I’m so very grateful for you taking the time to read this article. I hope many of you will be able to connect with my words and perhaps find some solace in them yourselves.
Very recently I published my second novel, Hope Cottage. As a family saga it took me away from writing my usual dark fantasy genre instead to a more personal and cathartic journey to overcoming loss.
All royalties from the first year of its sales are being donated to – https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/ in memory of my wonderful mother, Gwenda McCarthy, who we lost in 2010 to a brain tumour.
Some of you may wonder why it took me so long to publish. The truth is that I actually began to write the story a week after her funeral and completed it in first draft within the year. However, due to my full-time job as a primary school teacher I never seemed to find enough time to polish publish it.
Let me tell you a little more about my Mum and the Hope Cottage …
She was the best of mothers: kind, caring – just wonderful in every way! She had a heart of gold – the brick within her own large family, the one everyone turned to when they needed help. She had a tough upbringing being one of eleven children from a working class family so when my brother and I were growing up she did everything within her power to provide us with the things that matter most: stability, encouragement and most of all unending love.
She believed in the values of education, having had little opportunity to fulfil her own. She had the knack of the oral story-telling tradition down to a fine art but was also a good listener and patient as a saint! She taught me to read before I started school. I still remember my very first day; when my teacher discovered that I could already read she took me to the school library and allowed me to choose a book to take home – it was about a farm. I can still picture the chickens in the farmyard!
Anyway, when she was diagnosed with a stage 4 incurable brain tumour in 2009 our family was devastated. She was 71 years old and relishing in the joy of her first grandchild, Thomas.
She survived nine months and if any of you have experienced a similar situation you will know how hard those months were. During that time I suffered acute anxiety attacks and recurring nightmares but tried hard to put on a brave face whenever I saw her.
Throughout the time she was so brave, so selfless. She said she wasn’t afraid to die – only afraid to lose us all. Our hearts were broken.
A week after her funeral my husband and I took a little holiday to a remote cottage. I needed to gather my thoughts and decide how we were going to move on. It was during this holiday that the idea for Hope Cottage came to me and so I began to write. Although it is a work of fiction, the description of my characters’ emotions and fears and also some of the dreams I incorporated are all very real. Most of all, I found the process of putting it down on paper and the focus that the creative process provided were extremely cathartic.
Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand how it reminds us to value life and so, shortly after, my husband and I put together a seven year action plan which would allow us to give up full time work and move to the country in order to do the things in life that we love. For me that includes writing, sewing and baking and for my husband wood-turning and illustrating. (He creates my book covers by the way – I’m so lucky!)
So I’m far from wealthy but now so much more content in life which is why I wanted to ‘give something back’ from the experience. Brain cancer is a truly devastating disease. Every little help the charity receives will hopefully enable them to make progress in treatment and maybe one day find a cure.
Please read the blurb for Hope Cottage and the link to purchase below . . .
Hope Cottage, available in paperback or kindle
For Cassie, inheriting Hope Cottage seems like a gift from the grave, but will the ghosts of its past claim yet another victim? Recently divorced from a manipulative husband and grief-stricken following the death of her mother, Cassie Wilkinson has never felt so hopeless and alone. However, an unexpected inheritance affords her the opportunity to start anew. The surprise acquisition of the unsuitably named Hope Cottage spurs her to flee from the familiarity of the place she has always known to the quintessential English village of Marleston … but this gift from the grave is not without its ghosts. A startling discovery unveils a series of tragedies and emotional turmoil inherent within the family of her estranged grandmother. Cassie must not only solve the mystery surrounding her own mother’s roots but also discover why she herself is so caustically spurned by the resident of Marleston Vicarage. Will she find the quietude for which she longs or will the skeletons in the closet vanquish any chance of true happiness?
Thank you so much for your support,