Author: sara

July thoughts

July thoughts

This is the world I walk in  at the beginning and end of each day. Whatever happens during the day slips away. Against the backdrop of nature problems assume a perspective.  Within this, I am just a speck. All this will still be here long after I have departed. People ask me why I return to Cornwall in my books. I return because the landscape is as much a part of me as breathing…

Some authors, especially younger ones, are brilliant at promoting their books regularly, wittily, repeatedly, or with businesslike aplomb. I am not one of them.  How little is too little? How much is too much? How to titalate without irritating… So hard, so it was lovely to see Jenni Balow’s piece on my book and  my time in Karachi in Cornwall Today and repeated in The Cornishman last Thursday…

I am already well into my next book. It is a very different story but is again set with the background of Cornwall and Pakistan.

Book Festivals and Parties

Book Festivals and Parties

June and July have been exciting. In A Kingdom by the Sea is published on the 25th July, but my lovely box of books arrived at the end of June. It is always a special moment, the result of months and months of work, held in the palm of your hand…

There were interviews, the glamorous HarperCollins party at the V&A. (The exquisite Dior exhibition was on and it was fantastic to be able to walk around without crowds to enjoy the mind-blowingly beautiful clothes)  @PenzanceLitfest was happening in the same week so I’m still pretty much buzzing…

On Saturday, I was talking about my book with @JaneJohnsonBakr in the wonderful @morrablibrary, one of my favourite places, full of atmosphere and lovely people. It was a full house and great fun.  Afterwards there was champagne  in a friends garden under the trees…

Here are some wonderful photos of the Dior Exhibition, the Morrab library and Cornwall.

Summer is here!. If you love to be transported to other worlds, In A Kingdom by the Sea is on a special Kindle offer  on Amazon for At HArperCollins Summer Party at the V&A 99p for the whole of July. It will take you to  on a roller coaster ride to Karachi and on long walks down the stunning coastal paths in Cornwall…

The Morrab Library

Review for In a Kingdom by the Sea

Review for In a Kingdom by the Sea

Always lovely to wake up to a good review.

#GuestReview for In a Kingdom by the Sea by Sara MacDonald @HarperFiction @MacDonaldSara @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #InaKingdombytheSea

A sweeping, evocative story of love, secrets and betrayal, set against the stunning backdrops of Karachi and Cornwall.

Perfect for readers who love Santa Montefiore, Rosanna Ley and Dinah Jefferies.

When Gabby’s husband accepts a transfer to Pakistan, she discovers a new world of heat and colour, of exotic bazaars and trips to the breath-taking Kashmiri mountains. It is an escape she didn’t know she was looking for.

But then a shocking letter from her sister reveals a devastating secret. Gabby is transported back to her childhood home on the Cornish coast, and as memories unravel, so too does her new life in Karachi.

Will Gabby find the courage to face the dark secrets and embrace a different future?

 

GUEST REVIEEW FROM CHRIS!

Today I am delighted to be able to hand my blog over to my mum Chris and I am delighted to be able to share with you her review for In a Kingdom by the Sea!

“I thought that this story was very good. It had really good attention to detail and it was easy to imagine you were there living it with them. It is an inspiring look at how the other half have to life.

This was a five star read for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the author had an excellent writing style. Very highly recommended!!”

IN A KINGDOM BY THE SEA – out now in ebook

IN A KINGDOM BY THE SEA – out now in ebook

First review today: thank you Jane Hunt!

 

In a Kingdom by the SeaBOOK REVIEW, FAMILY DRAMA, HISTORICAL FICTION, LITERARY FICTION, ROMANCE, SAGA

In a Kingdom by the Sea – Sara MacDonald – 5*#Review @HarperFiction @MacDonaldSara @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Romance #Historical #LiteraryFiction #Cornwall #Karachi #PublicationDay

Posted on June 6, 2019

A sweeping, evocative story of love, secrets and betrayal, set against the stunning backdrops of Karachi and Cornwall.

When Gabby’s husband accepts a transfer to Pakistan, she discovers a new world of heat and colour, of exotic bazaars and trips to the breath-taking Kashmiri mountains. It is an escape she didn’t know she was looking for.

But then a shocking letter from her sister reveals a devastating secret. Gabby is transported back to her childhood home on the Cornish coast, and as memories unravel, so too does her new life in Karachi.

Will Gabby find the courage to face the dark secrets and embrace a different future?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I always enjoy reading a book written by a true storyteller, and this is the case with ‘In a Kingdom by the Sea’. The story flows beautifully, the characters are believable, complex, and draw you into their world. The settings are contrasting, but both are atmospheric and described using vivid imagery so that you can enjoy the sensory experience, as you become immersed in the secrets and mysteries of the plot.

There is a lovely balance of contemporary and historical as the family’s secrets are revisited and revealed. This is a journey of self-discovery for Gabby as she overcomes her emotional setbacks, and finally becomes her true self.

There are many important themes explored in this novel, the political situation in Pakistan, and the difficulty of day to day life there, contrasted against the freedom and relative safety of life in London, and the rural idyll of Cornwall, is most complex and absorbing. I love how the friendships made, and the encounters with individuals are portrayed in a positive, hopeful way. Its authenticity makes the whole book more realistic and enjoyable.

Gabby’s journey, both emotionally and logistically is the driving force of this story, and many women will identify, with at least parts of it. The role of women and the oppression they face underpins this novel, and the strength and resilience of these women resonate.

I will miss the characters and settings in this story, reading it, is a truly positive experience.

 

 

In a Kingdom by the Sea – Sara MacDonald – 5*#Review @HarperFiction @MacDonaldSara @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Romance #Historical #LiteraryFiction #Cornwall #Karachi #PublicationDay

New book coming

New book coming

In a Kingdom by the SeaMy new book is finally finished and about to go out into the world. It comes out first on Kindle on the 7th June and the paper back is out on July 25th. It is exciting and scary at the same time. Writers spend so much time with their characters in it hard to let them go.

I set this book on the beautiful south west coastline. I used to walk the coastal path and look up at a little group of houses on the hill and think, how lovely to live up there. One day I saw a house was for sale in the area and went to look. As I drove down a long bumpy track with the sea glittering on my right I felt my excitement growing. And, suddenly, there it was, a little house tucked in the group of houses I had glimpsed from the coastal path The was in need of love and care, but I wasn’t interested in the inside that first day. I whipped out into the overgrown garden full of glossy camellia trees. The sun glittered on the sea like blue ice and that was it. I was enchanted…

So, now I walk everyday where my characters walked and sometimes, during the writing of this book, I was so emersed that I would forget if I was really me, or Gabby, in the book. I edited with a house full of builders and finished it at a desk overlooking the garden and sea. It was serendipitous. I was guided down a track to the little house I now live and write in…

Christmas, New Year dips, friendship, lovely books and walking.

Christmas, New Year dips, friendship, lovely books and walking.

2017 is sliding to a close. In February I sold my town house and moved to the country. All summer I wrote the first draft of a book and experienced the euphoric highs of being back in the country.

I watched a close friend battle courageously with cancer. I reveled in my first spring here. Walking with a friend through the gorse and hawthorn, exploring the coastal paths, looking down on hidden coves of aquamarine sea; meeting lovely neighbours, making new friends and experiencing a sense of a community.

Summer, although it largely passed me by, as I was working, was wonderful.

I could watch the sun rise at the back of the house in the morning and the sky catch fire and spread ripples of scarlet and gold over the sea at nightfall.

From my windows I could look across the garden and see the sea crashing onto the rocks below me. I could stand in my garden in wonder at the roll and catch of ever changing light on the water, as subtle and abrupt as a mood change.

Out of the corner of my eye I could sometimes spot a big silver fox run along the field wall in the dusk and experience the wonder of looking up at buzzards and sparrow hawks hovering over the fields like exotic shadows

I had to watch a close friend battle courageously with cancer. She came and sat in the garden, delighting in the peace and the view, holding her face up to the sun and to life. We talked of safe things and what we would do when she was better. Her wrists were a child’s and her long thin fingers as fragile as twigs.

Autumn came and the leaves were blown off the trees before their time. My friend lost her battle for life quietly, without fuss. It was how she lived her life. She chose happiness. Every small event was a story, every simple joy a celebration. She was a wonderful Fine Arts Restorer who renovated neglected ancient church panels as well as restoring portraits and paintings. The beat of her life was her beloved music. She went to her choir until she could no longer stand.

Years ago she told me about a small figurehead she was restoring in the old chapel in St Agnes. It had come from a British shipwreck off Newfoundland and ended up in Canada, and now it had been shipped back home to England. She was the bravest person I know.

Fascinated, I drove over to look her sitting in a corner of the chapel with a wild overgrown garden outside. Where had she been, this little figurehead? What was her provenance. My imagination was fired. That is how ANOTHER LIFE was born. I owe that book entirely to my friend and it is dedicated to her. She not only gave me my story, but she was so generous with her expertise for my fictional picture restorer.

Now winter is here. The weather can be bleak and close in like a relentless blanket. Sea mist creeps in with the speed and silence of a snake. It can linger for days shutting the world out and you in. Coastal paths become dangerous and inaccessible. The wind, straight from the sea is unbelievably ferocious. It blows in like an express train and sounds like one. It hurls large plant pots and wooden benches across the garden. It lifts and whooshes doormats into the bushes. It steals into every crack and moans and whirls round the house like a dervish.

Large trees in my garden groan and bend and crack, dead branches fly everywhere. The sky becomes a purple bruise filling the sky. Below me the leaden sea churns and sprays upwards, warning, threatening, taking no prisoners.

I knew my first winter would be challenging as I put a house to rights, and so it has sometimes been. Windows leak, taps fall off, heavy kitchen cupboards fly to the floor narrowly missing me, or the cat.

The new gate, made so heavy I cannot open it in a wind, (there is a real danger of being crushed by it -and death by a gate is not romantic) broke and hung off in the latest storm, swinging and squeaking eerily like the pub sign in Jamaica Inn. Everything needs attention and as I am trying to finish a book, sometimes I quail and crumple.

But, I know that my windows will not always leak. I will have a bathroom with heating. Spring and summer will be round again. I will make a garden. Friends will brave the rutted track and puddles to come again and sit in the sun and walk the paths.

When I take flight going to the dustbin, or aquaplane in my poor, muddy, little mini, through the ruts and puddles, when I wonder what I have done, I look out of my ‘office’ window, past the red and pink camellia bushes to the sea shimmering or boiling below me, and, in the silence and peace of a life I have chosen, I know exactly why I am here.

Storm Ophelia

Storm Ophelia

As I write, the wind is wuthering around the house and through the bent, protesting trees, making a noise like a wailing child.   The sea is a frothing mass of white waves, crashing against the rocks and spewing up in great dramatic arcs. I cannot capture the power of the elements on my mobile phone, the camara flattens everything as the strength of the gusts blow me sideways. Small birds have gone to ground and the larger ones are flapping and anxious.

The phone lines were the first thing to go, but miraculously connection is now back. I am woefully unprepared for a sassy storm that did not want to be demoted. I dread the electricity going down as I have a log burner, but I am out of logs and would be wary of lighting an unreliable old stove in these winds.

I only moved a few miles yet I am experiencing weather so much more exaggerated and  extreme than a town house that I might as well have moved to another country.

It is exhilarating to watch a storm raging from a warm, sunny room, behind glass, but I realised, when I only just had the strength to shut the back door against the wind, how terrifying it must be to be caught in a real hurricane. Powerless, small and utterly helpless as your house and possessions are blown to smithereens in seconds.

I live by the sea but I am not (quite) perched on a cliff top totally exposed to the elements, yet this storm has made me realise it is wise to be organised for extreme weather at all times, especially if you live down a long rutted track lined by large trees and you drive a Mini.  Maybe, a permanent stack of logs, milk and bread in the freezer and a little camping gas stove… just in case.

I have delivered my completed book to my editor and I am in that strange post-finishing book trance of slight exhaustion and vague unwillingness to address all those boring domestic tasks that have been on hold- while I await an edit and a fresh pair of eyes…

Books!

I much enjoyed The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson.  (Court Of Lions is on my beside table)

As is, The Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier.

Good Behaviour, by Molly Keen ( A little master class)

I am listening to Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough. It is riveting!

I am loving Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson. It was a present and all the more precious for that.

New books and Bookshops

New books and Bookshops

Jane Johnson gave a great talk last night at Waterstones Truro.  Her fabulous new book Court of Lions is out. The talented staff at Waterstones gave her the most beautiful window display I think I have ever seen.

It was a lovely event. History, intrigue, little Morrocan rose-almond pastries, wine… welcoming staff… and books…

As Jane signed her books I roamed a blissfully empty bookshop. A novel experience! Shelves and shelves of books all to myself. Oh joy. What utter heaven. I circled and circled like an excited magpie while a lovely member of staff tempted me with so many wonders I had to rein myslf in or go bankrupt. There was an amazing selection of nature writing I shall return for, but last night I came home with

Inside The Wave by Helen Dunmore

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson. ( I am already reading Court of Lions)

Cove by Cynan Jones

We returned home in the rain and I fell into my house in the middle of nowhere very happy. Apart from the fact I have had no broadband to post this…

Just to remind any readers, Come Away with Me is on a special Kindle offer of 99p for all July and August.

Come Away With Me

My World

My World

Come Away With Me* I have a special Kindle promotion this month for COME AWAY WITH ME!
You can buy the digital version for 99p. This runs from today July 6th until 31st of August

The sea is as green as if I were on a Greek island. The sun is bouncing off the surface like sparklers down on the point.

I have a deadline and subdued panic surfaces at 4am and various other times of the day when I am struggling with a chapter. Or a character won’t do as they are told.

This is a time when I have to get selfish and say NO to almost everything and everybody or time will run away from me.

The world these last few months has been such a sad, violent and tragic place. Life seems uncertain and fragile. Living in the country I am conscious everyday of how insignificant we are in the circle of life. Nature endures. Seasons change in an everlastingly comforting sequence what ever we do or do not do.

Like most people, when I walk I can find peace and marvel at the beauty that is all around us. It saves me from doubt and turmoil and writer’s block. I try to get up early to walk before my writing day begins. The sound of the sea is a soothing meditation. The hedgerows are full of butterflies and fat bees drunk on thistle pollen. The paths brim with wild flowers so simple and lovely it is impossible not to feel joy.

I can think about my day’s work, write a chapter in my head, before I get to my desk. That early walk stops me feeling deprived that I will be indoors working for the rest of the day. I have had my early ‘fix’ and all feels well.

Whatever is going on in the rest of the world I can watch the farmer plough straight furrows in the rich, red earth with all the skill of an artist. I hold my breath, for the hills are steep and the tractor leans dangerously sideways before it disappears into a cloud of seagulls.

I watch potato and cabbage planted in perfect rows. I watch them spring up like magic into stunning patterns of blue potato flowers framed against the sky. The rows of variegated cabbages are like arty flower displays.

I also hear the gas gun start every morning at 5 am in a desperate bid to keep the rabbits and birds off the crops. The farmer can be seen jumping up and down swearing at all wildlife. Life is not perfect.

I know that summer will end and I will be shut in with fog and winds. The unmade road to my house will fill with rain and my Mini will rumble and grumble that it is not a four- wheel drive. Summer and my life here in this wild and lovely place will have to live behind my eyelids and sustain me for long months. But the memory of it will also remind me that life is good and all seasons change.

I missed the launch at Daunt Books for Jane Johnson’s wonderful new book, COURT of LIONS

I dared not take the time off to go to London and I felt like Cinderella. It has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen, and a slim book mark. Here it is… So exciting…I am just about to begin…

Meanwhile, the summer slips by and I have a book to finish…

Come Away With Me

May, London, and the process of making books

May, London, and the process of making books

Last week I made a flying visit to London to meet my new editor at HarperCollins. I was given a wonderful welcome and shown around the new enormous sixteen storey HarperCollins building on a beautiful clear sunny day. ( Getting in and out was akin to airport security) The Shard loomed exotic, almost within touching distance. A panoramic, breathtaking London lay shimmering below.Tugs on the river, London bridge, a glittering of steel and shadowy shifting reflections in glass. All alongside ancient buildings in every direction.

I was fascinated by the huge open plan interior in which everyone at HarperCollins works.There were small areas with sofas and tiny glass rooms for quiet interviews and discussion. Desks interweaved with each other like a complicated Lego art form across the entire floor. Editors sat companionably at their computers for the long process of editing and producing the mouth watering crispy books arrayed everywhere. I felt like a child in a sweet shop, eyes swivelling from one title to the next.

It was intriguing to see the process of a book- here the editing, there the graphics for covers.  Writers are one little cog in a wheel of producing a book. We write our stories, sometimes, in the middle of nowhere. Here, in the middle of the city,  editors read and edit and polish and prune until a work is ready to put between a cover.

My book is partly set in Pakistan and I was taken to a happy and fun lunch at the wonderful Arabica in Borough Market. Delicious, middle eastern  food and interesting talk with my agent, Broo and editor, Lynn and assistant editor Charlotte

Chatting about my time in Pakistan re-kindled some almost forgotten memories. I heard the echo of my friends voices from Karachi and it made the time I am writing about immediate and real once more as I saw it through other people’s eyes.

Writing is solitary. I sit in a tiny room facing my garden and spend more time with my fictional characters than I do real people.  To sit and talk to editors who are enthusiastic and intuitive is a wonderful thing. While I am writing, someone professional  is directing the course my book will take. This felt so validating, enabling and energising.

I returned home to a house disappeared in sea mist. To an arctic wind in May. It was possible to think I might disappear too. It is vital, I believe, this necessary relationship with editor and agent, to stay grounded. I feel  very blessed and lucky.

The icing on the cake was the gift of two lovely books.

I opened Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, on the train back to Penzance and I cannot put it down. It is a joy of a book and is going to do incredibly well. It is out any minute and I cannot recommend it enough.

( I look forward to reading The Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins  next)

Photos: Beautiful North Pakistan. Me at Karachi Literary Festival. The Mohatta Palace, Karachi. My lovely lunch with Lynn, Broo and Charlotte.

The cover of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

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