1.  Tell us about your novel, Touched By The Light.Linn Halton

Can a feisty, bewildered young spirit keep two people together despite everything that is tearing them and their love, apart?  This is a ‘feel-good’ story about psychic connections between people on different levels of existence and how the two worlds can become curiously entwined.  Mya tries desperately to keep Laurel and Dan together, although she has no idea who they are or why she finds herself involved in their lives. Her efforts are often hilarious and misguided.  It’s all about life and love, the things that hold us back; the mistakes we make and the things we don’t say but should.  But when fate is involved anything can happen, although there are no guarantees that even soul mates can find their way through.  The journey they take is filled with all of the emotions life has to offer and an insight into Mya’s new reality beyond the ‘light’.

The story unfolds as told through the eyes of Mya and also five other characters: –

Laurel – a young woman born with psychic ability, a fact she attempts to keep hidden

Dan – Laurel’s boyfriend

Lennie – Laurel’s best friend

Sadie – Mya’s sister

Grace – a medium working on a TV programme Dan is involved with, which televises live sessions trying to make contact with spirits

At the beginning Mya is confused and disorientated. Having recently celebrated her 25th birthday, she never considered she might die at a young age and she doesn’t know what to expect after ‘the bright light’ appears.  Suddenly she finds that she can connect with Laurel, a young woman of about the same age whom she doesn’t know.  Laurel can talk to and sometimes see the spirits of people who have passed.

Mya feels the reason she is involved with Laurel’s life is because she is supposed to save Laurel and Dan’s relationship.  Dan is under a lot of pressure and is stressed out; the company he works for are struggling and they haven’t been able to pay anyone for quite a while. Dan is nearly broke, but he hasn’t told Laurel any of his problems because they are trying to have a baby; he feels that he’s failed her.  Laurel is so busy organizing their lives and worrying about not getting pregnant that she hasn’t noticed how withdrawn Dan has become.  Mya is frustrated because she can see it all so clearly.  If only they could both stand back and look at what is happening to them; talk about what they are feeling, there is a real chance they could get through this rough patch.

Suddenly Mya loses contact with Laurel after the couple split up, but she is surprised to find she is then able to ‘watch’ Dan.  She can’t talk to him and he can’t see her, but it is clear to her that he is falling apart. She tries to let him know when she’s with him by moving things, but they usually end up getting smashed!

He starts talking to her, at first a little annoyed at the disruption.  However, as time goes on he senses that she doesn’t mean to upset him and he ends up using her as a confidante.  He finds talking to a spirit strangely comforting, partly because he knows she won’t repeat anything he tells her!  He feels she is a friendly spirit and assumes it is something to do with the show he’s working on.  He affectionately calls her ‘Cupcake’ and is worried about her, so he asks Grace to see if she can help.

When Grace tries to connect with her, she is puzzled that this spirit doesn’t seem interested in passing a message onto Dan.  Grace knows this is an unusual situation and takes Dan to meet a friend who is involved in psychic research.  Lawrence is very informative and he talks about near-death and out of body experiences, auras, déjà vue, telekinesis etc.  They also talk about mental telepathy.  Afterwards Dan begins to think that Cupcake is the result of Lennie’s subconscious thoughts, willing her best friends Laurel and Dan back together.  He wonders if Lennie needs them to succeed to prove to herself that relationships really can work.  She herself seems unwilling to commit to a relationship and he suspects she is searching for that special someone to love.  But Lennie has trust issues of which Dan and Laura are unaware, the ‘baggage’ she carries with her from an experience she had many years ago.

As the story continues to unravel there are unexpected twists that trigger much deeper feelings, as two soul mates destined for each other, can finally come together.

Linn Halton at beach2.  From Finance to Fiction

A leap perhaps, but not as great as some might imagine.  It taught me so much that has helped me enormously now I am able to devote my time to writing on a full time basis.

I specialized in forecasting and budgeting at a ‘head office’ level, for several organisations over a twenty-year span.  It was my job to drill down into the detail of large chunks of expenditure within an organisation, often hundreds of millions of pounds.  That’s where the investigative work is done and that’s how you assure yourself that the people managing their allocations within the overall budget know what they’re doing.  Sometimes the people on the ground spending the money needed assistance in understanding the accounting system, how to track their expenditure to date and how to provide good quality forecasts.

It sounds dry, but I found it exciting.  A large part of the job was providing support where it was needed and sometimes this involved one-to-one training with new budget holders.  Often they were experts in their field, who suddenly found themselves managing very large sums of money because that went with the job.  I enjoyed working one-to-one and found people usually reacted favourably, often relieved someone was there to guide them.   Other times it was reinforcing accountability and the need for a clear audit trail, or questioning the detail of their expenditure forecasts.  Not always easy, but I tried to sell that in a positive way, because understanding what you do ultimately makes you better at doing it!

Although the majority of my time was spent analyzing figures and working on spreadsheets, I had to do written reports that summed up the ‘story’ the figures were telling.  I’m not at all ashamed to admit I regarded it as a personal challenge to present each narrative in as interest a way as possible.  Including using cliffhangers ‘it remains to be seen if this pattern continues into the next month’ or ‘this is unexpected and further investigation indicates that …’.  Perhaps I just have a strange sense of fun!

Linn Halton by windmill3.  What skills did you bring to your writing that you learned in the world of numbers?

It taught me that detail is everything.  Of course I make mistakes all the time when I’m writing, but it means I don’t find proof checking at all tedious.  I’m used to that level of scrutiny and looking for errors – it used to be erroneous zeros, now it’s anything that the automatic checker hasn’t picked up – and yes, that does happen.

It also taught me to plan for deadlines.  Finance is full of deadlines – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly  … budget reviews, forecast revisions …. It was endless.  That’s where I learnt important lesson in life no. 1: –

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today

In Finance there was always the unexpected hitch.  Either a sudden request for all sorts of information because the business was having to reign-in expenditure, or budget under spends came up for reallocation.  Both were equally difficult because it was essential to ensure that the best value for money in terms of the business objectives was achieved.  At the same time all of the usual deadlines still had to be met.  Let’s say I often worked long hours and took things home to work on at night and weekends.  So I became used to doing as much preparation as I could for each deadline as far in advance as was possible.  Even if I could only get a task halfway there, I did that much and left it to finish off.  If it was something I could complete way in advance and nothing would change, then I would do the task and sit on it for a while before presenting it.  Sometimes the recipient really appreciates you giving them a little extra time by doing your bit earlier than expected!

So that leads me on to vital life lesson no. 2: –

Get yourself organised

There’s a saying here in the UK ‘I can’t see the wood for the trees’.  For those who are puzzled by that, I interpret it as ‘get down to what really matters and ignore everything else’.  It makes life simpler and you can juggle more things at the same time.

I can’t stop on this topic without mentioning vital lesson no. 3: –

It isn’t always what you know; it’s whom you know

But I expand that a little and add ‘and it’s how you treat them’.  If you treat people nicely and with respect, then they will treat you the same way in return.  I have been privileged to meet some absolutely fabulous people in my time, a great many had helped me out when I was struggling to learn something new or integrating into a new environment.  I find that it also very true now that I have turned my attention to writing and I am happy to pass on whatever I have learnt to anyone who cares to ask.

It also gave me the very bad habit of working long hours … not something I would recommend, but it’s useful now when I want to finish something I’m writing whilst it’s fresh in my mind!  As long as I have coffee next to me I can work through the night!

4.  What inspired ‘Touched by The Light’?

The death of my mother in March 2009 was a life-changing moment for me.  I had given up my full-time job at the end of December 2008 to spend more time with her.  I knew she was unwell, although I had no idea we only had three months left to enjoy some quality time together.

Early in January 2009 she was at home and had a bad fall, breaking an arm and fracturing the bone at the top of her leg.  After six days in hospital she came back to stay with my husband and I until she was mobile again.  It was a very difficult time and I tried to tempt her with food to build her back up again and encourage her to exercise.  She was frail and a part of me knew something wasn’t right, in fact I’d felt that for the previous three years.  She constantly denied anything was wrong, but I confided in both of my brothers that I felt she didn’t have long to live earlier in 2008.  It was especially difficult as one brother lives in California and he hadn’t made it home in time to see my father before he died in 2004.

It’s a long story but Mum went back home about ten days before she collapsed again and died, about a week later in hospital.  What I hadn’t known at the time was that she had been diagnosed with Leukaemia shortly after my father died.  She apparently asserted her right not to have treatment and to have two things noted on her hospital records.  Firstly that they would not resuscitate her if the situation arose and secondly that her family should not be informed of her illness.

So when I brought her home and looked after her I had no idea that it wasn’t a battle we were going to win.  How I wish I had known that at the time, but I respect that it was her decision.  I pushed her each day, thinking that there was a chance she could get fully well again.  The injuries did heal, but I could see she wasn’t progressing as I’d hoped; I just didn’t know why.  I mention this only because someone might read this and understand the full impact of the decisions they make, perhaps from a perspective they haven’t considered.

She was the most selfless person I know, to a fault.  She never, ever put herself first in all the years I knew her.  I understand the reason behind her decision and that was that she didn’t want to worry or upset anyone.  I’m not saying I think she made the wrong decision, what I’m saying is that it’s a tough one to make and maybe you need to stand back a little and really think through the implications.  In reality it hadn’t stopped me worrying about her – I’d had three years of constant ‘pressure’ from not knowing what was wrong with her.  Where it hurts me most, is that if only I had known then I would have taken each day as it came and let her dictate to me what she felt she was capable of doing.  There is no way of taking away the pain of losing someone, but this regret still weighs heavily on my mind.

Well, that’s what I ‘think’, but of course my mother was very wise and the reality was probably that I would have fought to get her whatever help we could to beat it or prolong her life.

So back to the original question.  In between sorting out my mother’s home and all the associated paperwork, I started to write.  The reason I have explained the lead up to this, is that when my mother lived with us she stayed in a little cottage we had in the garden.  It wasn’t large, but it had a lounge with a study area which led into a bedroom (all open plan) and a separate bathroom.  When I sat at the computer, just beyond the screen the bed was always in view.  I never ‘saw’ her at that time, but I felt her around me.  It wasn’t low key, as some of the experiences I have had, it was intense.  She was pushing me to write and I wrote for hours on end.  But I hated working once the light started to go, not because I was scared, but because as I sat with the light on next to the computer her presence grew stronger.  What upset me was that I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t give her a hug.

When I began ‘Touched by The Light’ I literally sat down and typed.  No plan, no characters, nothing in my head.  The first thing that came into my mind was, and still is, the opening of the book – ‘Dying was, quite frankly, incredibly easy.  One minute I was there and the next minute I was ‘here’, wherever ‘here’ is’.

It wasn’t coincidental and from there the book wrote itself.

5.  A typical day in my life now I’m at home and write

It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I could have the luxury of giving up my full time career and devote my time to writing.  I have my mother to thank for ‘engineering’ it and I truly believe that is what she did.  If she hadn’t been ill I would have worked through until retirement.

I always knew I’d write a book some day and it was a thought I treasured.  It was my secret passion and ironically, the one thing for which I seemed to have an enormous amount of patience.  It’s probably the only thing in my entire life that I have taken as a given and accepted gracefully.  With hindsight that astounds me – why did I think it was something I was even capable of doing and why was I so patient, waiting until I could have ‘me’ time without feeling guilty? I should also throw in at this point, that I’m a Gemini (which does explain a lot of things) and I have followed my daily forecast for more than thirty years.

I have always written poetry, but until 2009 my little collection sat in a box beneath my desk.  When I turned 50 it had a companion; my present to myself was to disappear after dinner each evening for three months and for the first time since I was about fourteen, I wrote a story.  This story was much longer than anything I’d written as a teenager.  It was my test – I suddenly realized how disappointed I’d be when I finally got to that special time in my life, only to find I wasn’t able to write something start to finish!  Once completed it joined my poems in the box under my desk.  I had achieved my main objective and I was excited about the future.

So at last the future is here!  My working day is very similar to when I had a job.  I start early and sometimes work very late.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, all those stories in my head desperate to get themselves down on paper.  So it’s usually coffee in bed and do some proof checking, trip to the gym, home, shower and straight in front of the Mac.  I am guilty of eating whilst I type – a bad habit from my ‘employed’ days.  I write/blog/Twitter through until just before my wonderful husband is due home.  Then it’s make dinner, talk, watch some TV together (unless it’s date night or we have plans with friends) and if the words are ‘flowing’ back to the Mac.  I often work through into the early hours if I have something on my mind, because it prevents me from sleeping.  That’s just the way I am.

My husband and I have two sons, one living in Bristol and one in North Wales.  We are lucky enough to have three wonderful grandchildren, so we love to spend time with them whenever we can.  The bonus of working at home is that I can arrange my time as I please.  A couple of evenings a week I usually pop into Bristol to babysit grandson Bill.  My son opened his own school last year where he teaches Krav Maga and my daughter-in-law is going along to learn self-defence and to get back into shape after Bill’s arrival last August.

We also do a monthly, long-weekend trip to North Wales and that is lovely because we can play with Charlie, our other grandson and baby Lily Grace born in January 2011.

Several times a month I take a day off and can now enjoy the most wonderful lunches with friends who come out to visit me.  It makes me take a break from the Mac and does me the world of good.  I also attend a monthly meeting at the Cirencester Arts Centre for ‘Writers in The Brewery’.  And yes, it does have a bar and the wine is very good.

So I still have the same work ethic I’ve had all my working life, it’s just that now I’m realising a dream.  I enjoyed my non-writing career – and only 20 years of it were in Finance; I also had a few years doing interior design and showing houses, then restoring old cottages  – another long story!  I want each day to be full of enjoyment, whether it’s with the family or writing and I count my blessings all the time!

6.  What’s next?

I have three manuscripts that are complete and look down at me from my bookshelf, eagerly awaiting publication.  I knew that once I started writing I would be prolific; I’ve always had this habit of ‘narrating in my head’ since about the age of twelve.  Sounds strange doesn’t it?

It happens when I’m doing something where I’m physically occupied but my mind isn’t required to contribute very much.  So when I’m cleaning the house (and I LOVE cleaning, I’m obsessed) stories just come to me and I play them out in my head.  It’s fun, it makes any task fly by and I’m never bored, even when I’m doing the most tedious of jobs.  I’ve recently re-painted the whole of the interior of our currently home, we moved here in March 2010 from an old Hunting Lodge.  The new house was only eighteen months old when we moved in and rather bland.  Redecorating was great because it gave me a whole month of ‘pure’ mind-wandering time, away from other distractions and with just a little background music for company.

Over the past few years I have kept an ideas book and when I go to the gym I keep a notebook and pen at my side at all times.  I often slow the treadmill so I can jot down some notes without actually falling over and whizzing off the end!

So the three completed manuscripts awaiting some wonderful Literary Agent to fall in love with ‘Touched by The Light’ and decide they want to embrace my work,  are:-

The Quintessential Gemini

Katherine lives her life according to her daily horoscope and her passion for life, astrology and unexpectedly, love unfolds as three lives become inextricably tangled. Insecurity, self-doubt, guilt, stress and frustration, coupled with village gossips and merciless reporters wanting eye-catching headlines; it’s not just a story about two people who find each other.  It’s about people having to cope with whatever life throws at them, fair or unfair and the ‘baggage’ we all carry around with us and often fail to address until forced to do so.

Never Alone

‘It’s a gift to be shown something that allows you to make a difference and alter the outcome of someone’s life, but the weight of responsibility and the ethics that go along with it is huge.  The thing I have to ask myself is how did my actions change the future?’

Holly is the envy of all her friends, she has lived with the gorgeous Will for five years and supported him every step of the way.  His IT business is about to go global and they are on the verge of having all their dreams come true!  A life split between homes in the UK and Los Angeles beckons, offering them a glamorous and exciting lifestyle they will both fit into quite perfectly.

However, a series of terrifying encounters unleashes an inherited psychic connection within Holly.  Her ‘perfect’ life is turned upside down as she struggles with the reality of her ‘gift’.  Help comes from a chance meeting with medium Peter Shaw and she discovers that she is also being given healing and protection by the spirits of two people.  One of them is her best friend’s brother, who died suddenly in tragic circumstances and Holly finds herself confiding in him in an attempt to sort out her own life.

She begins to sense that the path she’s on isn’t the one she’s destined for, but is it too late to change things?  The thought of hurting the people she loves the most causes her to bury her emotions, until fate takes a hand.

The Restaurant

Age, relationships, careers – we all appear to be so very different.  Yet beneath the exterior facade we show to the world at large, is that really the case?  The things we bury deep inside, the worries and fears we can’t always verbalise and the hand fate takes in our lives.  Sometimes we fail to recognise in each other that innermost struggle and yet it exists for all of us.  The Restaurant @ The Mill is busy and comes alive with conversations and emotions of people unconnected in their normal day-to-day lives.  Only one thing is certain, life is an eternal struggle and that is the common thread that ties together the stories of the restaurant owners, five of their customers and the resident ghost.

7.  How did you get involved in the world of psychics?

In my late twenties a chance trip with some friends to see a clairvoyant for a bit of fun, turned out to be very thought provoking.  She told me a string of personal things that made me hold my breath.  She then went on to tell me that my coccyx bone pointed the wrong way!  Now even my husband didn’t know that, it’s not something that comes up in conversation and I only discovered it after having an xray following the birth of my first son by c-section. I remember telling my mother, in case she’d heard of that before and then forgot all about it until the clairvoyant mentioned it!

Over the years I visited a number of clairvoyants, often seeking an answer to a specific question.  I didn’t always receive an answer and over time I found I could very quickly establish whether the person sitting opposite me was ‘in tune’ with me.  Frequently I came away with a head full of meaningless names and pieces of information that never made any sense at all.  Then there were the times when I felt that I was an open book and the person on the other side of the table knew even my most secret thoughts.  On a number of occasions I was told that I had ‘the ability’ if I wanted to develop it, but that wasn’t for me.

Ironically, in amongst all of these little visits I had been ‘seeing things’ in a number of the houses we’d lived in.  We have just moved into our thirteenth property, a very lucky number for me over the years!  We’ve purchased a wide variety from two bed to four bed; this included two new builds, a 1950’s house, a 1960’s house, two Cottages, a converted Stable and an old stone Hunting Lodge.  The Cottages and The Lodge were renovation projects.  I came to realize that ‘seeing things’ didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the age of the property for two reasons.  Firstly, on numerous occasions what I was seeing was with ‘me’ and followed me wherever I went and secondly the things I saw related to people whom I was able to establish had died in the property.

When my husband and I were renovating the Cottages, we gave up our full-time jobs to work on the properties with help from local trades people.  Between us we have a number of skills, my husband can handle electrics, plumbing and building jobs.  I can project manage, control budgets, paint, re-point stonework and design the interior layout, kitchen etc.  To give us a break from the work, which was hard but so much fun, my husband worked a few hours each week in a local garden centre and I did house viewings for a local realtor.  We call them Estate Agents in the UK and the house buying/selling system is very different.

Ironically it was this job that exposed me to numerous psychic experiences.  Was it in the wine-cave basement of a large, partially renovated Edwardian house?  No, the worst experience was in a 1980’s standard three-bedroom property on a housing estate.  It is one of the psychic episodes I have written about in ‘Never Alone’ and the story is actually very funny in parts.

So in telling you all this you probably think that I’ve been an open-minded convert for a very long time.  That I fully accepted the fact that there is life after death and spirits do exist, but the answer to that is ’no’.  Until 2004 I somehow managed to file away these ‘incidents’ in my head in a box marked ‘quietly ignore/over-active imagination’.  On the odd occasion I did refer to some of my experiences, it was only when the subject was raised by someone else.  My husband Lawrence was a bigger skeptic than I was at that time and I could tell he was uncomfortable hearing me admit I had seen things.  What amazed me was that so many people had unexplained stories of their own to tell.

In 2004 my father died and proved unequivocally to myself AND my husband in numerous ways that he was with us on a regular basis.  That and another very real incident my husband experienced when he was alone turned him from a skeptic into a believer and we started to talk about it openly.  If either of us experience something now, we immediately turn to the other to see if they see/feel it too.

As mentioned earlier, my mother died in 2009 and again, linked in with her death was a truly amazing story of its’ own.  Since then she has been with me frequently, not just supporting me, but also pushing me!  Both of my parents have also been in touch via a medium and given more validation than I could ever have hoped to receive to prove it was really them.

Psychic ability runs in my family, as does a general sensitivity to psychic occurrences.  It’s not something I’m interested in developing at the moment, but who knows what the future might bring?  Weaving some of my experiences into my stories was very much a direct result of my ‘spirit guide’, my wonderful mother.  It simply hadn’t occurred to me beforehand and now I wish I could claim credit for an idea that has since added an enormous amount of fun and intrigue to my writing.

8.  Living in the Cotswolds

If you visit the UK you must visit The Cotswolds.  It should be there on the list, along with London, Shakespeare country and the home of Jane Austen of course!

Here is an extract from the Gloucestershire Tourism website http://www.the-cotswolds.org/ and there is lots more information there.

‘The Cotswolds is an area of England about the size of greater Tokyo. Popular with both the English themselves and visitors from all over the world, the Cotswolds are well known for gentle hillsides (‘Wolds’), sleepy villages and for being so ‘typically English’.

There are famous cities such as Bath, well-known beautiful towns like Cheltenham and hundreds of delightful villages such as Burford and Castle Combe. Above all, the local honey-coloured limestone, used for everything from the stone floors in the houses to the tiles on the roof, has ensured that the area has a magical uniformity of architecture.

You will see ‘Dry stone walls’ everywhere in the fields. Many were built in the 18th and 19th centuries; a matter of considerable skill as there is no cement to hold the walls together. They represent an important historical landscape and a major conservation feature – and are of course still used by farmers to enclose sheep and cattle.

During the 13-15th centuries, the medieval period, the native Cotswold sheep were famous throughout Europe for their heavy fleeces and high quality of wool. Cotswold wool commanded a high price and the wealth generated by the wool trade enabled wealthy traders to leave their mark by building fine houses and wonderful churches, known as “wool churches”. Even today, the sight of sheep on the hillside is still one of the classic Cotswold images.

Not all villages are well known, and today many still hold their secrets. Amongst the treasures to be found are perhaps a hidden village off the beaten track, perhaps Painswick, Biddestone, Winchcombe or Woodstock, or an unspoilt historic church, such as at Northleach often called the “Cathedral of the Cotswolds” – open the church door and you will discover a hidden world of history.

Today, the larger market towns and villages of the Cotswolds are famous for their shops, such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Norton and Tetbury.

The Cotswolds are unarguably romantic. From Cheltenham, England’s Regency Spa town, two Romantic Road routes introduce you to the Cotswolds along country roads leading through peaceful river valleys, country towns and villages of honey-coloured stone, complete with manor houses, churches and traditional pubs.

In an area rich in history and natural beauty like the Cotswolds, it is sometimes difficult for visitors, even those who have been before, to get to know the country roads and traditional villages. The Romantic Road provides touring routes that are easy to follow and trace the tales of the many artists, writers and craftspeople who have drawn inspiration from the Cotswolds. It shows off the loveliest villages and landscapes, reflecting the romance of their history and literary heritage.’

I now live in Nailsworth, one of the smaller towns within the Cotswolds, which is about five miles from Tetbury. It’s a wonderful place to live with many beautiful walks and stunning views, Nailsworth is one of the ‘five valleys’ – Frome Valley, Nailsworth Valley, Toadsmore Valley, Slad Valley and Painswick Valley.  Slad was made famous by author Laurie Lee when ‘Cider with Rosie’ was published in 1960.  A lovely story based upon his childhood experiences living in this small village just after WWI.

Local Farmer’s Markets give a real sense of local produce and products.  Both the Nailsworth and Tetbury markets are full of wonderful little stalls, where you find people who are very passionate about what they do.  In Tetbury for instance, there is a wonderful stall selling jewellery made out of old British coins.  With either a silver or gold finish, they do some amazing fretwork cutouts to enhance the design of each piece and which creates something very unique.  They can literally find a coin with any date you are looking for and create your chosen design.

I settled here in March 2010, I was born and lived in Bristol until a few years ago, which is about twenty-five miles away.  When we visited Nailsworth for the first time about five years ago, we fell in love with this little town.  It seemed like the perfect place to be, now that I spend my days writing. There is a real sense of community here and I’ve already met some very interesting new people who will hopefully become long-term friends.

9.  How did you meet your husband?

Our eyes met across a crowded (and in those days) smoky room.  I met Lawrence, the love of my life, at a local dance and it was an instant attraction that remains to this day.  We knew from that first meeting that we were destined to be soul mates.  This year we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary and he is not just my husband, but a best friend, confidante and my ‘rock’.  We never run out of things to say to each other and we enjoyed the years we worked alongside each other renovating properties; being together 24/7 only served to strengthen our relationship.  We make a truly great team!

When a relationship grows that initial spark develops into a much deeper thing; where one becomes more than a lover – a trusted friend, confidante, someone to lean upon in times of trouble  – where mutual respect validates that love.  It isn’t as rare as some people would perceive it to be, but true love has to be ‘self-less’; if you are both prepared to put the other person first and give your love honestly and openly, then you get so much more back in return.

My parents came to regard Lawrence as their ‘son’ because of the close relationship that existed between them, which often confused people when they insisted upon introducing us as ‘our daughter and son’!  I also have two marvelous brothers, the youngest lives in California.

It might make you laugh to hear that although we were only 16 and 17 years old when we met, within six weeks we announced to friends and family that we were saving up to get married!  One of my Uncles, who didn’t marry until his mid-forties, informed us that we were too young and it wouldn’t last.  The irony of this story is that 39 years later my Uncle is the oldest surviving member of my parents’ families and we are the main supporters to enable him to continue to live reasonably independently at the age of 91.  I was always his favourite niece and Lawrence very quickly became the nephew he knew he could always rely upon when something went wrong in the house!

10.   How does astrology affect your daily life?

I’ve always been fascinated by horoscopes, I follow the world-renowned astrologer Jonathan Cainer and have done so for years.  I am a very positive and motivated individual – a classic starter/finisher.  When I do something I put every ounce of energy I have behind it and become totally committed, but sometimes that can become borderline fanatical.  People who know me well laughingly say I’m an obsessive-compulsive; perhaps I am to a degree, but not in the way that many unfortunate people suffer from the actual disease.

I understand why people might jokingly say that, because I’m organized to a degree that could appear to be obsessive.  I’m also a cleaning freak, love doing it – partly because I find cleaning, sorting and de-cluttering cathartic.

You will probably understand therefore, that because I am so organized, I often feel a compelling need to know what lies ahead – so I can plan.  That’s where astrology can help.  But it isn’t just about an astrologer’s interpretation of planetary alignments; I follow Jonathan Cainer because I like his style and attitude to life.  He has charisma, makes me laugh and often reminds me to laugh at myself, not to be so intense about everything.

I can’t say that I live my life according to my horoscope (which is why it was fun to write ‘The Quintessential Gemini’ who does just that!) but the guidance I’m given can be reassuring.  If life is going along quite smoothly, then I might miss my daily horoscope for a couple of days because I’m so busy.  However, if things aren’t going quite so well then I might consult Jonathan’s website several times a day.  I look for clues in what he is trying to tell me in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly forecasts.  I want to make the most of the opportunities presented to me, but because of my character traits I need someone to remind me to slow down, stand back and look at the bigger picture.  Jonathan does that and on so many occasions I’ve changed the way I’m approaching something because he’s advised me to proceed with caution or wait before jumping in.

One thing I can say for sure, is that my life has benefitted from understanding when planetary alignments are favourable and when I’m better holding off life-changing decisions for a while.

I remember reading Jonathan’s yearly forecast for 2010 when it was first posted on his website. It contained a lot of information about big changes in my life.  I think this extract was a great summation of the essence of his message: –

‘In 2010 something good is coming your way and it will keep on coming throughout the year. So no matter what you feel intimidated by, look again. Look into yourself. Into who you are. Into what you came here for. Into what you might be able to achieve if you were really to set your heart on it and really to get a fair shot at it. Life is about to give you a real way forward, bringing great enjoyment and fulfillment.’

This was the year in which a publisher accepted my first novel, I began to write articles in preparation for the launch of my website on 13 December 2010 and I started to relax with my new routine.  For a long time after I gave up full time work (and once my mother had passed) I felt a little unsettled.  I loved spending my days writing – hence four novels over eighteen months – but I didn’t feel totally relaxed.

I have finally adjusted to my new lifestyle and realize that I was feeling guilty, as if I was merely taking time ‘off’ work when I wasn’t ill or on holiday.  I felt I needed to justify enjoying myself!  What I do now isn’t work, it’s a pleasure and I love every single minute of it and now I embrace everything associated with that.  I’m not saying I didn’t love my previous career(s), but this one means SO much more.

I still have ups and downs of course; I’m on a steep learning curve!  I need Jonathan’s celestial guidance even more and rely upon him to keep me on the right track!

11.  When did you start reading and what did you read?

As soon as I could read I immersed myself in books. I was a sickly child and my early teens were the worst, so reading became my escape.

School introduced me to Shakespeare, the great poets and wonderful novels that became lifelong favourites – The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins and The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy in particular.  I fell in love with Jane Austin as soon as I started reading her books and this connected with my ‘inner romantic’ that would surface much later.

At a young age I was back and forth to the library (in fact I walked to three different libraries to find new reads) once if not twice a week.  I was borrowing books that they probably thought were for my parents!  I read a wide range from the classics, to Stephen King and Sergeanne Golon (the Angélique series).  I’m not sure my parents would have approved of all of my reading choices had they realized, but it started a little fire inside of me – a desire to sit down and write a book of my own one day.

My father was an avid reader and introduced me to some wonderful novels by Ken Follett.  He loved biographies in particular.  My mother preferred romantic novels, but she had little time to read whilst the family were young because there was always something else to do.  My constant reading was sometimes viewed with dismay, as often it would be difficult to get me to join in – or even appear for dinner, because I couldn’t put a story down.

I like positive-feel biographies, I like love stories – historical or modern day, psychic stories, contemporary ‘feel-good’/’all about everyday life‘ books.

Both of our sons grew up with a love of reading and my husband reads a wide range of authors.  He is also one of the ‘test readers’ for everything I write and the first person to which I show my new work.

12.  My favourite bookstore

Moving house we have lived in various parts of Bristol, in the South West of England before moving to Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.  Since moving to this area we have lived in Huntingford, Almondsbury, Dursley and now Nailsworth.  So I have come to know the local libraries and local bookstores very well!

TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT by Linn HaltonIn Nailsworth we are very fortunate to have The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.  They also have another branch in Tetbury and I was curious to know the origins of the name.  Visiting their website at http://web.mac.com/bookshop/Site/Welcome.html I found the answer.  ‘We get asked a lot about our name.   We called ourselves after a great book about bookshops, by an American ex-bookseller called Lewis Buzbee.   He got the image from a couple of letters that Vincent van Gogh (another ex-bookseller), wrote his brother, about wanting to paint a Parisian bookshop at night, with the light spilling onto the pavement.   We loved the image, and we loved the book!   Lewis is a great author and advocate of literacy – see his website here: http://web.me.com/buzbeebooks.’

I love the fact that their name has a story to it, a tribute to something from the past that has a link to icons of another era.

Linn B Halton

‘Touched by The Light’ publication date: 24 February 2011

by Book Guild Publishing, Brighton, UK, ISBN 978-1-84624-531-2

Website:  http://linnbhalton.co.uk

Twitter: @LinnBHalton