Chris Penhall: The House On The Hill

Today iI’m taking part in the blog tour for The House On The Hill. I’m sharing a guest post written by the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to Chris Penhall for writing the guest post.


Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Guest Post:

Chris Penhall writes about the role of music in The House On The Hill.

Thanks for inviting me to write a few words about my latest novel, The House on the Hill.

The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve is set in Lagos in the south of Portugal. I spend a lot of time there and to me it feels like a second home. It is both beautiful, vibrant and –  in the summer – a little bit mad, but at the same time serene, calm and very, very relaxing. Which are the sides I wanted to show in the novel as Layla Garcia watches the world from the sanctuary of her yoga and mindfulness studio on a hill above Meia Praia, the long sweep of beach to the east of the city.

One of the many things I love about Lagos is the music. In the summer months in particular it feels it is everywhere – in restaurants, bars and street corners. A few years ago I saw a young man walking behind his mother and her friend as they ambled along, looking in shop windows. He was playing his guitar as they went!

Last year I remember going to a Sunday night gig held regularly at a local beach bar. It was as we were all slowly getting back to normality. I went in July, when we were allowed to listen to the band, but not dance, and in October when basically we danced and sang as if we’d never done it before. These two evenings are two of the most memorable I have ever had – with a band playing songs we all knew and everyone, of all ages, jumping about with real happiness and joy. 

In all of my novels, music plays a big part as the backdrop to my characters’ lives, as it does for a lot of us. And in The House on the Hill, Layla keeps a strict eye on the music played on her premises in order to make sure it all fits with the business. However, she cannot control what her temporary neighbour, Luke Mackie plays, or how loudly he does it. 

I’ll let you discover what music is dotted throughout the book, but thought I’d include a little playlist of five of the songs that inspired me as I was writing it.

At Last – Etta James. This is a favourite of mine, especially as there is a café in the centre of town that plays a jazz radio station. Oh, the joy of sitting reading a book, drinking a galao and listening to this in the background.

Lloraras – Oscar de Leon. I am an enthusiastic salsa dancer of many years standing and I love this. That is all.

Home to You – Sigrid. This is beautiful and the kind of thing Layla would listen to.

You’re my Holiday – KSI. All I can say is that this is just gorgeous.

She’s a Rainbow – The Rolling Stones. I love Ted Lasso and I discovered it half-way through writing The House on the Hill.  So far I’ve watched the two series twice already, and the episode in which this song is used so beautifully, I have watched three times. ( I did say I loved Ted Lasso!) 

There are so many other songs that provided a backdrop to my writing, but listing them all would take pages and pages and pages! I wish I could write a song myself, but I can’t, so I will simply listen, enjoy and be inspired by the music I hear as I go.


The House On The Hill is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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