One of the main threads in my current novel is the friendship between Joseph Ventre (protagonist) and the young Bella Moretta. As much as I enjoy the research and the historical elements when writing this book, developing Joseph and Bella’s friendship has been and will continue to be my most favourite part!
I remember, as a child, reading books such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and the friendships within those stories made me want to jump right into the pages and be with Mary, Dicken, and Colin as they discovered the garden, or ramble through the fields of Avonlea with Anne Shirley and Diane. Similar to these examples of famous literary friendships, Joseph and Bella are two very different personalities; Joseph being timid and sensible, whereas Bella has a feisty, mischievous streak to her character. As the author, this is the fun part for me, balancing the two and ensuring that the reader will feel their relationship develop in, hopefully, a beautiful way, particularly as they navigate the war-torn streets of Liverpool together.
The ultimate goal for me is to keep their internal threads connected so the reader wills them both on, to succeed, to win. I want people to root for these two young characters and although it’s fictional, maybe real-life friendships could be strengthened along the way too.
After seeing this book on numerous coffee tables, I finally have it in my possession thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from a thoughtful family member.
. Letters of Note by Shaun Usher
I’m three pages in and have already re-read one particular letter a few times. From 1973, the author E. B. White responds to a gentleman after receiving a letter about the ‘bleakness of the human race’.
His words are comforting even today, in the sometimes frantic world we live in. I will be sure to keep this collection close to me and peruse in those moments of doubt.
Here’s to those people who feel themselves struggling for whatever reason, perhaps troubled… ‘hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.’
Dear Mr. Nadeau,
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society- things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long to waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
After winning the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Award last year, The Power has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while now. Fellow readers were split in their opinion of the novel so I wanted to see for myself what it was all about.
It seemed quite apt that I started reading this around the time when the ‘Me Too’ movement ramped up a gear and dominated headlines. Most reviews call it speculative fiction, which seems correct considering the supernatural elements, but I was more interested in the world within the story where females have the absolute power over men and rule all aspects of society. Trying to imagine this was real life and ‘the way of things’ is a tricky thing to do given the history of all societies and cultures across the globe. It just doesn’t seem fathomable.
The more I read the more I focussed on the act of abusing power and not being able to come back from that point. All the main characters abuse their power at some stage of the novel; sometimes their intentions appear to be for the greater good, but mostly because their circumstances dictate them and for personal gain.
Thinking of all these accounts from female celebrities that have come out as part of the Me Too/Times Up campaigns whereby males have supposedly abused their power, how would things change if females in our world had the physical power to stop negative behaviours, as is such in the novel’s storyline.
The Power definitively provides food for thought through the dystopian style. Deep down I know I’d be slightly worried if I had the power that the character’s possess. God knows where I’d start with it all…
I think I’ll stick with developing my internal power and do my own little bit to change the world. Who needs an ‘electrical skein’ anyway when the females in my world simply have brilliantly powerful minds!
The above is in no way a reference to anything ‘Fifty Shades-like’, but to one of my most favourite pieces of prose, so dear to me that it hangs on the office wall next to me as I write this entry.
It’s taken from Hannah Coulter: a novel by the brilliant Wendell Berry but I stumbled across it in A Little Aloud, with Love, a very beautiful anthology and quite apt for February, the month of love, right? 🙂
It feels good to revisit the familiar words and to me, it’s simply lovely…
The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains all the longing of all things to be together and to be at rest together. You come together to the day’s end, weary and sore troubled and afraid. You take it all into your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you live a little while entirely in a gift. The words have all been said, all permissions given, and you are free in the place that is the two of you together. What could be more heavenly than to have desire and satisfaction in the same room?
Hiding amongst the array of books under the Influences tab you will see one called Hiding Out. Small blonde boy? Sitting by a camp fire? Wearing an orange jumper? Found it? Excellent!
If you said to me, name a memorable book from my childhood, this would be number one. It’s every child’s fear to be forgotten when the whole family leaves you behind on a trip… Home Alone style. But this book turns the situation into an adventure. I related to this story mostly because the family in question is travelling through France to get to their holiday destination. Now, I’ve spent many a time squashed in the middle seat of our old Peugeot 405 whilst trekking to our campsite in the south of France (made especially more comfortable when Dad shoves a load of duty free wine in between your seats!) so totally understand the need to pull over, stretch those legs, have a jambon baguette, and a quick explore. Thankfully, Mum and Dad never left me behind…or the duty free wine, so reading this book as a youngster was a chance to find out what could happen in that situation.
Peter (the boy on the front cover) is accidentally left behind in a rural French provence. He learns to build a fire, keep warm, and survive with what little he can find in the French countryside. I won’t go into the whole story, but what starts out as a terrifying situation for Peter becomes an important quest for survival. He comes across animals he’s never seen before, French farmers he cannot understand, and foods he’s never tasted or even heard of.
Rightly so, Hiding Out has won a few awards back in the mid-nineties and the tale has stayed prominent in my mind till this very day. I learned how adventures can lead to independence, how negatives can turn into positives, how important family is, and how other cultures and countries differ from our own. It sparked my imagination. I still love and reference this book and will continue to do so in years to come, particularly to the younger generation of my family. It was also the first time I had read French in fiction. I ended up studying French and English at university…. Maybe Elizabeth Laird and Hiding Out inspired me more than I could ever imagine!
For any fellow Merseyside writers or readers needing resources for research or simply just interested in finding little gems of literature, then pop in to Literally… a new book shop (yes that’s right, an actual new shop) and have a looksie at all they have to offer. Places like this are few and far between so let’s keep them alive.