Archive | New Publication

Magpies took off a Month ago

So my book, my new novel, my fourth book, Dear Magpies, has been out for a month. It was published as a paperback by SilverWood Books on 18th November – and, it seems, people are reading it. Amazing!  I’ve been running around Dorset having book launches, doing some signings in bookshops and other places, and giving a few talks too.  It is humbling and, I have to admit, very gratifying that people are buying it – and reading it. And I’m getting back some very positive comments about the book.  Not many yet – but then it has been for sale only for a month, and I never expect those who buy it to read it immediately.  Like me, readers often have a pile of books and work their way through.  There can be nothing more annoying than buying a book, and then being asked by an impatient author to give an opinion about it, well before there has been a chance to open it!  So I never ask and I wait for people to volunteer their feedback or tell me what they think of it in their own time.  Though of course I’m dying to know!  The book is in stock in some bookshops and available to order from any booksellers, and from the publisher SilverWood, and also of course from Amazon. It costs £9.99, but there is an e-book too for £3.99.  Here is a copy of the front and back cover of my book:

 

The cover has been much admired but it has puzzled a few people.  To explain:  Josie, a woman who has been searching for her grandchildren for over 10 years, is writing letters to them, which she cannot post or email, as a way to try and connect with them. She used to call them her ‘magpies’.  This nickname arose because, when they were small children, their father had given them some black and white towels which they used at bath-time, and the boy had scampered about in his towel, flapping his arms.  When Josie writes to them, she begins her letters with Dear Magpies.  The cover, brilliantly designed by my publishers, shows the heads of the teenage boy and girl in silhouette, because Josie does not really know them after such a long estrangement and is in the dark about what they are like. The magpies flying upwards are a visual image of their nickname, but they are also soaring up into the ‘pale blue yonder’ which underlines her dilemma, which is that she has no idea where they are in the world. She aches to see them again, and misses them enormously.  The quest for her magpies has truly stolen her peace of mind. But I’m not going to give any hint about what happens – you must read the book to find out.

Book Launch in Sherborne

Two weeks tomorrow, on Thursday 21st November at 6.30pm for 7pm, I am having a Book Launch for my new book Dear Magpies, at Winstones Books in Cheap Street, Sherborne, DT9 3PX.  I will be giving a talk about my book, answering questions and signing books.  Refreshments will be provided and anyone interested in coming along will be welcome.

I am delighted to be having this launch at Winstones, which is a fabulously light and well laid out independent bookshop based in the beautiful historic town of Sherborne, Dorset.  Winstone’s has won the British Book Awards South West Bookseller of the Year four times and was winner of the Independent Bookseller of the Year nationwide award in 2016.

Dear Magpies is my fourth book and the first one in which the main character lives in Dorset. It tells the story of Josie Cuff who has been trying for ten years to trace her young grandchildren, the only members of her family still alive, who have disappeared on the other side of the world. She now lives in a small rented cottage in England after a turbulent life in South America. She writes her grandchildren lively letters which may never be sent, telling them about her past and about the eccentric inhabitants of the Dorset village where she is seeking to make a new life and new friends. Threatened by a sinister intruder who invades her home and privacy, Josie fights to cling on to hope.

Come along to Winstones on 21st and find out more. You might even like to buy the book! (£9.99)

Dear Magpies

Creating a book and getting it out into the world is a little like having a baby – though it usually takes far longer. It grows more erratically and more slowly and its birth involves many people of different skills.  But both baby and book are hugely fulfilling.

The idea for my new book, Dear Magpies, to be published on 18th November 2019, had been floating around in my head for months before I started the research for it. As a lifelong writer of letters, I had always wanted to write an epistolary novel – one that is written as a series of letters or diary entries. This book, about a woman searching for her long lost grandchildren, lent itself to the form and so I worked out my plot and worked on my characters. The writing the first draft took over a year, after which I planned to re-read, reflect and then start on the edit.

However, I got a time-consuming job and work on the book came to a halt whilst I got to grips with a very different working life, one that took all my energy and commitment. I didn’t revise or revisit my draft manuscript for eighteen months – which was not ideal, but at least I could see more clearly what needed to be changed. Then began the PEP stage – pruning, editing and polishing.  What a marathon! I took advice from a few people who had read my manuscript and I must have done at least seven edits.

Then followed the publishing which took many more months. My publishers, SilverWood Books, so helpful, efficient and sensitive, have been responsible for getting my book into print.  And so, about five years after the initial idea, last week the first copy arrived at my home and into my hands. My ‘baby’ had arrived – it was a good moment.

Dear Magpies

I love the front cover, designed by my publishers, with the silhouette heads of the teenage grandchildren, Tom and Lottie, who flew off into the pale blue yonder and, like magpies, stole the peace of mind of their grandmother, Josie, who writes them letters she cannot send.

The big question – “Will it please the reader?”- has yet to be answered and I will have to wait until after publication to know. It pleased me to write it, though at times the progress was painful. Now my child has reached maturity and is about to leave home and make its own way in the world. I wish it well.

 

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

Magpies are magnificent. Distinctive by their black and white plumage, they are intelligent and inquisitive – and more superstitions surround magpies than any other wild bird. The most common one is that it is unlucky to see a lone magpie but two magpies can bring joy or mirth. Some people when they see a single magpie say: ‘Good morning Mr Magpie and how is your lady wife today?’ By addressing him in this respectful way and referring to his wife, you are implying there are two magpies which bring good luck and joy rather than sorrow, according to the nursery rhyme:

“One for sorrow, two for joy,

Three for a girl, four for a boy,

Five for silver, six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told,

Eight for a wish, nine for a kiss,

Ten for a bird you must not miss”.

These large and noisy birds belong to the Corvidae or crow family and do not migrate in winter. Once mature they mate for life and the female lays its eggs in April. They are powerful, resourceful birds and exist all over the world. Their name is derived from the French word ‘pie’ which means black-and-white or pied. They are indeed birds that you cannot miss seeing.

Folklore has it that magpies are kleptomaniacs and steal shiny things, resulting in their reputation for trickery and deception. However, there is no evidence that anyone has ever found anything silver or shiny in a magpie’s nest. This might be because their nests tend to be high up in tall trees!  It is clear from the well-known rhyme that magpies can represent both good and bad omens and opposites.

For these reasons I chose this emblematic bird to feature in the story and the title of my new book: Dear Magpies which is a novel about a woman who is searching for her lost grandchildren, to whom she writes imaginary letters about her dramatic past and her present life. She addresses them as ‘magpies’ – an endearing nickname she once used when they were babies – when she writes to the two children whom she has not seen for ten years but who are now in their teens. Her current situation is sad and solitary but not without hope for happiness.

Dear Magpies is to be published in paperback by SilverWood Books on 18th November 2019.

Grandmas Rule OK

In five weeks time, I’m going to be a grandmother for the third time. Its a role I love – and I’ve managed to get in plenty of training and practice with grandchildren numbers 1 and 2.

It’s grand to be ‘Gran’ – though my favourite people call me Grandma, not Granny, Gran, or Nan. I like to feel I’m an original grandma (don’t we all?). These days I read about amazing sporty grandmothers who do bungee jumps and climb Everest, or trendy yearning-to-remain-youthful grandmothers who wear lace hot-pants and drive Lamborghinis. More traditional grannies, cuddly with huge bosoms, bake cakes and knit bobble hats and there are ancient grans who can be spectre thin, dotty and forgetful, who wander round in mauve slippers.  I can fall about laughing at Catharine Tate’s ‘Nan’ on youtube, without in any way wanting to emulate her appallingly foul-mouthed character. I like to think that I’m an active grandma who laughs a lot with her grandchildren and reads them scintillating stories using a full range of vocal fireworks. I’ve no idea what they think of me – but I hope that they don’t find me dull!

My own grandmothers were very different from each other.  My maternal one was very beautiful, ran a gambling club in London but sadly died aged 46 on the day the war ended, May 8th1945 – a year before I was born. My paternal grandmother had a large family and lost her eldest son (my uncle) in 1916 on the Somme – he was 19.  Decades later my brothers and I used to go her house in Woking and play Mahjong. Diminutive but indomitable, she lived until she was 99.

Upon finding myself elected to grandmotherhood four years ago, I decided that I wouldn’t want to be a glamorous gran with sparkly jewellery or become a super-gran who ran marathons. But I am a grandma who can wear jeans without looking gross and who can swim like a fish. I wear glasses but not granny glasses. I do NOT and never will wear granny pants. I have been persuaded to carry a granny brag book – so I can at long last compete with all my friends who have been boring me rigid for years with endless photographs of their dear little Samantha, (a musical prodigy), gorgeous George (destined to become a celebrity actor/chef/game show host ) and Harry (who is clearly going to play football for England). With my sailing background, I never ever tie a granny-knot instead of a reef-knot, and now that I’ve swallowed the anchor and am into gardening, I know what a Granny’s Bonnet is – an Aquilegia Vulgaris, a very pretty flower in spite of its name.

There are memorable Granny icons: the witty and acerbic Dowager Countess of Grantham, the superb actress Maggie Smith herself,  Grandma Moses – the American folk painter, and the wonderful June Whitfield – the disapproving but tolerant grandmother in AbFab – who died last year aged 93. Famous glamorous grannies ‘Glam-mas’ include Jane Fonda, Jane Seymour and Sophia Loren. Recently a film came out entitled: “Bad Grannies” in which gun-toting grannies create mayhem. Perhaps this film was intended to be some sort of revenge for the victims of granny-bashing – the assault or abuse of elderly people.

I aim to a grandma who never runs out of hugs to give my grandchildren or stories to tell them.  I want to be able to play grandmother’s footsteps with them when we are all a bit older. I am currently a grandma who works for a property company, writes books, and plants trees. Perhaps I might one day earn the right to be given a button with ‘TGIF’ on it (‘This grandma is fabulous!’), which I will wear with pride.

My new book, a novel due out in the autumn, features an older protagonist – a grandmother. ‘Dear Magpies’ is the story of Josie who has been searching for ten years for her grandchildren, who have disappeared on the other side of the world. She is not at all like me, nor is she like any of the other grannies mentioned in this blog.  But, like all of them, she is completely original.

Book Reviews

Here are some recent reviews of my latest novel: ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’, published in June by Onwards & Upwards in Hardback (£16.99), Paperback (£9.99) and eBook (£5.99). The book also has a number of reviews posted by readers on Amazon.

September:
Extract from the Book Review in Blandford Forum Focus, by Zoe Carter:

“….Eve Bonham displays a deep intuitive understanding of all manner of complex personalities, and how they intertwine to reflect the intricacies of modern familial bonds. This book helps to illuminate the human condition in a way that is both real and exciting to read and never shies away from some of the more negative aspects of life. The book reminds us that letting go of the past, looking forward and truly forgiving are things that we should prioritize in life. A delightful read which will surprise and reward you, promising a more enlightened and positive approach to the future.”

Autumn 2015:
Extract from Book Reviews in the quarterly magazine The Woman Writer, by Val Dunmore

“An intriguing story that holds the reader to the absolute end; this is a thriller but also a story about the trials of a family trying to make its way in the modern world… As the story progresses, we are introduced to several unpleasant characters who seem bent on causing the family harm. There is a sinister element lurking throughout the book causing intrigue. Eve keeps us in suspense right up to the end when all is revealed with a quite unexpected twist. The characters are well-drawn and encourage the reader to want more information about their complicated lives. A thoroughly fascinating read.”

November:
From an Online Review in Good Reads posted by Helen Baggot, who gave my book 4 stars:-

“… The plot itself is interwoven with unspoken threat. Kate’s acquaintances bring with them a cloud of foreboding…. David’s dreams of career success seem thwarted. And what of their father? Theo is a man with a past, a man who loves his family beyond all else and will do everything to ensure they know have his unconditional love. The reader understands what creates those threats and it’s almost like watching a cat playing with a mouse as we witness the taunting of a family. I found the characters compelling and was especially drawn to Theo and his resilience. This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book.”

December:
Extract from monthly Conduit Magazine in Books for Christmas, by Francesca Dening

“Full of well-written and convincing characters ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’ by Eve Bonham, is a complex and compelling family saga with a thought-provoking moral undertone and sibling rivalry. A brother and sister, living in different countries find their lives spiralling out of control. They are looking for love but finding disaster. … This book is published by Onwards and Upwards at £9.99.”

Talking to Professionals

It’s always a challenge to give a informative entertaining talk to a group of people who have come to an event and are gathered to listen to what I say. Recently I was the Guest Speaker at the Autumn Lunch of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists held in the National Liberal Club, Whitehall, London. I felt very honoured to have been asked and also somewhat daunted. Usually with talks to book clubs and libraries and literary events, I am talking to enthusiastic readers and people interested in books, in fiction and more specifically in what I write and why and how.  But in London my audience would be  professional writers and journalists many of whom are hugely experienced, have been writing far longer than me and have had much more published. There was nothing I could tell them about the craft of writing and the creation of characters and plots.  So I decided to tell them about the way I came into writing and how I weave into my fiction characteristics of people I’ve encountered, places I’ve seen and emotions I’ve felt.  Writers use what they have learned about the human condition and they allow their imagination to put their own spin on that. Truth should be found in the characterisation, the particularity and the words used to tell the tale.

My new book published 3 months ago, “The Lost Journey Homeward”, is a contemporary take on the parable of the Prodigal Son.  In my book, the prodigal is a daughter who has hit rock-bottom overseas, and her elder brother runs a country house hotel with problems. The father tries lovingly to get them back on track. If obligated to classify my book, I’d say it was a family saga about stormy relationships, the search for love and meaning in the wrong places and about the hard road home. It’s about guilt, hope, intolerance and forgiveness. It demonstrates that you can mess up your life big time but there’s always another chance to turn things around and find yourself.

I’ve been blessed with a life full of love and adventure. I grabbed the chance to do wild and wacky things but, along the way, managed to learn the importance of communicating and connecting with others, – and of taking every opportunity to show compassion and promote peace and love.  I travelled far, and made some bad mistakes and unwise choices, but then I came home from the sea and from overseas. I write in the hope that my own story and my written stories will entertain and empower people who need to change direction. My novel is about the lost who journey homeward.

Sunday Tea and Talk

My next Event coming up is on Sunday 2nd August at 4pm  – Tea and Talk at Beatons Tearooms in Blandford Forum, Dorset.  Here is further information: Blandford Tea & Talk Flyer.

 

FLASH FICTION:  If you want to read my micro-fiction – stories in under 500 words – these are now to be found on the Flash Fiction page of my website.  Just select a photograph icon and the story flashes up!

Book Launch in the Garden

My new book ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’ has been well and truly launched – on Sunday 14th June. I decided to do this At Home –  in my own garden in Dorset.  My last two books had their launch parties in London – the first was held on  a houseboat in the Thames and the second took place in an auction gallery at Bonhams in Knightsbridge. This time my husband, Michael, organised the whole thing: drinks from a bar that was a genuine Edwardian handcart, delicious canapés, staff to serve, fine weather, children running around, balloons, ice cream and – most important of all – many friends from South West.  All I had to do was provide the books, get someone to sell them – and then sign them.  Friends usually buy my books; the harder job is to get strangers to buy them – in bookshops and online.  But on my third book launch, we were all outside, the sun shone and it was fun!

Publication Day

frontcover

Strange to think, now my new book is for sale, that soon people might be reading ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’, turning the pages and assessing whether they like the story and what they think about my friends, the characters.  It’s a long journey writing a book – this one has consumed over three years of my life – but during the ‘work in progress’ stage, there is a intimate, private relationship between me, the author, and my characters and their secret lives within my plot. When a publisher and an editor become involved, as they did seven months ago, some of that privacy and secrecy is peeled away but there’s still enough of a protective shell left between us  – me and my story – and the rest of the world to feel safe and comfortable.  Today, now that we, author and book, are not only in printed form but also published as a eBook, that final layer is cast off, like a discarded husk, and we are exposed, quivering oyster-like with raw apprehension, vulnerable to criticism and open to attack.  It’s daunting.  Painful.  And exciting!