Friday, June 16, 2017

Rewind!

Few things are more satisfying to a writer or publisher than seeing a manuscript you’ve worked on for months or years appear in print. E-publication has its merits, and tablets and e-readers handle novels, which tend to have few images and simple formatting, with particular aplomb. Even so, it’s not like holding an actual book in your hands: admiring the cover, turning the pages, noticing the small details that say, yes, this is a published book.

So it’s always a special joy to announce a new work by one of our Five Directions Press authors. This month we focus on Denise Allan Steele’s new novel, Rewind, formally launched just yesterday. It’s charming, touching, hilarious—everything a novel should be.

Denise says she wrote the book because her kids begged for stories of the “olden days” (i.e., the 1970s) when she was a teenager in Scotland. The novel follows the adventures of Karen Anderson and her best friend, Carol, as they survive secondary school, attend college and nursing school, marry and have children, work in their chosen professions, move to different continents, and ultimately reunite at the funeral of Carol’s ninety-year-old Grandpa Jimmy, setting off the second half of the story.

But a summary can’t capture the joys of this delightful novel. So here is an excerpt from Chapter 1, “Abide with Me” (spelling is British Standard, because at least two-thirds of the novel takes place in Scotland):

Carol and I sat huddled together on the cold hard pew of Kilbrannan Parish Church. The weak sunshine coming through the huge stained glass window above our heads illuminated the figure of Saint Andrew, the ruby red of his gown beautiful and rich against the sapphire blue of the Scottish flag behind him. I had always loved that window, the way it gave me a feeling of peace and God and benevolence and contentment, the colours precious and magnificent in the austerity of the chilly old Presbyterian church. I had last seen the window from the inside in May 1977, when I had just turned fifteen. That was the day that Carol and I had been thrown out of the Girl Guides for refusing to say out loud the Brownie Guide promise that we would serve our God and our Queen. We felt that the Queen had enough servants and we definitely didn’t want to serve God, so we were asked to leave. We didn’t tell our mums and every Friday evening for months we had put on our Guide uniforms and gone to the amusement arcade at the beach, got changed in the toilets and hung about at the slot machines looking at boys and buying candy floss with our Guide money. Our sham was over when Mrs. Howie, the Guide leader, met Carol’s mum at the bus stop and our mums made us go the next Guide meeting and apologise.

I put my hand in Carol’s. “You okay?”

I hadn’t seen her since the last time I was home a year ago, and it felt like we had been together last week. Every time I came back to Kilbrannan, even after twenty-five years, it felt like I had been gone for a few days, and Carol and I just slotted back in to our lifelong friendship.

“Remember the last time we were in here and we got chucked out of the Guides?” She snorted, trying not to laugh. “And we had to go and apologise to that old bag Mrs. Howie. I still see her in the town, and she still glares at me, after thirty years!”

“Do you think that might be because you shouted ‘God save the Queen, the fascist regime’ at the top of your voice as we were running out of the church?”

Now, don’t you want to read more? You can find the book at Amazon.com or get more information at our Five Directions Press site. The book already has thousands of likes on Facebook, so don’t miss your chance to rewind the tape of Karen’s life—and your own.

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