Rosanna Ley talks about her novel
The Saffron Trail
Ley-Saffron Trail
The Writing of "The Saffron Trail"

Each novel I write begins in my mind with a small seed. This could be an idea, a theme, a character or a place. This novel began with the saffron crocus. For the seed to grow, I needed to explore the idea of saffron. So I began to research it. Does anyone grow the saffron crocus in this country? How do they grow it? Why is it more expensive than gold? What are the myths attached to the most mysterious spice of them all? Where else is it grown and what has it been used for - both now and throughout history? And most important of all, how can I weave a story around it? This was just the start of the journey of this novel.

I then visited Morocco because it is one of the best producers of saffron and realized that the labrynthine nature of the medina leading to the centre of the riad, echoed the tangled relationships and inner truths that I wanted to write about. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me!  All the time I was travelling I was thinking and planning as well as researching the landscapes and the saffron, and gradually the story and the mystery at its heart was taking shape.

Then back I came to Dorset and Cornwall to where I would write it and where The Saffron Trail first began. I don’t plan everything before I start but I have a good idea where I’m going and I like to think a lot about my characters. Who are they and what are they like? How would they respond in certain situations? What are their dreams and what are their secrets? After a while I start hearing their voices – this is definitely a good sign! – and I’m ready to write.

I like to write from different viewpoints as I find this more interesting. I always want to know what other people think about things. Viewpoint is such a fascinating concept – we all have our own perceptions and understanding and these can be so different from someone else’s. This causes conflict and drama which is always grist to the author’s mill.

I also love writing about landscapes I find inspiring. Dorset is one of my favourite landscapes – to write about and to write in – but Morocco was also a joy. The hustle and bustle of colourful souks and bazaars was a treat for all the senses, but there is also tranquillity to be found – in the centre of a traditional riad, in the desert or at a waterfall in the Atlas Mountains.

A lot can change during the writing process – nothing is set in stone – and because I like to write stories from the past as well as the present, this does take some organisation and interweaving at the end. But I strongly believe that a story is there to be found and discovered and I love the way that this story evolves and develops until it’s "right". There’s no better feeling...

For more information, please visit Rosanna Ley’s website.