James-Long-The-Lives-She-Left-BehindWelcome to my website...

... which is still evolving. What will you find? Descriptions of the books I have written, including notes on how they came about, a blog (with regular updates) about all kinds of things as well as books, who knows. I'm looking forward to finding out.

The website is here, now, because of this book The Lives She Left Behind, picking up the story of Ferney from where I left it back in 1998.

Forty years ago, a friend took me to a tumbledown cottage near the village of Pen Selwood on the Somerset border. It was derelict, empty, swathed in creepers and invaded by dismantling saplings. Unable to get it out of my head, I started to write about it.

The story of the house soon became the story of a man called Ferney, who was the witness to its history, tied to it for lifetime after lifetime, pulled back to it in each successive rebirth. It then became clear to me that reincarnation with full memory, time after time, was an implacable fate, only bearable if shared and so Gally, Ferney's eternal lover, came to life. By now I had begun to understand the rich history of this village perched on the end of a strategic ridge - the scene of key battles and a rallying point for opposition to invaders, hemmed in by three Norman castles in a tight ring.

The long love story and the long history grew side by side into the novel Ferney. It struck a chord and was reprinted a number of times. I began to receive notes from those touched by the story, often finding parallels with their own lives. Ten years on, a rising tide of letters reached me from frustrated would-be buyers who found the book out of print. One told me she always bought it to give to new friends. Another pointed out that some second-hand book dealers were asking enormous prices for the used paperback. I had an accidental rarity on my hands and the book was reissued by a new publisher.

The idea of a sequel had been growing in my mind. Sixteen years had passed in real time from the setting of the first story and I soon realised just how much our world has changed in those short years. A 'different' child finds it harder to hide in this newer world. With so many other challenges facing the world, eternal life is perhaps now even less of a blessing.

The Lives She Left Behind which gradually uncovers what happened to Ferney, Gally and Mike after the first book. It brings them together again under the testing circumstances of modern life and reveals new aspects of their past which point a better way towards their future.

Quercus are publishing Ferney in its third incarnation and Lives in its first. I hope readers old and new will come to both, so that the story of that ancient and magical house in Pen Selwood may continue.

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