How a postcard from Port Lockroy inspired my new book

Romance author Emily Kerr tells us how a postcard from our beloved penguin post office inspired her latest novel.

How a postcard from Port Lockroy inspired my new book

Romance author Emily Kerr tells us how a postcard from our beloved penguin post office inspired her latest novel.

How a postcard from Port Lockroy inspired my new book

12/05/2024

Romance author Emily Kerr tells us how a postcard from our beloved penguin post office inspired her latest novel.

Hi, I’m Emily Kerr and I have been scribbling stories on bits of paper ever since I learned how to write. I live in Yorkshire and work as a journalist for ITV Calendar News alongside writing feel-good fiction. 

I am the author of six novels, including Take a Chance on Greece, which won Best Romantic Comedy at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards 2023. My latest novel, The Typo, is about two strangers, Amy from Edinburgh, and Cameron, a photographer on an Antarctic expedition ship, who become penpals after being connected by a wrongly addressed email. As their friendship develops, Amy finds herself asking; is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met?

What inspired me to write the book and include a character in Antarctica?

I once received an email with an offer of a job interview, but as it was for a position in Australia in an industry which was very different from my chosen career, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t the intended recipient! I quickly replied explaining they’d got the wrong email address, but I’ve always wondered about the person who was meant to receive the message, and whether they made it to the interview. It got me thinking about how pure chance, such as similarity in an email address, could connect two people who would otherwise never know of each other’s existence. I also loved the idea of a romance developing through correspondence alone.

Emily with her book and postcard

Emily with her latest book and Port Lockroy postcard (Credit: Emily Kerr)

When it came to choosing where my characters would be based, I knew instantly that I wanted one of them to be in Antarctica. I’ve been fascinated by the region ever since I was a teenager when I was lucky enough to visit the International Antarctic Centre in New Zealand. I remember trying on the special Antarctic clothing to brave the chill of the Storm Dome and trying to imagine what it would be like to live in that kind of environment.

More recently, in my day job as a journalist at ITV Calendar News, I interviewed Clare Ballantyne who spent a season as Postmaster at Port Lockroy. I was captivated by her tales of working in such a remote area, and I particularly enjoyed hearing about what it was like to be surrounded by so many penguins. When the team were in Antarctica, they sent postcards to the journalists who’d interviewed them. It was amazing to receive mail which had travelled so far and I knew a postcard from Port Lockroy had to feature in The Typo. Without giving too much away, it changes everything for the characters and plays a pivotal role in Amy and Cameron’s romance…

How did I do my research?

Antarctica is a bucket list destination but alas my budget wouldn’t stretch to a research trip! Instead, I devoured as many blog posts, online lectures, newspaper articles, books, YouTube videos and documentaries as I could find, immersing myself in it all until I could imagine myself being on an expedition ship. The blogs written by the UKAHT team at Port Lockroy gave me a real insight into life there, and of course, it was great to have my very own Port Lockroy postcard pinned up on the noticeboard above my desk to inspire me as I wrote!

Emily used our blog for her research (Credit: Emily Kerr)

Why do I like writing romances?

As a reader, I love feeling really invested in a book’s characters, seeing them grow and change, all while getting to visit far-flung destinations from the comfort of my armchair, so that’s what I set out to do as a writer. It’s a real privilege to write stories which hopefully provide some escapism and put a smile on people’s faces. Nowadays, we’re constantly being bombarded with concerning news about the state of the world and sometimes we all need some uplifting entertainment, and to read something which we know will have a happy ending. That’s not to say there won’t be challenging issues explored along the way, but I think there’s a real power in doing that through the medium of feel-good fiction.

The Typo is out in May 2024 (Credit: One More Chapter/Harper Collins)

More about The Typo

From the award-winning author of Take a Chance on Greece, comes a brand-new romance for fans of You’ve Got Mail. One typo. Two complete strangers. Ten thousand miles between them…

Amy and Cameron have never met. But when Amy receives an email meant for Cameron, their lives entwine in ways they could never have imagined. Cameron lives a life of adventure as he navigates an expedition around Antarctica whilst Amy’s life is firmly on solid ground in Edinburgh. As their connection grows, Amy finds herself asking; is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met?

The Typo is published by One More Chapter – a division of HarperCollins – and is available in e-book and audio on 3 May 2024 and in paperback on 9 May 2024. 

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