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Ellen and Arbor: the big book blog!

Hi everyone! I hope the sun is shining wherever you are (but not too hard - if you’re anything like Miss Gypsy, you won’t want to walk when it’s too warm outside)! I'd like to start by thanking everyone who responded to my recent Instagram story - now that I’m approaching the end of the novel writing process, I wanted to film a video all about the inception, creation and (eventual) publication of Ellen and Arbor! I hope you enjoy this video - it’s a long 'un but a good 'un, and I’ve broken down the timings here so that you can skip straight ahead to your own question!

Novel Synopsis 3:20

How Did the Idea Come About? 4:45

Am I In It? 11:24

Who is your Favourite Character? 15:04

What is the Main Theme? 19:21

What Authors Influenced You the Most? 22:03

What is your Writing Routine? 26:08

What Kind of Publishers are you Looking Into? 29:00

One topic that I was delighted to talk about was the books that have inspired my own, and I thought I’d share a little more detail about them in this blog. Let me know your own favourites and what writers inspire your work (whether poetry, painting or an entirely different art form!)

Amy and Isabelle / Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

In my (very) humble opinion, Elizabeth Strout is one of modern literature's most incredible authors, and I recommend her novels constantly (as customers in the library I work at know only too well!) Her work is driven not by plot but by character: every observation is pinprick sharp and yet always communicated with empathy and compassion. From her first book Amy and Isabelle to the Pulitzer Prize winning Olive Kitteridge, Strout work gives my own book much to aspire to: each is a poignant yet ultimately uplifting reflection on time passing and the changes that we don’t always see but still affect us acutely.

Boy Meets Girl / Public Library / There But For The by Ali Smith.

Ali Smith is one of the most well known contemporary writers of literary fiction in Scotland, and her quirkily creative work always stays with me long after I read it (in the case of Boy Meets Girl, having Tracy Emin's beautiful artwork on the cover also didn't hurt)! Smith is renowned and respected for her talents as a wordsmith: her love of language always comes through and, whatever the subject, there's a poeticism to her fiction that makes it both playful and memorable. As many of you already know, I've long been passionate about writing and sharing poetry, and I hope that Ellen and Arbor achieves something of Smith's fabulous witty wordplay!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt famously writes at an average pace of one novel per decade (the dream life of a writer - if you can afford it!) This means that, quite unusually, every book is pretty different to the one that went before. While I can appreciate what so many readers loved in both her earlier novels, it was The Goldfinch that flew into my heart and stayed there. Just like Ellen and Arbor, this work of fiction blends art with animals, and I simply adored Tartt's concluding passages about the little bird at the centre of this big story. So much so, I actually had one of her quotations turned into a tattoo! Tartt characterises the goldfinch of Carel Fabritius's painting as a 'thimble of bravery' and I hope that Ellen and Arbor also expresses the importance of finding the courage to fight for one’s own value: believing that you, whoever you are, have the right to live in freedom.

That's it from me this month, folks - time to continue painting (and chasing that literary agent rainbow)! Stay connected for all my latest paintings and illustrations, plus more summer blogs and vlogs coming soon!

Ps. I've long wanted to continue developing my floral watercolours with a beautiful blue addition, and I was especially touched to learn that the forget-me-not flower has become a symbol of love and treasured memories for all those affected by dementia or memory loss. As Glasgow Gallerina fans know, I always donate 10% of my profits to charity, but on this occasion I will donate 20% of profits from the sale of this piece: half to Alzheimer Scotland and half to the Lewy Body Society. So many families have and continue to be touched by memory loss, including my own, and I hope this heartfelt original artwork helps you celebrate and treasure those closest to you. These are most definitely wildflowers made with love!

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