Written by Zosia Wand
My thanks to Melanie Price of Aria / Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour
Who would you choose if you had to – your daughter or your husband?
Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.
But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?
Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…
This is a book I would really have liked to read; however, having already over committed myself this month it just wasn’t possible to squeeze in another! Alternatively, I’m very happy to offer a Guest Post from author, Zosia Wand.
A Room Of One’s Own
I currently live with my husband, teenage daughters and dog in a four bedroomed, family house, with a spare room that has a desk crammed in alongside the over-spill wardrobe, the sofa bed for guests and general family junk. It’s a perfectly comfortable, private space in which to write, but I do not write in that room. There’s nothing wrong with the environment; I have a pleasant view of a sycamore tree and the evening light is mellow and inviting. The sewing machine sits there, and I do create bunting, aprons, cushion covers and other very basic items in that space, but I have no desire to write there.
Virginia Woolf advocated ‘A Room Of One’s Own’ and I can see the sense in this. A writer needs space, external and internal, to concentrate and lose themselves in their fictional world. Many writers, particularly women, struggle to find this. To establish and protect physical and mental space is not simple. It requires a degree of selfishness and self-belief, which don’t come naturally to a lot of women. HUGE generalisation, I know, but I’m not writing an academic paper here, just expressing an opinion, so bear with me.
There are many differences, or course, between my life and Virginia Woolf’s, but the most significant is that Virginia Woolf didn’t have children. Now some women with children, still manage to protect their writing space and retire there to be creative, I, however, can’t do this.
I write, on my lap top, at the kitchen table in the heart of our home. I write when the family have left for the day and keep going until they return. If I cannot pause at the end of the school day, I signal to them to leave me in peace and they get the snacks and drinks they need, quietly, and leave me to it. My signals vary in style significantly. I may raise a hand without looking up from the key board. This is a good signal. More often than not I snap, “Just a minute”. Or words to that effect. Let’s not dwell on the exact words. Sometimes my daughters attempt to talk to me, and sometimes I stop what I’m doing to listen. I like to think I can sense when they really need me, but I’m probably deluded.
I realise that working like this is inconvenient, but once they’re fed and watered it’s the living room and the TV they head for, so they don’t complain.
For me, working in the heart of the home is indicative of where writing sits in my life. As far as possible, it has to expand into the gaps available, a little like the foam ear plugs I insert every night to block out the dawn chorus. My writing fills the window between the children leaving for school and coming home again. This window can be significantly expanded by after school clubs. (I have encouraged my children to participate in as many after-school activities as possible.) It fills the thirty-two minutes of the express cycle on the washing machine, the time between preparing the ingredients and the cooking of a casserole. I steal time. I have become an expert at this. I walk the dog when I need to think something through. I hang out the washing when I’ve got stuck and need a break. I take a notebook in the car when I need to pick someone up and make notes while waiting. I have edited manuscripts in hospital waiting rooms, on trains and buses, in cafes and by the side of a lake, absently throwing sticks into the water to keep the dog occupied.
The transition period from imaginary world to real life is often tricky. I remember regularly rushing to collect my daughter from Infant school, still lost in an imaginary scenario. By the age of six she could already read the signs and developed her own technique to tackle them. Tired of my monosyllabic responses to her eager chatter, she learned to clap, abruptly, close to my ear, shocking me into attention and demanding, “Are you listening?” It was brutal, but it worked. Once, rushing to meet the writer, Lee Hall, who was coming to Ulverston to run a workshop. I set an alarm and abandoned my story to meet his train. Still immersed in my alternative reality, I responded on automatic pilot as he descended onto the platform, threw my arms around him and gave him a big kiss before it dawned on me that I didn’t actually know him. To his credit, he was utterly charming as he stepped back and said, “My, you give a warm welcome in Ulverston.” My daughter, in the meantime, no longer claps, but chooses to make her most outrageous requests at times when I am mentally absent, taking my silence for acquiescence. My revenge? To write about this!
Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.
Follow Head of Zeus