Monday, 16 February 2015

The Willow Man

(Sorry - the free offer has ended now - but it's still very cheap!)

Monday night at the moment is Broadchurch night at Purkiss Towers. (For those of you based outside the UK, Broadchurch is the story of a murder and its repercussions on the small seaside town where it is set. The first series was a huge success, and may well have been shown abroad already. The second one is on in the UK at the moment.)

One of the many pleasures of Broadchurch for me is spotting the settings: it was filmed on the gorgeous Dorset coast, in Clevedon, on the North Somerset coast, and at Exeter University, where I work one day a week.

But even more exciting than this has been a walk-on part for the Willow Man This is an extraordinary 45 ft high statue beside the M5, which is the main route down to the south west. David Tennant (previously known as Dr Who), the detective in Broadchurch, has to travel north several times in the series - and the shot used to show where he is has the Willow Man in the background. It's not surprising - the statue is iconic, much as the Angel of the North is at the other end of England. When it was first erected, in 2000, it was unmissable. Now, unfortunately, it's hemmed in by new houses on one side and a massive supermarket warehouse on the other - but it's still there, one foot raised, arms outstretched, ready to take a walk across the motorway and find a more natural home - perhaps on the Somerset Levels, where waterways and lanes are lined with willow trees.

I was fascinated by it, and particularly by the contradiction inherent in its appearance. It looks so strong and powerful, it's straining to move forward - but it can't. So I used it in a story about three children who are also stuck, which, naturally, I called The Willow Man. I looked it up on Amazon just now and was delighted to find some reviews I hadn't seen before: here's one. 

Tom feels left out when his younger sister Sophie is taken ill. He turns to his friend Ash for support - but Ash has troubles of his own, both at school and at home when his long lost father reappears. Meanwhile, Sophie must re-learn how to walk, talk, and use her right hand. All three children need to find strength and a way to move on, and as they begin to help each other the giant figure of the willow man beside the motorway becomes a source of empowerment for them.

This is a gentle and moving story of family problems and friendships with some very subtle magic that feels like an extension of the children's own needs.

So - to celebrate the Willow Man's appearance on primetime national television, for one week, and one week only, my book is free to download - so please help yourselves! In the US it's available here; in the UK it's here. I hope you'll enjoy it, and I'd love to know what you think of it (especially - I've got to be honest - if you like it!)

NB New reviews coming soon - of Linda Newbery's The Brokenspectre, and Sharon Tregenza's The Shiver Stone.

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