“A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.”
I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Mountain in my Shoe blog tour. The Mountain in my Shoe was published at the end of September 2016 and is written by the incredibly talented Louise Beech. Today I am thrilled to have a wonderfully honest guest post from Louise to share with you.
Writing My Life…
The other day I was interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside and we got around to storytelling, and what it means to me. We had been discussing National Care Leavers Week in relation to my second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, and how my own experience of being briefly in the care system had partly inspired the book. And the host asked me if maybe the story I was looking to write was perhaps my own. It was a profound moment. I realised that I started writing stories around the age when my siblings and I first went into care. I’d always created stories in my head, literally from being a tot, but I actually started writing them in notebooks when I was about nine.
This was also when our mum made a serious suicide attempt that resulted in her yearlong stay in a psychiatric unit. My baby brother was fostered, and my two sisters and I went to live up north with our grandma. Other times, when she simply couldn’t have us, we stayed at an orphanage here in East Yorkshire. So I’m really beginning to wonder if I write stories to find my own. You see, I don’t remember everything from being small. There are huge gaps in my memory, which is a theme I’ve explored in my third novel.
So is my absolute love of writing – and I do love it, perhaps more than anything – a journey of self-discovery. Most of my novels have been inspired by some aspect of my life, whether it’s my grandfather’s bravery at sea, my daughter’s illness, my voluntary work or my own childhood. They are usually fictionalised – which perhaps affords me some safety, some distance – but they definitely come from a deep part of me. But don’t all writers do this? I can’t be the only one? And is it self-indulgent, or do stories created from such personal places resonate that little bit more with readers?
When I write I try hard to avoid self-pity or indulgence. I’m always aware that the reader is with me and I want to give them a story that they can enjoy, that is uplifting. So while I do face dark aspects of my life in my work, I’m an optimist by nature. I’m Scarlett O’Hara in that I think tomorrow will always be another (better) day. I may be looking back to piece together missing bits from my past, but I look most excitedly to the future. And this is something I hope shines through most of all in my books….
Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Louise. I am pleased to confirm that I have a review copy of The Mountain in my Shoe so look out for a review on damppebbles coming your way soon.
A Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |
Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. How To Be Brave is Louise’s first book. The Mountain in My Shoe will be published in 2016.