|Photos courtesy of the author|
My fifth and latest novel, Ninepins – published today by Sandstone Press – is ‘closer to home’ in several respects than my other recent books.
For a start, it’s geographically closer. My previous novel was set in France, amongst the spectacular scenery of the Cevennes mountains, but Ninepins takes as its backdrop the familiar flatlands of the Cambridgeshire fens which surround the village where I live. All I had to do, when writing the book, was whistle the dog, open the garden gate and step outside, and I was in the landscape inhabited by my characters.
To some, this might seem like a step down into mundanity, but for me the fens, though flat, are never dull. For a start, there are those skies, heavy and toppling with cloud or empty and luminously blue, which always seem to take up a larger portion of reality than they have any right to do. And then there’s the water, the constantly encroaching water, which bubbles always just below the surface of the earth, waiting to reclaim this temporary, artificial land where no land should be.
The themes of Ninepins were close to home, too, at the time when I was writing it. The novel tells the story of Laura, a single mum who lives alone with her daughter, Beth, in the isolated former tollhouse known as ‘Ninepins’ – a corruption of ‘ninepence’, which was once the toll paid to cross the river there. Twelve-year-old Beth is asthmatic, lonely at school and increasingly distant from her mother. Into their lives comes Willow, a seventeen-year-old care-leaver with a mysterious past, and Willow’s social worker, Vince. We watch as Laura struggles to overcome her anxieties for Beth, and decide whether Willow is dangerous or merely vulnerable – or perhaps a bit of both.
Like every mother of adolescent daughters, I’ve been no stranger to maternal anxiety. Perhaps I wasn’t conscious of it while I was writing the book, but now it’s abundantly clear to me: Laura’s fears, though different in their specifics, were at least some kind of mirror for my own.
All novels, I suppose, must have something of the author’s own experience in them. But writing Ninepins, for me, has been a walk along particularly well-known and intimate pathways.
Author website: http://www.rosythornton.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosy.thorntonAmazon link to the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ninepins-Rosy-Thornton/dp/1905207859/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332185171&sr=1-1