Release date: March 15, 2018
Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?
I’m delighted to have on my blog today, K A Hitchins, author of The Girl at the End of the Road and The Key of All Unknown, both short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Reader Choice Award 2017. I asked her about the inspiration of her latest novel, The Gardener’s Daughter, released on 15 March 2018.
“It was only when I lost my father and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me that I realised how many people don’t have a good relationship with their dads, or even had any real contact with them during their childhoods. I decided I wanted to write a novel about how much our identity is tied up with knowing where we’ve come from.
“A friend had told me of a girl who’d discovered in her teens that she was the result of an extra-marital affair. The other man had backed off when he realised his lover was pregnant with his child. The marriage survived the affair and – after seeing the ultrasound scan – the husband decided to commit himself to raising the baby with his wife. He adopted her officially when she was born, to prevent the biological father coming back on the scene in later years. The girl had a normal and happy childhood, but in her teens her parents told her that her Dad was not her biological father.”
That must have been quite a shock. How did she react?
She was completely devastated: her older sister was her half-sister; her beloved paternal grandparents were not relatives at all. There was a short spell of rebellion before, thankfully, she managed to work through these issues.
So this was the inspiration for your third novel?
Yes. This story fascinated me. I began to realise that many of the positive things in my life were a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents had given me, rather than any intrinsic goodness or talent in me. I decided I wanted to write about identity and how this is affected by the fathers we have – good fathers, bad fathers and absent fathers. My motherless nineteen-year-old heroine, Ava Gage, accidentally discovers she’s adopted when trying to do a good turn for her Godfather. In a fit of anger, she impetuously runs away in search of her biological identity. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, she unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and discovers who her real father is – with a sprinkling of romance and humour along the way!
‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ is a Young Adult thriller. Have you written YA before?
This was my first attempt at YA, but as I have two teenagers at home I thought I would try and write something that would appeal to them. My first novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, is a mystery/romance about a man who loses everything in the credit crunch and goes back home to live with his parents in the Suffolk village of his birth. He bumps into a mysterious woman from his past and discovers that things are not always what they seem, people aren’t always who they appear to be, and a ‘successful life’ depends very much on your perspective.
My second novel, The Key of All Unknown, is the story of brilliant scientific researcher who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her. Slowly realising that nearly everyone she loves or works with has a motive for wanting her dead, her only hope of survival is to discover the truth and unlock the key of all unknown.
I have to admit, that writing YA was more difficult than I envisaged. Having two novels under my belt I thought it would be a breeze to write something for a younger audience but in fact the opposite is true. It isn’t a question of simplifying the writing. Teenagers don’t like to be talked down to, and they won’t waste their time reading something unless they’re gripped from the word go and the storyline relates to the issues in their life. After all, YA authors aren’t just competing with each other for teenagers’ attention, they’re competing with computer games, YouTube, and social media. Thankfully, the initial pre-release reviews have all been five star, so I must have done something right!
K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.
Website Link www.kahitchins.co.uk
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