"ROSA" - the book that nearly never was...
This is a story inspired by an old house in the town where I was born. A small mining town called Felling, once in County Durham, now in Tyne & Wear, north-east England. My heroine, Rosa, is born into poverty in the early 1900’s where she has to deal with her alcoholic, amoral mother and look after her crippled brother and two younger siblings. She bears no resemblance to the rest of her family and rumours abound regarding her biological father. Was he the son of the rich Italian family who once owned the house that became an obsession with Rosa, together with the young man who now owns it. There is no hope of this handsome young man ever falling in love with the beautiful girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
But Rosa continues to dream. She dreams of Richard through a violent rape by her mother’s lodger. She dreams of Richard while giving her affections to the travelling salesman who eventually becomes the father of her illegitimate child – a child that was taken from her the day it was born. But Rosa refuses to give up and finding the child, she becomes its nanny, only to discover that the adoptive father is, ironically, her daughter’s biological father. Another affair develops, then disaster strikes when the family are lost at sea. Rosa, strong-willed, finds a way to survive, fighting everything that fate throws at her through two world wars finally realising two dreams that have haunted her all her life – to live in Orchard House and win the love of Richard…
So how come this was the novel that almost never was published? I wrote the original version more than twenty years ago. It was accepted with enthusiasm by two important agents. The first asked me to shorten it by 30,000 words, which I did with great difficulty, but his ‘reader’ then said ‘no’. The second agent asked me to lengthen it by 20,000 words and I faithfully did the work, but his publisher said: “If I had seen this book three years ago I would have accepted it, but now it’s out of vogue.” I had been trying to market the novel for twenty years or more without any success.
The I heard of Books We Love, Canadian publishers who only accepted writers who were already published. By then I had 26 titles in print. My husband, who had never lost faith in ‘Where The Wind Blows’, which we fondly referred to as ‘Rosa’, the title we finally agreed on, persuaded me to get the book off the shelf, revise it and send it off. I did and it was the fourth rendering of the novel that sailed off to Canada and was accepted with the editor’s one-word review coming back to me: “Wonderful!”
I am now waiting for another book to appear – my first real romance – ‘THIS AFFAIR’ – due to be published in June 2018 and am at present working on a romantic suspense about a dysfunctional family during the First World War – ‘FORBIDDEN’.
But it will always be ‘Rosa’ that will be closest to my heart…until another dream book is realised – and I have plenty of those to work on.