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Archive for the tag “adoption”

Guest Post by Sandra Danby ~ @SandraDanby

I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Sandra Danby back to my blog.  Her new book, ‘Connectedness’, the second in the Identity Detective series was published in paperback in April by Beulah Press and is also available as an eBook.

Sandra has written a guest post about how PD James influenced her work.


The influence of PD James

I’ve been a fan of PD James’ detective Adam Dalgliesh since I was a student and having gone back to the beginning to read Cover Her Face, I then bought each book as it was published. I don’t write crime fiction and never expected the Dalgliesh series to have such an influence on my own work but once I decided my identity detective Rose Haldane deserved her own series, I looked again at the structure used by PD James.

The key thing I learned was that each Dalgliesh novel tells the story of a murder and the people involved. Adam Dalgliesh gets involved once the murder is discovered but it is not his story, he is the conduit through which the story is told. This was an epiphany for me. Once I applied it to my own ideas for the ‘Identity Detective’ series, I could see it would work. Ignoring Gravity, the first, tells the story of journalist Rose Haldane, an adult who discovers she was adopted as a baby and was lied to all her life by her family, and her subsequent search for her true origins. Connectedness, my latest novel, is about Justine Tree, a birth mother now in her fifties who longs to find the baby daughter she gave away in the Eighties. Justine employs Rose as a kind of researcher to find her daughter. In the course of this book, Rose realizes she is good at this type of work, that she can become a detective of identities. I’m now writing Sweet Joy, third in the series, in which Rose is employed by an elderly lady to identify her parents who abandoned her in a house during The Blitz in London 1940.

Flash backwards to my writing group friends and the first time they read the complete manuscript of Connectedness. They were familiar with the story and characters, having read most of the chapters in isolation. But why, they asked, don’t you start with Rose? Because, I said, Connectedness is not about Rose; it’s about Justine. Worried I’d misjudged, I went back to a chapter-by-chapter analysis I did almost ten years ago of Original Sin, ninth in the Adam Dalgliesh series. He appears briefly in Chapter 4 when the body has been found – twenty five pages in – but his next viewpoint chapter is almost a third of the way through the book. Instead James patiently allows the story to unfold, told by the characters involved in the murder so the reader makes assumptions about what has happened and comes to know the characters involved. When Dalgliesh arrives on the scene however, he starts asking awkward questions so making the reader doubt his first impressions of people and events. And in this way, the mystery grows. I hope I’ve achieved a similar effect with Connectedness.


About ‘Connectedness’


Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.


About the ‘Identity Detective’ series

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.


About Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.


Author Links

‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z

‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd

Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/


Photos [all © Sandra Danby unless otherwise stated]:-

Author jpeg

CN cover jpeg

PD James – photo Murdo Macleod for The Guardian

PD James on Sandra’s bookshelf

Original Sin by PD James – Sandra’s own copy


Interview with Sandra Danby

Ignoring Gravity Cover

‘Ignoring Gravity’ was published last year and is the first book in a series.  Sandra Danby contacted me with regards to being interviewed.


Your book ‘Ignoring Gravity’ sounds very interesting.  Can you tell me a little bit about it please?

This is Rose Haldane’s story. She is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…


Where did you get your ideas for this book from?

Separate strands came together over many years, not in any conscious process. I’m not adopted, nor are my close friends, but from my childhood I was always fascinated about what makes us the people we become. How much is genetic, how much is learned behaviour, likes and dislikes, that we develop as we grow up, influenced by family, friends and where we live. If I had been born in a big city, rather than on a small dairy farm in Yorkshire, would I have longed to go to London to be a journalist? Was the drive to be a journalist in me thanks to some unknown relative two or three generations back? I turned these questions over and over in mind, and a story started to form. Most importantly, it left me with literally hundreds of questions.


Did you need to do any research for the adoption storyline? 

I read endlessly about adoption and particularly the social attitudes and adoption processes in the UK in the Sixties. It was a different world then: pre-computer, paper records, names were mis-spelled, records misplaced, many adoption agencies were private and when they closed down the files disappeared. Researching is so difficult: Google can’t find a piece of paper from 1963, or decipher some dodgy handwriting.

So many girls who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant were given an ultimatum by their parents: the baby goes or you do. It was so bleak. The secrecy was based on shame, and this still compounds the difficulties facing people today who are trying to trace relatives via records from the 1960s. There are many families out there today who don’t realize they have relatives they have never met, don’t know they exist. That teenage girl who gave birth to a child in the Sixties and gave it away in shame is today a grandmother or even great-grandmother. And many of these women are still keeping the secret. A husband may not know his wife had a secret baby. And there are adults now in their forties and fifties who were never told their true origins by their adoptive parents, so perpetuating the secrecy. Records are being opened up now, but the research trail is still fraught with dead-ends and distress.

It is an emotional goldmine for a novelist. The Rose Haldane series will consider the various viewpoints of people caught up in the adoption triangle. Ignoring Gravity is the story of an adult who discovers she is adopted. Connectedness is about a birth mother, searching for the child she gave away in the Eighties. Sweet Joy, the third in the series, is the story of an adult who was a foundling, a baby abandoned on a doorstep. And so on. Adoption is a complex subject and it is impossible to cover all angles, all emotions, all possibilities in one novel.


Can you relate to any of your characters?

Rose is adopted, and I’m not. Lily longs for a baby, which I never have. But I was a journalist and I did live in Wimbledon. The correct answer to your question is yes, I can relate to them, they are my creations. But they are not real people. I have a vivid imagination, always have had, so I let my imagination do the work.


When will the second book in the series be out?

I’m writing Connectedness at the moment and it’s going pretty well. I’m aiming for a publication date in late 2015/spring 2016. The characters are formed, the research is done, I just need to get the words down on paper. Meanwhile, the plot of the third book in the series is churning around in my brain too. So there’s a lot going on!


Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

Yes, I’m researching the Second World War for a novel idea which is maturing like good wine. It will be a few years I think before I have the space and time to write it, so I’m content to enjoy research at the moment.

At the same time as writing Connectedness, I also write regularly about creative writing at my blog http://www.sandradanby.com/blog/. I love reading and so cannot resist reviewing books for my blog. Some are advance preview copies and some are bought on recommendation from friends. Probably 50% are old favourites taken from my bookshelf or borrowed from the library and re-read with pleasure.

My second blog, Notes on a Spanish Valley http://notesonaspanishvalley.com/ is a diary about our life in the quiet countryside of Andalucía. Nature notes, recipes, our journey to self-sufficiency with solar power and spring water, and photographs of our beautiful hidden valley. It is an adventure to live here, and 900 followers share our Spanish journey.


Do you think that reviews help books sell?

I know that I buy books based on three things: book covers which catch my eye in a bookshop, usually passing through an airport or railway station; reviews in newspapers, magazines and book blogs; word of mouth recommendations from friends. On my Kindle are two books recommended to me by a friend who lives in Singapore: The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng.


Were you ever given any good advice about writing and if so what was it?

Don’t get hung up on word count when you’re writing. Just get it out, get the words down. Don’t count or keep a regular tally: that’s like trying to swim while wearing a strait-jacket. And definitely don’t re-write as you go along: that’s what re-drafting is for. Greg Mosse, author and creative writing teacher – and husband of Kate Mosse, author of The Languedoc Trilogy – said once that Kate’s first draft of Labyrinth was half a million words. Half a million! And I was worried that the first draft of Ignoring Gravity was 140,000 words. Greg’s point was: just let the story develop, and go where it takes you.


If you had a chance to live your life all over again would you still write books?

And read them too… absolutely, I can’t imagine ever doing anything else!


About Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. She started reading early and has never stopped. After a degree in English Literature in London, she became a journalist. She now writes fiction full-time.



Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Watch Sandra Danby talk about the inspiration for Ignoring Gravity: http://youtu.be/TcOzrhGRc48

Watch the book trailer for Ignoring Gravity: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

For the latest information about the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series by Sandra Danby, sign up for her newsletter [published 1-2 times a year]: http://www.sandradanby.com/about/

‘Finding Mother’ by Anne Allen


Last year I interviewed Anne Allen and asked her about ‘Finding Mother’, the second of her Guernsey novels.  You can read my interview with her here:-


Having previously reviewed Anne’s first novel I was very interested in reading ‘Finding Mother’ and recently got round to doing so.

Nicole was just three days old when Mary and Ian Le Clerq adopted her.  Now at 35 years old Nicole’s marriage is over and she feels the need to reassess her life and find out who she really is.  So she decides to search for her natural mother.  It doesn’t take Nicole very long to find her and she is soon on her way to Guernsey.

‘Finding Mother’ is a wonderful story which follows three generations of women.  It is a tale about family relationships, secrets, second chances, love and death.

I really enjoyed Anne Allen’s first novel ‘Dangerous Waters’ and I thought it was very good, but in my opinion I would say that this book is even better.  In fact it is excellent.  I liked Anne’s writing style throughout, the way she takes the reader to many different locations and her descriptions and I thought it clever how she included a couple of the characters from her first novel in this story too.  Absolutely superb!

I loved reading about Eve’s (the grandmother’s) past.  I found her tale to be very interesting and I couldn’t wait to learn more.  How she kept things to herself for so long I really do not know.

Through book reviewing I have discovered many new authors and read some fantastic books.  I can now say that Anne Allen has been added to my list of favourite authors.  I am looking forward to reading her latest novel ‘Guernsey Retreat’ and I really hope that Anne keeps writing.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

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