We drove a few miles up the coast to the famous city of Santiago de Compostela. It was 2004, the Holy Year for pilgrims to the city. People came from all over the world to pay homage at the shrine of St James, the patron saint of Spain, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The remains of his body are in the crypt under the altar in the cathedral and draw thousands of pilgrims each year. That year there were almost 180,000 pilgrims. Luckily not all of them converged on the city in July, but nevertheless Santiago was packed with weary travellers. It was impossible not to be intrigued by the spectacle and to admire the tenacity of these people, some old, some young, who had walked hundreds of kilometres along the Way of St James or, as it is known in Spanish, El Camino de Santiago, just to be there. It was also difficult not to speculate on the motives that drove people to walk across fairly difficult terrain and stay in pretty spartan accommodation for weeks on end, just so that they could have their pilgrims' passports stamped and receive their compostela, (completion certificate) at the end of the journey. Some were obviously driven by religious reasons but not all of them. It was this speculation that led me to write SANTIAGO TALES, my twenty-first century version of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. However I did not begin to write the book until 2012, eight years later. By chance my neighbour told me about a friend of hers who had just completed the pilgrimage from Roncevalles to Santiago de Compostela in five weeks, a distance of 780 kilometres. An admirable feat by anyone's standards, but when she told me that the woman in question was seventy-six years old, my admiration soared. She introduced me to this intrepid walker , who kindly told me about her adventures. That was when I knew I had to write my book. So thanks to her, SANTIAGO TALES was born. In it the main character, a woman in her fifties, has a particular reason for walking the Camino, the details of which are revealed on the way. On her journey she meets other pilgrims who, each in turn, in the manner of The Canterbury Tales, tell their own story.
SANTIAGO TALES is due to be published later this year.