I began writing Asha And The Spirit Bird when I gave up teaching full-time to study for a masters degree in creative writing at Bath Spa University. A huge part of the course is committing to a story that you will develop into your thesis.
The tutors are fantastic and guide you towards writing something which you love and are passionate about. They encourage you to write the novel that only you can write.
I always knew that the story in my heart was one that would take me back to the country of my birth, a story which would be inspired by my majee (grandmother) and one that would be woven through with magic.
The seeds were sown with an image that kept popping into my head, one of a little girl on a farm in India, playing in the earth with water that she had collected from the well.
I couldn't shake this image away, so I began to take my family memories and twist them into a magical story. I asked myself lots of what-if questions...what if we had stayed on the farm? What if things got tough and my dad had to go off to the city to work? What if we had to borrow money to make ends meet and we couldn't pay it back? And what if our ancestors stay with us in spirit to help in times of need?
I did a lot of think-writing at the start of my process and one of the exciting things I do when I begin a story is to buy a special notebook - with plain paper so I can draw, stick interesting things into it, and be messy!
I talked to my mum about growing up in India and what it was like living on our farm. I studied our family's old black-and-white photos and imagined being back there. I actually heard voices and sounds when I concentrated. All my senses came alive.
I think this imagining, along with hearing vivid stories about my childhood, helped create a strong setting for Asha And The Spirit Bird.
My top-10 reads
The Greek Myths
The Borrowers -
The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase -
The Railway Children -
Charlotte Sometimes -
Journey To Joburg -
We Are Mesquakie We Are One -
The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe -
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