After years of searching for the perfect job, Celia thinks she's finally found it in teaching part-time. The hours are great, especially as it leaves more time for writing.
When she's not teaching or writing, Celia can be found in the kitchen, delving into one of her other passions: cooking.
Celia is the author of two other books: Sweet Proposals (2013) and Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief (2014). And today she celebrates the release of her latest story, Little Boxes.
This is the story of one woman's rediscovery, of healing, and of learning to love again. Through a series of mysterious little boxes, Molly White is taken on an epic journey.
In a similar style to Celia Ahern's, PS I Love You, the little boxes in Celia J. Anderson's story contain messages which Molly must decipher with clues that take her around Britain, and to Bavaria and France. We instantly endear ourselves to Molly and her plight to learn more about her late husband, a man, she's decided, she didn't really know. As the messages reveal themselves, we find ourselves wanting to know more about the mysteries too.
Celia steps up her story a notch by introducing us to a less than physically perfect hero with Tom. He's incredibly handsome and quite gregarious, but passes off the attentions of women as them being nice to him. He's been wheelchair bound for many years and hasn't really been confident enough to put himself out there. When he meets Molly, he feels he's suddenly found a woman he can trust. Readers see deep inside a man who's let his physical challenges rule his life, and how he finds his confidence again, and learns to love.
This is a deeply emotional read from many angles. Celia's wonderful voice enriches the story and pulls readers in. It's so rare to find a hero who's less than perfect, physically, and a nice change. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, as they say, and shouldn't be limited to only those macho men with perfect everything. Tom is perfect, just as he is, and it's wonderful to read such a heartwarming story. Celia has a winner with this one. I hope readers think so too.
Celia stepped away from her computer and her kitchen for a short while to have a chat with us.
Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Celia, and congrats on the release of your book, Little Boxes!
It sounds like you have a pretty busy lifestyle, with teaching, writing, cooking, family...How do you schedule everything in? How do you make time for writing? Do you have a routine or just write when you have time?
My writing life happens around the day job - I’m assistant head at a small Catholic primary school so I need to get up early and use the holidays as much as possible. On a full day off, I’d spend most of the day at my desk (see photo) but have regular foraging missions to the kitchen - this army definitely marches better on a full stomach. I tried the 5:2 diet while I was writing and it worked for a while but I kept getting distracted by Facebook pictures of people’s dinners!I was going to ask you to describe your writing space, but I think we have a pretty good idea here. Wonderful desk. Tell us about it, please?
I’ve inherited my dad’s lovely desk and it’s made me work all the harder. He used it for more mundane paper work rather than writing for pleasure but it still reminds me very much of him. He was a funny, warm and caring Pa - his influence, and my lovely mum’s, is behind a lot of what I write. This is the start of the poem I found in his drawer after he died; it’s still there, a hug on a page. (Hope this isn’t getting too maudlin! It wasn’t meant to be sad).
I couldn’t see you today, so I sent you my thoughts
Loving and vibrant they sped through the air
Out through the ether, through miles and through time.
I hope you received them, and knew I was there.
My desk is right in the middle of the house - I’m extremely nosy and am useless if I can’t see what’s going on. If I lean back a bit I can see the swans on the neighbouring pond. My cousin has just given me a fabulous cushion for my writing chair with three lots of cats embroidered on it - very comfy.What a lovely poem, and an amazing surprise to find in the drawer. Kind of a note in a little box for you!
What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Cooking, reading and walking are my main hobbies; oh, and wine. I haven’t worked out how to combine these four things yet but I’m working on it.
Hey, that wine...I just read an article about red wine being just as good as going to the gym. Maybe you can cut down on the walks and just drink wine. Drink wine, cook with wine, write about wine... ;-)
Thanks so much for chatting with us. I hope you'll join us in the comment for a bit more conversation.
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• • •
Suddenly bereaved, Molly White realises that she has never really known her feisty husband Jake when random boxes begin to appear through the post, each one containing a tantalising clue to the secrets of Jake and Molly’s past. Someone who knows them both well, for reasons of their own, has planned a trail of discovery. The clues seem to be designed to change Molly’s life completely, leading her around Britain and then onwards to rural France and deepest Bavaria.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Tom, a charismatic artist who runs a gallery in the same town. Strong, independent and wheelchair-bound from the age of fifteen, he leads a solitary life and has no idea how devastatingly attractive he is to women. When Tom meets curvy, beautiful and funny Molly, he knows that she is his dream woman, but she seems way out of his orbit until the boxes start to weave their spell and the two of them are thrown right out of their comfort zones.
Little Boxes is a story of love in a variety of guises - mother-love, unrequited passion, infatuation and the shadow-love held in memories that refuse to go away.
The box lay on the bed waiting to be opened. Small, square and shiny, it was the colour of dark sapphires and covered in stars – the sort of glitzy thing you buy when you want to make a bargain present look classy. Tucked inside its wrapping was a pale green envelope with her name on it, and the words ‘Read me first – the box comes later’. The writing was swirling, flamboyant, and unmistakeably Shaun’s.
Molly ripped open the envelope. As she pulled out the sheet of notepaper, a light shower of glitter fell onto the duvet and she caught a waft of Shaun’s favourite sandlewood aftershave. Unfolding the page, she took a deep breath to steady the now-familiar pounding in her chest, swallowed hard, and began to read.
‘When you open this, I’ll either be soaking up the sun on Bondi Beach or glugging cold beer in a bar. I know you said you couldn’t cope without me now Jake’s gone, but you’ve got work to do and it starts today. Remember that film we watched last year – you know, the one you loved and I hated – about the guy who sends letters to his wife after he’s snuffed it, giving her all those missions and jobs that she’s supposed to complete? And you said the book was better than the film, and I said it couldn’t be any worse? Well, this is my take on that story, only mine’s much cooler because I’m still here (although after the bender Si and me went on the night before we left, it’s a wonder) and at the end of your quest, you’ll know… well, wait and see what you’ll know. All I’m saying is, if Jake’s a mystery to you now, he won’t be for long.
See you in June – love you more than kangaroo burgers (don’t ask – not good).
Molly dried her eyes on her t-shirt and re-read the letter. She might have known Shaun would have something like this up his sleeve – best friends like him didn’t come along every day. She missed him desperately. It had been the middle of October before she had accepted that he really was going away. His round-the-world trip with his partner, Simon, had been in the planning stages for months. Jake had said they’d all be applying for their bus passes by the time Shaun and Si managed to leave, but as it happened Jake had beaten them to it. Molly had never felt so lonely in her life.
Picking up the box, she gave it a shake. There was a rattle; almost a ringing sound. The lid was taped down securely and took a while to undo. To begin with, all that was visible was a heap of shredded tissue paper. She put a finger into the middle of it and felt something hard and shiny. Carefully, she parted the strands to reveal a silver bell and a tightly-folded note.
• • •
Celia J Anderson spends most of her spare time writing in as many different genres as possible, including children’s fiction. In her other life, she’s Assistant Headteacher at a small Catholic primary school in the Midlands and loves teaching literature (now comfortingly called English again but still the best subject in the world.)
She tried a variety of random jobs before discovering that the careers advisor at secondary school was right, including running crèches, childminding, teaching children to ride bikes (having omitted to mention she couldn’t do it herself) and a stint in mental health care. All these were ideal preparation for the classroom and provided huge amounts of copy for the books that were to come.
Celia enjoys cooking and eating in equal measures, and thinks life without wine would be a sad thing indeed. She is married, with two grown up daughters who have defected to the seaside. One day she plans to scoop up husband and cats and join them there.
Find Celia Online:
Website - http://celiajanderson.co.uk
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/celia.j.anderson
Tirgearr Publishing - http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Anderson_CeliaJ
Buy your copy here: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Anderson_CeliaJ/little-boxes.htm
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