Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Write Stuff with... Nikola Scott

Today it's my stop on the My Mother's Shadow blog tour and it's my absolute pleasure to hand the blog over to Nikola Scott to talk about her Library Love.

I now know that pretty much every writer has a library love affair to confess to, but growing up I thought that particular obsession was entirely my own. Along with my special reading chair (an ancient rocking chair that was eventually discovered to be worm-infested and had to be carted off to the skip, an event that had me in mourning, much like I imagine the death of a beloved pet), my second-favourite place in the world was the library in town. This was back in the day when children could just yell a random ‘Back at 5’ in the direction of the living room and no parent would bat an eye. I was a reasonably social child, so some of those afternoons I must have run off actually playing, but in my memory, most of it was spent at the library. 

It was blissfully quiet and the décor was reassuringly seventies-inspired, with green felt flooring and checkered sofas and an oversized woodsy-looking train filled with picture books. Everyone there loved books as much as I did and no one would tell you off for simply sinking to the floor wherever you stood, cracking open a book and starting to read.

That particular reading room in that particular library was where my love of fiction was born. To this day, I can still remember the stories I read there, the fictional friends I made, the amazing worlds I discovered. If pressed, I could tell you the exact locations of my favourite books on the shelves back then. Little House on the Prairie series to the right by the windows. Anne of Green Gables by the door. Mary Poppins further up. The whole gamut of Enid Blyton spread across three higher shelves and perpetually checked out, forcing you to read out of order. Just like those books are a map of my childhood, so is the memory of slipping back and forth between those green wooden shelves and picking out books to the soothing melody of pages whispering and the slightly tetchy voice of the librarian from the desk. There was a brief dismayed week when I realised I had actually read every single book in that room, followed by the dawning joy that I could, quite simply, start all over again. And then the day when I didn’t take my usual left down the children’s corridor, but went straight and started furtively poking about the grown-up shelves.

Since then, wherever I’ve moved, one of the first things I’ve done is to take out a membership in the library, although nothing will ever quite replace the magic of ‘my’ library. So when I take my children back to my hometown, we always go to check it out, and my boys kindly indulge me, much in the same way they would if you showed them your old school or a favourite café. It’s much changed, of course, to keep with the changing times, but the smells and sounds are almost exactly the same. And that unique feeling that you get from a beloved library – of colour and brightness, quiet and shelter, of possibility and passion – all that is exactly the way I still remember. 

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets...

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother's illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous...

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie's sister, she is stunned. Is everything she's been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of...and the one night that changed a young girl's life for ever.

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