I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Sara Alexi’s The Other Daughter.
Sara has written a guest post for us about the inspiration behind her novel which I know you’ll identify with.
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More than a decade after leaving home Dawn finds herself stuck in a dead-end job, in a rundown flat, while her sister has it all – the husband, children and prestigious job in sunny Australia. Their mum’s favouritism is palpable, and even as she has a terrible fall leaving Dawn to pick up the pieces, nothing Dawn does can live up to her perfect, absent sister.
But still Dawn persists with taking care of her aging and fragile mum, until one day it begins to feel like the only thing standing between Dawn and her happiness is her mother’s continued, pitiful existence…
The Other Daughter was inspired by real life, as are all my books. My mother was 89 when I got the call from my sister that she had had a fall and was in hospital.
I was not unduly alarmed because the last time I had visited my mother she had fallen in the entrance hall of the house she has lived in for the last forty years and was stuck between the wall and a cupboard and I could not get in a position to help her up, even with a neighbour’s help. She was stuck like a beetle on its back! It took the paramedics to come and help her back to her feet and regain her dignity and of course they insisted she was taken to hospital, where they checked her out and discharged her, and we found our own way home.
But a second call from my sister let me know that the hospital wanted to keep our mother in overnight and it made me suspect that I needed to make the long journey from my home town to hers. I had made a similar journey, heart in mouth, head pounding in tension, only four years before when my father was in his last days. But this was my mother, and mothers are invincible, right?
They put her in the geriatric ward, and what first stuck me after spending the first afternoon, evening and following morning with her was how the other ladies in the ward had no visitors. On the second day a daughter visited, for an hour, the woman in the next bed and the woman opposite spent a great deal of her time telling everyone what a good for nothing son she had. By that evening the nurses had begun to praise me and my sister for our devotion to my mother. But my sister and I both saw hospitals as lonely places and I think we both suspected that if you are 89 like my mother we could see how she might suspect that she had been brought in with the expectation that she might die there. Without needing to discuss it, we knew that one of us would be with her at all times so at least she would not feel abandoned. It was beyond out comprehension that the children of the other women on the ward were not doing the same. And this is where the story line began to form in my head, my imagination began to wonder why these children were absent, what had happened in their relationships for them not to care at this, the possible final step in their mothers’ lives. So I took an aspect of my own relationship with my mother and magnified it, mixed in a friend’s relationship with her emigrated brother, threw in a bucket of imagination and allowed subconscious thoughts to emerge on the pages and out came The Other Daughter.
I was aware, when the seeds of the story came to me, that this could have been a rather dark and grim tale but I trust it is not. I hope it is a positive book that shows the growth of the daughter, the emergence of her self-worth and her eventual freedom.
But what I focused on in the tale was how this emotional freedom was won. The price that was paid to pacify her mother and the possible alternative route the protagonist could have taken that would have resulted in a very different story.
We have all been or will go down this route of ‘growing up’ and becoming ‘our own person’. For you it might have happened already as a teenager or it may have slowly occurred over the years as you have grown and had your own family, but I suspect that we are all jolted to grow a little more with the death of a parent. The wonderful thing, I hope, is that this does not have to be a negative event.
Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us Sara.
Sara Alexi is one of the top 150 most successful, self-published authors of all time; a prolific writer, she has written 15 books (and counting) in just four years, with book sales reaching well over half a million copies.
Remarkably, Sara is dyslexic. At school English lessons were a time of confusion, she found that books were indecipherable hieroglyphics and she was unable to enjoy reading and writing; growing up in a time when dyslexia was not well understood and little or no support was available. And so her artistic nature was confined to painting, an art form that she loved and would take her travelling around the world.
Despite her dyslexia Sara qualified as a psychotherapist and ran her own practice in Yorkshire for many years. In a casual conversation with a client, she discovered that Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and Hans Christian Andersen were all dyslexic, and Sara’s perspective changed. The world of fiction opened to her with this shift in perception.
Sara now spends much of her time in a tiny rural village in the Peloponnese, in Greece, where she is (very slowly) renovating a ruined stone farmhouse, whilst observing the Greek way of life and absorbing the culture, enriching her vision for both writing and painting.
Sara’s ‘Greek Village Series’ is inspired by the people she has met travelling, her time spent in Greece alongside her career as a psychotherapist; her writing provides a keenly observed, compassionate insight into people, culture, and the human condition, and is set around a charming rural Greek village
Predating the current refugee crisis in Greece by some three years, Sara’s debut novel, The Illegal Gardener, focuses on the immigration problems in Greece, and the clash of cultures that accompanies those seeking a better life in the West.
Connect with Sara Alexi
Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.