I am pleased to say hi to author, Sandra Danby. As well as sharing an extract with me today, she is also talking about her latest novel, Connectedness and the origin of her story.
To the outside world, artist Justine Tree has it all but she always has a secret that threatens to destroy everything.
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
Thanks for joining me today, Sandra. Over to you…
When I was writing Connectedness, second in my ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption mysteries, I didn’t realise how much I was writing about food. Then a blogger friend who reviewed the book sent me an email saying I had presented her with a difficult biscuit dilemma.
While biscuits are something that remind Justine Tree of her childhood in Yorkshire, coffee is about romance in Spain. When she arrives as an art student in Málaga, Justine struggles to order a decent cup of coffee.
Then she meets Spanish student Federico who appreciates her difficulty and tries to help. I wrote this scene early in the genesis of the book and recreated it in our local bar in Spain, much to the bemusement of the waiter. I ordered six cups of coffee and tasted each in turn. The result was that I realised I liked café con leche, and my husband chose sombra. This is the coffee scene where Justine meets Federico for the first time.
****** start of extract*****
‘No quieres café?’ He looked at her as if she had asked for champagne.
Quickly Justine explained the difficulty she had ordering coffee, and then waited as Federico and the waiter exchanged a rapid dialogue interspersed with lots ofsí’sand no’s and much gesturing.
Finally Federico nodded. ‘Sí, vale.’
The waiter soon returned carrying a tray with six cups on it. Nodding first at Federico then at Justine, he retreated to the restaurant door beneath the shade cast by a large eucalyptus tree and watched.
Federico arranged the cups in a line, with the darkest brew on the left and the palest on the right.
‘You know how the waiter he know una personais tourist?’
She shook her head.
‘A tourist is a ‘café con leche’because he no know how order café.’
‘Yes,’ she said and the blush edged her sun-reddened face a shade nearer to deep Cadmium Red. ‘That’s what the waiters give me.’
Tomorrow I will read my phrase book and learn to speak Spanish properly.
He pointed to the cup at the opposite end of the line, a tiny cup with about half an inch of black coffee inside.
‘Café solo. We drink it with azucár.’
He stirred in two heaped spoonfuls of white sugar and passed it to her. She sipped and pursed her lips at the bitter black taste. She put it back in line and wished she hadn’t agreed to the test.
He passed her a tall glass mug filled with black coffee.
‘Café largo. Is same as solobut con agua caliente. Try.’
Before the mug reached her mouth, her lips were pursing in anticipation of bitterness.
Next to the café largowas a medium-sized cup.
‘Café cortado.’ Federico handed her the cup. ‘Cortadoit mean cut. Not strong.’
She dutifully sipped, then shook her head. This was getting embarrassing.
‘Nubeis cloud,’ he waved at the sky, which was one hundred per cent blue, and then at the next cup. ‘Pequenitocoffee y leche,’ and he held up two fingers, pinched together.
This time she smiled, and took a second sip.
‘Sí.My sister, my little lioness, she has nine years and this cafelitoshe drink.’
Justine’s heart sank. Was her sense of taste so immature she was drinking coffee made for Spanish children? She considered the cup of café soloand wondered if she could acquire the taste. Federico was watching her patiently.
It’s what he drinks.
Federico passed her another glass. ‘This is sombra. It is more milk. Creamy.’
Justine expected to hate the sombrabut with her first sip she was at home in the kitchen at Seaview Cottage, sitting at the table doing her homework, a mug of milky Nescafé and the biscuit tin at her elbow. Garibaldis, shortbread, custard creams, those odd milk biscuits with the pictures of sportsmen made of dots. Comfort food.
‘I like this one.’
And I like you too, she wanted to add, but her courage failed her. Federico made her feel shy and bold, all at once.
***** end of extract*****
Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills.
Connectedness was released by Beulah Press in April 2018. Click to view on Amazon.
About the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases.
The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma.
In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again.