the town, and in the park located between the river and the canal.

Hebden Water

Oh, and there are, allegedly, a fair number of lesbians living in the town. All in all, Jo can see herself fitting in just fine.

This is the sign, referred to in the book. The first is the wording you see approaching the town from the west, the second is what you see as you leave the town travelling the other way.


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