In the footsteps of Lorca: meet three women authors inspired by the Spanish Alpujarras

FROM Frederico Garcia Lorca to Gerald Brennan and, more recently, Chris Stewart, Andy Bailey and David Luddington, La Alpujarra has been home to many successful authors.

Its beautiful landscape seems to inspire blacksmiths of various genres to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Today, female authors are taking the region by storm, with three women from Orgiva launching their own novels from the same town where Olive Press was born in 2006.

Hilly Barmby – Author of “From My Cold Dead Hands”

Hilly and her partner first arrived in the Alpujarra from Brighton in the early 1990s, to work as Wwoofers (volunteer workers on organic farms). They ended up above Lanjaron, helping out on a farm there. Hilly then set up an arts and crafts shop in the municipal market of Órgiva. She left the region in 1995 but returned in 2016.

From the cover of the book My Cold Dead Hands. Photo: Hilly Barmby,

Hilly lives in an old ‘cortijo’ near Órgiva with her musician partner, Malk, and two rescue dogs. She has created a “wooden lady’s shed”, where she paints, makes crafts and writes her novels inspired by the view. “I look out the window and I can see the Lujar mountains, our vegetable garden, the pile of wood and the dogs playing,” she says.

Although it took her 20 years to achieve her “overnight success”, Hilly is now at full speed with various novels. Her first book – ‘From My Cold Dead Hands’, published by Bloodhound Books in July 2022 – is about a woman, Cassie, who has lost her memory: can she piece together the truth about her family, her life and the murder of ‘a friend ? ?

The idea for the book came from watching Michael Moore’s movie, “Bowling for Columbine.” Hilly thought, “What if someone woke up with amnesia in a particular world/lifestyle? If she had wiped the slate clean, would she see her world differently?

Hilly’s has a three-book deal for its psychological thrillers. His second book, “The Pact,” will be released by Bloodhound Books on October 4, 2022, and the third book is pending.

She also has a three-book deal to write a young adult trilogy for another publisher, SpellBound Books.

“From My Cold Dead Hands” is available on Amazon worldwide, Barnes and Noble, Kobi and Waterstones. It has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on UK Amazon and 4.54 on Good reads.

Sheree Griffin (aka Chloe Phoenix) – author of ‘Behind You’

Sheree visited La Alpujarra on holiday from Warwickshire in the UK, met her husband, Mark, and fell in love with him and the area, which is ideally located close to the “beautiful Mediterranean coast”. She decided to take early retirement and moved to Las Barreras, near Orgiva, with Mark and his cats and dogs.

Picture 1
Book behind you. Photo: Sheree Griffin.

Her novel, ‘Behind You’, is a “cozy, whimsical mystery about a middle-aged nurse, Shona Jones, who comes to La Alpujarra for a vacation and finds herself solving a mystery with a tall, dark, enigmatic man”.

Sheree based the novel on what she personally knew, and with added flavor from La Alpujarra. It took him a few years to write and was released in 2021.

She just finished the sequel, “A Strange Practice”, which continues Shona’s story, as well as another mystery to solve. She is currently working on the third volume of the trilogy.

“Behind You” is available via Amazon in Paperback or Kindle edition, as well as on the shelves of Camac and Libreria Atla?ntida in Orgiva.

Amanthi Harris – author of “Beautiful Place”

Amanthi visited La Alpujarra after meeting a lady who organized concerts in La Taha and the Poquiera Valley – this inspired her to explore the area with her husband and then their newborn daughter. In 2020, they moved permanently from London.

Amanthi cover with author's photo
Book cover by Amanthi Harris and photo of the author.

“Beautiful Place” is set in Sri Lanka, in a guesthouse on a secluded beach along the southern coast. It follows the lives of the owners of the guest house, their friends and the real guests.

Amanthi says: “I wanted to rediscover the atmosphere of my childhood home in Sri Lanka, where I grew up.

The book took 10 years to write and was published in 2019 in the UK (Salt Publishing) and 2020 in South Asia (Pan Macmillan India). It received critical acclaim from ‘The Guardian’, author Amit Chaudhuri and ‘Grazia India’.

Amanthi is currently finishing editing a collection of short stories, some of which have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, as well as planning her second novel. It is inspired by the “generous and creative people of La Alpujarra”.

“A Beautiful Place” is available from AmazonLibreria Inusual in Granada and Camac and Libreria Atlantida in Orgiva.


Comments are closed.