My new novel, Drumbeats, is the first of a trilogy following Jess through her life. Drumbeats starts it all off in the mid-1960s as eighteen year old English student, Jess, flees to West Africa on a gap year, escaping her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is, and do some good in the world, but little does she realise what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past or will it always haunt her?
The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury 2013! Well who remembers the 1960s? Sadly, me! Or those of us who weren’t around then but have fallen in love with the era since? The era of the Rolling Stones, of course, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Spencer Davis Group. Who remembers dancing with mad arms and wriggles to the strains of Roll over Beethoven, Love Me Do, Get Offa My Cloud, Honky Tonk Woman, or smooching to Hey, hey baby, I wanna know-ow-ow if you’ll be my girl, Roy Orbison’s Cryin’ (over you)? The era of monochrome mini skirts, oversized sunglasses, the Mary Quant full-fringed bob, and white knee high laced boots? Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay, or the Tremalos’ Hippie Hippie Shake at the Saturday night “hop”?
My new novel that’s due out next spring, Drumbeats, the first of a trilogy, is set in the 1960s and I’ve been doing my research and rummaging in my cupboards over the past few months, finding memorabilia, old photographs, books, diaries, letters…A friend of mine, Pauline Barclay, of FamousFivePlus.com, has also just published a book set in the 1960s, 1965 to be precise, and she asked me to write a piece for her new blog publicising her book, Storm Clouds gathering. It was to be commemorating 1965 and reflecting upon memories. I decided to send her a couple of the photos I unearthed for my book, and she has published them, along with my text, on The Hippie Shake at http://paulinembarclay.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-hippie-shake.html
My contribution to Pauline’s site and my book Drumbeats is about West Africa, Ghana, to be precise. The photos are genuine authentic pics, taken on my old Brownie camera at the time, and which had then been printed as transparencies/slides for me to use for the talks I gave when I returned to the UK. Technology over the past 50 years has progressed of course, and I never though that I’d be able to use them now. But last year I hit upon a wonderful device (the Busbie) which enables me to digitalise the slides as pics on my computer! So here’s the first of them, below, as a taster for my new book.
Drumbeats is about Jess 18, who flees to escape her stifling family to Ghana as a volunteer teacher and nurse in the African bush. She’s on a gap year before going on to university and a career. The book is about love and loss, adventure and tragedy, and it’s the story of coming of age, growing up, and finding yourself.
So, to the first photo in the run up to my book. It’s of my first steps on African soil, the Airport Hotel in Accra, where I spent my first night in Ghana. We landed late, after dark, but it was so hot that the chocolate I had bought on the plane melted. The air was full of the noises of drumbeats, cicadas and mosquitos. I ate groundnut stew and pounded fufu for dinner, followed by pureed pawpaw, and it was delicious! I went to bed under a mosquito net for the first time in my life, and couldn’t believe how hot it was. Even the next morning at 7 o’ clock the temperature was over 94 degrees. Coming from the UK where it was 15 degrees, it was incredible.