(This article originally appeared in the Pebworth Piper)
My need to leave London had been on my mind for a while. I was fatigued by London’s luxury towers and treeless plazas. It’s uptight tentacles tangled along every street and into my little Victorian cottage
Originally a brummie, the twenty years of London had gotten under my skin. For a lone independent woman the tube was liberating – you could get anywhere! There was always a new area to discover, and tiny backstreets yielded hidden multicultural gems. I was never intending to make my fortune in London, but I was carving out my own path. When I landed there I started scribbling… on a notepad on the trains from Waterloo, in a coffee shop with a breakfast muffin before work. I had stories to tell.
Writing a novel was just something that I wanted to do, but when my Mum’s debut novel was unexpectedly Booker- shortlisted, I also went out seeking a book deal. In 2019 my debut Helen and the Grandbees inspired by the sadder, neglected side of London, was accepted for publication.
I believed that Helen and the Grandbees was about the disenfranchisement that isn’t reflected in the pages of glossy location magazines. What I hadn’t realised was that it was also a letter to myself telling me about my changing needs. I just couldn’t hear it. The novel was about the hidden strength of family love when facing the most intimidating of barriers. I immersed myself in the mind of a grandmother who faces her worst fears and learns to forgive in her passion to protect her grandchildren. But my life couldn’t have been any more different, cycling into the office, buying pretty clothes and eating out.
For a brief moment after penning the last words of the novel, I felt a siren calling me back closer to my old home that I was unable to enunciate. Hints of my message to myself crept in as I was persuaded to endure two IVF rounds, embracing the unknown world into which it would deliver me. It was not successful. Then two things happened. COVID introduced ‘work from home,’ just as my novel was published; and my sister fell pregnant with twins. Not only could I work from anywhere, being closer to family gave a shape to that unnameable pull. Finding the house with the view of Meon Hill, close to the Greenway gave me the stepping stone I needed.
My latest novel Adrift – The Storyteller & The Mosaicist is set in London, when a young woman, Bernie tries to cut adrift from family in response to personal tragedy. Now I have made my home in Worcestershire I wonder if Bernie will find also herself moving closer to her roots after the closing pages of Adrift.
I don’t know what stories I will discover here, but they will be inextricably infused with my peaceful new home. I hope I will be more alert to what my own writing reveals to me about my own dreams.
Alex Morrall’s latest novel ADRIFT – The Storyteller & The Mosaicst is available at:http://mybook.to/Adrift
Helen and the Granbees is available at http://mybook.to/HelenandtheGrandbees.
She lives on the Worcestershire/Warwickshire border, and has spent time living on the coast, the sea inspiring this novel. Her debut novel Helen & The Grandbees was published to press acclaim. She enjoys working using both her creative and mathematical background. She has a maths degree, but paints beautiful city scenes and landscapes in her spare time.