It’s a pleasure to welcome to the blog, author Linda Gillard. I’ve read several of Linda’s books (Emotional Geology, A Lifetime Burning, Star Gazing, House of Silence) and they have all been 5* reads and I have Linda’s other books to look forward to on the Kindle. Linda’s latest novel, ‘The Trysting Tree‘ was released in ebook in May 2016 and the paperback was released this month.
THE BOOK THAT WANTS TO BE WRITTEN
Whenever I start a new novel, I record my first tentative ideas in a notebook. Sometimes I know what sort of book I want to write. The characters are already talking to me and I can’t wait to get scribbling. Sometimes I’m less sure and my notes are statements of intent, a form of wishful thinking. However I begin and whatever my intentions, what I always end up writing is the book that wants to be written.
When I was planning my eighth novel, The Trysting Tree, these were the very first notes I made…
What do I want to write?
Something simple and enjoyable to write.
Not too many characters.
Something set in a special building or garden, like Elizabeth Goudge’s THE BIRD IN THE TREE.
It could have a magical element (but not a ghost). Time-slip?
Further down the page I asked the key question. There’s always a question I ask myself, one that propels me into the research that helps create the world of the book.
What happened to large gardens during WWI when the staff went off to war?
Well, The Trysting Tree certainly wasn’t simple. Its complexity led me to give up on it twice, disheartened. As for my memo to self, “Not too many characters”, TTT covered a hundred years and involved four families.
Even my choice of narrator had to be abandoned. I started off with the idea that Beechgrave, the big Victorian house where the WWI half of the book was set, could tell its own story, then I realised most of what I’d planned took place outdoors, so I decided the neglected garden should narrate.
But it soon became apparent that the most significant events actually took place in the ancient beech wood on the outskirts of the estate. I realised I had to let the trees narrate. That was the book that wanted to be written. A narrating beech wood was perhaps a crazy notion and certainly a challenge to write, but it supplied the element of mystery and magic I’d wanted.
Here’s how the trees open the story…
She has forgotten what she saw long ago, what she found. Daily she walks in the wood, a woman now, who walked beneath our boughs as a child. Alone then, alone now.
The tree still stands, one of our number, where the child swung back and forth, laughing, clutching the thick ropes the man had slung over one of its branches. Now the woman gazes up at the leafy canopy and shivers.
The swing is gone, taken down long ago, but the rope left scars. She doesn’t see them, doesn’t remember. But she’s beginning to wonder if she has forgotten. And what she has forgotten.
There is a hole at the heart of the tree, a dark place that holds secrets. The woman looks up at the hiding place the child could never reach and she wonders.
She is scarred like the tree, with a secret hidden in her heart. Something dark. Forgotten. Unreachable.
About the Book:
THE TRYSTING TREE
A century of secrets…
Four women live in the shadow of the Trysting Tree.
All have something to hide.
A man without a memory walks away from the Somme battlefield, while a young woman grieves beneath the tree that will guard her secret for a hundred years.
Ann de Freitas doesn’t remember what she witnessed when she was five. The truth lies buried in the beech wood, forgotten for forty years. Can love unlock Ann’s heart and mind?
Connor Grenville is restoring the walled garden where his grandmother, Ivy used to play. Before her death, she tried to destroy the family archive. Who was Ivy trying to protect? And why?
When a storm fells the Trysting Tree, revealing a century-old love hidden in its hollow heart, Ann and Connor begin to sift through the past in search of answers. What they discover changes everything.
Linda Gillard lives in Ayrshire, Scotland. She’s the author of eight novels, including STAR GAZING, short-listed in 2009 for Romantic Novel of the Year and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award. Her Kindle bestseller HOUSE OF SILENCE was selected for Amazon UK’s Top Ten Best of 2011 in the Indie Author category.