Novels

I recently ‘made a book’ called SHOOT THE MOON, which is available to purchase here. It’s lighthearted contemporary romance – involving weddings on top of Scottish mountains, doves running amok and a wedding photographer who’s secretly pining after her first love (you know, the ‘what if’ romance we’ve all had).

But it’s also about family relationships – in particular a relationship between a daughter and her mother – and why early attachment is so important. Because it’s in a different genre to my other two novels, I decided to have some fun with it, change my name (again) and, beginning September 2021, will be doing a Tour of the Book – visiting places like the Isle of Skye, Schiehallion and Castle Menzies.

I’m also seeking agent representation for my other three novels, Little Man, The Happiness of Now and The Fire Tree: commercial women’s/book club fiction. Here’s a flavour of one of them…

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The Fire Tree is a story of love, with motherhood at its core, spanning fifteen years and set in Vietnam, England and India. 

Here’s what Ella Berthoud –  bibliotherapist at the International School of Life, author of The Art of Mindful Reading and co-author of The Novel Cure – has to say about it:

I loved this book and was gripped by it from start to finish. The dramatic beginning with car-crash tragedy, leading on to Molly’s ill-fated liaison with a 17-year-old boy, which was all too believable, and then the emotional roller-coaster of her trip to India, falling in love again and realising that she could make a significant difference to two children’s lives, was all deeply affecting. I’ve read it three times now and loved it every time. It’s a book I keep wanting to recommend to people in my role as bibliotherapist, but I can’t do that yet, as it is not yet published!

And from another reader:

“As you know, I struggle to focus when reading books, but this was like cutting through butter. I found your ability – especially towards the end of the story – to describe how love is and how relationships develop so utterly true… even searingly uncanny as I could relate so much to bits of it.’

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That Was Then

Sapa, Vietnam, 1994

Before the sun first rose across the east and strands of mist slumbered on curving steps of rice, everything was monochrome. Molly Boyd held her cigarette between woollen fingers, breathing in slowly as the end turned molten then crumbled onto rocky ground. In the valley below, two birds speared west, a sweep of white in the semi-darkness, and Molly tugged on her beanie, bunching her hair around her shoulders to shield her neck from the cold. Then she turned, peering towards the hazy outline of huts, trying to locate Sam.

Eventually she saw his silhouette: a pony-tailed giant among the hill-tribe children who danced around him as he side-stepped to avoid them. He was grinning when he reached her, two steaming glasses in his hands. ‘It took a while, but… here.’ He handed her a glass. 

She shook her head as she cupped it. ‘I’m amazed you found some. It’s hardly Western Road.’ Her mouth twitched. ‘You and your morning obsession.’ The sun was now beginning to warm the distant mountains, shades of green rolling like silk across the valley, interspersed with pockets of silvered water. ‘You almost missed it,’ she murmured.

“But I didn’t,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. “And we’ve got coffee to go.”

They stood, watching the world come to life as the sky turned pale. A man strolled behind his buffalo, then a line of women entered the fields and they could hear the distant whine of a motorbike. Neither said a word, although Sam’s breath was unusually heavy as he sipped his coffee. Molly was about to say something, laugh at him for being an old man when she felt a tug on her jacket. 

Standing at her side was a young girl, wisps of hair where a fringe might have been, muddy smears on her cheeks. Strapped to her back was a baby; its face equally dirty between a dusty blanket and heavily beaded hat. The girl held up a stick of meat, her grin revealing a shallow row of teeth. 

Taking in her plastic sandals, thin skirt and dirty yellow t-shirt, Molly’s heart contracted. She turned back to Sam. ‘Have you got any money?’ 

The girl tugged again then thrust the stick at Molly, forcing her to take it. 

She laughed. ‘How much—’ But before she could find any change the girl had scampered off, baby bouncing, their giggles receding into the mist. 

‘That was odd,’ Molly said, sniffing the meat – which smelt delicious and tasted even better: lemon, ginger, the sweetness of honey and heat of paprika infusing what she guessed was goat. ‘We should find her and give her something. Did you see how little she was wearing?’ 

Sam didn’t answer. Instead he stared ahead, declining when Molly offered him a bite.

‘Suit yourself,’ she said, ‘although you’re missing out. It’s amazin— Ow.’ Rubbing her teeth – hoping she hadn’t cracked one – she looked for what she thought must be a bit of bone. Except it wasn’t; it was something else entirely. Her heart quickening, she began to pull the meat way, glancing at Sam who was now watching her, his grey, sometimes lupine eyes, unusually earnest. ‘What… is it…? Oh.’ She showed him a ring, revealed between the chunks of meat, hand-beaten silver glinting in the sun. Her brow creased and her laughter, when it came, was uncertain. ‘Is this your doing? Are you trying to kill me? I could have choked.’

‘Well it’s lucky you didn’t, because then I couldn’t do this.’ Sam slipped the ring off the stick then took her hand and slowly removed her glove. Gently, he kissed her forehead as he pushed a long ringlet of hair away from her face. ‘I’ll go down on one knee if you’d like,’ he said, his voice cracking.

She looked up at him. ‘Don’t be daft, you’ll get all dirty.’ Instinctively, she straightened.

‘Molly?’ His voice was barely audible. ‘You are my soul mate. The person I want to spend the rest of my life with.’ He cleared his throat, then rubbed his mouth. ‘I love how we dream together, travel together, laugh at the same things. I love how you have to count every move in backgammon. I love how you love making things. I love how kind you are and how you’re always inspiring me to go for what I want. I love that you try to understand rugby – but fail – and how you sing Abba in the bath.’ He held up the ring, rubbing it clean before kissing it. His voice became stronger. ‘I love you, Molly. Will you marry me?’ 

She looked at the ring hovering above her finger, and gulped down her emotion. ‘Can I finish the kebab first?’

‘Yes?’

‘Then yes. Of course I will.’

***

For more information, please email me: jess@happyshed.com

One thought on “Novels

  1. On reading my second book written by you, I find myself yet again captivated by your ability to fill my fully with your characters and your wonderful storytelling abilities. As soon as I turn the first page I am completely transported as though I too am within the pages, living alongside your characters. You write with a depth that allows a discovery of further layers hidden within the core story. I have no doubt that like myself many readers can identify and see a reflection of their own lives there. Your books give me a story that I feel is personal to me and this is something that I rarely experience. Your understanding of life with it’s twists and turns leaves me waiting in eager anticipation for your future work.

    Liked by 1 person

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