I lived with this lady for so long, but now readers are responding to her and it is rewarding to see how they love her too. So thrilled by this.
So, as any author will tell you, after the thrill of having your book accepted for publication, the next biggest thrill is seeing the work in print. And yesterday two large boxes of books arrived. Yes, books, actual books! At last I can hold a book in my hand, turn the pages and imagine readers meeting and loving the character I created. It’s finally a real book.
So thrilled to see early reviews coming in, such as this one below. After all the agony of researching and writing this novel, it’s so encouraging to know that readers love my character the way I did when she came to life for me.
‘This novel had me hooked from the very first page! I always enjoy delving into historical fiction novels and My Name is Eva is the perfect example of why! This rivetingbook time hops between the 1940’s, 1980’s and present day (2016) to tell the tale of Evelyn Taylor-Clarke’s life. Suzanne Goldring does a fantastic job with the pacing of this novel, I sometimes find historical fictions can get a little dry, but there wasn’t any parts that I felt lagged—love that! The storyline was incredibly moving and depth filled! Evelyn is a character that will definitely stay with me!’ Steph and Chris’s Book Review, 5 stars
So this book is really beginning to happen….orders are coming in, even though it isn’t out till September 11. But this week, even though I’ve checked and double checked drafts and proofs and should know the book off by heart, I was startled and delighted by the arrival of an audio sample of the book. Yes, that’s right, a live audio, which suddenly made me see my character, who I’ve lived with for over two years, come to life! I could not be more excited! Eva is real!
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I’m so happy to share the cover and description of my debut novel My Name Is Eva which has just been revealed by my publisher. Out 11th September but available to pre-order right now: https://geni.us/B07TBDN7HGCover. It’s so exciting to see this project … Continue reading
Part 1, chapter 3: Amaya.
There’s this new girl in my class. She’s called Avery and she sits at my table. Before she started at our school, Miss Swift asked some of us to look after her and show her around. She asked me if I wouldn’t mind, because of her being at our table and because I guess she knew I’d say yes and be nice and not just when Miss Swift was looking. I said I didn’t mind but then Olivia and Sophie took over, which I also don’t mind, because I’m not sure the new girl is all that easy to be friends with. I don’t know what it is about her that makes me say that. I guess she’s a bit stressed out, if you know what I mean. She’s always looking around and not at what she’s supposed to be doing.
I’m not mean though. I’ve spoken to her at our table and lent her my rubber and my ruler. If she’s stuck on something, I’ll happily help her out. Maybe I’m wrong and she’s OK. She might just be nervous because she’s new. I don’t know. I’m going to wait a bit and see how things work out with her. I’m already friends with Freya. I talked about it with her at the beginning and we reckoned we could include a third person but now we’re not so sure about this one. We’re going to wait and see.
Freya and I are in the choir together. By the amount the new girl sings in the playground and the way she goes on about being in a stage show already, I should think she’ll want to join the choir too. That’s OK, because there’s room. We meet in the school hall, so it’s not like Mrs. Mayfield can say there’s not enough room. I might mention it to Avery, to be kind, although there’s a good chance Olivia and Sophie have already told her about it. Then again, they like to try and get all the solo parts, so maybe they haven’t. Maybe they’re thinking introducing Miss Avery, Star of the Stage, would make it harder for them. Olivia’s the kind of kid my mum refers to as a ‘stage school wannabe,’ which is harsh but largely fair. Sophie’s more her sidekick. They’re OK and they’re fun to watch, but I like to keep out of the drama.
My best lesson at school is English. My second-best is music. I’ve just started learning the flute, which is really hard and I sound awful on it right now. My mum makes me practise every night. She’s not one of those pushy mums but she said, right after I first started playing it, ‘Amaya, that is an assault on my ears! Will you please practise, practise and practise some more, so you can get good at that thing?’ Again, harsh but largely fair. So anyway, I practise every night and then Mum tells me how much of her ‘investment’ (that’s how she describes what she pays for flute lessons) she’s got back so far, according to my playing. I think we’re at around £3.50, according to her. She’s funny, my mum, but she doesn’t appear to believe in mollycoddling her kids. Or anyone. If you want the blunt truth, my mum is the woman for you. She says even if I never get good at the flute, she’s certain I’m already great at writing, and she gets that for free, under the National Curriculum, ‘So, all things considered, you’re a great investment, Amaya.’
I always ask her, ‘Ah, but am I a great kid?’ and she says,
‘Oh, the best Amaya – the best kid with a great attitude and above-zero flute-playing skills,’ which makes me laugh every time, although I do want her one day to rate my flute playing a bit higher than that, hence the practice. Also, I can be the best kid forever, because I have no brothers and sisters, so there’s nobody to get offended if I take all the credit. Freya has an older brother, who is annoying. Avery has a younger sister and I think she said something about an older sister too.
‘Amaya!’ that’s my mum. ‘That is like music to my ears, but shouldn’t you be playing something?’
Ha! Very funny. I should be practising right now and not thinking about how many siblings the new girl has. I deliberately blow an off-note down the flute and mum calls,
‘Oh, it’s like the song of a thousand birds – dying ones,’ and the note turns into a squeak because that’s what happens if you laugh down a flute.
I’m not going to lie, I was dreading that. Starting a new school can be daunting, even when you’ve done it twice before, like I have. There is just so much to think about, even if you only stick to the obvious stuff: new surroundings, new teachers, new rules, new friends. You just get used to one place and then you have to start all over. It’s harder than you think, just remembering that different places have different ways of doing things. Maybe at your old school it was OK to illustrate a story you wrote in your literacy book and maybe your new school considers that to be vandalism of the highest order, ‘This book is for writing, Avery. The clue’s in the name. Save your drawings for art class.’ Ugh – I’ve been there. I’ve learned that if you pay attention to what other people are doing around school, you can avoid that sort of mistake.
Then there’s the less obvious stuff: who’s in charge of the class, who’s their second-in-command, who will sit and eat their bogies opposite you in the lunch hall. This is the kind of stuff you won’t find out on a pre-visit tour of the school. It’s the kind of thing you find out by watching, listening and by understanding how people are with one another. This takes time, but you’ve got to be careful not to waste too much time, or you’ll always be that kid on the outside. I’m not an outside kind of a person – I like to be in on it all, right in the thick of it. To get there quickly, you have to make some snap decisions about who to hang out with and after that you have to watch and listen. The rest I know from Sailor-Rose, who said it was just like that when she started modelling. She says work is a lot like school, when it comes to making friends and knowing who to trust. I’m lucky to have a big sister who takes me seriously and tells me this stuff. It helped my third first day to go better than I imagined.
‘We had meatballs for lunch.’ Budgie’s voice cuts through my thoughts.
‘Sounds delicious,’ says Mum, glancing at B in the rear-view mirror. We’re in the car, on our way home from school.
‘Hmm,’ B replies. ‘They were pretty good but the best thing was someone accidentally dropped one on the floor and the kid behind them in the line slipped up on it and skidded across the floor.’
‘Oh no! Was that child OK? Did they hurt themselves?’ Mum is not seeing the comedy here.
‘No. He was fine. He didn’t fall. He did this,’ Budgie, sat on her booster seat with her seatbelt on, mimes someone leaning backwards and throwing their arms in the air. ‘His tray went up in the air and landed on the boy behind. There were meatballs everywhere.’ She delivers this with a whooping snort of laughter.
‘Oh,’ says Mum. ‘Well that does sound kind of funny.’
‘It was hilarious – I almost snorted my drink of water right out of my nose!’
‘Budgie, you are disgusting!’ I protest. B just giggles.
‘That is the most I’ve ever heard you talk about a school day!’ Mum says, grinning into the mirror. ‘Who knew it would take a shower of meatballs, hey? How about you, Ave?’
Over the noise of Budgie demonstrating how to laugh-snort things out of your nose, I reply, ‘I made friends, my teacher seems nice, we did grammar, my friends like drama.’
‘Handy for you,’ says Mum, raising a questioning eyebrow.
‘Not that kind, I scowl. ‘The acting kind – we did scenes from Annie.’
‘Good to know.’
I slouch in my seat. Mum thinks I can be a bit of a drama-queen, which is totally unfair on me. I’m still in a bit of a huff when we get home. I make myself a drink and a snack and skulk off to my room to look at my shoebox.
I keep my shoebox under my bed. It’s probably my most treasured possession. I keep all my information in there and I like to look through it whenever I’m unhappy. It reminds me of the good things in my life. Mostly, it reminds me of my dad.
My mum and dad don’t live together. They never have. My family tree is kind of complicated. I’ll try and explain it:
My mum and dad had me. My dad already had Sailor-Rose, but her mum isn’t my mum. When I was five, my mum had Budgie. Budgie’s dad isn’t my dad. My dad is married, but not to my mum or Sailor-Rose’s mum. He has two more children: a boy and a girl. I think this means I have three half-sisters and a half-brother. If we all got together at Christmas, we would need…we would need a bigger house. We could use my dad’s house, because it is HUGE! Seriously, it’s a mansion. I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen pictures. I have pictures of it in my shoebox: proper pictures, not just drawings. His house is a real thing and not just some childish fantasy. You should see it. You could, if I let anybody look through my shoebox, but I don’t. It’s in magazines though. You could just buy a magazine and there’s a good chance he would be in there, with his house and his new wife and my half-brother and sister. That’s where I get my pictures and my information from: magazines. Mum buys them, I guess to keep up with what her ex is doing, and then gives them to me. I go through them, carefully cut out the articles and photos of my dad, and store these in my shoe box.
I sit on the floor, my back resting against my bed and look through it now. Before opening the lid, I think about which category I want to look through. When I first started collecting information about him, I just used to bung it in the box, but there’s so much now that I had to upgrade to a bigger box and work out a way of organising the information. I got some coloured card and used it to make dividers. I’ve labelled these with headings, like, House, Beach house, D – for Dad, but I can’t write that on there. I’ll explain that in a minute – and Family. There’s a small section for Sailor-Rose too, but she’s harder to find in magazines because most models don’t have their name beside their picture, unless they are a supermodel and she’s still too young to be one of those. You just have to look out for her in the background of pictures taken at celebrity parties, or sometimes you spot her in an advert for a shampoo or something. My sister has really beautiful hair. It’s long and sleek and if you wanted to persuade someone to buy your shampoo, you’d definitely start by persuading them that she uses it too.
I decide to look at pictures of just Dad. Sometimes I like to look at my half-siblings, but I have to be in the right mood for that. It’s not easy to look at photos of other kids living the high life with your dad, when you’re in a small flat on the other side of the world and you can’t even see him in real life. I mean, I have seen him, obviously, and we talk on the phone sometimes, but it’s not easy with the time difference between here and New York (he has a house in the Hamptons), or with his busy career as an internationally famous Rockstar . When we do talk, Dad tells me that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He says he wishes he could keep his younger children out of the limelight, the way he can with me. To be honest with you, I’d like a bit of that limelight, but he reminds me that anonymity is my most precious possession, which I guess is kind of like his tenet. He says if the world knew, there would reporters sniffing all round mum and I and my education would be all interrupted. Between you and me, my education gets interrupted all the time and if my millionaire Rockstar dad could let the world know about me and send Mum a bit more money, we might be able to stay in one place for a bit longer and I wouldn’t be stuck in stupid schools like the last one, where I got bullied. I look at a picture of him and stick my tongue out. It’s alright for him!
While I’m looking, I do what I always do and try and spot any similarities between us. Dad has long hair, like Sailor-Rose, but his isn’t as nice as hers. His is a bit more straggly, which is definitely something he and I have in common. Mum says mine will thicken out as I get older. I hope she’s right, because I want to be a famous actress or performer and I will need gorgeous hair to get the best roles. His eyes are blue-green, with each iris having a dark grey outline. Mine are more blue-grey, like Mum’s. He often accentuates his with black eyeliner. I learned that word from Sailor-Rose. It means to make something stand out. If I use that word at school, Miss Swift might think I’m a genius.
I wonder if I could accentuate my eyes with some eyeliner? I wander into Mum’s room and find her eye liner. I trace an outline as carefully as I can and then step back to admire my work. I look like I’ve been punched in both eyes. Not good. Taking a wipe from the packet by her bedside, I wipe it away and the eyeliner smudges and streaks over my face. I look a mess. I wish Sailor-Rose was here to help me, instead of swanning around in fancy clothes, making people want to buy shampoo. I wipe the smudges away as best as I can, replace the eyeliner in Mum’s makeup bag, ball up the wipes and throw them in the bin. I go back to tidy up my shoebox and hear footsteps outside my door. Budgie pushes open the door and I have to hastily stuff everything under the bed. She pauses in front of me for a second, before climbing the bunk ladder into her bed. I claimed the bottom bunk as soon as we moved in, just so I’d have somewhere to keep my things. Budgie thought she’d hit the jackpot, getting the top bunk, so it was an easy steal.
She leans over the side of the bunk, her hair falling down over her face.
‘You look weird. What’s up with your face?’
‘None of your business is what’s up with my – hey! Nothing is ‘up with’ my face, OK?’
She shrugs, pulls her head back over the side of the bunk, then reappears a second later, to pelt me with a Barbie doll. I take it to throw it back but then I have a better idea. Walking over to the window, I open it slightly, chuck out the doll and go back to my bed. Budgie is wearing a look of total outrage. I’d laugh, but that would delay things, so I make my face as deadpan as possible. She climbs back down the ladder, shoots me a disgusted look and marches past me to retrieve the doll, which has landed in the shared gardens outside. With B out of the way, I have a few minutes to retrieve the box and carefully file my pictures, before sliding the box back under the bed, so it’s out of the way by the time the inevitable happens.
‘Avery!’ Mum, obviously. ‘Just what do you think you were doing? You could have broken B’s doll, which could have hit someone on the head on the way down, and I’ve just had to question a small, angry girl on why she was high-tailing it out of the flat. What’s got into you, Avery? We need this flat and that means making a good impression, do you understand?’ I shrug. ‘And what is up with your-‘
‘Nothing! Nothing is up with my face! Leave me alone, OK?’
She sighs, looks as if she’s about to say something, changes her mind and walks out. B is wailing in the kitchen, so I guess she’s got to go and deal with that.
I wish I lived with my dad.