Can you tell me about your new book?
This is my début novel and focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s a split narrative that sees London business woman, Angelica Ford, boarding a plane and flying to her mother’s island in the Caribbean. In desperation she believes that her mother, Josephine Dennis, will help her turn her life around so that she can reunite with her husband and her daughter and save her business. Josephine came to London in the late ’50s and raised her children on colourful stories that guided them through life. It is the wisdom of one of these stories that Angelica seeks. Josephine’s last story could be the one that changes both of their lives.
What sparked the original idea?
My family came to London from the Caribbean and I grew up hearing about the island and all aspects of their lives and compared that to the way I was raised in London. I wanted to explore the different worlds and the seeds of a story of a London woman contrasting with the life of a woman from the Caribbean started to filter into my mind. I decided that they should be mother and daughter. I do like to write about relationships and working my way around a series of relationships in this book between sisters, couples and friends gave me lots of scope for an emotive and dramatic story and setting.
What research, if any, was needed to write it?
I was not born in the Caribbean so that needed some research. Luckily my family were able to help a lot. The rest was imagination. The London locations are all familiar to me but some of this story was set before I was born so I had to read up on a lot of social history and made sure I had my dates right when actual events crept into the novel. Even such things as the accuracy of train lines and buses as they were back in the ’60s and ’70s was a must. It had to be genuine so that the reader gets a real sense of place and time. You can always tell when a writer has faked it.
Can you share about the writing process – did you plan in advance or write it by the seat of your pants?
The general idea was there but the end product took on a completely different look in the end. Mostly the story wrote itself, I trusted my characters to tell their story. So no matter what planing went on in my head (I did do some jotting down) there was always that ‘seat of your pants’ element to the process. It made it exciting but scary too. I’ve done a bit more planning for the second novel as it was a lot more complex.
Could you describe two or three of the characters from the book and explain how you created them?
In the London section of the book the character of Luke Ford came to me as the ideal partner for the main protagonist, Angelica. In response to the ups and downs of her life I thought she needed some happiness. Luke is the type of guy that if you extracted all the brilliant things from all the boyfriends you had and wrapped them in a handsome body, you’d find Luke. But when something seems too good to be true then it probably is.
Eunice plays a major role and features in both the Caribbean and London settings. I needed someone who was going to contrast with Josephine – the strong, religious matriarch. It was easy to create this stormy, hot-head who would lie her way out of any situation. Her story is as dramatic as her nature and readers will either hate her or feel sorry for her.
Is there a particular message in the book you’d like readers to understand?
I think that the message of trust is quite a big one in this book. It is because of a lack trust a lot of wrong decisions are made. On the other hand where some characters trusted too much it was the thing that changed their lives and not necessarily for the good.
Where can people buy the book?
At Indigo Dreams here.
Where can you be found online?
My blog is at www.franclark.blogspot.co.uk.
- Fran Clark’s ‘writing life’ interview can be read here.
- Fran Clark’s music interview can be read here.