We’ve got a copy of Alison’s debut novel, THE TYPEWRITER GIRL, up for grabs today. Simply leave a comment on this post to be entered.
UPDATE: the winner for this giveaway is Kathy. She has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.
How far is a palazzo in Venice from an American family farm? Lifetimes, worlds, ages. But I was three or four drafts into a “practice novel” before I realized the two places were actually one: the palazzo my main character and her family were struggling to keep in a post-Napoleonic Venice was also my father’s farm, facing an uncertain future as my father grew older.
Funny, I’d thought I was writing of something far removed from my own life. As a reader and a writer, it’s part of the appeal of historical fiction for me. With the turn-of-the-century world of The Typewriter Girl, I loved thinking of telephone calls and bicycle rides as novelties; I relished the poshness of a seaside hotel I’d seen only in pictures.
Now, before The Typewriter Girl was even a one-celled organism in the primordial soup of my imagination, I bought a silver typewriter jewelry charm. But not for myself. I wanted to celebrate a friend who’d begun seeing success in her submissions to journals and magazines. This gift seemed the perfect way to let her know how proud I was of her.
What I didn’t expect: My wistfulness as I watched the shop clerk wrap it up, a little voice that wished the charm was right for me, wished I’d earned the right to wear it.
But I’d put boundaries on that dream. Academic writing had burned me out, I was happily busy with a career and family and traveling. Plus, among mountains of books and populations of authors, what special thing did I have to offer? So, maybe someday, but maybe not; it wasn’t that important, life was still good without it.
Excuses, etc. Perhaps that quiet wish on the typewriter charm was the beginning of the end of them. In any case, a few years later, at work on a revision of The Typewriter Girl, I arrived at the following passage:
The house was let for the season, and the family in residence appeared to be expecting guests for the evening, so standing here before it, [Betsey] needed no imagination at all to see it occupied, brimming with life. She imagined anyway. She dreamed in a way she had not since Thomas Dellaforde had allowed his mother to strike her a second time; she dreamed wildly and without boundaries.
I felt rather proud of Betsey at the end of that paragraph—she had, after all, started the story believing her life, restricted as it was, was as good as it was ever likely to be. Now here she was, dreaming wildly.
“Good for you, Betsey,“ I thought. “Stop limiting yourself.”
And the voice that wished on the typewriter charm added, “Good for you, too, Alison.”
When Betsey disembarks from the London train in the seaside resort of Idensea, all she owns is a small valise and a canary in a cage. After attempting to forge a letter of reference she knew would be denied her, Betsey has been fired from the typing pool of her previous employer. Her vigorous protest left one man wounded, another jilted, and her character permanently besmirched. Now, without money or a reference for her promised job, the future looks even bleaker than the debacle behind her. But her life is about to change . . . because a young Welshman on the railroad quay, waiting for another woman, is the one man willing to believe in her.
Mr. Jones is inept in matters of love, but a genius at things mechanical. In Idensea, he has constructed a glittering pier that astounds the wealthy tourists. And in Betsey, he recognizes the ideal tour manager for the Idensea Pier & Pleasure Building Company. After a lifetime of guarding her secrets and breaking the rules, Betsey becomes a force to be reckoned with. Now she faces a challenge of another sort: not only to outrun her sins, but also to surrender to the reckless tides of love. . . .