Friday, May 03, 2013

When Lucy Dillon Ran Away....

Here's Lucy's story....

In October last year, I needed to get away. I was completely stuck, writing the worst part of a complicated book that just wouldn't come out of my head, thanks to the constant disruption of builders, other deadlines, my dogs, and my own seemingly limitless ability to distract myself on the internet. I couldn't concentrate. I hated what I'd written so far. So I ran away. I ran away so far that I ended up back in 1992. 

By 1992, I of course mean, 'my parents' house' on the west coast of Cumbria, where time moves on in some respects (there is now Sky, and my mother is 'online') and yet stands still in others (the kitchen light switches still don't work, and that Sky dish is used to watch editions of 321 and Bullseye from the early 90s). My parents were both there to meet me at the station and within seconds, Mum accused me of not eating properly, and demanded to know if I'd lost a lot of weight. I hadn't. I'm endlessly haunted by how fat I am in their imaginations. My dad insisted on carrying my laptop and book bags, and pretended to stagger under the weight of them as he used to with my school bags. As I loaded my stuff into the car, the sea breeze blew ozone into my face and I had the sudden rush of relief that I might just get this book finished.

And I did, more or less. It was partly down to the cups of coffee my dad brought me on the hour, as he did during my A-level revision. Partly down to the warm-blanket feeling I got from watching repeats of The Crystal Maze I must have watched in exactly the same place, with exactly the same observations about the useless contestant, twenty years ago. Partly from a daily walk along a deserted beach that looked different every single afternoon, the skies changing from flawless blue to cloud-speckled slate in minutes, with sunsets streaking the Irish Sea with colours almost too pink and violet and gold to be real. Living in the middle of sleepy Midlands countryside, surrounded by apple orchards, I'd forgotten how much I missed the sea, with its constant shifting and sighing in the background, a reminder that ideas come and go, that there's always something interesting at your feet, or on the horizon.

But a lot of my new energy, I think, came from leaving behind all the petty niggles of my day-to-day routine, the minor concerns that chip away at your confidence and attention span, and going back to a place where I'd once sat as a moody teenager, wondering where my life was going to go. When I settled down to work at the desk where I'd revised Chaucer, and opened my own notebook, ready to start a chapter of my own book, it struck me properly for the first time in years: I was a writer. This was my job! My actual job! If I'd done a Marty McFly and met the 1992 Lucy, she would have flat out refused to believe me/her. My dream job wasn't even something I'd dared to hope for then, and yet - amazingly - it was where I'd ended up. That, and the coffee, was the swift kick I needed to get on with things. I handed in the first draft at the end of that month, and came back to 2012, rather sadly, but with a priceless stack of vintage Smash Hits in my bag.


When story-lover Anna takes over Longhampton's bookshop, it's her dream come true. And not just because it gets her away from her three rowdy stepchildren and their hyperactive Dalmatian.

Unpacking boxes filled with childhood classics, Anna can't shake the feeling that maybe her own fairytale ending isn't all that she'd hoped for. But, as the stories of love, adventure, secret gardens, lost dogs, wicked witches and giant peaches breathe new life into the neglected shop, Anna and her customers get swept up in the magic too.

Even Anna's best friend Michelle - who categorically doesn't believe in true love and handsome princes - isn't immune.

But when secrets from Michelle's own childhood come back to haunt her, and disaster threatens Anna's home, will the wisdom and charm of the stories in the bookshop help the two friends - and those they love - find their own happy ever afters?

You can find out more about Lucy here.


Edith said...

Liz, I'm so glad you found a way to find your own way back home - to yourself. Sending love and hugs, Edith xxx

Edith said...

Oops sorry, I meant Lucy not Liz!! Sorry!

Liz Fenwick said...

No problem Edith!