Friday, 21 February 2014

This Old Shack

There’s so much I could say about my new novel, Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye. As a horror story, family drama, and sweet lesbian romance set in the eighties, it covers a lot of bases. I could talk about how much of my young adult life pops out of my main character, Rebecca. I could tell you how much fun I had delving back into 1980s fashion trends and modes of speech (like, gag me with a spoon!) to write it. I could admit to the half-recalled memories that provided a springboard for Rebecca’s family secrets.

Instead, I’m going to tell you about the cottage.
Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye is a summer novel, so if the chilly temperatures are getting you down this might make a nice little mental getaway. It’s set at a very strange old shack, which is modeled after the one my grandparents owned in the 80s. In the book, Rebecca remarks that it’s more like a storage unit than a cottage, and that pretty much describes it to a T. The structure did have bedrooms, but as a whole the cottage was a single-storey rectangle that sat about a foot off the ground. If it had wheels, it would be a giant caravan.

It didn’t have wheels. It did, however, have hippie daisy stickers on every door and the most hideous 1970s-era furnishings you could possibly imagine. There was a little black-and-white TV in the corner, but without cable and being in the middle of the woods, it only got reception of one channel—and that was very blurry.

The radio was always on, always tuned to CBC Radio One.

To say the cottage had indoor plumbing would be stretching the truth just a bit. There was some kind of pump in the kitchen, which supplied water to the sink, but the taps in the bathroom were purely decorative. Every morning, my grandmother would fill a tin basin in the kitchen and set it in the bathroom sink for us to wash our hands.

Now… about the toilet. Maybe this is TMI, but I’m not completely clear how that whole system worked. There WAS a toilet and it DID flush, but only once a day. And my grandmother had to do it. I’m sure you can imagine the stink of that bathroom with a whole day’s worth of a whole family’s… umm… leavings, shall we say? Flushing was a delicate procedure, always kept under wraps. Very mysterious.

The family in my book has a teepee in the backyard (which was a clearing that spilled over into woods) because we had a teepee, too, made of branches and boughs. Years before I was born, my grandfather had carved a family totem pole back there. That didn’t make it into my novel, but now I kind of wish it had. I’d forgotten about it until just now.

I’ll tell you another strange thing about the cottage, which didn’t figure into the book: if you walked into the woods behind my (maternal) grandparents’ shack cottage and you kept walking for five or ten minutes, you’d arrive in the backyard of my paternal grandparents’ prim two-storey gingerbread cottage. AND YET… that’s not how my parents met. They met in the city, even though their parents had these cottages that basically backed on to one another.

Isn’t that weird?

I’m not sure how my grandmother or anyone else from my family will feel about me incorporating all this weirdness into my book. Grandma’s got a fine sense of humour, so I think she’ll be amused.

At least, I hope so…

Tiffany and Tiger's Eye is available in print from Amazon and other vendors. You can also get the ebook from Amazon, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and many other ebook stores.

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