Monday, July 29, 2013

English Summer Rain by Eleanor Wood, author of Gemini Rising

Hello! I'm currently away this week, very busily preparing a psychological experiment at Bath  University. 

But luckily for both you and me, there are lovely people out there in the world like Eleanor Wood, author of Gemini Rising who have really stepped up and are guest posting for me this week.  Thank you so much, Eleanor.  I particularly love this guest post about the British setting of Gemini Rising. It is always wonderful to see yourself or your world reflected in the stories we read.   So please give a warm welcome to Eleanor and if you'd like to know more about her or Gemini Rising, please do visit the following links:

English Summer Rain
by Eleanor Wood

‘Take it!’ she whispers to me – but it’s not a soft whisper; it’s a mean, spitty whisper. ‘Just put it in your pocket.  We’ll take one each.’

She really wants that Miss Selfridge hairband with the daisies on it.  We’re going to Reading Festival together next month and it would be a great accessory.  We presume so, anyway – we’ve never been to a festival before.  We are planning on dressing like Gwen Stefani in baggy trousers and bikini tops, maybe the odd bindi.  The daisy hairband is very Gwen Stefani.

I glance around the shop before I stuff it up the sleeve of my blazer.  I don’t look to see what she’s done with hers; I don’t look back until we’ve both walked out of the shop, as fast as we can without running.

We collapse onto a plastic bench seat in McDonalds, across the road, where we share a portion of chips and eat four cheeseburgers each.  We grin at each other with our mouths full and I know it’s all worth it – I’ll have to hide the hairband from my mum but when we wear our matching daisies at Reading Festival, we’ll have a secret that no-one else knows.

In the original blurb for my novel, I quoted a Morrissey lyric – ‘spending warm summer days indoors’ (as opposed to, say, ‘you’re the one for me, fatty’).  From the classic Smiths song Ask, it conjures up for me the ideal teenage imagery.  It is also followed by the excellent lines ‘writing frightening verse, to a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg’.

This was exactly the picture I wanted to paint in my novel, Gemini Rising – the specific and peculiar experience of growing up in English suburbia.  I get strangely excited whenever I read a book or watch a film where I recognise the settings.  If ever I read a book set in Brighton, where I now live, I practically explode with joy.

It’s not something that has ever happened to me very much in YA literature. With a few great exceptions (hi, Sarra Manning!), I could never find many novels in which I recognised myself – geographically, as well as spiritually.

I grew up just outside west London and went to a very small girls’ school, much like the one in my book.  My main teenage memories are of: hanging around in parks; hanging around ‘in town’; the halcyon days of taking the train to Camden Market or gigs at the Shepherds Bush Empire; shoplifting from Boots and Miss Selfridge (sorry) and eating epic quantities of junk food after school with my best friend before going home for dinner.

It was so boring that it was the perfect setting for something to happen.  Just ask David Lynch.  I’m also a secret goth and love anything spooky.  I came to the conclusion that teenage girls are spooky enough; small towns are spooky enough.  This is a recipe that does not need fancy ingredients.

Perhaps to some of you, a book set in a tiny girls’ sixth form in an unnamed small town – complete with trips on the top deck of the bus, getting collected by your parents from gigs at midnight and skiving off school to hang out with boys on dodgy estates – might seem exotic.  Maybe you live in the most rural of countryside.  Maybe you grew up right in the middle of a big city, instead of watching from the fringes.  If so, when I was 17, I’d have envied you.

Now I think you’ve just got to know where to look – there is always magic and darkness on the edge of town.


  1. I definitely love it when a book is set somewhere I recognise :) And I loved how spooky Gemini Rising was, all small town and infinite possibilities

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful guest post, Eleanor! I really would love to see more places in the UK in the YA that I read. Especially small-town settings. It doesn't have to always be in London, right? As you say, there is darkness everywhere.. what a lovely thought! :)

  3. Thanks so much! I loved writing this. x


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