June 5, 2017 | See you in September by Charity Norman is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99, available now.
It’s great to welcome author Charity Norman to the blog to share her writing process with such honesty and humour.
Here’s a little about her latest novel, See You in September:
Cassy smiled, blew them a kiss. ‘See you in September,’ she said. It was a throwaway line. Just words uttered casually by a young woman in a hurry. And then she’d gone.
It was supposed to be a short trip-a break in New Zealand before her best friend’s wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they’d see her again.
Having broken up with her boyfriend, Cassy accepts an invitation to stay in an idyllic farming collective. Overcome by the peace and beauty of the valley and swept up in the charisma of Justin, the community’s leader, Cassy becomes convinced that she has to stay.
As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group’s rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home-before Justin’s prophesied Last Day can come to pass.
Some writers are superbly disciplined. They rise at crack of dawn, bright-eyed, and go for a bracing power walk before putting in a day’s work, breaking only for green tea and yoga stretches. They have tidy desks and daily word targets. They plan their lives, and stick to the plan.
This is not me. When working at home my writing space, generally, is the kitchen table – complete with spilled honey and coffee rings. I put off work for days, then binge on it for weeks at a time, which leads to a stiff neck and sore fingers. I write until the early hours (2 am is a very productive time for me) but struggle to get up in the morning. I fall prey to every kind of distraction: cuddling the cats, phoning my family, emails, bills, checking what outrageous thing Trump just did, wishing that Facebook friend a happy birthday.
I find a steady hum of background noise helps me to focus. I work best in the public library and even better in a café. In fact – between you and me – sometimes I play downloaded café sounds through my headphones. All that milk frothing, coffee grinding and murmur of conversation seems to work like magic on my brain.
I live in hope that I’ll learn to bounce out of bed at six, keep to that daily word target, and have an ergonomically organized desk in an immaculate writing room. My husband wishes the same thing, but he’s realistic. Dream on, he says. Never going to happen.
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law in the northeast of England. Also a mediator, she is passionate about the power of communication to slice through the knots. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. Her first novel, Freeing Grace, was published in 2010 and her second, Second Chances, in 2012 (published in the UK as After the Fall). The Son-in- Law, her third novel, was published in 2013. Her fourth novel, The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone (published in the U.K. as The New Woman) was published in 2015.