I don’t know about you but this is a first for me, I’ve never had a book to launch before!
Nobody could be more amazed than me, to have a novel launched today, well apart from, perhaps, Mrs Holliwell who’s unenviable task it was, every Tuesday and Thursday morning to drag the Remedial Reading Group through the basics of the English language. Whilst the rest of Orchard Junior school fidgeted through Mr Beckwith’s assembly, my mate Paula Spitter and I tried to remember what the magic E did and where the I went, before or after if a C was involved.
So, here’s a big secret, that only took me 32 years to find out – you don’t have to be able to spell to be able to write. Or even know which way up a semi colon goes. If in doubt, stick in a dash and make up a word (it worked for Roald Dahl) Then find a dear and patient friend, with an everlasting red mark-up pen and a deep pot of comma’s.
Writing isn’t (as the BFG would say) a set of 'biffsquiggling' rules, it’s about ideas, about imagination, how you with all your individuality see the world, in your own quirky way. I think I’m sounding soap-boxy. Apologies. ‘The House With Old Furniture’ hasn’t exactly rushed into existence. It’s wandered around a few children and finally found its way home after five years in the wilderness. I literally stumbled upon the inspiration for this story shortly after my family moved to Pembrokeshire. Whilst on a walk with our boys in the woods close to our home, we discovered the remains of a cottage. If we’d been in a hurry, and I hadn’t got my wellie stuck in the stream, we’d have completely missed it. Only parts of three walls remained, ferns, moss and ivy rendered most of it invisible and at some point a huge tree had fallen through it finishing off most of what was left. Whilst they waited for me to free my boot, the boys scrambled all over the ruined little house unearthing all kinds of everyday treasures: the rusty end of a bedstead, a rotten milk churn, and old bottles to name but a few. I have to confess I felt almost as if we were trespassing in someone’s home, although the building was barely recognisable as such you could sense what it must have been like. I felt I could hear the last inhabitants crunching through the dead leaves towards us. It was as if some part of their being had evaporated into the air and become a part of the place, ingrained, like the scent of wild garlic, in the very trees around us.
So in some down time – broadband down time – telephone wire down time, you know what it can be like living in rural Welsh Wales! I began stitching together this tale. and creating the characters that live in it, Jesse, Finn, Andrew and Evie.
As my favourite writer, Joanne Harris once said: 'The process of writing is a little like madness, a kind of possession not altogether benign.' So it was quite a relief to finally finish the book and get these complicated people out of my head and on to paper safely trapped between the covers!
So thank you Caroline, Helena and the whole Honno team for saying YES! For taking my words, for sorting them out and with a bit of magic creating The House With Old Furniture.
It’s amazing when real life surpasses dreams!