Monthly Archives December 2014

Researching the escalator scene

There’s a point in Ignoring Gravity when Rose opens a letter, a letter which knocks her senses into a spin, she opens it when she is standing on an escalator at Westminster underground station in London. As she tries to understand the words on the paper, London commuters rush around her as if she is a pebble battered by a rising tide. This the story of researching that scene.“She stumbled off the bottom of the escalator. The heat in the tiled tunnel was overpowering. A woman was walking towards her with a white-wrapped bundle strapped to her chest, and from it a tuft of hair reached for the sky as if styled by static.” “Rose stopped dead in her tracks and howled inside. It was a scream stored deep inside her all these years.” “Later she had no memory of either the Jubilee line train or the DLR. She felt as if she’d been spun in a tumble drier. Her mobile got its signal back as the train rose above ground and beeped as it came to life. She took it out of her bag and dialled. There was one person who would be torn by the sight of an infant.” 
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', On Researching and On Writing.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Name’

Today’s poem to read in your bath is another by the wonderful Carol Ann Duffy. I flick through her slim anthologies, looking for poems to select for this feature, and stop again and again: ‘this one, and this one… and this one.’ ‘Name’ is about the delights on new love, not necessarily young love, just the feeling when you realize liking is loving. Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library or click the link below to hear Duffy read the poem aloud. ‘Name’ When did your name change from a proper noun to a charm? Its three vowels like jewels on the thread of my breath. Duffy encapsulates that feeling of new love so well it is impossible to read without being drawn back through years of memories. To read another Carol Ann Duffy poem, ‘Elegy’ in my blog series ‘A poem to read in the bath…’, click here. To listen to Carol Ann Duffy read ‘Name’ click here for The Poetry Archive website. In 1989, Carol Ann Duffy spoke to the BBC Programme ‘English File’ about what inspires her to
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Categories: Book Love and Poetry.

Best Chick Lit reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“Perhaps the best word to describe this book is powerful, but one word is certainly not enough. At first when I read the title I really didn’t know what to expect, but once I was just a few pages in I realised that Ignoring Gravity is the perfect title, in every way,” says book blog Best Chick Lit. Read Best Chick Lit’s review in full by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by Best Chick Lit via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1pA
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Getting the best out of Twitter

I was pretty slow at joining Twitter, couldn’t understand how it could inform my writing, didn’t see the application to my life as a writer. Then the need to promote Ignoring Gravity changed all that and now I am a big fan. Not, it has to be said, tweeting about the minutiae of life but I think I am now a tweeter and a reader of tweets. Things I like about Twitter:- The ability to connect with other writers, unknown, unpublished, published, famous. The sense that we are all writers, writing every day; The community of book bloggers and authors, the two-way encouragement, congratulations and support from people who love books; The # trends which follow the hot topics in writing and the new friends these bring; Photographs, every tweet should have a photo if at all possible; Month-long themes such as #bookaday which make me think about the books I love and introduce me to writers, readers and book people. Things I don’t like about Twitter:- The ‘I’ve followed you so you must follow me’ thing; The ‘I’ve just eaten a bowl of cornflakes’ tweet; The ‘Please buy my book for 99¢ on Amazon’ tweet; Bad punctuation and spelling. There’s no
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Categories: Book Love and Book publicity.

Cleopatra Loves Books reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“I loved Rose’s desperation to find out more both through the diaries and by interviewing friends of her mother, again a reaction that felt natural. Even better the author allows the reader to put themselves into the character’s shoes, thereby allowing the reading to feel smooth without endless emphasis on how Rose is feeling, what she is thinking etc.” Read Cleo Bannisters’s review in full at Cleopatra Loves Books by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @cleo_bannister http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1pn via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

Rabbit is dying of breast cancer and this is her life story. Anna McPartlin has written the story of Rabbit’s last few days, in a hospice, surrounded by family and friends. And it is the story of her life. It will make you laugh and cry, tossing your emotions around like a washing machine on spin cycle. I loved it. It’s an interesting story to read, from an author’s point of view, as we know what happens. The title tells us that this is the story of Rabbit’s last days, therefore she is going to die at the end. But this doesn’t matter a jot, as we see her life in flashbacks. I liked the character so much I wanted to read about her. It is at times irreverent, it will make you laugh out loud – especially at the scene which involves Rabbit sleeping, her mother, and a priest – and it will bring a tear to the eye as the future of Rabbit’s daughter hangs in the balance. Will she stay in Ireland, or go abroad? To find out more about Anna McPartlin, click here for her website. Read my review of Somewhere Inside of Happy, also by Anna
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Categories: Book Love.

How Kate Atkinson did it: created Ruby in ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’

How did Kate Atkinson create the character of Ruby in ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ and thereby the central dilemma of the story? She tells all to Melvyn Bragg in an interview on ‘The South Bank Show’ [Sky Arts] MB: What did you set out to do with the character of Ruby? KA: I knew that she’d lost something, that for me was the spine of that book. MB: Did you know that at the very beginning, when there’s something at her back in the womb? KA: I went back and put it all in, it was never there. MB: Ruby is an identical twin, her sister Pearl died at three and Ruby blotted it out of her memory. KA: I had that sense that something had gone missing, I got to two chapters from the end and thought ‘I don’t know what she’s lost.’ What would be the worst thing I could lose, and I thought that would be me, so what’s the closest thing to me? And the closest thing to me would be an identical twin. So I went back and put the identical twin in throughout the book and that was very satisfying because it
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

The tree that Rose and Wanda climbed

At the age of five, Rose liked climbing trees. Specifically, the tree outside Grandma Bizzie’s house. One day, she discovered a way to get two pieces of home-made lemon cake: invent an invisible friend. Wanda. Here’s an excerpt from Ignoring Gravity. “Given the choice, Rose would have lived at Grandma Bizzie’s house. She loved the sycamore, its five-pronged leaves which looked like a green giant’s fingers, the delicate yellow-green flowers that dangled like earrings in the spring and the winged seeds which fluttered in spirals to the ground in the autumn. One day she was sitting on the first branch, wishing Lily liked climbing trees, when Bizzie brought out a glass of squash and a piece of homemade lemon cake with runny icing on top. “Rose patted the air next to her. ‘Never mind, it’ll stop bleeding soon.’ Her friend Wanda, she told Gran solemnly, had slipped down three branches and had a long scratch on her leg.” This is the tree which inspired the climbing scene, except it is on Wimbledon Common not in a street in Richmond where Rose’s fictional grandmother lives. It has a wide branch with space for two small girls to sit. It was easy
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

If books were real, Hercule Poriot…

Hercule Poirot… would travel with the very best Egyptian cotton sheets from Italian label Frette. And a butler to iron them, of course. Poirot has survived his reincarnation, Dr Who like, through various actors. My favourites are Peter Ustinov in the 1978 film of Death on the Nile [above] and David Suchet from the BBC drama series [below]. Buy the DVD. ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie [UK: William Morrow] Buy now How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Mikael Blomkvist in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ Jack Ryan in ‘Patriot Games’ Elizabeth Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Hercule Poirot… DEATH ON THE NILE by Agatha Christie via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1gm
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Lives She Left Behind

There was a novel about time-travelling love before The Time Travellers Wife. It is called Ferney, written by James Long, and to my mind is far superior. The Lives She Left Behind is the sequel. When I finished Ferney, I couldn’t imagine how the story could continue. After all, we’d worked out how the time travel worked and what the relationship implications and difficulties were. I feared that a sequel would be a let-down, some books are just meant to be stand-alone novels. I am pleased to say I was wrong. The Lives She Left Behind is as heart-wrenching as the first, combined with a thriller element involving murder and sexual assault. Misunderstandings across the centuries, modern policing methods and contemporary parenting, all combine to make the lives of Ferney and Gally difficult. Ferney explains his connection with Gally: ‘Our halves are nothing on their own but half and half make one and halves, divided, stand alone when the adding’s done.’ The second book can be read on its own, but I do urge you to read Ferney first. Both novels are infused with the Somerset countryside and the history of England. Ferney and Gally remember the old names of
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Categories: Book Love.

Small Girl Big Dreams reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“From the very first page I was hooked. It started off exactly how you would expect it to – calm and simple – however, as the story unfolds we are introduced to a series of constant enigmas.” So says book blogger Small Girl Big Dreams. Read the review in full by clicking here. Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @BigDreams1993 http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1pf via @SandraDanby  
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Great opening paragraph 64… ‘True Grit’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.” ‘True Grit’ by Charles Portis Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler ‘Brighton Rock’ by Graham Greene ‘The Ghost Road’ by Pat Barker And to see what fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross might be like, if she were real, click here. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: TRUE GRIT by Charles Portis #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-eB
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Scouting locations for filming

Over two months this spring I learned that writing a book doesn’t finish when you type ‘the end’. A new phase then begins: knocking the book into shape and planning promotion. I’m lucky enough to have a great team of people helping me and I am learning very fast. I spent a week scouting locations, planning and filming two videos [the book trailer, and an author interview] and a photo shoot for a portrait photo then gratefully handed over the post-production to the experts. Trees are an important part of Ignoring Gravity, symbolising family history. So I was keen to shoot either the portrait photo or the author interview, or both, sitting or standing by a tree. Which sounds easy except we were doing this in March when the trees are bare of leaves and so a little boring. My PR consultant Nicky Stephen has a neighbour with a beautiful garden, including a tree with a circular wooden bench around the trunk. We shot the portrait photo straight away as the light was good, soft light, no bright sunshine. While we were doing this we realised a potential problem for the video shoot: the sheep in the next field were
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Categories: Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

I agree with… Jane Smiley

When writing ‘Some Luck’, Jane Smiley tried something new… she set herself a daily word target. “Then as I got further along in the book I would increase the number of words I had to write each day… I wanted the energy to build and I thought maybe the faster I went, the faster the energy would build as [volumes two and three of the trilogy] progressed.” In an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine [September 5, 2014] I’ve never set a wordcount target like this, but Smiley’s comments about energy are interesting. It is certainly true that when I’m ‘on a roll’ I just write, I forget about time or wordcount, and I amaze myself at how much I have written. I guess that’s the energy she’s talking about here, the energy of the writer does translate to the page. I did read some writing advice: to finish mid-sentence and pick it up again in the same place the following day. I don’t think that would work for me. Some Luck is the first of a trilogy which follows the story of the same family over 100 years. In 1920, Walter Langdon returns from the battlefields of the Great War,
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Sophie Hedley reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“The underlying theme throughout Ignoring Gravity is relationships – either family relationships or romantic relationships – and I thought the author’s writing was strong and sensitively done,” says Sophie Hedley at Book Drunk. “The adoption is of course the main theme here and I was fascinated with learning more about Rose’s real parents, why she was adopted and how her upbringing was affected. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to find out your family isn’t actually your real family after all – though I do know I’d be a complete emotional wreck – and so I loved how, instead of it all being tears and drama, Rose quickly started using her journalistic ability to her strength and began investigating, to discover who she really was.” Read Sophie’s review in full by clicking here. Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @SophieRTB via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1p8
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: The Pure in Heart

The nature of death, grieving and hope are examined in this, the second Simon Serrailler novel by Susan Hill. To give these books a label – thriller, crime novel, detective novel – is to underplay the complexity of the subject. It is an examination of human nature. A nine-year boy waits by the garden gate for his lift to school, but is never seen again. A severely handicapped young woman dies. Both families struggle with grief, reacting in different ways, ways which cause tension within the family. And involved in the mix is a local man, an ex-con newly released from prison, struggling to stay straight, struggling with the prejudices of his family. Reading this book will make you examine your own prejudices, your attitude to death and dying, it will make you as ‘what would I do if…’ The small cathedral town of Lafferton is like an extra character in Susan Hill’s Serrailler novels. Surrounded by wooden hills and deep ravines, it is at once brooding and at the same time reassuring. Read my review of the first Simon Serrailler novel The Various Haunts of Men. If you like this, try:- ‘The Truth Will Out’ by Jane Isaac ‘No Other
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Categories: Book Love.

Debut Spotlight at Shaz’s Book Blog

The Debut Spotlight interview at Shaz’s Book Blog features author Sandra Danby. ‘An addict of television programmes about family history and adoption reunion, Who Do You Think You Are? and Long Lost Family, Sandra Danby has long been fascinated by identity and what makes ‘us’, ‘us’,’ says book blogger Sharon Wilden. “Is it our genes, the influence of our parents, our experiences or education, our interests?” asks Danby. “I became a journalist but I was born on a dairy farm. I don’t remember ever deciding I wanted to write, I just did. Where did that urge come from?” Read the full interview with Sharon Wilden @ Shaz’s Book Blog in full by clicking here. Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: What makes us, us? #authorinterview by @ShazsBookBlog via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1p3
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Categories: My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

I agree with… Colm Tóibín

Colm Toibin “I didn’t write a great deal that I erased but I did think of a great deal that I put aside because everything had to, in some way or other, have a drama in it. I began to trust [the novel], so I felt that if I put enough detail in this, especially in the opening chapters, that I will build up a relationship between her and the reader where the reader will become interested in even the smallest thing that happens to her, or that she remembers.” Colm Tóibín, talking about the writing of ‘Nora Webster’, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine [August 1, 2014] I found this a fascinating comment on the use of detail to connect with the reader. A popular style for a long time – really since Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love with its electrifying opening scene with the balloon – has been to grab the reader from page one and then fill in the context afterwards. With his concentration on detail, Tóibín suggests another way: trusting the reader to stick with it, slowly constructing the character and the context for her life, making her real in the reader’s imagination. It works only
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Best friends and siblings

My novels are about identity, genetic inheritance and the influence of our life experiences and upbringing on the building of character and sense of self. With the mystery of adoption added to the mix. Now some new research has added to this mixture of influences. Apparently we can share almost as much DNA with our close friends, as we can with our family. Are we as similar to our best friends as our siblings? So what does this mean for Ignoring Gravity? Does Rose share as many genes with best friend Maggie as she does with her sister Lily? Not quite. Geneticists say unrelated friends may share 1% of genes, that doesn’t sound like much but is the same as fourth cousins [ie those who share great-great-great grandparents]. One per cent is a significant number for geneticists. Co-author of the American study, Professor James Fowler from the University of California in San Diego, said: ‘Looking across the whole genome we find that, on average, we are genetically similar to our friends. We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population.’ Human evolution may be the reason why:
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Categories: Book Love, On Researching and On Writing.