Guest Post by Susan Gandar – thank you for being on my blog
WHY I WROTE THE BOOK
When I was in my early teens, I was in the car, with my father and mother, and my mother was talking about something that had happened, in the past. And I said, ‘The past! What’s the past? It’s only the future that matters.’
My parents, particularly my mother, were furious. But it took many years for me to understand the clumsiness of my comment and why it angered, and upset, my mother so much.
My grandfather, on my father’s side, fought in France during the First World War. He was badly wounded and shipped back to England. It was on a hospital train, rattling its way through France, he met my grandmother, Bertha – it was she who nursed him. After the war ended, they married – theirs was a happy ending.
My mother’s father, my grandfather, also left home and went away to fight in the First World War. But he came back a shadow of himself. He was someone, and I have a very dim memory of him, who you weren’t allowed to touch or talk to – because if you did, he would explode, physically and verbally.
It has taken me many years to understand and appreciate all this. So, I wanted to write a book which showed the link between now, the present, and the past – which tried to explain, show, that we wouldn’t be living the lives we have now without the sacrifices our parents, grandparents and, perhaps, even great grandparents made for us during their lives.
I also wanted to write a book which would say to its reader something along the lines of, ‘stop thinking and living small, start thinking and living big’. And, if you’ve got a gift that non-one else has, whatever it is, then use it. And, if that means being different to everyone else, being a bit weird, even eccentric, you should still use it, even more so.
Differences should be encouraged, explored and shared, rather than hidden away.
Hidden away …
It’s the old skeleton, the one we, and the society we live in, hide in a cupboard. We lock it in and throw away the key in the hope that it will never get out. But, of course it will. Because the day we are born, is the day we die. And that’s the one thing, whoever we are, wherever we live, man, woman, rich and poor, we all share – death.
In ‘WE’VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME’ Sam can only conquer death if she overcomes her fear. I wanted to write a book which would, even in just a small way, get that skeleton out of that cupboard and shake it around a bit. Try and make it into something we could actually accept, even talk about, be just a little less afraid of, rather than something we run away from.
We’ve Come to Take You Home
A novel by Susan Gandar
‘Powerful, intelligent and moving …’
Graeme Simsion, author The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect
‘We’ve Come to Take You Home’ is an unusual and compelling story of love, loss and the importance of family.
Samantha Foster and Jessica Brown are destined to meet. One lives in the twentieth century, the other in the twenty-first century
April 1916 and thousands of men have left home to fight in the war to end all wars. Jessica Brown’s father is about to be one of those men. A year later, he is still alive but Jess has to steal to keep her family from starving. And then a telegram arrives – her father has been killed in action.
Four generations later, Sam Foster’s father is admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit with a suspected brain haemorrhage. A nurse asks if she would like to take her father’s hand. Sam refuses. All she wants is to get out of this place, stuck between the world of the living and the world of the dead, a place with no hope and no future, as quickly as possible.
As Sam’s father’s condition worsens, her dreams become more frequent – and more frightening. She realises that what she is experiencing is not a dream, but someone else’s living nightmare…
We’ve Come to Take You Home is an emotionally-charged story of a friendship forged 100 years apart.
About Susan Gandar: My father, John Box, was a film production designer, working on ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘A Man For All Seasons’ and the musical ‘Oliver’. (Click here for more on John ) Our house was always filled with people, usually eccentric, always talented, invariably stroppy, discussing stories. My mother put my father’s four Oscars to good use as toilet roll holders, doorstops and hat stands.
A major chunk of my childhood was spent loitering around on film sets. Who needs an ‘English education’ when you have the polystyrene-coated streets of downtown Moscow, ten miles outside of Madrid, to explore?
But then the years of ‘Who Will Buy My Sweet Red Roses’ came to a rather abrupt end. Reality knocked on the door in the guise of the Metropolitan Line to Shepherds Bush and the BBC. Working in television as a script editor and story consultant, I was part of the creative team responsible for setting up ‘Casualty’. I became known for going after the more ‘difficult’ stories at the same time successfully racking up viewing figures from 7 to 14 million.
I went on to develop various projects for both the BBC and the independent sector. The period I enjoyed most was working with Jack Rosenthal, a wonderful writer, on the series ‘Moving Story’ – ‘That’s a situation, a good situation, but now you need to make it into a story.’
Martin, my husband, was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and we left England to live in Amsterdam. ‘Ik wil een kilo kabeljauw, alstublieft’ will, if all goes well, buy you a piece of cod – I decided to concentrate on my writing rather than my Dutch pronunciation.
My debut novel, ‘We’ve Come to Take You Home’, set in the present and in 1918, a crossover aimed at the adult and young adult women’s popular fiction market, was published on 28th March by Matador.