‘When all you need is the one thing no-one else believes in…’
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When I set out to write my 8th novel in Feb 2020, little did I know the world was on the cusp of such far-reaching and monumental change. All I knew was, The Girl You Forgot had landed me a three-book deal
with a publisher. I needed something new to write about. As is usual with me, ‘ideas’ felt thin on the ground, I needed something I could feel something about. Waiting for a friend, I randomly walked into the Healing Centre at the Arthur Findlay College and sat down, enjoying the oasis of calm within.
Within minutes, a healer came over and put her hand on my arm. In my mind, I immediately became aware of an elderly lady who I could sense was incredibly sad over the fact that she would never go home again. Her immense grief washed over me. I found myself blubbing, deeply saddened by a pain I was aware was not my own but when I came away a short while later I knew I had the theme for my new book… it would be about Home and Belonging.
I started to wonder; home and belonging seem to go so naturally together, but what happens to a person inside when they feel, for whatever reason, that they can’t go ‘home’ anymore? Does that also mean they can no longer ‘belong’ – and, is it the case that we always have to conform, if we want to belong? When we can’t go home and we’re looking for some peace in this world – and, heaven knows, enough of us have felt that over the last few rocky years – where, indeed, might it be found?
As I pondered these questions, my characters gradually began to introduce themselves… Sofia, who’s faced early on with tough decisions that threaten to make her feel she no longer ‘belongs.’ Charming Cal, who’s settled for making his home wherever he lays his hat – except secretly, he longs for a real base, a
family to call his own. Young Ida, who’s facing serious health problems, but whose desire to follow the Braveheart trail in the Highlands of Scotland echoes her growing inner desire for a sense of freedom.
Home. Belonging. Freedom. I’d little inkling when I wrote the now-prescient synopsis for this book that these would all be themes that would rise to the fore for so many following the events of the next few years.
In the interim, things changed for me, too. By the new year, the publisher I’d signed with back in 2020 were keen on me making some radical alterations to my current book. Unfortunately, they weren’t changes I felt I could accommodate without deeply compromising the story. Whilst respecting their commercial judgement, I knew the result would’ve been a story not written in my own voice. In Where the Magic Is, each of my characters in their own ways finds their own voice. It’s one of the things I value most about my job writing stories… that I get to express mine. The publisher and I have since amicably parted ways.
Returning to the question of where our sense of peace and ‘home’ might be found at a time when the world around us is shifting at a rate of knots… my characters come finally to an understanding of something that is both profound and innate in our human nature. In the end, I think the book’s title says it all.
I enjoyed writing it very much.
I hope you will enjoy reading it, too.
For now, all my best wishes,