Andrea Faye Christians
When that great power – known to some of us as God or Allah and to others as just the Universe - plucked my soul from eternity and sent it down into an earthly body I wonder what it was thinking. I'm sure I was quite happy up there zipping around the cosmos as some celestial orb or whatever I was. Indeed, the question of what I am exactly doing here is one that has plagued me intermittently all my life and now, in my fifth decade, I'm no nearer to answering it – but t hrough it all there has been one real solace that has brought me endless comfort and a sense of purpose, and that is writing.
Putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard is something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. I still recall my mother’s “What Now!” expression as a teacher called her to one side at a parents meeting. I was the child who could have earned air miles for my trips to “the naughty corner” and I can still see the look of astonishment on my mother's face as the teacher revealed page after page of stories written in my five-year-old hand.
Fast forward a few years and the post-pubescent version of me thought I'd have a crack at writing a Mills and Boon romance that were all the rage at the time. I still remember sending off my manuscript – that bulky brown envelope winging its way, along with my fifteen-year-old dreams of becoming a ground breaking young writer. I never heard anything back, which I suppose qualifies as my first rejection.
My first job after college is in the Police Control Room in my birth city of Swansea, South Wales, where, after a couple of weeks I am told that I'm to present the traffic news on the local radio station A sleepless night ensued, with the script shaking in my hand as the microphone clicked live at 7 am the following morning. Little did I know then that this was the start of a twenty-year radio career that would eventually take me to work in Malta, a former British colony, nestled between Sicily and North Africa.
Several years later, and still in Malta, I welcome a baby girl into the world as a sister to my six-year-old son. With two young children, my radio career goes on hold, and I start to write for magazines. By the time my daughter is at preschool I'm working for several along with writing for newspapers who are often in competition with one another. Thank goodness for pen names!
The Millennium was a milestone for everyone and for me signalled a return to work in British radio. Six years pass during which I work for two radio stations and rediscover my childhood love of horses. In April 2006 I did what all intelligent people do: give up a great job, sell the house, and pack up my family that now also included a dog and five horses, and drive a 30-foot truck to begin a new life in a dilapidated farm in Sicily.
The dolce vita beckoned but getting there didn't prove easy. The 1,300-mile journey ended up taking eight days and saw us driving in rush hour Paris with half a gear box and literally running the lorry down a hill to get it onto the ferry in Calabria.
I can’t remember ever feeling so exhausted in my life, but despite arriving at 4 am in the morning with a police escort through the mountains as the roads had been damaged in recent floods, half the local village turned out to welcome us.
That new chapter seemed a perfect time to start memoir, and I promise myself that I will one day finish Candle in My Ear as the horse-riding holiday centre we set up has, to date. hosted 65 nationalities and witnessed flash floods, wildfires, a nearby mafia murder and all sorts of shenanigans that make for perfect writing fodder.
The last decade has been no less tumultuous. With a son based in Malta and a daughter in Sicily , I ricochet between the two neighbouring islands. Writing, through all the ups and downs, has remained the one constant.
The story that became Suspension had been formulating for several years. Every time I flew back to the UK and returned to where I grew up in Swansea, I would pass below the Clifton Suspension Bridge and marvel at the magnificence of a structure that was so ahead of its time. That bridge is also near a major film studio and a fitting location, I thought, for a film or a mini-series.
As I researched local history a story took shape. Some of Suspension is influenced by historical events, along with events from my own life and from those of people I've met. Writers are, after all, like sponges , and things that happen to me or those around me have inadvertently found themselves onto the pages. For example, the opening scene at the beginning of Suspension was related to me by a friend whilst Buster the dog really exists (her name is Buffy). Others are composite characters with attributes taken from real people - such as Carla's mismatched eyes of brown and blue that were like those of to my grandmother, whilst the red hair is my own.
I finally completed Suspension, the first novel in the Time Binder series , in Spring 2020. During the process I came to realise that writing a book requires significant stamina and that, above all else, it's about staying the course, even when shrouded by self-doubt and despair. I thank my publisher, Echo Garret of Lucid House Publishing along with friends and loved ones, for encouraging me to keep going during the dark times.
Soon after finishing my first novel, I knew that a shift had occurred, a door unlocked, and it wasn't long before I had a sequel in mind
Happenstance, Book 2 of the Time Binder series, is scheduled for release by Lucid House in Spring 2024. Once again, I have taken a number of real historical characters and events and woven them into the story. I think its quite different from Suspension but hopefully it will enthral readers who have eagerly awaited the second instalment. Happenstance promises to be another roller coaster ride with lots of twists and turns.
Andrea Faye Christians
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