Launch date Friday 31st March!
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ABOUT THE BOOK: Clara Day, a naïve university student becomes entangled within the world of espionage. An affair with her lecturer pulls her into contact with people who work to unwritten rules and hide in the shadows. As she struggles to free herself from the shackles of acute shyness and the interference of smothering parents, in order to decide who she is and what she wants to do in her life, others have ideas of their own as to what she will do.
Those she turns to for help – are they her friends or not?
As the sands constantly shift beneath her feet, she must untangle those she can trust from those she can’t. She struggles to cling to her beliefs and own goals to prevent her experiences from destroying her.
BACKGROUND TO CLARA DAY: In the beginning it is October 1985 and Clara is in the first term of her second year at university in Worcester. She grew up in rural isolation, in a tiny village nestled within the Quantock Hills, Somerset. Her mother is not keen for her to go university, and undermines Clara’s own confidence in her ability to cope, even in a relatively small and friendly university.
However, she makes a few friends, immerses herself in her studies and starts to unfurl. Her timidity makes her observant and her quietness allows her to slide through university unnoticed – usually. Shy and unsure of herself she hides in her books and dreams: And then she meets Luke and daydreams and reality collide. Life changes and so Clara has to, too. It spins her down a path she could not have imagined, even in her wildest dreams.
This story is set in the mid-1980s against the historical and political backdrop of the final years of the Cold War, when IRA terrorist activity was constant news, Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister and the famine in Ethiopia finally made world news. It was before everyone had mobile phones, Sade, and Madonna were in the charts, Live Aid was going to ‘save Africa’ and Back to the Future III and Greystoke were in the cinema.
Dear Lizzie, my special and much loved grand-daughter.
If you are reading this, I will be gone. Please do not mourn me, I will be happy. And do not cry for yourself because your tears will blur your vision, and I need you to read this note quickly, and then destroy it.
Lizzie, looking back, my life has been foolishness – a lot of foolishness, how I chuckle over it and shake my head! I spent my life disregarding and ignoring love, when it was beside me all the time. I was driven to save lives as some kind of compulsion, but all those lives I saved – most of them did not even know they had been saved. I beat men at their own game – but they never knew – or most of them anyway…
My obituary will be a lie.
I didn’t think I would mind slipping anonymously from this life, leaving what I did unknown and unrecorded. But as the end is in sight I find that I do mind. I also realise that need to. I want to tell it to you, my dear – I thought you may want to use it as the basis of your first novel – I have faith in your writing ability. I suggest you change the names, disguise us all; And dear, make me a little more attractive than I was, or no-one will think much of your main character!
I must also confess to you Lizzie, that I am driven by anger: When my beloved gasped his last breath, ‘They’ were at his bedside almost before his family. Before his body was cold they had stripped his house – our house – of every written word, every document, every remnant of him and all the work he did. ‘Top security’ they muttered as they left us. How dare they!
The same will not happen to me! Let them come – they will find nothing to gather, nothing to harvest where they look. I will appear to leave without footprint, without echo – Always take people by surprise Lizzie – a good life lesson.
Lizzie, in the parcel with this letter is my walking stick. It is very important – one of the only three material things in this world that I treasure. One of the other items of personal value is in the top of the cane – twist the silver top thrice and a lever will pop out. Click and turn it and the top will open. The tiny space inside is just large enough to hold a tablet of arsenic – but I have need of that now my dear. In its place is my engagement ring – for you – and an encrypted microchip. These three things – the walking stick, the engagement ring and the story of my life (You will have no difficulty with the password to decipher the encryption, if you think about the stories that bind us.) is what I bequeath to you, with my love.
What is most important to me, is that you will know my story: You will know who I am – who I was and how I became that person. You will know what to do next.
Now, Lizzie, do not get distracted, dear. You need to hide away the stick and microchip (you can wear the ring). Deny their existence. Should a stranger ask you about either, deny all knowledge – this is important Lizzie – let no-one know I have given them to you. If after having read my story you decide to follow me into my business then the walking stick will let everyone know you are my granddaughter and to listen to you. Xx
Love Nana Clara
Let the story begin!
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