Season of Secrets
Things are difficult enough for Molly, with her mother gone and her father distant. But one day she sees a man running for his life and everything changes. Who is the stranger? Is he connected to the old god of her teacher's stories? And who is attacking him - and why?
About Season of Secrets
The roots of this novel come from the story of the green man, who is the pagan god of summer. A friend told me this story, and I was fascinated by the idea of a person so powerful that he can create summer across a whole world, but who is also incredibly vulnerable, because in order for winter to come, he must be killed.
I wanted to tell his story, but I wanted the story to be based in real life, and to have some relevance to a modern child. I decided to use his cycle of death and rebirth to represent the grief-story of a child whose mother has just died. Like winter, grief isn't something that happens once and then goes away forever. But I wanted to show that hope does come back. And after writing Ways to Live Forever, I wanted this book to end happily.
Like Ways to Live Forever, Season of Secrets has a lot of things which come from real life. The reason Molly lives with her grandparents over a shop is because when my father was a child, he lived with his great aunt and uncle over a newsagent's. I never knew my father, but the way my mum described his childhood - the kind, old-fashioned couple who let him sleep in their bed because it was the warmest place in the flat - always made it sound like such a cosy, safe place to be.
A lot of the plans Molly and Emily have are for things my friends and I also wanted to do when I was a child. I remember reading Noel Streatfeild's A Vicarage Family and being very impressed that she'd captured that wonderful feeling of possibility - and also our tendency to spend our time planning rather than actually doing.
I'm pleased to say that I managed to get some of my things done.
Molly is a harder character to write about than Sam, for several reasons. Sam doesn't like to talk about being sad - he just gives you the space and lets you fill in the details. But Molly is much more emotionally-driven than Sam is and she spends a lot of autumn and winter feeling very sad.
My first drafts had a lot of chapters with Molly moaning about her mum or how much she misses her cat. I took most of these out because they depressed me. But I then had to work with Molly's need to tell you about how she's feeling without letting it take up all of the book.
Season of Secrets works like Ways to Live Forever in reverse. Both are books of two halves, with each half having a very different tone. Both have a significant event which happens somewhere in the middle and changes everything.
The sad story in this book - the dead mother and the absent father - comes from a book I read written by a woman who looked after foster children. She once cared for a family of six children after their mother died and their father wasn't able to have them. After a year, the father remarried and the children went back home.
I originally wanted to write a book about those six children, but I hit two problems. Firstly, I'm better at stories that are centred around one character and secondly, I didn't really have enough plot for a whole book. In the end I took the interesting bit of their story - how do you cope with a father who obviously loves you, but who abandons you? - and gave it to Molly and Hannah.