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The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister - Book Tour

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 The Tissue Veil

What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards - and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha's discovery of a journal and Emily's sightings of a 'future ghost'. Each takes courage from the other's predicament - after all, what's a hundred years between friends?

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Guest Post
Dear Jasmine,
            thank you for inviting me onto your blog. There's a conundrum at the heart of my novel The Tissue Veil and I thought I'd try to explain it.
            If we grow up with stories, we instinctively learn the art of willingly suspending our disbelief. Talking animals? No problem. Flying humans? Whether it's Peter Pan or Superman, we'll go with the flow.
            My novel has two time frames, in the early 20th and 21st centuries, and the stories are united by both theme and place. The young female protagonists both face problems which the other would recognise -- family and social pressures which push them towards unwanted marriage, frustrate their ambitions and threaten their independence. Thematically, I hoped to show that life has changed -- but not that much and not for all; story-wise, I didn't just want parallel narratives; I needed the girls to interact and influence each other at some level. Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and 'share' the same bedroom: the link between them is fuelled by Aysha's discovery of a journal and Emily's sightings of a 'future ghost'.
            Future ghost? Surely no problem for readers familiar with 'Back to the Future' or 'Doctor Who', but the journal stretches their credibility a little further. It was important that Aysha didn't have access to all of Emily's history at once and that the stories developed in step with each other.  Aysha reads the journal then replaces it where she found it, under the floorboard; when she retrieves it some weeks later, she finds new entries and this continues to happen. The book has become 'a live channel to the past' and the veil which separates the Edwardian age from present seems tissue thin. Emily's sightings of Aysha at first puzzle, then comfort her; not surprisingly, she keeps her 'visions' to herself. Experiencing Emily's story as it's happening has a powerful effect on Aysha and she's desperate to know what happened to the other girl. She's also very reluctant to share the journal with friends -- if she can't explain it to herself, how can she expect someone else to understand? -- but eventually she does.
            I suppose I was influenced by the time-slip classics of children's literature -- such as Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time or Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden -- and modern adult fiction, like Kate Mosse's Carcassonne novels, but The Tissue Veil is not traditional time-slip. Journal and sightings aside, the two stories are, I hope, realistic narratives set firmly at their own point in time and the girls work out their problems and face their own challenges independently of each other. The alternating story-lines have equal weight and I'd like to think that readers will root for both girls and be continually enticed to read one more chapter to find out what happens to each of them in turn.
             Although it doesn't have any supernatural elements, the story I'm now writing does cover several decades and I soon found a linear approach wouldn't do. I am now jumping about in time, from one point in the central character's life to another, child to adult, and feeling much happier. I missed the alternating times and voices of The Tissue Veil!


Author Bio –
Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years.  This germ of a story became 'The Tissue Veil'.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers' Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she'll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel's final instalment of Thomas Cromwell's story.

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