My second novel, The Things We Need to Say is out in just ten days! I’ve got to be honest, the nerves and the pressure and the general feeling of pre-publication anxiety are probably worse for this one than they were for my debut!
It’s a bit of a different book than my first – The Many Colours of Us dealt with similar themes (loss, betrayal, family, the power of friendship) – but the love story in that first book was a classic boy meets girl. The love story in my second is one of a long established marriage, the story of what happens after boy meets girl, what happens after the first flush of love, after the wedding. It’s the story of how life throws us all curve balls we were never expecting and that we’re not always prepared to deal with.
I wrote the book in the months following a particularly big curve ball in my own life. My mum died very suddenly and unexpectedly in September 2016 and, at the same time, that I moved 200 miles away from my home town and family. Out of the struggle to accept this, Fran and Will’s story was born. I wanted to write something that not only conveyed what it’s like to deal with unexpected disappointment and devastation but how to cope with that as well and, ultimately, to show that life does go on and there is always love and hope and friendship and good things in the world if we know where to look.
From these initial bones of a story, and with my editor and agent’s help, I wrote a book that I think I’d been wanting to write for a long time. I wanted to address the way that society looks at childless couples and I wanted to write about community and, as with my first book (and funnily enough my third it turns out), how family is about so much more than blood ties and that happiness and contentment don’t come from somebody or something else, they come from ourselves.
And I set it in my favourite part of Spain – but you can read more about why I did that after publication!
It was a hard book to write, most authors will tell you that second books are always difficult, but I hope that in the end I wrote what I wanted to write – a book about love and hope and community.
The Things We Need to Say is published worldwide in English language ebook and audiobook by HQ/Harper Collins on 11th May 2018 – preorder links here.