Friday, 25 September 2015


At last! The LAST YEAR OF CHILDHOOD is finally complete at 111,688 words, redrafted, and edited 5 times, and about 20 smaller edits.

It has been an epic journey for me as a writer as it is the 3rd novel completed, so the learning curve was steep. I learnt from them all, but this one the most. I feel confident that I am doing something right, because this January, the novel was long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize - for unpublished novels.

But it is my characters who have made it come to life. It is they who told me what they thought, felt, did, and wanted to do. It is their voices who were written. I had little planned, though notebooks full, A3 sheets with plotting maps and timelines around the study, and notes pinned up to my walls and shelves over my desk. Authors say if you're not plotting you're Pantsing. But with all my efforts to plot, and even when I had the end truly pinned down hard to the board, it changed by the final edit. Why? Because the characters shouted out to me.

I had never envisaged that it is the characters who would be writing this book. The end was up to them. And I wrote it according to their wishes. Ok, there were times I had to stop them in their tracks and say, hold on a second, that is a tangent I cannot handle. So we worked together. So much so, that I took them to bed with me in turn. Truly I did. I only mentioned this once to my husband. My 12 year old Latchmin was a joy to snuggle with in bed, and she told me her heart - her fears and her joys. The handsome 17 year old Rajnath, whose temper could get the better of him had to be told at times, to think before he reacted. And the 14 year old Sumati, ran sometimes too fast for me to catch up with her wild and wilful ways. But she has a heart of pure passion, which was often mistaken for badness - a worry for her poor mother.

The novel is set in a difficult and restricted Colonial world, in 1917 Trinidad, when labourers had been brought from India, China, Syria, and Portugal, to work in the plantations, after African labourers would no longer slave for free, or even cheaply.

To my readers, I believe much of the plight of the characters, the emotion, and human need to see justice done, will resonate with you all. This novel is not just about a historical time and culture. It's global. It's about what makes us who we are today and what we expect from the country we live in, our needs, our wants, our desires, our dearest hopes, and for our children to  achieve and fulfil their dreams. It is about those who have money vs those who don't. And those who have education, and what happens to those who skip school or don't have the opportunity. It is about realising that both money and education have purchasing power, and have advantages over those who don't, in different ways. It is about striving and struggling for a better future.

The novel is about ...

Latchmin aged 12, Sumati, 14, and Rajnath 17, are all involved in each other's lives in their fight for the freedom to choose.  

The girls struggle in different ways against arranged marriage - an Indian tradition. Latchmin is well off, but desperately wants an education in order to pursue her dream to become a teacher. Sumati, a poor girl, disappears from the village, causing upheaval and repercussions beyond control. Rajnath, a plantation labourer, feels guilty and partly to blame, so seeks to make things right. But in doing so, he risks his life to confront the corruption of the prostitution business, jeopardising his own livelihood and freedom. It is only because of the conflict and consequences they suffer, do they all learn where freedom begins. It is not about what is available to take, but about what you are actually willing to sacrifice.  

If you think you would like to see this novel published, or find it interesting, please leave me a comment.  


Love you loads!

Marilyn x

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fantastic, Marilyn. I wish you much success in your search for an agent. I know it's been a mammoth journey for you and I admire your determination.