I’m very pleased to be joined by Sally Keeble today. Sally’s debut novel, She, You, I, was published earlier this month. She’s sharing #TenThings she’d like her readers to know about her. You’ll find full details of the book later in this post. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour.
People have asked about Jane, to whom “She You I” is dedicated. She was my sister, who was killed in a terrible car crash. That event is where the thinking about this book started. The death of a sibling is a very particular, and often under-recognised, loss.
My first marriage ended with his violence many years ago. What’s struck me since then from the experiences of women I’ve met is the lasting effect of domestic violence, especially on children; the cycle of inter-generational hurt it creates. At present I’m working on a short follow-up to “She, You, I” looking at how one of the characters finds herself after the death of her abusive husband. Neither of the books is autobiographical, but I guess like a lot of writers, I’m a bit of a magpie. I pick out different things from my own experience and observation of people around me and then build on them in my imagination.
My family cooks. My son could do master chef, my daughter bakes up a storm. I collect recipes from wherever I travel. I had fun trying out pork bun recipes for this book. One of my earliest food memories is of my Scottish grandmother’s soup made with one gristly piece of soup meat that she always fished out and gave to my grandfather.
Housing is my passion. It’s been my lot in life to deal with some really grotty housing. Nationally I served as a housing minister, before then I was the leader of a London council that owned some desperately rundown housing estates. As an MP I spent a lot of time helping people with housing problems, especially overcrowding, mould and homelessness. There are a lot of different types of housing in “She, You, I,” reflecting the very different lives of the characters.
I always wanted to write a novel. For part of my life I made a living out of writing as a journalist. As a politician I wrote and edited non-fiction. Learning creative writing has been a joy. Getting a book finished and published has been more difficult. You need the thick skin of a rhino.
I read everything. At present I’m reading the Man Booker prize-winning novel “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” by Shehan Karunatilaka. Before that it was Anita Frank’s lyrical World War II story, “The Return,” and before that “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens. I’d love to be able to convey a sense of nature as well as she can. One of my best literary experiences was writing book reviews. Not only did I get free books, but I also got to read very widely and analyse what made a book work.
Being outdoors gives me a real buzz. One of my favourite places is Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, which features in “She, You, I.”
I enjoy climbing hills and mountains, but also suffer from vertigo. So it can be challenging. My husband holds my hand.
I can strip down an old piece of wooden furniture so it becomes something beautiful. The trick is broken glass and wire wool – not chemicals.
Old glass fascinates me for its beauty and fragility. I’ve got quite a collection – which was packed away when my children were little.
About the book
An emotional page-turner of a story about a family torn apart by the legacy of war that asks the question: what happens to the hurt we can’t forget?
When Skye Stanhope returns to her grandmother’s childhood home, she’s searching for the roots of her life story. Why her tough-minded granny ran away to war. And why her brilliant mother died.
Behind the women’s successes, lies deep trauma. As Skye strips away the layers of secrecy, she confronts their inner torments: forces that bound the women together, but also tore them apart. It’s a journey from a poverty-stricken tenement block to an airbase in wartime Suffolk, through boom-time London to a coffee cart beside the sea.
Woven into the women’s lives is Tseng Hsiao Ling, a feisty, enigmatic seamstress whose fortunes become inextricably linked with theirs.
It’s a sweeping tale of love, war and family secrets over three generations.
Through each woman’s story, “She, You, I” holds up a mirror to the complexity of family relationships: mothers, sisters, daughters, and the unexpected twists in Skye’s search for closure.
About the Author
Sally writes novels about the things she’s passionate about—the triumphs and tragedies of people’s lives, their families and life stories.
It’s what originally took her into journalism and then politics, in the UK and beyond. She spent her early years in the USA, Switzerland and Australia, returning to the UK after working as a journalist in South Africa. After serving as an MP, she worked in international development and travelled widely, especially in Africa and South Asia.
“She, You, I” is her first novel. She’s written nonfiction previously. Sally splits her time between Northampton and Bawdsey, a village in coastal Suffolk.
You can find out more about Sally on her website at http://www.sallykeeblebooks.com or follow her on Facebook: at Sally Keeble Author or on Instagram @sallykeeblebooks