'Life begins at 70' says former TV star as she releases her new novel
- Credit: Nick Richards
Nick Richards spoke to the former Anglia TV presenter about her new book, new home and a new outlook on life
Christine Webber is in a good place.
Now in her early 70s, the ex-television presenter is celebrating the launch of her new novel, So Many Ways of Loving this week, a book she calls her lockdown project.
It's her fourth novel, penned during a turbulent year in which life has changed for so many people - understandably the tome has a theme that puts the power of friendship in a momentous year at the centre of the plot.
"The book is another venture in my writing about mid to late life," Christine said.
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"As a reader in my 50s, I became quite jaded about books with heroes or heroines aged around 35. Elderly characters were always written about in a certain type of way which I wasn't so keen on.
"I want to read about people like me in their 70s who have vibrant and exciting lives. There didn't seem to be any books that had characters like this, but now there is almost a genre with fiction featuring older people.
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"The book is character-driven with things that happen to them the most important part of the plot. There are three main characters and one is a widow, but it's not particularly about me.
"There's often some of me in the characters as that's what happens in the process of writing a book, but not all my experiences go into the characters.
"Another character is based on a woman I met years ago and the other is an amalgam of people I've met who've always done the decent thing in life but then something suddenly changes them.
"And then there's the dog - a seminal character in the book."
The cover of the book features a dog, Hoagy, who belongs to close friends of Christine.
She said: "I don't want to give away too much of the plot but the dog is an important part of it. He was a rescue dog and is much-loved in real life. I think in the past year people have seen animals like dogs in a new light, for some people in lockdown they've become more than just companions."
Talk of the past 18 months leads to the subject of Covid, lockdown and work and play for Christine. It has been a period of big changes for her, one in which she moved from her Golden Triangle home in Norwich to a new place in the Suffolk town of Eye.
"I guess I wanted to move to a simpler life," she said.
"I wanted to lead a less busy life but be part of a community where I would connect more with local people and live a more pared down life, a life that was more harmonious.
"I wanted to live in a town where there was a baker, a butcher - a chocolate shop - those kind of things. I wanted a world away from just going to the supermarket.
"You can probably link that to lockdown. I just wanted more space and also to feel more part of a community.
"I've always loved Southwold and was coming back from there one day and driving through Halesworth and Stradbroke and I ended up in Eye, which is somewhere I've not really been for 40 years and I fell in love with the place.
"I'm not really a procrastinator so the house went on the market and I found somewhere new. I'd say right now that life in a small market town is good for me and I don't intend on moving again.
"The new house is great and I've got into gardening. It's a new build so the garden was literally a square of grass and fencing - a real blank canvas."
Just like beginning the process of writing a novel, Christine says she has enjoyed filling that empty garden.
"It's been great - I enlisted the help of Sue Huckle at Posh Plants who was full of great ideas and now I've got trees in a lovely crescent-shaped feature in the garden.
"I've also enjoyed getting into cooking more over the past year, especially cooking from scratch and making puddings for friends.
"There's something similar in the creative process of writing, gardening and cooking for me and it's always nice to see the end result. Lockdown has been a reawakening of what matters."
Christine said that she has picked up her main job of life coaching and has actually found it easier to do this over a computer screen.
She said: "I wasn't really doing any coaching but during lockdown I started doing a bit voluntarily just to help people out.
"I did it with a variety of people - one person was someone who had writer's block and was struggling in that way. I've then picked it up again and am doing it again as a part-time role - and I have to say that Zoom has made the job ideal.
"Before I would be talking to someone and you'd not really see their face, maybe just their profile, but now with Zoom, you are face-to-face and can see their face in full and you can pick up on facial movements when they tell you that everything is fine and you can easily see that it isn't."
So Many Ways of Loving is Christine's 16th book. She has penned 12 non-fiction books, mainly self-help guides, and this is her fourth novel.
"I enjoy writing fiction, " she said. "I enjoy flying with it and being imaginative, and more importantly, I enjoy the writing process and getting something finished. Whether it's a book, an article, a video or a podcast, it's that feeling of finishing something.
"I see it as important work and something beneficial.
"You won't find me spending my time washing a car or anything daft like that. I don't see the point in putting effort into something that you'll only have to do again. I'd far rather put my time and effort into a project that has a lasting outcome.
"And anyway," she says, "rain is nature's carwash."
So Many Ways of Loving it out now and available at Jarrold and all other good book retailers.