Belinda Seaward is British and teaches at a boys' school in Devon. She has spent time on a coffee plantation in Zambia, in the Middle East and in London, where she was a news journalist on the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. Hotel Juliet is her second novel.
Belinda Seaward on the writing of Hotel Juliet:
'Hotel Juliet was inspired by a period spent on a coffee plantation in Zambia while studying for my Philosophy degree in 1996. The strange and remote Copperbelt region captivated my imagination and I took notes of conversations and made observations which I would later use in the novel. The title is taken from the name of an aeroplane - Romeo Hotel Juliet, a Piper Cherokee, single-engine plane that I flew back from Lusaka one day with very little instruction from the pilot. I found the language of flight fascinating and wanted to use some of its odd poetry in the novel. I built up the story slowly, working on it layer by layer. I wanted the narrative to have a real emotional depth and integrity. I took the rather unusual step of telling the story from all four points of view. I felt that because the decisions and actions of each character were going to influence the others, each voice had to be allowed to be distinct. In real love stories the actions and desires of two people always influence others, sometimes profoundly, and I wanted to explore this creatively. As I worked I kept in my mind an ideal, a story with a delicate balance, a sort of intricate, playful, airborne drama that deals with real people in real situations and explores powerful emotions and troubling ideas. I also wanted to try to communicate something of the peculiar atmosphere of Africa, especially its supernatural elements which were inspired by meeting a witch doctor and watching him attempt to cure a young girl whose soul had been 'stolen' by an old man. My aim was to build a story that allowed room for exploration and inquiry into how people discover meaning in their lives. Each character in Hotel Juliet raises different questions and solutions to the dilemma of how to live honestly. The novel does not attempt to resolve this, but rather shows the characters trying to act according to the decisions they have made for themselves and each other.'