I am delighted to be welcoming author Rachael Featherstone to Sarah’s Vignettes today. Rachael’s debut novel Puzzle Girl is out in paperback this month and she has written a beautiful piece to share with you about the inspiration behind the story. It’s straight from the heart and I am honoured to be featuring it. There is also a chance for you to win a copy of the book.
Thank you to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book to be reviewed on Sarah’s Vignettes soon.
~ Publisher’s Description ~
Love is a riddle waiting to be solved… Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?
~ Guest Post from Rachael Featherstone ~
I’m often asked what inspired me to write Puzzle Girl. In a nutshell: my mum. But that doesn’t do her justice. It’s hard to put into words just how much of an inspiration my mum was for this book. She wasn’t just the base of a character or a cheerleader for my writing process. Without her, Puzzle Girl would never have existed, the idea or the physical book.
I was 23 when I found out my mum (aged 45) had terminal ovarian cancer. The news was devastating but my mum didn’t let it stop her from living every minute of her life to the fullest. She travelled, she fundraised, she did chemo and alternative treatments, she embraced a raw food diet and positive thinking. She surpassed the doctors’ expectations. She had always been an inspiration to me, bringing me up by herself, going to university as a mature student to become a primary school teacher when I was young. But during her illness she showed me just how strong she really was.
I tried to hold it together, but I needed an outlet for the emotions I was feeling. When I was a self-conscious teenager, the first book that offered me true escapism and made me laugh-out-loud was Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. So it just seemed to make sense – at a time when I really needed to find reasons to laugh – to try writing a romantic comedy.
The idea for Puzzle Girl began to take shape while I was sat in a hospital waiting room with my mum. There was a stack of magazines. I began wondering what would happen if someone had left a message in one of them and the story grew from there. While none of the book is based on true events or people, my mum was the catalyst for writing the book and I wanted her reflected in the story in some way.
At one point in the novel, Cassy (for reasons I will leave you to discover!) finds herself reluctantly in a yoga class. My mum only trained to be a yoga teacher when I was older so it’s not often how I remember her but many people do. She touched so many people’s lives. She was the sunshine on a rainy day. That’s why I created Letitia Sunshine.
My mum died before I finished my book but she never doubted I would get it published one day. When she was in the hospice, I read her the Letitia Sunshine passage and it is so special to me. Puzzle Girl has gone through HUGE structural changes since then, but the short scene with Letitia Sunshine is almost unchanged from the original. Knowing my mum heard that part is so incredibly important to me.
Writing Puzzle Girl was in many ways a coping mechanism for what was going on in my life at the time. Puzzle Girl is more than just my debut novel, it contains a memory, a part of my history and a link to my mum, that I will always cherish. I hope reading Puzzle Girl offers you some escapism and makes you laugh whether on a rainy day or in the sunshine!
~ Where to find Puzzle Girl ~
~ Giveaway ~
For your chance to win a paperback copy of Puzzle Girl, click on the button below. The giveaway is open until 12am on 20 January 2019. A winner will be announced shortly afterwards. UK entries only please. Good luck!! Full terms and conditions are below the entry button.
*Terms and Conditions –UK and Ireland entries only. Please enter using the button above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Sarah’s Vignettes will delete the data. Sarah’s Vignettes is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
~ About Rachael Featherstone ~
Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.
When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.
Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.
~ Follow the tour ~
Do drop by the other blogs on the Puzzle Girl tour!