Happy Friday, everyone! Today on the blog I am so excited to be hosting a guest post from Elizabeth Jane Corbett, author of The Tides Between!
‘Goodness!’ People say to me after reading The Tides Between. ‘You must have done so much research!’
The Tides Between is an immigration novel as you’ve probably worked out from the blurb, with both English and Welsh characters. My research was only in its infancy the first time I travelled to the UK. So, my visit had a huge impact on the eventual narrative. In a sense, I experienced my novel in reverse as a migrant returning to her birthplace. As the airplane began its decent into Heathrow I pressed my face to the glass and watched rows and rows of little brown houses with card table lawns come into view. When the lane wheels hit the runway, I began to cry. Not silently, in loud, painful chest wrenching sobs. I thought: If I die now it doesn’t matter, I’m home.
I fell in love with Covent Garden, on that first return visit, and my protagonist’s father became a theatre musician. Her stepfather, a more prosaic man, who worked in the fruit and vegetable market. While in Wales, I visited a mining museum, called The Big Pit, and felt the claustrophobia of going underground. My Welsh storyteller became a miner’s son from Cwmafan with dark secrets. He and his wife dwelled in cottages not unlike the ones I saw at The Museum of Welsh Life.
Hardly obsessive, I hear you say. Just plain good sense. Well, yes, but I may have returned to the UK once or twice (cough) since then. See, we have made an agreement, my husband and I, (which I’m sure you will agree is quite equitable). He earns the Frequent Flyer points and I spend them. This has given me ample opportunity to walk in the footsteps of my characters. I’ve been on a Thames River tour and watched the original Victorian warehouses slide past me. Visited Deptford and walked the route from the emigrant depot to the Deptford watergate. I’ve done a Covent Garden theatre tour and imagined the backstage theatre world. Taken communion in St Paul’s Covent Garden, as my characters would have done. I’ve visited the museum of London’s Docks and learned details about wherries and red-sailed sailing barges. Spent an afternoon in the Victoria & Albert archives looking through nineteenth century theatre play bills. I’ve visited Llyn y Fan Fach, the site of one of my storyteller’s tales. I drove past the village of Tre Taliesin. This lead to a much-needed re-work of my storytellers first story. How did this immersion help the final outcome? It certainly made the characters real to me, their journeys no longer simply words on the page. I hope that comes through in the novel.
learning to speak Welsh. I’d read How Green was my Valley and realised Welsh people spoke English differently. I thought a term of Welsh classes would give ‘give me a sense’ of this difference. I had no idea The language would be so ancient, or beautiful, or so endangered. One term of lessons became two, then three, until I realised I didn’t want to stop. I’d fallen under the spell of the Welsh language– its words and sentences, the little accents over its letters, were like a soul song to me. Welsh has words like Gwdihŵ, which means owl and sounds like Toowit toowoo, and pilipala which means butterfly and sounds like wings fluttering, and corgi which means dwarf dog, and drewgi (skunk) which literally means stink dog. Buwch goch gota’r haf (for ladybird) which means short red cow of the summer.
While living in Wales for seven months (yes, still married, very understanding husband), I did a course on the Mabinogion, in Welsh. I also heard a man, who I suspect really was a fairy, talk about Welsh fairy tales, in Welsh. I wouldn’t have been able to attend these workshops without the language. Or had many of the amazing conversations and experiences. How did learning the language help me write the book. Tangibly, I let my wide-eyed wonder infuse my characters reactions. Speaking Welsh is like stepping through the barrier on platform nine and three quarters. A whole hidden world exists in that other language. I have stepped into that world. I hope it has added authenticity to my novel.
The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett
She fancied herself part of a timeless chain without beginning or end, linked only by the silver strong words of its tellers.
In the year 1841, on the eve of her departure from London, Bridie's mother demands she forget her dead father and prepare for a sensible, adult life in Port Phillip. Desperate to save her childhood, fifteen-year-old Bridie is determined to smuggle a notebook filled with her father's fairytales to the far side of the world.
When Rhys Bevan, a soft-voiced young storyteller and fellow traveller realises Bridie is hiding something, a magical friendship is born. But Rhys has his own secrets and the words written in Bridie’s notebook carry a dark double meaning.
As they inch towards their destination, Rhys's past returns to haunt him. Bridie grapples with the implications of her dad’s final message. The pair take refuge in fairytales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.
Odyssey Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
About the Author
When Elizabeth Jane Corbett isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Melbourne Celtic Club, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novel Society and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. An early draft of her debut novel, The Tides Between, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award.
Elizabeth lives with her husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north. She likes red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far, far away.
For more information, please visit Elizabeth Jane Corbett's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, December 4
Review at Back Porchervations
Feature at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, December 5
Guest Post at Booklover Book Reviews
Wednesday, December 6
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, December 7
Review at Faery Tales Are Real
Friday, December 8
Review & Guest Post at Locks, Hooks and Books
Monday, December 11
Review at Creating Herstory
Tuesday, December 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review at Singing Librarian Books
Wednesday, December 13
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, December 15
Review at Carole Rae's Random Ramblings
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
GiveawayDuring the Cover Reveal we will be giving away a signed copy of The Tides Between and Bookplate! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
The Tides Between