Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Story Behind the Book by June Gadsby



Writing a saga can raise many problems for the author. The storyline, for me, is the easiest part of all and drops into my head like a letter in the mail. 

When research comes in to play there are lots of avenues to explore, especially when the story covers a long period of time. It can also take place in more than one area of the world. I like to write what I call ‘two-centre’ stories. They start off in England and move to exotic locations, such as South Africa, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Patagonia, Ecuador and Chile – all places I am lucky enough to have visited. Writing about these places brings back joyful memories of the past and, I feel, give the story some authenticity. I know the places at first hand, know the sights, the sounds and the smells, even though my novels are usually set in the past.

In the case of “When Tomorrow Comes”, this was set mainly around a close-knit family in the north-east of England – the small mining town where I was born. It follows the characters’ lives through WWll, touching briefly on France, which is where I now live. Many of my readers, along with my late literary agent, say that this is my best book – possibly because it is about an ordinary family fighting their own war. The heroine, Hildie, is also my own, personal favourite character.  There are, too, some secondary characters that are inspired by real people in my life. There is, of course, a lot of embroidery added to each one to make them more interesting.
To keep track of all the characters, I went through a magazine and cut out any face that matched my imaginary people. Believe me, it worked. I could now see the ‘cast’ on paper as well as in my head.

The story behind the writing of “When Tomorrow Comes” is interesting. Up until this point my mother had never recognised me as a writer; didn’t like anything I wrote; hated any reference to sex or the use of bad language, even when I explained to her that this was how certain people behaved and spoke. One story I gave her to read – a black comedy of sorts – thinking it would keep her amused while visiting us in France [she got easily bored] was thrown aside to the remark: “I can’t read this. It’s filth!”

Undeterred, I decided to write a story that she would enjoy. While doing the ironing one Sunday, I heard Vera Lynn singing “There’ll be blue birds over the while cliffs of Dover, tomorrow just you wait and see…” I knew instantly that I had found the storyline that would [okay, might] please my mother. I absolutely loved writing this story, but getting it published was not so easy. 

In the end, I printed it out and had a friend bind it for me. I sent it to her and held my breath, fully expecting the usual criticism. I’m delighted to say that she loved it. In 2001 my books started to be published for real, and my mother finally stopped telling people that I had a ‘nice little hobby’ and changed this to “My daughter is an authoress.” We still didn’t have a much craved for mother-daughter bond, but at least I had given her something to be proud of.

The book did eventually get published in hardback, and now, more lately, in paperback and e-book. My mother died in 2009 and the original, personalised version of When Tomorrow Comes found its way back to me and has become one of my ‘treasures’. 

And here it is:

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