Whew, baby! Just realizing that I have a back-logged guest post from before I went all disappeared from the flu and bronchitis. Many apologies to Sandra Danby, whose post was supposed to coincide with the release of her first novel, last month.
I am intrigued that she wrote a book that seems very similar to the one I have been writing for the past couple years (The Family Elephant’s Jewels, about seven siblings who discover, after their mother’s death, that she has been keeping secrets from them their whole lives) and also that her cover looks similar to The Touch (my serialized Wattpad novel). I also happen to be fairly obsessed with trees. Great minds think alike.
So here, hopefully better late than never, is the guest post by author Sandra Danby. Her novel, Ignoring Gravity, has been out since late November, and is now available in paperback and ebook. (Notes: Sandra Danby lives in England and Spain. She turned her childhood love of stories into an English degree and became a journalist. She now writes fiction full-time. Her short stories and flash fiction have been published online and in anthologies. Ignoring Gravity is her first novel)
What is it with trees?
I didn’t start out to write about trees, but as I got further into writing my debut novel Ignoring Gravity, I realised trees were a recurring image. I had written them into the story naturally, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realised the ‘tree thing’ made sense. I was writing a novel about adoption, identity, secrets, and hidden shame that separate two pairs of sisters. And then I realised I was writing about family history too. One of my early readers asked “What is it with you and trees?”
My starting point was a thirty-year-old woman, Rose Haldane, six months after her mother has died. She is with her sister clearing out a wardrobe when they find a diary and discover Rose was adopted as a tiny baby. And she didn’t have a clue. In their mother’s handwriting they read: “October 17th 1968. I’m going to adopt a baby when she is born. It’ll be my precious secret.” Rose knows it means her. So her mother lied to her, her father too. Rose realises all her relationships have changed: her sister Lily is not a blood relative at all, nor her beloved grandmother Bizzie. Unknowingly, Rose has lied every time she ticked the “no family history of heart disease” box on insurance forms and financial statements. The family tree she has always taken for granted suddenly becomes the centre of her identity. For me, the stride from family tree–the forms which all family history researchers complete–to a real live tree, was short.
The family tree, the networking of roots and branches, stretching wide, unseen beneath the earth and hidden by leaves, is an ideal image for the twists and turns of Rose Haldane’s heritage. That’s why there is a tree on the front cover of Ignoring Gravity. The tree which inspired the design is living, tall and strong, in Wimbledon Common in London. It stands alone on a quiet part of the common, tall and over-arching. It must be hundreds of years old. Oak trees can live in excess of 1000 years. One day, as I sheltered from the rain, I noticed the pleasing effect of leaves against the sky. The tree on the front cover of Ignoring Gravity represents those leaves. The family tree imagery also explains why I was interviewed about the book sitting beneath an old gnarled tree, on a cold windy March day.
Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby, is available now in paperback and e-book at Amazon.
Connectedness, second in the series of novels about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective,’ will be published in 2015.
Check out the book trailer for Ignoring Gravity HERE.
Also, visit her award-winning BLOG about fiction, short stories, writing and reading; follow her on Twitter @SandraDanby; like her at Facebook.
View her Interview Beneath the Tree, below.
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