Déjà Vu

That’s the title of the story I’ll be releasing on Wattpad, starting this Friday (24th February)!

I promised last night that I would a. actually follow through and DO THIS and b. tell you, my tiny but loyal readership, a little more about the story itself in case any of you want to read it.  So, here I am.

Déjà Vu is a young adult contemporary novel, set entirely in North Wales, and dealing with- well, basically a lot of the stuff I dealt with as a teen, so- friendship, identity, trying to overcome past trauma, underage drinking, crushes, self-harm and a generous helping of snark.

It is not, however, in any way shape or form autobiographical.  Yes there are little snippets of my experiences parcelled up in my characters, but no more so than in any other character/story I’ve written.  I think all writers put something of themselves in what they write, like little two dimensional horcruxes, but that doesn’t mean that any of the main characters are actually me.  Likewise, although setting the story where my boyfriend grew up, and enlisting the help of our family (thanks guys) to translate some of the Welsh for me- it isn’t in any way based on him or his experiences either.  It’s fiction.  Just to be super clear about that:  I made it up.

It currently stands at 76k words, across 46 (quite short) chapters, although I can’t swear I won’t start tweaking and editing along the way- so the exact figures may vary.  I’m planning to upload new chapters every Monday and Friday.

 

Here is the cover:

dejavucover

(Ta daaaaaa!)

And here is the blurb:

“Ryan Lovell detests the sleepy Welsh village he has lived in his whole life- along with most of the people in it, and in some cases the feeling is mutual. All he wants is to get out the place, but to do that he needs a university place- and to get that he needs a-levels, and money. Neither of which is easy to come by when you have an alcoholic Dad, and are living in the shadow of your own reputation.

Ryan’s best friend Hester is living in foster care and battling her own demons, and his only other friend Dewi has grown distant since they left school. When a new family moves into the village, Ryan gets both a way to make money- in the form of a part-time job as their gardener, and a distraction from his worries- in the form of the new girl Pippa, who joins him and Hester at the local college. For once, Ryan thinks things may finally be looking up- but when he starts blacking out and waking with no memory of what’s happened, he realises that his university plans- and hope of a relationship with Pippa, may be sliding out of his reach.”

 

So, if you like a bit of angst in your literature, enjoy un-pronounceable place names, and are down for strong romantic subplots, then Déjà Vu may be just your thing.  Or alternatively, if you’d just like to offer some support/critique my debut then that’s all good too 😉

This is my profile on Wattpad, where the story will be appearing, so…maybe see some of you over there?  And of course I’ll try to update here too, to let you all know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

N.B. (And I’ll be putting this disclaimer on Wattpad too).  This story does contain reference to (but not descriptions of) self-harm, previous SA, and suicide.  As a survivor of all three, I would hate for anyone to be triggered by that.  I like to think I’ve dealt with the issues sensitively and not used them for shock value- but really, who am I to say what might be triggering to anyone else? So if you think this might apply to you, then it might be best not to read Déjà Vu. I’ll be putting helpline links in the relevant chapters in case anyone is affected.)

The Outcast

April’s book from my list of books to re-read this year was The Outcast by Sadie Jones and I totally cheated and read it early because I was stuck in a book rut and just itching to read this one again- oops!  It does seem rather fitting though because a couple of days later I heard (via twitter) that it has been adapted for TV and is going to be shown on the BBC later this year, which I’m very excited about.  So I think you should all GO READ THE BOOK RIGHT NOW before it is, so you can be blown away by it twice 😉

theoutcast

Like The Gargoyle, and The Book Thief, two of the other three books I’ve re-read so far this year, it was only my second time reading The Outcast.  I initially came across it totally by accident, having got it as a swap a few years ago from Read It Swap It.  In fact I found this little slip of paper inside it this time and ended up using it as a makeshift bookmark:

swap

I can’t actually remember the book I swapped it for but I am so glad I did, whatever it was.  The Outcast had me totally hooked from the first page.  The first time I finished it in two days, this time it took just one, but to be fair I was recovering from a vomiting bug this time, so spent the entire day in the bath/bed, which definitely helped.

The atmosphere in the book is so suffocating and the pacing so tense that putting it down even for a bathroom break or to get a drink feels a bit like coming up for a gulp of air after being submerged under water, but then willingly sticking your head back in.  Which actually, if you read the book, you’ll see is a rather fitting metaphor.

So, you’re probably wondering what it’s actually about?

Essentially, it’s the story of Lewis. a young boy coming of age in the stifling decade of the 1950’s.

Now, when I first read this book I was going on and on at Chris for days afterwards about how good it was and when I told him when it was set he dismissed it immediately, which to be fair didn’t exactly surprise me because I knew that would be his reaction BUT I still feel sad for him now because man, is he missing out.  So I hope no one else lets the era put them off.  It does play a huge role in the storyline- with his father coming home from the war when he’s a young boy and the social expectations of the time a constant nagging force in his life, and god just the unbearably repressed atmosphere- arrgghhh, even thinking about it makes me tense, but like- in a good way, I think?!  Seriously, this is one of those books where I get just so incredibly wound-up on behalf of the main character that I’m sure it can’t be good for my health, but it sucks you in so wonderfully, that you’re somehow wooed and enraged at the same time.

When I said it’s the story of Lewis- yes it is, but it’s also the story of his parents, and neighbours and about the effects of tragedy and grief and misunderstanding, the varying ways people cope (or not) and the importance of love and acceptance.

I don’t want to give too much away so won’t tell you all the things I love about the book but I will say that one thing I personally particularly liked is the way it handles the issue of self harm.  It isn’t trotted out for shock value (although taking a blade to your own skin is never not shocking, even when you’re the one doing it) and it isn’t given sole-focus in the storyline from that point forward, but is a thing that happens- a thing that he sometimes does, that he feels mixed emotions about, but overwhelmingly shame.  And as someone who self harmed for years, I think Sadie Jones does an incredibly good job of portraying not just the act itself- and the cover up but all the feelings that come with it and with being ‘found out’.

I also love how grief is portrayed, not as though it’s a straight line to walk down but a blur to pass through that at some times seems thicker than others.

I think my most favourite thing though is just the characters themselves, they are all flawed- some hideously so, but all very real.  It didn’t require much effort for me to imagine that this cast of people actually existed, which is sort of terrifying, but of course wonderful too because isn’t that the point of a good book- to make you believe it could be real?

Obviously, if you haven’t gathered by now, it is one of my favourite books ever and I absolutely think you should go away and read it.

I, on the other hand am going to go away and try NOT to read the next book on my list because I am supposed to be waiting until May to share my thoughts on The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney with you…we’ll see if I can last that long I guess?!  It’s not like I don’t have a HUGE pile of unread books waiting for me…literally, look at them all:

TBRpile

(and that doesn’t even include the ones on my kindle!)

It’s just that now I’ve started re-reading all these amazing books I haven’t read for ages, I can’t seem to stop…

Letter to my 16 year old self

It’s Theme Thursday! And this week Jenn has gone all out and conjured a time-machine so we can all send letters to our sixteen year old selves.  Cool, right?!
I left home the month before my 16th birthday and life was kind of crazy and hard, really really hard actually.  So there’s a lot I could have written in this letter…but…I’m kind of of the opinion that everything happens for a reason…
(Screenshot from BTVS, courtesy of 20th century fox and the amazingness that is Joss Whedon’s brain)
Ok, good point Buffy. I actually don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I believe that shit happens, and a lot of the time you can’t control it but you can try to control how you react to it and I also believe that my life, right now, is pretty damn awesome, so even though I had to go through some stuff to get here, I’d do it all again just exactly the same if it guaranteed me the same outcome.
With that in mind, I present to you- my letter:
Dear (16 year old) Rebecca
 
It’s your sweet 16!
 
I know there really isn’t anything sweet about it, apart from maybe the nauseatingly sweet smell of horse manure that is your life right now, and I know that when your friend Jenny’s Mum brings your cake out with everyone singing “Happy Birthday!” you’ll be bawling too much to even blow out the candles BUT I’m your 28 year old self so trust me when I say that everything is going to be fine.
 
Repeat after me: everything is going to be fine.  Things will work themselves out, and one day in the not-so-distant-future all this will someday seem like a bizarre film that you watched about someone else’s utterly fucked up life.
 
You just need to keep on doing what you’re doing and everything will kind of fall into place. Oh except, the self-harming, I know you’re angry right now- at the world and everyone in it, including yourself, but honestly you need to cut that shit out and find a healthier coping mechanism, talk to people, get some help, here might be a good place to start.
 
It won’t be easy but you’re worth it (According to L’oreal anyway, but I don’t think that commercial is out yet so I’ve probably just confused the hell out of you).
 
Other than that, you’re doing good kiddo so just keep swimming…oh sorry, that film isn’t out yet either, but it’s a Disney movie- you’ll like it!
 
Life is good, not so much right now I know, but it will be- just you wait 🙂
 
Love from (28 year old) Rebecca
xxx
For more letters click the Theme Thursday button above- quick!- before they’re transported back in time! 😉