Monday 3 August 2020

Jigsaw Island by Lynne McVernon BLOG TOUR @lynnemcvernon #JigsawIsland @RandomTTours

On a holiday escape to the Greek islands, Annie Buchanan discovers what – and then who – is missing from her life… When single mother, Annie, and son Jude take a break away from Scotland to stay with her brother and friends on Symi, they find the warmth and support they need. As they ease into the relaxed rhythm of island life, old and new acquaintances change the course of their vacation. Whether it's for better or worse, Annie will discover when she visits the island of Leros. There she may be able to put together some of the missing pieces in her life and learn who her friends really are. But she cannot be prepared for some uncomfortable truths about the past and the dramatic way in which they will change the present for her... and Jude.

Jigsaw Island by Lynne McVernon was published in July 2020. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you.

ANNIE – June


‘Finding out where we come from helps us know where we want to go.’

Jude’s with the Westies on the strand. Gulls wheeling against a blinding white sky, needle cries, salt breeze buffing his skin, the slosh of a rogue wave drenching his trainers. Accidentally on purpose. Off the lead, Jack will stick close by him but Tatty will rush barking into the water regardless of the temperature or swell. He’ll dry the worst off her then slap the sodden towel against the fence on the way back up the lane. Jack is trotting obediently at his

side, naughty Tatty back on the lead. She’s an old lady now, should know better.

So, too, should Jude. Exclusion isn’t intended as a holiday at the seaside, even if it’s your home. I’m the one doing a detention, keeping an eye on him, going to work, running the house and, not least, starting the search. I return to the screen, hoping he’s remembered to put the dogs’ muzzles on when they leave the beach, and re-read the advice. The words lunge back at me.

‘...while people are not legally required to have a Counselling Interview, many adopted people have found it helpful and useful to meet with an adoption social worker.’
I have a personal dilemma over the Counselling Interview. To be honest, more of an internal fist fight. My polar positions are these: if I don’t go for counselling, I’ll be Annie Mega- Ego for being a know-all. If I do go, I could well start telling the counsellor her – or his – own job.
‘You’re a cocky besom, Annie,’ is what Granny Buchanan used to say to me, often followed by, ‘You take after your –’ Then she’d stop, and I’d wonder why. She knew, you see, genetically anyway, I couldn’t take after anyone in the family. But before she and I could have the nature versus nurture discussion, Granny did a bunk to that great distillery in the sky.
I was eleven, younger than Jude now, when Rosemary – Mum – told me I was adopted. It was just after my not-adopted brother, Fraser, found his courage and took off to points global. Thoughtful of her, what with me adoring the very guitar strings he plucked. He said, later, he’d been on pain of his life not to tell me I was adopted. Helluva big secret for a boy to keep, especially with me being as annoying as I’m sure I was. I was angry with him for not saying, though, I thought we were closer than that. Even so, I still missed him every nanosecond. It was around then I started calling my parents Rosemary and George, like he did, neither of us to their faces, though. Later, when The Truman Show came out, it was like watching the story of my life; nothing Truman and I had relied on was true.
Current thinking is that telling a child about their adoption should happen much earlier than I was, pre-school being the preferred age. What could I have told Jude when he was pre- school? There was certainly nothing appropriate I could have said about his father. And I was still in education myself. Bearing all this in mind, the least I can do, now, is give him some certainty. First there’s my tracing my birth family, then, if he wants, a DNA test on him to find out whether his daddy really did come from Zanzibar (ha!) or was just an Ali G impersonator from Tower Hamlets. All he knows now is that his father did a disappearing act. He accepts it because he knows he isn’t the only kid without a dad.
I had a WhatsApp chat with Shona, about it. She’s not adopted, definitely would have mentioned it, so she can’t really know what it’s like. One of her gems was: ‘Knowing where you come from wouldn’t change who or what you are now’. She’s right in a way, it wouldn’t, but it would give me the past that was taken from me. And it would mean Jude had at least some roots, given his father was a tacky question mark.
As for me, his mother? I’m an unfinished puzzle of some kind: my own birth parents – missing; true identity of Jude’s father – missing; reason for failed relationship – missing; any kind of relationship – missing; any reason for all the dire bits of my life – missing. Would finding those pieces make me feel whole? It’s inconvenient I’m not a celebrity or the BBC would swoop in and do a Who do you think you are? programme on me. I’d insist it was narrated by my childhood imaginary friend, Bill Paterson, the actor. I believed Mr Paterson was real, he’d been on telly so he had to be. He wouldn’t have known me from a Tunnock’s Wafer. For now, I imagine his voiceover to this scenario:

‘We follow Annie to the Public Records Office in Glasgow where we discover that she is the secret lovechild of David Bowie and Chrissie Hynde’.

Like I’d get that lucky.

Lynne's writing career got off to a precocious start when, aged eight, she was commended for a short story by head teacher, Mr Barker, a success crowned by winning threepence, less than 1p today, for spelling 'sphere'. Thereafter, it all went downhill. At nine, she sent a short story to The Evening Standard. It was rejected. At ten, she entered BBC Children's TV Write A Play competition. Got nowhere. After fifteen years, following art school, university, a trainee directors' bursary, and with a lot of stage sweeping and making tea for actors along the way, she (partially) recognised defeat and became a theatre director, directing a range of plays from Dario Fo to Shakespeare. Still unable to let go of the compulsion to write and, inspired by Mike Leigh, she produced many devised, co-written and self-penned productions. She also taught at drama schools, dramatised 3 Dickens novels for the stage, adapted classics for BBC Radio and founded a young people's creative writing company, Fable Productions. Her first novel, Terrible With Raisins, was self-published in 2013; Jigsaw Island, published 30 June 2020, is her second. Both books were inspired by the endlessly captivating Dodecanese Islands and their people.

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