It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to my stop in the Blog Tour for I Know Where You Live by Pat Young. Many thanks, as always, to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me onto the tour.
For my part on the Tour I have the great honour of welcoming Pat onto my blog, with a guest post about the books and the mouth watering references food makes in her writing. I found this really fascinating, as it transported me back to my own childhood and grabbing a stalk of rhubarb and a bowl of sugar while taking a rest from hours of play in the garden with my brother and sister. Thanks so much to Pat for providing this guest post and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
Not everyone’s favourite.
And yet, in my debut novel, Till the Dust Settles, the reference to rhubarb has caught the attention of so many readers. Some even got in touch to tell me how much they loved it.
Till the Dust Settles is set in New York, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, so you’re probably not getting a connection with rhubarb.
Lucie Jardine, the main character, is Scottish but has lived in the States since she went there on a sports scholarship and fell in love with her coach. That did not end well. Lucie finds herself trapped with an abusive husband and estranged from her family. At some of her toughest times, Lucie recalls her feisty Scottish granny and takes comfort and encouragement from her couthy sayings. She also remembers, with fondness, a food from her childhood.
Yesterday I heard a radio feature about grandparents spoiling children by giving them too many treats. Lucie’s Scottish granny spoiled her when she was wee, but not with donuts, pizzas or sweeties. The treat at Granny’s house was a stick of rhubarb and a ‘poke’ of sugar.
My own grandmother would comfort me if I was hurt or unhappy, then take her sharp knife (the gully) to the rhubarb patch at the bottom of the garden and cut one fine, rosy stalk. She’d wash and dry it, and her hands, with care, while I stood and waited, impatiently watching the ritual. She’d select a paper bag from another drawer. Long before re-cycling had been conceived, grocery bags were made of paper and folk folded them up and kept them for re-use. (Occasionally, for my amusement, my grandfather would blow one up, like a balloon, then burst it with an almighty bang. I confess to blowing up and bursting every decent paper bag I’ve laid my hands on since! Not eco-friendly, perhaps, but it still makes me laugh!).
Granny would unfold the bag and smooth it out flat on the kitchen table. Then she’d carefully tear off one corner and open out with her fingers, to make a cornet. From the big jar on the shelf she’d pour white granulated sugar into the ‘poke’ and hand it to me, with the rhubarb stick. ‘Right, on ye go,’ she’d say, shoving me towards the back door and outside, so I wouldn’t make a mess.
In days before the ‘sherbet dib-dab’ kids would sit in the sun dipping rhubarb into sugar and enjoying a sensory explosion. Rhubarb so sharp and acidic it ‘would draw your jaws together’. Sugar so crunchy you could hear it on your teeth. Sweet, syrupy saliva so copious it would spill over and dribble down your chin. And a feeling of being ‘treated’ and cherished. Is there such a thing as ‘emotional nourishment’? That’s how it felt at the time.
I once, as an adult, tried to recreate that taste sensation, and failed. By the time my own children were born, the fun police were on patrol and sweet things were ‘bad’. To quote The Casanovas, ‘How can something so wrong feel so right?’
Nowadays I get my ‘rhubarb rush’ where I can. From yogurt and jam, though they’re hard to find. Anything on a menu that says ‘rhubarb’ gets my order. It’s good, often delicious, but it’s not the same.
That childhood memory of a wee, brown paper poke of sugar and a stalk of rhubarb hasn’t dimmed. For me or for many readers, it seems, since childhood.
There’s another connection to the book, pointed out by my husband. As he says, ‘In Till the Dust Settles, Lucie gets stalked.’
There’s no mention of rhubarb in I know where you live but there are plenty of references to food. The book’s set partly in France so you’d expect food to make an appearance somewhere.
The first mention is candy floss which may well evoke more childhood memories for readers. I remember my grandmother taking me to a fairground (we call it ‘the shows’ in Scotland) when I was quite young. I begged for a candy floss till Nanna gave in and bought me one. I can still smell the hot sweet aroma of heated sugar and can feel the rough edges of the wooden stick as the man handed it to me. It seemed huge and maybe it was for my whole face seemed to disappear into a sticky pink cloud when I tried to take a bite. One bite. That was all I got. In the next second a big boy swooped and grabbed the whole candy floss, leaving me clutching a bare stick. I think I burst into tears but I don’t remember being bought a replacement. I’ve never quite got over that shock of being robbed, as you can tell.
There are mentions in I know where you live of freshly baked croissants, all flaky, golden and buttery. There’s crusty bread, pâté and a glass of chilled rosé enjoyed in the sun. The antagonist, who appreciates life’s finest has some foie gras with the traditional sweet Sauternes to wash it down and recalls eating beignets in the famous Café du Monde in New Orleans, ‘as the icing sugar floated around them like mist’.
There may be no rhubarb in my second novel but, on reflection, I think there’s enough food involved to keep any gourmet happy.
I hope this has whetted your appetite and you can’t wait to get your teeth into I know where you live. Enjoy!
Penny believes she’s being watched. Yet no one should know where she lives.
Penny seizes the chance of a new life for her family when her husband is offered a job in Europe. At the airport they meet charming Sophie, fluent in French and looking for work as an au pair. Penny, struggling to cope in France, offers Sophie a job and she soon becomes an important part of the family’s life. But Sophie is hiding something.
Then Penny’s toddler son, Ethan, is abducted and an international hunt for the child begins.
The police beg Penny and her husband to take part in a television appeal but the couple refuse. Unknown to the police, Penny and Seth have new identities and are determined to lay low and protect them. But it may be too late for that.
Who has taken Ethan and why?
Are the couple’s true identities linked to the abduction?
And who has been watching them?
To save her son Penny may have to put her own life on the line.
Buy It Here
Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.
Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.
Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.
Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.
Pat writes psychological thrillers. Her debut novel
Till the Dust Settles, has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Stag trophy. Following publication in July 2017 Pat was delighted to be chosen as an ‘emerging talent’ for Crime in the Spotlight and read fromTill the Dust Settles to an audience at Bloody Scotland – another dream come true.
Published by Bloodhound Books, I Know Where You Live is the much-anticipated sequel to Pat’s gripping and unmissable debut thriller,Till the Dust Settles. It too is a psychological thriller with a skilfully told story that makes for an enjoyable stand alone read. It will hook you from the start.
Twitter – @py321_young