What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards – and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand?
Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha’s discovery of a journal and Emily’s sightings of a ‘future ghost’. Each takes courage from the other’s predicament – after all, what’s a hundred years between friends?
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I guess I always knew in some sense, or at least from my teens, but finished pieces — poems and short stories — were few and far between. It sounds like a cop out, but as a divorced parent, I needed the regular day job. Working in libraries helped keep the ambition alive and once I retired and discovered a supportive writing community in Frome, I was able to do something about it.
- What inspired you to write this book?
Eighteen years of working in a college in Tower Hamlets! I didn’t live in the area, but I used to go for walks at lunchtime and speculate about the Victorian houses in the terraces and squares near my workplace. These dwellings which had survived the Blitz had clearly been home to prosperous families in the nineteenth century — they weren’t the slums we tend to associate with the old East End — and I liked to contrast these past residents with those currently living there. The whole area was full of such contrasts as the Canary Wharf development grew ever higher and the new financial centres looked down on the traditional market stalls.
The novel has two time frames and the earlier Edwardian narrative belongs to the age in which my grandparents grew up so there are probably echoes of the stories they told me; the 21st century thread owes a huge debt to friends, students and colleagues from the local Bangladeshi community in the area where I worked.
- If you could sell this book in one sentence what would it be?
My blurb includes a quote from the book: What’s a hundred years between friends. Or I could paraphrase an Amazon reviewer: On the surface it’s a story of the supernatural, but it’s also a study of the lives of young women now and a century ago.
- What are you up to next?
I’m writing a novel set in first half of the twentieth century, largely in Somerset, where I’ve lived since 2010. I missed the alternating eras of The Tissue Veil, so although the new book is one story I’ve decided to chop it up a bit rather than continue the linear approach I started with. I’m also involved with the running of the Frome Festival Short Story Competition and with Silver Crow Books, an new initiative from Frome Writers’ Collective.
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
In writing, there are so many authors that it’s impossible to say; but in general, my kids. My son has worked hard to support his family and make a career for himself in the USA and discovered a talent for acting and directing in community theatre. My daughter is a balloon artist and trainer extraordinaire, positive thinker and manager of a training restaurant. They both have talents I could never aspire to!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years. This germ of a story became ‘The Tissue Veil’.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers’ Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she’ll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of Thomas Cromwell’s story.
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