I was rejected because…

I was rejected because I’m not Jodi Picoult.

I was rejected because I sound special but I’m not quite right for the list.

I was rejected because it wasn’t me, it was them, and I wasn’t for them.

I was rejected because I’m not commercial enough.

I was rejected because I’m not literary enough.

I was rejected because I’m not quite enough.

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I was rejected because I’m not Markus Zusak.

I was rejected because I can’t use language.

I was rejected because I shouldn’t have written a book.

I was rejected because I’m interesting and they are sure I will be snapped up, just not by them.

I was rejected because they were glad to see it but didn’t want it.

I was rejected because they don’t quite know where I belong.

I was rejected because it was Tuesday.

I was rejected because SpongeBob is the antichrist and shouldn’t be mentioned in any story.

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I was rejected because they were not looking for my kind of fiction at present.

I was rejected because I’m not Emma Chapman.

I was rejected because I don’t fit into a genre.

I was rejected because I don’t fit into one thing or another.

I was rejected because I don’t fit into a size twelve. (This might be a lie. I don’t, but no one said it.)

I was rejected because I’m not Marian Keyes.

I was rejected because someone whose name I can’t recall was imprisoned for buggery.

I was rejected because I have too many narrators.

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I was rejected because I have too many voices.

I was rejected because I have too many similes. (I agree. I’m working on it.)

I was rejected because no one is interested in the war anymore.

I was rejected because no one is interested in time-slip women’s fiction anymore.

I was rejected because no one is interested anymore.

I was accepted because an amazing woman called Karen Sullivan loved my books regardless of all these flaws. (Even the similes.)

Blog Tour for Unbroken by Madeleine Black

I am honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for Madeleine Black’s memoir Unbroken.

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Sometimes you don’t just connect with a book, but with the writer too. You read a story – a true story – that touches you on a deep level, one that you almost feel the author was writing just for you. That’s how it was when I first read Unbroken by Madeleine Black.

We had connected over social media and bookish groups when Madeleine contacted me to say she had read my first book. Her memoir had been on my radar before that, and now I finally picked it up and began. It is a book that changed me. This might sound cliché or overly profound, but it’s completely true. I took it wherever I went, on the bus, to work, shopping. But I had to take my sunglasses too; because I was crying on the Number 66 to Hull.

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Unbroken is about more than just what happened to Madeleine. And what happened is terrible. Terrible isn’t a terrible enough word. Her experience, aged just thirteen, was the truest definition of horror. No, this is about how she eventually faced, dealt with, and overcame her brutal gang rape. This is no misery memoir. This is a soaring, uplifting, difficult, beautiful diary of the spiritual journey Madeleine took, and how she eventually came to forgive her attackers. I was most fascinated by the monk, who she tells me is often still at her side.

I had someone ask me once how I could read such a bleak book. I asked if they read crime or psychological thrillers, to which they said, yes, they devoured them. And this struck me hard. That readers might eat up fictional murders so brutal they cause nightmares, but would not consider learning of the effects of real-life crime of real-life people. We should all read this book. Knowing about rape is power. Talking about rape is power. Madeleine happens also to be a great speaker. She isn’t afraid to talk, and she’s very eloquent when she does. Try and see her at an event.

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Madeleine and I realised the themes of Unbroken and my current novel, Maria in the Moon, were every similar. They both involve women finding the light again after the darkest of experiences. So we did an event together at Leeds Waterstones, called Not Broken – Exploring Survival Through Writing. When I met Madeleine for the first time at Leeds Station it was as though we have known one another for a lifetime. For me, it was quite emotional. She is so petite that when I hugged her, I thought, who could hurt such a girl? But Madeleine is strong. She is an inspiration. And she is now a dear friend.

So I’m honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for her haunting memoir, a book that should be a must read for all of us. If Madeleine can find the courage to share her experience then we can at least find the courage to read about it. If she can talk, then we all should be.

Order her book here Unbroken.

Madeleine and I will be doing another Not Broken event at Glasgow Waterstones on 18th January, with Michael J Malone, author of House of Spines, so do join us there.

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Wolds Way Wedding Walk

Sister Grace – or Bob Fracklehurst as she’s known on social media – and I like walking. We like wedding dresses. We like making people laugh. And we like helping others. So, we thought, why not walk while wearing a wedding dress and laughing lots, and raise money for our charities.

So for five days, from 29th April to 4th May 2018, we will walk the Wolds Way, which is 79 miles from Hessle to Filey, Yorkshire, while wearing wedding dresses.

We are raising money for the NSPCC because, after a very tough childhood of our own, we want to support the leading children’s charity that fights to end child abuse in the UK. We are also raising money for JDRF (Juevenile Diabetes Research Foundation) because my daughter Katy has had Type 1 Diabetes for ten years since, since she was seven, and they are a charity devoted to researching this incurable, life-threatening condition, so we can hopefully one day eradicate it for good.

Below are our Just Giving pages. Please give generously.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/louise-beech-grace-wilkinson

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Tales of the Unexpected – or Writing the Fifth Novel…

I’m currently writing my fifth novel, and I’m at that well-past-halfway, exciting, totally-in-love stage, where I sort-of-know where it’s going, but things could still surprise me. My fourth – The Lion Tamer Who Lost, which I’ve already written, and began in fact six years ago – isn’t out until next year, and I’m still tweaking and editing it. But even as I do that, this fifth one is itching to get out. And it’s a whole different experience to how it was writing my first four.

This time I’m writing where there’s a good chance it will be read – and by people who have read my first four books and possibly even liked them. And that is both exhilerating and utterly terrifying. It’s like sitting backstage at a theatre and writing behind the curtain, with an expectant audience already in the auditorium. I can hear the chairs squeaking as they sit, hear the rustling of coats being removed, the low murmer of voices as they wonder aloud whether this story will be any good. I can hear them arguing back and forth that it should be the best novel yet because she’s had plenty of practice now, but then writers can get lazy after a time too.

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When I wrote my first few novels, there was no book deal on the table. There wasn’t even one on the chair, or anywhere in the room. I wrote for myself. This is who you should write for first of all. If you don’t, you won’t enjoy it. I can always tell when I read a book if the writer wrote with absolute love for the story. If it was something they simply couldn’t not write. This is how mine were born. They would not stay inside me. It took four of them to finally get my deal with Orenda Books, which means I’m lucky enough to have had the time to let number five percolate over the last two years.

And it has. I had three ideas for a fifth book. One of them nagged at me with a louder voice than the others. Write me, it cried. I’m better than those other two losers! I’ve got a killer plot, a protagonist you’re a little afraid of, and all the dark, quirky themes and subplots you so love to get your teeth into! What could I do? I started.

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It’s been the hardest book to find time for, and yet the one it feels I most want to devote hours to. When writing without a book deal, there’s none of the other stuff that goes along with that, stuff I adore, but stuff that all the same eats into your writing time. The promoting, doing tours and events, networking, writing pieces, blogging, and editing other work. Like many writers, I also still have my day job, and of course a family, and the need to occasionally sleep. But all of this means there’s a sort of frenzy when I write now. Recently, someone cancelled something I was supposed to be doing and it gave me five whole, unexpected hours to write. I think I danced around the room for the first ten minutes of that.

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When I do write novel five, I still do it firstly for myself. But this time, I also glance out of the window occasionally, aware that there are people who may actually read it too. People who might compare it to my others. Who might hope it is one thing or another. And this is the terrfifying part. Is it what readers will expect? Do I even want that? To be the expected?

Here’s what I can promise. I have loved writing it. I have given everything I can to it. I have woken in the night and scribbled down ideas and phrases. I have laughed and cried. I have shrieked with excitement as I tell my lovely and patient daughter Katy about the latest plot reveal. I have lived and breathed it for the past few months.

The rest… well, that’s up to the world.

 

 

Learning to Breathe

Winner of the Aesthetica magazine Creative Works competition 2009

 

I’m home, he called, his belt buckle as polished as ocean stones, his tone an undercurrent more dangerous than the words…

Bubbles carry Kate’s hurt to the surface. Some spiral, fast, swirling like tiny kites caught in a playful wind. Others zigzag through freezing water, lazy, burdened with the heaviest of pain. She hears them popping at the meniscus, sees her worries dissolve in a soapy haze and fly out through the cracks in the tiles. It is all there is. She is. The water is. The bubble is. 

Dad pulled the cloth from the dinner table and the plates and cups scattered, sending spaghetti to the floor, and he yelled, you shoulda put a bigger brick in front of the garage door you bitch, you shoulda known that little one wouldn’t hold it, I had to get out of the car, open it, in that rain and wind; and he paused for breath, and on his way to the door he turned to Kate and said, your mother’s a clown, are you listening to me, you never listen, just like your mother…

Under the water there are no words. There are no tears. The salt does not run down her face, onto her tongue, bitter and sarcastic. There is cold and echo and the syrupy feel of water caressing her throat. She opens her eyes again. Hair floats in front of her face, fanning out like a mermaid’s tail. Swim little fish, swim to the bottom of the bath, where the words don’t penetrate. She waves her hand in front of her eyes, mesmerised by the graceful slow motion of her fingers, by the tiny, fairy bubbles that fly away from the movement, by the changing light, the changing life.

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Mum picked at the spaghetti on the floor but it slipped through her finger like eels and she hid her face and said, Eat your tea off the floor sweetheart, for me, and then go do your homework and get your bath before he comes back, but don’t lock the door, I hate it when you lock the door, and it just annoys him, don’t annoy him, for me, for me…

Kate should breathe. It hurts a little now, but not like the words. She should float back up, inhale again, but she is waiting to hear the sound. She’s held her breath before, for longer, much longer, until her lungs throbbed and her head ached, before she gave in and burst back into the other world. The other world is far away now. She can see the plastic fish on the side of the bath, a green one with emerald fins and tail that spits out water if you squeeze its tummy, and she considers that they have swapped places. The fish has been drowning on the bath side for years and so is she, in her home, in the classroom, in her heart. She waits for the sound.

The click, click, click sound first captured Kate in bed, half asleep, half dreaming, protecting her ears from the bastard, bitch, whore words downstairs, good at the not hearing thing, at zoning out the external sounds, tuning in to the internal, to her heartbeat, her pounding eardrums, her blood, the oxygen, her self…

She wants to hear the clicking; it is worth the pressure building in her lungs and throat and head. So she concentrates on the cracked wall tiles, on the undulating lines in the lime mosaic, clouded by the water and the ache. Her heart slows. Her blood flow slows. It is not enough; she has to breathe, she has to breathe, she has to breathe…

Click, click, click was a frequency new, fast, high, intoxicating, following Kate into the bathroom where she ran water until it was cold and then dunked her head in the sink, following her into sleep where she swam with creatures that glowed silver and responded to their eerie burst-pulsed sounds in a voice all her own, there when she woke, like the breeze teasing the wind chimes outside the back door, there and then not there, in her mind, merging with the foghorn on the water, there and then not there, there and then not there, there and then not there…

The clicking begins. It was always there.

 …there and then not there, there and then not there, soon she would not be there…

There are no more bubbles. There is no more breath. There is no more pain.

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Homework done, Kate went back to the dining room where Dad stood over Mum, belt in hand, buckle flashing in fluorescent light, yelling, words that took an age to reach the air, words about defiance and slovenliness and antidepressants, and he raised his grey-sleeved arm again, in unison with her yellow fluffy one, his crashing down, hers pushing back, meeting in a mess of splattering red, and grey and yellow, and red, and words, and red…

The clicking is closer. They are here. They have come. She knew they would. She never doubted it, even when she doubted it. The mosaic tiles have fallen apart and drift away into the sky. The emerald-tailed fish is smiling on the bath side. I hope you locked the door, he says. She did. They will be cross. None of it matters. The bath sides dissolve; there are rocks and weed and red sea urchins.

Kate ran from the circling sharks, slammed the bedroom door, turned the TV as loud as it would go, so that the presenter’s words drowned out the thrashing below, and learned about the individuals that communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations, who use ultrasonic sounds for echolocation, whose membership in pods is not rigid, so interchange is common, who  establish such strong bonds between  one other that they stay with the injured or ill; and she screamed when they thrashed in the nets, pushing against the mesh that tightened like a belt, clicking, thrashing, clicking, until the water filled with blood…

There is movement. Kate reaches out. There are two, then three, and then more. They are the grey ones. They surround her, from each side, in front and behind. Noses nudge gently, an invitation, so she reaches over and touches the one on the right and then the one on the left. They are as smooth as the leather lounge sofa in that other place, wet and warm, and it feels familiar. Do you remember? She hears the question in the whirl of clicking and whistling and splashing. The water cascades deep blue, and she cannot see, but she might remember.

Grabbing the belt from him, Mum shouted that the teacher was wrong; Kate should not be suspended from school for waving her hand, clicking, whistling, waving, shouting no, no, they communicate through the blowhole on top of the head, not the mouth, and they can see inside other animals, sensing a shark’s empty stomach and letting others know of the danger, sensing a beating heart, and pain, they sense the pain; Dad said that the other children laughed at their idiot child and the teacher told her to leave the classroom, and she did, clicking, as the children laughed; Kate smiled because only the red haired boy, who kissed her once and made her pores tingle, didn’t laugh, he shoved his desk mate, shouted at the others to stop, stop laughing, stop, laughing, stop… 

The grey ones are exchanging sounds, taking turns at pushing, pulling, guiding. They ask her to come and play with them. Follow us, you are perfectly safe. You need not fear; we are here to teach you about breath, and to remember. She does remember. She remembers the diving reflex, the water when she was a baby, her home. It is hard to keep up with her silver friends so they slow and allow her to catch them, and to change.

She ran to the bathroom, switched on the cold tap and jumped into the tub with water that spat, frothing and filling, splashing and calling, remembering when Dad pulled her out by the arm, bruising her wrist, and she begged him to let her go, to leave the water be, but he yanked out the plug and the sea swirled down the drain, taking her tears, her hopes, leaving only ache, until he’d gone, belt undone; she only wanted to be safe…

Now she is safe. She is changing, changing and remembering, and instead of arms and legs she has a dorsal fin and pectoral flippers, enabling her to swim faster, to keep up with the pod. Her body is sleek and grey, adorned with silvery dots. Though her sight has diminished she can hear the waves, the wind, the silent words. She has become one with the dolphins. She is a dolphin. She is home.

Mum yells outside the bathroom door that they are killing her, that she and he are destroying her, that she no longer talks, only sits in her room, whistling, and reading about the dolphins, but Dad covers Mum’s mouth, takes the words, warns her that he will take them forever if she doesn’t stop, and slaps her and pushes her and closes the bedroom door and locks it, so that Kate won’t hear the screaming; and she doesn’t, she doesn’t, just the clicking, faster, faster, faster…

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She swims faster and faster. She breaks through surf, leaps in the air, flipping, turning, and dives back into the water where hundreds of fish scatter like sparks of rainbow. When the air within is gone she moves upward and blows with force, expelling the breath that has stagnated inside for ten years.

Dad kicks in the door and they are in the bathroom; Mum screams, Kate, for God’s sake, come back, come back, breathe, breathe…

She is breathing. She is not breathing. She remembers how. And then, with a great inhale of new air, she dives down again.

Mum calls, Kate, come to me, come back to me, click, click, click; Dad drops the belt and it falls, like a stone through water, onto the tiled floor…

Kate swims and looks back and swims and looks back. I was never there, I was never there, click, click, click. Kate’s voice is gone. The words are gone. There is only the music of the ocean, wordless, melodic, soothing, and the dolphin song, and the nets sinking, empty, to the bottom of the sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria in the Moon Book and CD Giveaway

With the Hull launch of Maria in the Moon only next week, and the excitement of having Hull singer/songwriter Carrie Martin perform her beautiful song that accompanies the novel at the event, we decided to do a little giveaway.

First, enjoy the stunning video for the song, Maria in the Moon, from Carrie’s forthcoming album Seductive Sky. And it really is magical. I’ve been listening while I write. You can visit her website here Carrie Martin

So, here’s the giveaway. A signed copy of the Maria in the Moon novel, a signed copy of Carrie’s brand new, not-even-released-yet, album, Seductive Sky, which includes the song to accompany the book and is going to be huge, and a signed event poster.

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Just watch the video – like it if you enjoy it – and comment below to be included in the giveaway draw. Feel free to come to Hull Book Launch on 20th October too.

We will choose a winner from the names below a week today, on 16th October.

 

For the Bloggers, Reviewers, and Readers…

I had to write something – anything really – to acknowledge every reviewer and blogger and reader who has shared their thoughts at any time on anything I’ve ever written.

Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. So, I’ll say it again. Thank you.

Writers work in a bit of a black hole. And we’re completely alone in there. We have no idea whether what we’re creating is any good. We have to rely on our instinct (this first and foremost for me) and our skills (I want to be hip and write skillz, but this is supposed to be a serious tribute) and our wordplay. We have to hope that what we’re trying to do actually happens. Because we usually have exactly in mind what we want to conjure up. But have we?

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Scribbling away ten years ago, while only dreaming of being publsihed.

Maria in the Moon (much like How to be Brave) came from a very dark place. And then she took ten years to get here. TEN YEARS. Multiple rejections. A few tears too. But when I wrote it – to a backdrop of hammering and drilling as flood houses around me were rebuilt – I was trying to stay sane. The book was therapy. It was my safe place because my real-life safe place, my home, had been destroyed.

So I’ve been indescribably moved by the responses to it. I try so hard to reply to every tweet and post and share, but it can be difficult in this modern age of a million notifications on social media. I’m the type who will lie awake worrying that I haven’t thanked someone individually. That they don’t know much what they wrote meant to me. Because it does. It has.

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The blog tour – a whole month long – has blown my mind, and we’re barely halfway. Thank you everyone who has taken part. Some of the reviews so far have made me cry. It’s extraordinary that something I crafted out of nothing – it really felt that way, typing furiously at a rickety hand-made desk in a bare, rented room – has touched people. Real people. Human people. You people.

That’s what writing is for me. Connecting. Sharing. Healing.

So thank you. I don’t know what else to say. So, I’ll say it again. Thank you.

Dirty Bitches, Lovely Ladies

I was lucky enough to see an advance preview of Mucking Fuddles’ Dirty Bitches at Kardomah in Hull before I jetted off to Paris for my hols. Women of Words pal Lynda Harrison is at the heart of this beautiful, gritty, and well-researched play. She not only wrote it, sang the gorgeous song at the opening, and performed in it, but she also formed the diverse and ever-expanding theatre group herself. Dirty Bitches also took its glorious backside up to Edinburgh Festival…

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As the lights came up, a hush settled over the intimate space of Kardmoah’s theatre in Hull, and we were witness to a dark tale of broken dreams and stolen purity. But there is so much more to the two ‘bitches’ who have been brought together by a curious coincidence, and who bond as they wait to be ‘picked up.’ Weaved into the darkness are spatters of comic delight (Harrison is a natural comedian) and moments of acute tenderness. I left the venue in a hazy glow.

Afterwards, I caught up with Lynda, full of questions…

The song that opens your play is beautiful. Did you write it? Tell us about it.

No! The credit belongs to the wonderful Mr. Cole Porter“Love for Sale” is from the musical The New Yorkers which opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances. The song is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising “love for sale”: Old love, new love, every love but true love.

What inspired you to initially write Dirty Bitches?

The inspiration for this writing arose when I was working in a department store and spent my lunch and break times chatting with other female employees. Light-hearted banter would more than often include the subject of sex; and it became apparent that some married women were using sex as a bargaining tool for either material or emotional gain, accepting this as the ‘norm’. I asked the question “Could this form of barter be regarded as prostitution?” … and so began my research into this age-old industry.

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Lynda in full swing at Hull’s monthly Women of Words

Tell us about the process.

I contacted LIGHTHOUSE, a local charity who support street-workers, ex prostitutes and women who are/have been victims of abuse. They were very helpful and have in fact supported me throughout the process of writing and producing my play. I recorded interviews with them and an ex street-worker who generously allowed me to use her narrative in my play.

How hard was it getting it on to the stage?

Not hard at all. I have been producing plays for almost ten years and am used to the process of getting ‘stuff on stage’. Of course, there is the process of casting the right people for the parts but again I’m used to this and often I write with particular actors in mind.

What was it like performing at Edinburgh Festival?

Exhausting, nerve wracking and rewarding, all at the same time. There is so much talent there and it was a massive privilege to be part of this seventy year old festival. I am considering next year…watch this space!

How long has Mucking Fuddles Theatre group been going? Who does it involve? What do you have in the pipeline for the future?

I formed The Mucking Fuddles around three years ago. We have eleven players who ‘dip’ in and out as required. Alongside plays, we also do comedy sketch shows and often raise money for charities. The future for me involves writing, writing and writing. I am currently excited about an idea I have for a play inspired by the old song ‘Don’t put your Daughter on the Stage Mrs. Worthington’. Comedy of course, and destined for Edinburgh…

Ten Books Every One of Us Should Read

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  1. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  2. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  3. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.DSCN0465.jpg
  4. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  5. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  6. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.DSCN0466
  7. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  8. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  9. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.
  10. A book we want to read, regardless of who does or doesn’t like it, regardless of whether it’s a ‘classic’ or not, or what bestseller list it’s on or isn’t on, or what award it has or hasn’t won, or who tells us we’re supposed to or not supposed to be reading it. If you like it, read it.DSCN0471.jpg

Words and Music

This is one of the stunning images from the filming of the Maria in the Moon video yesterday. The beautiful song at its heart came from Hull talent, Carrie Martin, after we talked about my new novel a few months ago. I was describing its themes and story-line while she cut my hair. And as my locks fell, our words flowed…

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Dancer Katie Hoyle. Credit for image to Laup Wilson

Let me tell you a bit about Carrie first. We go way back. She’s been my mobile hairdresser since my daughter was a baby and I couldn’t easily leave the house to have my unruly curls attended to. We’ve always talked words and music; she a bit of both, me mainly the words. We always dreamed together of a time when it ‘happened’ for us. When we might able to give up the day jobs. Be who we were supposed to be. We weren’t exactly sure what ‘happened’ would be, but I think it’s starting to ‘happen’ now. For both of us. And we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

Carrie is making waves with her music, playing gigs and big festivals, making us tingle with her gorgeous song-words and memorable melodies. Though she’s influenced by artists like Eva Cassidy and Ann Wilson from Heart, she is unique. Quirky, magical and all heart. Her album What If is a beautiful mix of moods, including appearances from Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman. Check out her stunning website – Carrie Martin

So back to that fateful haircut. I asked Carrie today what it was about the book that led to her creating the song. “The title for one,” she said. “I thought it was fascinating! The subject was a challenge; it had to be subtle. The line ‘innocence is pure, it’s like a daisy chain in our hands’ was the first lyric. It felt so poignant and strong that the rest just followed very quickly!” Naturally I’m beyond interested in the creative process so asked Carrie to tell me more. She said, “Okay, ‘The walls of faith crumbled but never quite fell down’ is another line that made a tear come. It really hits home that these things are reality, and the damage is often irreversible. I actually had the bars of the opening riff weeks before we talked. Its sad, mysterious sound left me wondering what I’d find to fit its feel. The minute you told me the story of the novel, I just knew this was the song. It felt right.”

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Carrie filming the video to Maria in the Moon – credit to Laup Wilson

I also asked Carrie what it was like yesterday, filming the video. She said, “It was trying because of the terrible weather but it led to a massive team effort between Katie (our dancer), Charlotte (who plays ‘troubled Maria’ ), video guy Dave Caley, dance teacher Julie Hatton, and my manager David Micheal Ward. We were using brollies to shelter each other and working together to get the shots! We all stood there flabbergasted when Katie danced in the woods to the music blasting out – it was very moving. It prompted Julie to say ‘God, I need to buy this book, when is it out?'”

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Actress, Charlotte, as Maria. Photo credit to Laup Wilson

Back in 2015, I was honoured when Carrie performed at the Hull launch of How to be Brave. She played A Thousand Years (because of the line, ‘how to be brave’…) to a rapturous room. So now, it seems utterly natural that she has written a song to accompany one of my books. We’ve always inspired one another, and now we can actually share the stage.

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Dancer, Katie. Credit to Laup Wilson for photograph.

Watch this space for the release of Maria in the Moon by Carrie Martin. “It’s almost there,” she tells me, having been in the studio, recording vocals. “We have both worked so hard for this moment and I have a weird feeling about all of it. When I play at gigs, everybody takes to this song immediately. You triggered possibly the best thing I’ve ever written. I played it live in Sunderland last night, loads of people were asking about you and the book. I didn’t tell anybody what it was about, but it sparked their interest all the same. The guy in studio thinks it’s got something huge, and I have gut feeling it could be the one.”

Enjoy these beautiful images from the filming of the video until we can see it in all its finished glory soon…