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Sunny Days & Sea Breezes: The inspiration behind the character of Ned


To celebrate the publication of Sunny Days and Sea Breezes we asked Carole Matthews to tell us more about where she got the inspiration for the character of Ned. Over to you, Carole . . . 


When it came to writing my hero, Ned, for Sunny Days and Sea Breezes, I remembered that my friend had told me about a chap who did amazing wood sculptures and that seemed like a cool kind of job for a romantic hero. The character of Ned is slightly quirky and Bohemian. He lives on a houseboat and is a musician who’s into yoga. I didn’t think he’d want to be sitting behind a desk every day! He needed to do something a little different to set him aside.

The sculptor, I found out, was Ian Freemantle and his work is amazing. He works with a chainsaw and carves everything from small animals, giant fantasy figures, rustic furniture, through to outdoor structures. All in his unique style.

So, all in the name of research, I asked Ian if I could go along to spend some time watching him work and finding out about his interesting career. Thankfully, he very kindly agreed!

He has a workshop in a secluded woodland setting and you’re greeted by an enormous carving of a fairy king, Quercus which gives you the first, very impressive, taste of his work.

The first thing we did was to walk through the wood that surrounds his yard so that I could find out more about him and how he came to do this work. It’s a lovely slice of Bedfordshire countryside which must be a very inspiring place to spend your day.

Then Ian showed me how he carves with his chainsaw. During the summer, Ian usually visits a lot of festivals where he puts on an exhibition of carving – something I made good use of in my novel. The pieces he makes in front of a crowd always sell out straight away. It’s easy to see why. To watch Ian work is like seeing someone dance. With a series of deft strokes and moves, you can see facial features emerging from the wood under his hands. I was totally in awe of his skill – though you have to admire it at quite a distance as the noise is deafening and the chips of wood fly everywhere. It’s definitely not the most serene of arts, but the results are fantastic. Within minutes he’d carved me a beautiful face in what had looked to be just a branch of a tree, but Ian says that he can see the faces or shapes in them before he starts to work.

Ian is also an accomplished poet and has written a children’s book based around his giant wood sculpture, Quercus.

It was lovely to spend some time with him and find out about his work.

I hope you enjoy reading Sunny Days and Sea Breezes and see how Ian’s help has shaped my romantic hero, Ned Haddon.


Photos of Ned 1 and 2


Ned photos 3 4 5