It is official!
2016 is the year Elin’s Air will finally be published.
This novel began when my brother and his wife gave me the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2013 (Bloomsbury). Inspired by what I read in the Yearbook, I put aside the two children’s novels I had been working on and started afresh. The concept for Elin’s Air began to grow – a novel set in Wales, young people growing up, set at the beginning of the 20th Century. That doesn’t sound wonderfully exciting or novel. But, add a touch of gold, a spirit of adventure, valleys and mountains, some deception and destruction, hope, life, a whole lot of good-old-fashioned hard work and mix it up in an historical setting and now we have the ingredients of a better tale.
A few opening chapters and vague synopsis later, I met author Emily Barroso. It was one of those moments!
I was walking down the street, on my way to buy fish and chips later thinking what on earth has just happened. Is this for real? Another Emily, born in Zimbabwe, miraculously born again, mother of four children, adventuring in home education, writing a novel about Wales (her third novel) and that was just the beginning of common ground we found. It was enough to turn my full attention to the moment. It felt significant.
It was! Emily was my link to Hillman Publishing and has been the midwife in helping my book to grow healthily. She’s been the one listening for the heart beat and encouraging me.
“There is life in this story,” she’d say. “You can do this. You can carry it. It’s natural to you.”
She’d be the one with the measuring tape telling me my book was growing, as successive draft after draft was reviewed. She was the one who helped identify the problem of too much wind imagery and other things that might make the reader uncomfortable. And when there were tears of despair from me saying, “I don’t know what I am doing. I’ve never done this before”, she was the cool hand to the sweating brow reassuring me it was just fine. Keep going. It would be worth it in the end.
Along with deciding a name for the book, I decided I would write with a pen name. It isn’t really a pen name. I have chosen to just drop my surname. My parents kindly gave me a middle name that is a surname – a family name belonging to my Granny’s family – and I want to use it to write. During the years of my life that I was known by my maiden name there were many people important to me, who helped to shape and make me. There were those who taught me to write right, to explore creative thinking, to climb literary giants, to play with poetic form, to live in imaginary worlds and I want to acknowledge their contribution. I am no longer a maiden and there are people who have moulded and shaped me in these married years. With them, I have learnt wisdom, the reality of life and the complexity of unique people. I want to acknowledge their contribution too. My book is the product of both seasons of life and in order to acknowledge these secret contributors I drop my surname and write in the nakedness of the forenames I was christened with…