There is one aspect to being a writer, that does tend to irritate people a little, which simply put, is if you want to sit and talk about the weather with me, you will bore me to death, and I will probably get up and leave. I will not apologise for this, as I simply cannot sit and talk about menial things, like will it rain tomorrow?
I am a lover of real conversation, I like conversations about dreams, hope, aspirations, the universe, and interactions, and even people’s thoughts on modern sex, and I do use much of what I hear and see as a vehicle for stories. I always go away and think long and deep about whatever it is I have discussed and even look it up for other thoughts on the internet, and it all adds to the bank of data in my head for those moments sat writing. Add to that my love of simply observing people, and throw in my own life story, which has included a lot of deep conversations, about some very personal matters with people, and there is a recipe fit for a book, and actually, I have just written it, and its accompanying four other books that create the series entitled, ‘The Curio Chronicles.’
The first book, is an introduction to a whole list of new characters, the most obvious being Abigail, a nineteen year old university student, who is studying, Literature, Business, and Public Relations, for her degree. Abby is very intelligent, studies hard, and is an absolute book nerd, so if it is printed on paper, she will read it, but her greatest love in literature, is gothic horror, for which she is awarded her Uni nick name of ‘Deadly.’
Abigail was raised in the picturesque village of Wotton Dursley, a place she refers to as being stuck in the 1950’s, which she also states is like the Village of the Dammed. She has been raised by a wealthy family, and is very sheltered and naïve. Wotton is a place where how it looks, is the most important aspect of life, and the village is ruled by the Church Council, with the vicar’s wife Marjorie as the Chair Person. For Abigail, who hates her life in the village, because she has no means of expressing herself, her biggest and only act of rebellion, is to get as far away as possible, and so when it came to picking a university, she picked Manchester over four hundred miles away. Her Parents Edwin, a boring old accountant, and her controlling cleaning obsessed housewife mother Felicity, are mortified, and so Abigail’s departure to university, was not as smooth as it could have been.
On her first day she arrives, and finds herself lost, and having wandered around for hours dragging her large trunk of possessions, she knocks on the door of what she hopes is her dorm, and is confronted by a slightly taller, completely naked girl, with long white hair that has black patches on it, resembling birch bark, who gives her a huge smile, with sparkling green eyes, and says. “Hi Sweetie.”
Enter Birch, a girl who is one year older, having taken a year off to travel Europe with a promotions company, that was touring promoting authors. At twenty years old, with a mother who is a leading and world renown sex therapist, and a father who is a clinical psychologist university professor, Birch with her Manchester attitude, very high intelligence, is a Wiccan naturist, who is training in psychology, studying sexual practices and dysfunction, and literature, so that once she gets her doctorate, she can join her mother in practice.
For shy, naïve, Abby, who has been sheltered all her life, Birch is everything she never thought was possible, and they become instant friends. Over the first year, Birch’s open free spirited lifestyle rubs off on Abby, and she finally gets to embrace her freedom, and start her journey of deciding who she wants to be in life, and for Abby, Uni life becomes everything she has ever dreamed of, as her friendship with Birch becomes closer and closer. She discovers the joys of parties, alcohol, the odd tote on a spliff, and most importantly, the joy of sexual conquest. With the sexually liberated Birch at her side, she lets go, and goes wild, and embraces her freedom with a passion. Abby has her eyes well and truley opened to the reality of life in the north, and even gets to meet some of Birch’s friends from home.
All of this takes place before the book starts, and is briefly referred to throughout the story, the book starts with Abby sat in thought and starting to panic, as the first year of Uni is almost over, and suddenly she is faced with the reality of going home for the summer, and she is terrified, as she has changed a great deal, especially her appearance, of which she understands, the villagers will never accept her new image.
Abigail’s Summer, is the story of her return home, accompanied by Birch and the reaction she gets from her parents, and the villagers. From the moment she arrives there is conflict and misunderstandings which causes chaos around the village. I strongly feel that this is a story many will relate to, as we have all been through that time in our life, where we look inside to work out who we really are, and seek the answers to who that is, and this story follows Abigail’s journey of self discovery.
The book is actually very true to life, and is based on the many real life experiences of either myself, or my friends, or people I have worked with, either in a counselling role or just as supportive friend. The story is gritty at times and has a few situations in it that will challenge people’s perceptions, as it deals with modern life head on. Compared to Heirs to the Kingdom, for those fans and readers, this does have some similar threads, but this is definitely not a fantasy story, although it is a work of fiction.
The main vehicle to drive the plot and the story is humour, and there are times when people will laugh, and as the chapter progresses, it will twist to show the cold reality of some aspects of life that we are all aware of, and yet in many cases choose to ignore. It does contain some very tongue in cheek moments reminiscent of Tom Sharp, or even the Carry On films of the seventies, and misunderstandings do open a situation up to some really funny moments in the story.
Birch is a wonderful character, who is calm in the centre of a whirlwind of madness and chaos, which is usually of her creation, and Abby plays off against that wonderfully as she panics and goes into meltdown, as she tries to control and maintain stability in the house. Through the story, the two of them attract others to them, the first being Debbie or Deb’s, who is at a different university in the south studying to be a biochemist, and the three of them become the core of the story and the endless strange and bizarre situations they find themselves in. It does not take the three of them very long to realise, the village has many hidden secrets of its own, and the hypocrisy of the residents becomes very apparent.
Like everything I write, there are strong themes and sub plots throughout the whole story, some relevant to this book, and some that will become apparent in the books that follow. In that aspect the story shares some similar aspects with HTTK, but this is a very modern story, that does confront some very current themes of the world today. Each crazy event is leading up to the final end of the book, which anyone who has read my books before knows, will twist in such a way, it will make for surprising reading.
I have allowed a few to read it prepublication, and I have some great feed back, and a few nervous looks, and raised eyebrows. The story is gritty in parts, and like most young teenagers of today, there is some foul language, and some scenes that are sexual. Is this a book of erotic fiction and sex, no it is not? I am not a lover of graphic sex books, and I like to think I add enough detail of description to paint a realistic picture, but it is not that graphic, if anything, it deals more with the inner dialogue of those involved in the act. It is a little more detailed than those moments of sexual involvement in HTTK, because for this book, it has to be, in Kingdom it was not completely relevant to the plot, but in this book, some of it is, especially as the book progresses into the rest of the series.
Ultimately there is a very important point of this first story, and it is very relevant for living today. I have used a fictional village, but the theme of this book and those that follow, which differ from book to book, do all address some important aspects of modern life, and I use a light hearted and almost comic way to deliver the story with impact, especially in the last three chapters.
I have been told this book will strongly appeal to women, and I can see that, it is after all written from Abigail’s point of view, something I have not done before, as I have always written from a narration point of view of an observer. I also think that males will learn a lot from this book, and enjoy it, ultimately, I will see after people have read it. This is not a fluff fiction, it is a serious story with some very important points in it, and a little after thought once the book has been read will show that. I think some age groups will be challenged by it, and not just the old, because the book does highlight how disconnected generations have become and why.
The Curio Chronicles no matter how challenging they may be for some readers, are an important set of books, with a very illuminating set of themes, and I am very happy with how they have turned out, and Abigail’s Summer is a great start to this series, and I really do think it should be on everyone’s reading list.
The irony of this story is, that in its first few weeks of issue to the public, it has been caught in the same problematic traps Abigail goes through in the book, of being restricted by those who feel they control everything. It has been hard to get the book out there, but ultimately, I really do feel if you order it and have to wait, it really is a book that is worth waiting for.
It will be interesting to watch how it goes over the coming months, and as always love it, or hate it, jump onto my FB page and comment about it.
My thanks to everyone who has supported my stories, I always appreciate your support, and I hope you enjoy Abigail’s Summer.