Fossil legend in new novel

PUBLISHED: 13:55 08 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:41 15 June 2010

FAMED for her bestselling book Girl with a Pearl Earring, author Tracy Chevalier's next book will feature Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning.

FAMED for her bestselling book Girl with a Pearl Earring, author Tracy Chevalier's next book will feature Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning.The historical novelist, who hails from America but is firmly settled in the UK, accepted an invitation to address Branscombe Book Club last Wednesday.Speaking to around 70, who helped raise funds for the village hall's new roof, Ms Chevalier told them she had been inspired to feature Mary Anning after taking her nine-year-old son to the Dinosaur Museum, Dorchester.Reading passages from her most recent publication, Burning Bright, based around the poet and radical William Blake, she said it was her sympathy for villagers having to cope with the aftermath of the grounded Napoli that prompted her to accept book club founder Kate Norbury's invitation to give a talk.She was walking from Lyme Regis to Sidmouth on the day the Napoli was being blown apart."We heard the boom and saw a helicopter over the sea. We had tea in Beer and people said that the Napoli was being blown up," she said."We walked into Branscombe, expecting a peaceful village, and saw rows of satellite dishes. I felt for you. Of all the villages I have been to in England, this is the last place to expect a huge ship off the coast and lots of TV vans."She admits almost abandoning Burning Bright to start work on her next book after getting to a difficult patch, but said: "You have to push through that temptation. "When I think an idea doesn't work I let it stew. When I have finished a book I start research on the next after a little break. I spent a year researching Blake. So much is written about him."She entranced the audience with her talk, answering a myriad of questions before signing copies of her books.

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