A lonely novelist
A devoted fan
A journal that speaks of unspeakable things
Author Vida Tremayne lies silent in a hospital bed. The forces which brought about her terrifying decline are shrouded in mystery. Meanwhile, her estranged daughter Dory is forced to abandon her fast paced city life to be by her mother’s bedside. Dory is resentful. She hates the country and she and her mother were never exactly close. Luckily Vida already has a carer, the enigmatic Rhiannon Townsend. A long-standing fan of Vida’s, Rhiannon is happy to take care of the bedside vigil. Dory is free to resume her life. Or is she? Then she discovers her mother’s journal. Vida’s chilling testament reveals the trigger for her spiralling into madness. It also reveals the danger that still lurks close by. A danger that will call on Dory’s every reserve of courage if she’s to free her mother, and maybe in doing so, to free herself.
Predator in the Plot
Let me confess I’m not a seasoned plotter. Plots either evolve organically or they don’t. Index cards charting every plot twist may be a good plan for some, but I like to be surprised along the way. When I set out to write The Testament of Vida Tremayne, the last thing I expected to turn up was a Puma. Don’t ask me where it came from. All I know is the creature snuck up on me. It was as if it had been stalking me from the very first sentence.
I should wind back at this point. TVT came about after years of writing for the drawer. There was a brief spell of success with a young adult trilogy for Random House. Sarah Vincent is a pseudonym and my short stories and teen books were published under my own name, Susan Davis. Success was all too brief. Disillusioned I crossed to the other side of the fence, to work as an editor. Still I had to write. Something. Anything. Not for the market, not second-guessing what publishers might want in these tough times for the industry, but for ME. So, I scribbled TVT in spurts of inspiration, followed by long breaks in the famous box-file.
All I knew was, there was a writer, Vida, jaded, neglected and living a solitary life in the remote Welsh borders. When she has a nervous breakdown, her estranged townie daughter Dory turns up to take care of her affairs. The discovery of her mother’s diary reveals the terrifying trigger for her condition. This was all I had. I wanted to say something, not just about literary ambition and the toll it can take on one’s personal relationships, but about creativity itself.
Dory finds her mother has a lodger in residence. Rhiannon Townsend is Vida’s devoted fan. She claims to hold the key to creativity. Her method for removing writer’s block however, is not without its dangers. Enter the Puma.
Both Rhiannon and the mysterious beast managed to slink into my story almost unnoticed. I certainly wasn’t expecting them. I hadn’t invited them. And where did this beast come from? Was it out there, a real animal, one of those exotic pets released into the English countryside, occasionally reported in sightings and even photographed? Or was it symbolic of Vida’s condition, an integral part of her psyche?
Needless to say I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of these huge felines prowling the countryside. Big cats haunt my dreams. Maybe it’s that combination of grace, stealth and deadly intent that I find irresistible. One month after the novel was published I came upon a notice pinned to a gate on the hills where I live, asking walkers to report sightings, due to recent attacks on sheep. When a black shape honed into view some way ahead of me, my heart almost stopped along with my legs. Could this be nature imitating art? Thankfully it turned out to be a Doberman dog, with the owner not far behind!
Every reader has a different take on this aspect of the novel and that for me is part of the joy of writing. I love to hear what people think. I leave it to you, to make up your own minds.
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About the Author
Sarah Vincent has two grown up children and lives in the South Shropshire countryside with her husband and her Jack Russell terrier, Beryl. She writes in a converted coal shed at the back of the house. In the early days she juggled writing with various jobs as a care assistant, school dinner lady and museum guide. For the past twelve years she has worked as an editor and mentor for two leading Literary Consultancies and enjoys helping new writers achieve their goals. Her idea of fun is going off-grid for a few days, and camping in remote places in her tiny caravan. Find out more at Sarah's website www.sarahkvincent.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @Sarahauthored.