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This was a very different book to write in comparison to the two gardening books. I wasn’t sure how to approach writing fiction, and this was an extremely experiential process. I remember writing in a fury, wanting to get emotions, images and experiences onto paper, and tell stories.
This was a book that took a year to mould together, a year to process, I guess.
I would not call Fragments a fluffy book, not in the least. There aren’t many books that talk about death or reflect on how it impacts upon the human condition. You’d think then, that this is a big, heavy, grey book. I would disagree. It certainly has a challenging subject, something that we as humans don’t engage with; we choose to whisper, cloister, avoid all things death-related.
Yet it happens to us all.
There are six different but inter-related stories within Fragments that attempt to map out how bereavement, death and loss are unifying themes. How we experience them is different, we are after all, unique. The sense of loss however, does hang over us all. On a personal level, Fragments was book-ended by two very significant, very close bereavements.
I did try to put shimmers of light in there, though. An ending, can be seen as new beginning, a change in a different direction. A loss, has the potential to grow-even killing weeds makes way for new seeds.
There is growth, renewal and regeneration in the pages of Fragments. Three concepts that whilst tending my allotment, are very much part of the immersion process. It was only natural these would them permeate through the writing of Fragments.
As well as being available on kindle, all of the books that you have seen develop here on the blog are also available in paperback. As the big day draws near, there may be one of them that you fancy getting for yourself or for the book worms in your life.
All being well, if you were to click on the covers below, the universe should send the books out just as the festivities kick off. If the books don’t make it to you before the 25th, then there are twelve additional days of Christmas where celebrations continue.
The first two books are most definitely an extension of the blog. Covering allotment adventures and what you can cook with everything that you might grow, ‘Playing with plant pots’ and ‘Sow, Grow and Eat’ make GYO less complicated and accessible for all.
Chillies and tomatoes, you can grow your own and look at the food you eat in an entirely different way. Be it on your kitchen window sill or in your garden. Growing your own fruit and vegetables need not be scary or complicated. This book contains learning experiences of a novice allotmenteer, Ideas as to what worked, what didn’t and what to do with too many courgettes. From first having an allotment, and not knowing what to do, to growing chillies that are some of the hottest in the world. Anecdotal evidence of success, failure and ideas to help make growing your own fruit and vegetables a little simpler. All of the details are real, that means influenced by rain, shine, slugs and snails. The details are honest, and aim to inform readers of how allotments are worth the hard work put in and will yield fruit that makes it all worthwhile.
If you ever wondered how to sow and grow chillies, or what might be useful to know when growing tomatoes and what happens when radishes go wrong, then you will need to have a look inside! Building on the experiences of ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’ there is more to be learned from the fruit and vegetable plot. With a few allotment plot staples revisited and others that you might not ordinarily think about, this second book also contains further recipes to be tried using plot fruit and vegetables. Growing your own fruit and vegetables is still uncomplicated and still an opportunity to create edible experiments. Within these pages there are jams, jellies, chutneys and infusions all just waiting for you to read about them and to create them in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Life starts and life ends. In between we form relationships and friendships. We have husbands, wives, sons, daughters and we mustn’t forget pets. Memories form that shape who we are and what we do. Only for death to cast it all askew. What we know becomes nothing by fragments, torn up and thrown to the winds. The Anands lose a wife and mother, Matthew is lost without his grandmother, Daniel loses the man he loved, Michael wonders about having children and Maya is a mother bereaved. Within are six inter-related stories explore what happens when the universe as we know it implodes and entirely. Grief is a journey to be travelled by them with emotions to be experienced as their lives are changed. Whilst they feel alone they are all connected and these are their stories. Family, friends and even our pets cannot escape when it comes to the footprint that is left by death.
‘Fragments’ is definitely not about gardening, but it’s genesis has most certainly be documented on the blog. Grief and bereavement are the sort of things that we might not discuss everyday, but are certainly part of the lives that we lead. I do hope that those who read it, will get as much out of it as much as I did in writing it.
I rather cherish the memories of standing in Mum’s kitchen holding my own books in my hands. Each time, there has been a smile as to having worked hard and crafting something that I am very proud of and ultimately would like to share with others. I am not writing anything at the moment; my pens have temporarily fallen silent and are reflecting on new possible stories.
I am also involved in a project called the Peace Series That link will take you to the Facebook page. There is even an event that will hopefully plant Peace firmly on the map. My contribution is scheduled for release early in 2018, and is currently being polished.
There were plans to write a cookbook! Plans being plans, this is on pause; I will get around to that eventually.
For now, I have three books in circulation that I am genuinely proud to have written and developed. Two, are primarily to do with gardening and cooking; with this year being a poor year on the allotment plot, they are a reminder of good times, of fruitful times.
Then there is ‘Fragments’, which is my first foray in to writing fiction. This does not mean I have abandoned my green plot. Simply that I have decided to add an additional string and broadened my horizons a little more.
Bit of a heads up. This is not a fluffy book with hearts, rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a textbook either!
Above are a selection of passages from Fragments, these touch on the six different stories that are interwoven to paint a picture of how loss and bereavement may effect us. The people and their experiences are varied and diverse; I wanted to write stories that could be seen to reflect and represent the world around me and to some extent how I see it.
I like my book; I am however, very biased. It is seeing and hearing that other people have picked it up, read it and invested in it that truly makes me feel less biased.
You can find the ebook here . For paperback, click here. If you happen to be in the USA, you can even walk into Pipe and Thimble in Lomita, California to buy a copy! The store is the only place on the globe that actually holds any of my books right now. That in itself is a tad mind blowing.
If you do invest in a copy, of either version, then please share and leave the review. As a non-traditional, self published author, I am a cog in the Indie publishing world. Reviews help that universe expand, allowing books that we wouldn’t ordinarily come across become more visible. This expansion then allows myself and other Indie authors to be stumbled upon with our works being shared.
For now, my pen, all three of them actually-are at rest.
All of the writing projects are in a lull. One writing project is being reviewed at a draft level for release slated as March next year. The others being very much being paused due to a lack of mojo. I am taking a rest, as the daydreams have disappeared for a bit and have left me to my own devices.
With that, I have been thinking about Fragments and the process of writing it. What I have been reflecting upon, is why I wrote it and the stories that are within the pages. For days, I have been thinking about what I might share about a book that I feel I had to write, wanted to write and hope that people might something out of. Three things, that are no different to how I felt when writing about my allotment and on this blog. Three very important drives when picking up a pen and committing thoughts and feelings to paper.
‘Fragments’ is not a book full of sunshine, rainbows or butterflies. The theme of the book and that which covers all of the six stories is grief. Grief, bereavement and loss is something, that like taxes is part of our lives.
It happens to us all, but for each of us the journey that occurs is unique.
Grief, bereavement and loss are also veiled in social acceptance; talking about grief, showing how it affects us and then processing it, is all very much on the down low. It is shied away from, thought of as dark, gloomy and best dealt by alone. Grief, bereavement and loss feel spikey; we hold these things at arms length and wrinkle up our noses when faced with them.
‘Fragments’ started it’s life nine months after I experienced the loss of my maternal grandfather. He was the last grandparent. To this day, I remember the message that my sister sent me, I remember telling my mum-the hardest thing, that I have ever had to do-and I remember leaving work, climbing into George, turning off the music, and heading off towards the A444. I remember Nana still being there and at home, whilst I went looking for saucepans and tea bags in the kitchen. I remember cursing March, as it was such a pain in the backside. There was relief when March ended, I can assure you.
Starting to write in November and much later in the year, I didn’t think about purpose, tone or audience. I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. All I wanted to do, was write down the day dream that I was experiencing and as quick as I could on lined paper with a green biro. I had written two thirds of the first chapter, when I realised that what I was writing was important. I couldn’t give it up, and I had to go with it. There was no plan, I had not plotted out arcs or characters. This was seat of the pants writing, and then some.
I found a notebook, a robust one; I wanted to do this properly. This daydream was far too important to ignore and at this point, I thought about planning what shape it would take.
All in all, six interwoven stories appeared on the page. I know, there are only five on the blurb. But hey, find it, open it, and find the sixth.
There are the Anands, Christopher, Daniel, Michael, Aldo and Matthew within the pages.
The Anands are an Anglo-Indian family who lose a wife and mother. Christopher loses his dog. Daniel loses his husband, Michael and Aldo are parents bereaved. Like me, Matthew experiences the loss of a grandparent.
I have another character in the book. Marcy, a counsellor.
All of these characters, these people somehow reflect the world around me. There were times, that during the writing process they all felt real and very much three-dimensional. Figments of my imagination these characters may have been, but within the pages of Fragments their worlds are some form of reality.
Over the course of nearly two years, the six stories were developed. I must have dragged them on every adventure I went on, used bottles of ink and spent hours poring over the two notebooks that the stories would fill. There were tears, when I felt the stories so strongly and had to sit back with a cuppa to be at arms length. There were smiles when the words flowed. In writing the book, I had put my soul onto the page to go through both pleasure and pain.
When it ended, I felt a loss and not to dissimilar to that experienced by the characters.
Fragments had become a part of me, it contained so much that I thought I had dealt with. It became an act of self care-though, at times when I pushed myself to get it written, this didn’t feel the case. Writing helped me to process what my own feelings and thoughts were and I cannot find the words to convey this more clearly.
When eighty per cent of Fragments was written and Christmas 2016 drawing close, there was another family bereavement.
My pen froze.
December 2016 was painful as Aunty Indra passed away. Again, I was cursing the month for being so awful. I couldn’t write a single solitary thing. I don’t think I was supposed to, the universe didn’t want that to happen and at that point, I put books of any sort aside.
It was an interesting book-end. Fragments started with a death, it was finishing with a death.
Time had to pass and grief had to be processed before I could pick up my pen again. When I did and at the end of January, Fragments was ready to resume its course.
It wasn’t just the writing that was therapeutic. Making the cover was also important to me. Whilst I had the title of the book, nothing felt right when it came to the cover. So much so, I fancied getting creative. In already having a stash for colouring, I knew that I had soft pastels somewhere. I used these to create three different pieces. All blue; blue felt right for this book and I went with it. Playing with sugar paper and soft pastels was rather interesting! What I couldn’t then do, was decide which one would be the cover and the options went to a public vote via social media. I gave no clue as to what the image was for or what the content of book was. In then end, ‘Fabric of the universe’ won and became the book cover.
Recently, when learning about grief and bereavement during my counselling diploma, Fragments took on another dimension. I saw the book, the themes from a different perspective and as being even more real One hell of a light bulb moment occurred, and writing the book felt even more important.
I opened with saying that my pens are at rest. For now, they are and until the mojo returns, that will remain the case.
Until then, I shall be smelling the roses…..
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