Today on Love Books Group we have a treat for you with a special feature with author Susi Osbourne. Enjoy!
Following years of sexual abuse and resulting psychological trauma, Angelica Stone has learnt to rely solely on herself. Unwilling to allow anyone to get close to her, Angelica is reluctant to allow her work colleague Lola into her life. Lola, in contrast to the damaged Angelica, is from what appears to be a happy middle-class family. But all is not what it seems…
An unlikely bond is formed between the two as they learn more about eachother. As they become closer, a series of life-changing events leave Lola on the verge of ruin. Will the friends be able to better themselves and have the lives they so desperately want? Or will they succumb to the expectations and the path already laid out for them?
Angelica Stone follows both characters in their own journey of self-discovery. This close and in-depth look into the lives of Angelica and Lola will see the reader laugh and cry as the two women learn about themselves and the invaluable friendship they have.
Susi Osborne worked within the library service and now runs Northwick LitFest in Cheshire, where she lives. Susi also worked as a classroom assistant in a junior school and, in addition, has had first hand experience of social workers and the adoption system.
Susi Osborne lives in Winsford in Cheshire with her Scottish husband, her actress daughter and two mischievous little dogs. Their house is termed affectionately (hopefully!) amongst their numerous friends as the Osborne madhouse for obvious reasons. They do a lot of entertaining. Susi also has an adult son and a grandson who live nearby.
Before she became a writer, Susi worked in libraries for many years. She also worked as a classroom assistant in a junior school. In addition to her writing, Susi organises Northwich LitFest, which she has been running for the past six years.
Alongside the writing of her latest book, Angelica Stone, Susi has been raising money for Centrepoint, the charity for youth homelessness, and has set up a Just Giving Page in her name.
Susi is a firm believer in the fact that it’s never too late to do anything. ‘You have one life – go out and grab it with both hands!’ She is available to give talks at festivals, events, libraries and reading groups and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Post By Susi Osborne
Hi Kelly – and thank you so much for inviting me to have a guest spot on your blog today.
November already? That soon came around. And I don’t really want this year to end – 2017 has been an amazing year for me with all kinds of good things happening, including meeting some lovely people along the way. Having said that, this hasn’t just been an amazing year, in actual fact it has been an incredible decade altogether for me personally.
It all started in the February of 2008 when I had a milestone birthday. It was one I hadn’t particularly been looking forward to as it really did, supposedly, signify the onslaught of old age. Hmm. People kept asking what I would be doing by way of celebration. I procrastinated at length. Did I really just want to mark the occasion quietly, have a meal with a few close friends? Would that be the beginning of the downward spiral, on the slippery slope towards ‘the end’? Visions of pottering around garden centres, coach trips and worse, drifted past me. No. It could not be.
Maybe it’s something to do with being an Aquarian in The Age of Aquarius, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. And so, to mark the dawning of this new decade of my hitherto relatively crazy-free life, I decided to throw… a Tarty Party. It was a red and black themed affair, obviously, and I wore huge red feathered wings and felt a million dollars.
The only downside of the whole evening was that in the heat from all the dancing I did, the dye from my wings came out all over my back and gave me an allergic reaction. But, heigh-ho, it was a great party!
And that was just the start. Just a few days later my very first book, The Ripples of Life, was published, opening up a whole new world that I had really known very little about before. I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. Coincidentally, it was also at this time that I met a person who has since become my closest friend. We met when she gave me my first ever radio interview.
So that was the beginning. Two more books followed – Grace & Disgrace and Secrets, Lies & Butterflies, each with their own whirl of publicity. But, in the midst of all of this, a random thought entered my head. I had travelled all over the country to various literary events and festivals and always found them really interesting. So here was the thought. Why not organise a literary festival in Cheshire, where I live? Great idea, Susi. Have you ever organised anything like this before? No, just summer fairs at my kids’ school. Do you have any funding? No. Do you have any help? No. Great. Let’s do it then.
And so Northwich LitFest was born. I’ve been running it for six years now and I have to say, with the voice of experience – anyone can start one but, it is definitely not a task for the faint-hearted. That very first year was manic, when I stop to think about it. I didn’t have a budget – never have I had to blag so many things for free in my entire life! Convincing venues
that they would love to hold an event there without charge. Convincing writers that they would like to travel to little-known Northwich in Cheshire to speak about their books and stay overnight in my house, if they wished, as I couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel. And, finally, convincing the people of Northwich that they would love to come to the events even though there had never been a literary festival held in the town ever before.
But it worked. I had the lovely Adele Parks as one of the guest speakers that first year and she was wonderful. Despite a somewhat shaky start (for me), as I worried that no one would turn up.They did. In fact more than sixty people came to listen, and were enthralled – it was a great evening. Afterwards Adele sent me a copy of an article she’d written in which she said she’d been unsure what to expect, but I’d attacked the organisation of Northwich LitFest ‘with gusto’ and she was impressed. She wasn’t wrong. And I haven’t changed!
All of that was six years ago, and since then Northwich LitFest has continued to go from strength to strength. There have been some amazing speakers – Stella Duffy, Carole Matthews, Rowan Coleman, Angela Clarke, Paul Burston, to name but a few. Fifteen events in total throughout the month of June each year.
Northwich LitFest is a tremendous amount of work and brings an even larger amount of stress – so much so that at the end of every June I always say ‘never again’. I don’t think anyone believes me any more
though as I’m still here! And next year’s LitFest is already in the planning stages. Laura Wilkinson and Christie Barlow will be here!
Actually, one of the speakers I had at last year’s LitFest was the fabulous Sophie Parkin (daughter of Molly Parkin), who gave a fascinating talk and slideshow entitled ‘Scurrilous Tales of Soho’ which tied in with her book about The Colony Room Club. Sophie and her husband stayed with us for the weekend and we had a crazy day out in Liverpool, visiting an art exhibition, perusing vintage clothes shops, and eating enough food to feed a small army. Afterwards, Sophie asked whether I’d like to hold a book launch celebration for my latest book, Angelica Stone, in her arts club, Vout-O-Reenees in London. Who was I to say no?
My book launch for Angelica Stone was a night I shall remember forever. Vout-O-Reenees is such an amazing place, and Sophie and Jan so welcoming. It was lovely also to spend such a special night surrounded by family and friends, as well as writers, actors, etc, who I’ve come to know through the Litfest, and that they had travelled from near and far to be there to support me. My only one big regret is that we were enjoying ourselves so much that we hardly took any photos!
So, Angelica Stone was off to a great start – I hope it continues. It’s a much grittier story than my first three books. The idea for Angelica originally stemmed from thinking about how you don’t get a choice about
which family you are to be born into. And, if you need to do so, is it ever possible to break free from the cycle of life into which you’ve been born?
Angelica had been sexually abused a young child and was subsequently taken away from her birth family and brought up in care, where she was moved from one foster placement to another and had an ever-changing succession of social workers – until she absconded, apparently without trace. There are so many young people, like the character of Angelica in my book, who can fall through the net of the system and ‘disappear’. Angelica is tough, because she’s had to be. She trusts no one and reluctant to get close to anyone for fear of bringing them trouble.
However, when Lola comes onto the horizon she is a force to be reckoned with – the kind of person who is drawn towards all the lame ducks of the world, wanting to help. At the beginning of their friendship Angelica has nothing and Lola has it all…apparently. But life is not always what it seems. Slowly, as their friendship develops, cracks start to appear in Lola’s hitherto problem-free world. Things are most definitely not always what they seem – who knows what secrets lurk behind closed doors?
Angelica Stone is a book that contains a lot of humour, some captivating characters, a mysterious thread…and a massive twist! According to one Amazon reviewer ‘Both Angelica and Lola became very close to my heart whilst reading and I think they took a little bit of it with them when they left me.’ I hope you will feel the same.
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