Rue End Street is the sequel, as meticulously researched as Mavis’s Shoe, and takes us the length of the Clyde Estuary and all the dangers and turmoil of the port of Greenock, known during WW2 as ‘Port Number One’.
Sue has appeared on TV and radio talking about her work and is available for events and workshops.
Her advice to new writers is: ‘Do it and keep doing it until you know what you’re doing. Do it everybody else’s way but finish with doing it your own. Learn to run. I mean real physical running as in jogging if you can. I ran before I wrote seriously. What I learned about running taught me a lot about how to write. Writing anything good, especially long stuff like novels, requires massive stamina, awareness of your environment and awareness of yourself.’
During her desperate search for her mum and sister, Lenny finds a shoe she thinks belongs to Mavis and it becomes her talisman in the days that follow. Lenny is forced to flee over the hills to the hut community of Carbeth in the company of a scary neighbour, Mr Tait, her old school teacher, Miss Weatherbeaten, and little Rosie, a girl who is oddly like Mavis. With Mr Tait’s help she finds her mother but still no Mavis.
It is left to Lenny herself in a desperate act to return to the terrifying scenes of devastation and search amongst the rubble for her little sister. This is a powerful story, suitable for ages 10+, and it celebrates the importance of family, friends and supporting each other in a community.
Written by Glasgow writer, Sue Reid Sexton, who has worked with war veterans and as a counsellor specialising in trauma, this book is extensively researched and covers what went on in Clydebank, Glasgow and Carbeth during this harrowing time in Scotland’s history.
Buy your copy here ~ AMAZON UK
Q&A ~ The Real You ~ Sue Reid Sexton
Describe yourself using three words?
Truth conquers all.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I met my friend’s elderly aunt at a party and she told me about the Clydebank Blitz, a huge bombing incident which happened over two nights in 1941 and devastated that town. She had lived through it. I knew nothing about it until then and was horrified when I began my research.
What time of day do you like to write?
I write best in the early morning when no-one else is up but this isn’t often practical. I also go off in my tiny campervan when I need peace to submerge myself in a project for a few days, or even a day.
What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have a favourite book. I’ve been inspired by too many books to choose one.
How did you pick the title of your book?
Mavis’s shoe is the central image of the book. Lenny keeps it with her like a talisman, the last thing that links her to her little sister who goes missing. This is common with people who have suffered loss and trauma.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
The main characters are not based on real people, but their experiences are derived from the real experiences of people who lived through the Clydebank Blitz or other similar bombings, or who went for safety to Carbeth, the hut community north of Clydebank, during the war. There are also one or two people in it who really did exist.
What’s your favourite word?
I can’t choose one favourite word because it’s combinations of words that are really interesting.
If you were a colour what would it be?
As with words, it’s the combination of colours that interest me, and my personal colours change every day.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
I do a bit of both. I plan characters and settings and so on and I might have a rough outline of beginning, middle and end, and perhaps a few stepping stones in between. If I try and plan too much I get bored when I get down to writing it.
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
I only eat real food with real people.
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Atlantic Sound by Caryl Phillips and also Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, 1756-1838 by Iain Whyte.
Where in the world is your happy place?
In my tiny campervan by the Atlantic coast, tea in hand and working on a project. You can read about it in Writing on the Road: Campervan Love and the Joy of Solitude.
If you had one superpower what would it be?
A photographic memory. It would help my research.
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
Good books don’t generally have clear goodies and baddies. Real characters are more complex than that. I think a happy ending for any literary villain would be to learn the error of their ways and make amends. Personal progress would make them happy and the reading more interesting.
Are you working on a new project?
Yes. The subject is a secret and it will be both fiction and non-fiction.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
I’ll be at Glasgow’s South Side Festival in May, date to be confirmed, talking about solo campervanning, writing and escape.
This is the story of a young girl who is coming to terms with changes in her family she is not ready for. A passionate story, told with warmth and conviction set in Greenock and Carbeth in the Second World War.
It is September 1943, more than two years since Lenny’s world was devastated by the Clydebank Blitz and she and her family are safe in the beautiful green hut community of Carbeth, Scotland. But as the tides of war turn and Italy joins the Allies to fight the Nazis, the fists of war and fear are set to grab Lenny once more. Adversity threatens each moment, and Lenny is about to lose her closest ally.
Told the family must move back to Clydebank with its smoke and factories and now overcrowded, teeming dwellings, Lenny refuses to give up her rural sanctuary. When her mother Peggy returns to Clydebank for a job, leaving Lenny to become a little mother to her siblings, Lenny lies about her age to look for work locally. But this new turn is bewildering. Exhausted, Lenny seizes on news of her father, convinced that if only she can discover the truth about where he is, if only she can find him, she can make their family complete again. But no-one will meet her eye.
Desperate, and in need of a happy ending, Lenny sets out, but all is not as she hopes… Her steps take her the length of the great Clyde estuary, and into new dangers in the vast, dark, threatening and adult war-time ports of Helensburgh and Greenock …
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Writing on the Road – Campervan Love and the Joy of Solitude is not just funny (or sad) stories of campervan trips in Scotland; it is not just ‘Zen and the art of campervan maintenance’ (with stories of sweetness and light that will entertain or make you cry), and it is not just nature writing (with observations of wildlife in the western Scottish Highlands).
But if you enjoy reading about how books are written and about recovery stories from relationship breakdowns, and if you like reading about women travelling alone and all the things that can go wrong (and right), about strategies for facing fear, dealing with creepy crawlies and noises in the night, and about surviving all that life throws at you (especially when you are over a certain age), then you will probably enjoy this book.
This new book is by Sue Reid Sexton. Over the last six years, Sue wrote two novels. In the process of writing them, Mavis’s Shoe (sold over 5000 copies) and Rue End Street, Sue needed to escape from her hectic household to create some space in her life to focus. As the mother of two and a step-mum of four, Sue realised her only real option was to get into her campervan and have it function as a mobile office. Whether she camped by a beach overlooking the Atlantic in the Kintyre peninsula with buzzards, golden eagles, deer, seals, surfers, other campervanners and dead fish for company, or in the hills around Glasgow, or on Skye, Morvern, the Cowal peninsula or even in southern France, her main aim was to switch off her phone, get out her laptop and write.
Sue has made countless journeys in campervans in the last few years
and thanks to her practice of taking notes as she travels, we, too, can enjoy her campervan experiences. Sue’s chosen and preferred van of travel is a Romahome, British-made, and she writes extensively about her Romahome campervan.
In Writing on the Road Sue also writes about the many and varied practical difficulties of campervan life that she has had to overcome. They include locking herself out of the campervan at night miles from home; coping with local byelaws and negative attitudes to campervans and to women travelling solo;driving a hundred miles with a window open before she could empty a cracked toilet; and finding out the wrong (and the right) way to buy a campervan. We hope this book will inspire anyone looking for encouragement in the expressive arts to get creative and persuade any would-be campervanners to get out there and enjoy the campervan life.
Grab your copy ~ AMAZON UK
For all your paperback copies ~ Waverley Books Store Online