My Friday Reads this week is the poignant Only Hummingbirds Fly Backwards by author Rosie Parker.
Let’s find out a bit about the book:
When Ronnie’s twin brother Jake has a devastating motorbike accident and head injury both their young families are also fractured. And like Humpty Dumpty will they be unable to put their lives back together again?
This novel has twin timelines (early 1970s and late 1980s), twinned places (West Country and Brittany), and focuses on twins Ronnie and Jake (before and after their marriages). When the two families decide to holiday in Brittany secrets begin to surface. Will Ronnie’s marriage survive, will she succumb to the charms of Xavier, and will she get her impossible wish?
Some of the story is shown in flashback and some in the form of letters.
“Rosie Parker has woven together a poignant tale of heartbreak, love and loss – done so with her familiar mix of warmth, humour and empathy.” – Lola Jaye, author of The Attic Child
This novel went through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme.
Below is part of a flashback from when the twins were young and on a day trip to Brean Sands
‘Howzat!’ cries Dad, not bothering to keep a note of triumph out of his voice.
‘Aw,’ says Jake, dropping his cricket bat.
‘Not fair. You should have bowled underarm,’ I shout at Dad. But the wind carries my voice up and away, just as it had sailed the ball plop into Dad’s hand.
‘What?’ he calls out.
‘Oh. Never mind.’
I glance over to where the cars are parked at the edge of the dunes. Brean Sands is long and flat, the beach damp and hard from drizzle and high tides. When you swim in the sea, you get covered in brown stuff. We’re never too sure if its silt from the Bristol Channel Estuary, or sewage from neighbouring Weston Super Mare. I wonder if Mum is getting out the sandwiches yet. There’s no sign of her.
Our neighbour Beryl waves from her deckchair which is parked next to Slimy Bob’s Hillman Minx. Both her and stupid Marilyn sit with floppy sunhats. Marilyn is ill, and I once thought it’d be like in the book Heidi, with me tending the sickly Marilyn, but I soon discovered being Heidi is much overrated.
‘Come on Veronica!’ Dad beckons to me with large gestures. ‘Look lively. It’s Jake’s turn to bowl.’
I’m still fielding.
Jake runs up to the crease Dad has made in the sand with his bat, and bowls – overarm – and wide.
‘Bad luck, lad. Try again,’ shouts Dad, as I fetch the ball then throw it to Jake, who rubs it on his groin – like real cricketers do. He pounds up to the crease, bowls, and this time Dad hits it. High high up into the sky only to disappear into the dunes.
‘Six!’ shouts Dad. Showing off as usual. I half run, half walk to fetch the ball – my brown Clarks sandals plodding on the sand. Dad is a member of Clifton Cricket Club: Jake and I are only ten. Which tells you all you need to know about Dad’s competitiveness.
The wind off the sea is quite strong, but I can hear a soft laugh from behind the next dune.
Available to buy in paperback or Kindle on Amazon
Via publishers: https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop/book/258/only-hummingbirds-fly-backwards-PlYJ/
Also via bookshops e.g. Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/author/rosie-parker/5366990
And W.H. Smith https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/only-hummingbirds-fly-backwards/rosie-parker/paperback/9781914471117.html
Now let’s get chatting to Rosie. Welcome to my blog, Rosie. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Hi Karen and thank you for the opportunity to guest on your blog. I’ve always been writing and telling stories – since junior school – but being a writer was something I didn’t think would be for me. When I was at school it was something you were good at, rather than something you’d be encouraged to “do”. Thank goodness things have changed.
Has any author inspired you?
Oh yes – many. But again and again I return to the one who really made me think I could do it too. And that was Kate Atkinson. When I read her novel “Scenes Behind The Museum”, I thought – oh yes! I had the same feeling reading Jeanette Winterson’s “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit” for the first time.
What do you like writing most?
What’s called either rom com or women’s commercial fiction. I just can’t help comedic moments slipping into my novels. Which is fine, because you need the light as well as the dark, and comedy and tragedy are so close together, aren’t they?
Do you have a special place for writing?
Yes, I do. Because I teach creative writing for the Open University online, if I was to write in my office then my subconscious would be go – Right – we’re going to write a report, mark assignments, send emails etc. and all would tighten up. So I have to have a special place. Before I moved to this cottage I wrote my creative projects in a box room and now I have my dream writing shed in the garden.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Oh heck – I used to get over-excited, start off at a lick with my characters and story, and soon get in a pickle. These days I try and plot more. I won’t begin until I at least know the ending plus key plot points. But even though I promise myself that I’ll plot the whole thing first – here I am, yet again, about a third of the way in, realising I have to stop and plot, before it’s pickle-time!
I suspect most of us are a mixture of the two, or somewhere on the spectrum.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Yes. Often. I’ll shamelessly mine stuff which has happened to me, to other people, but will ensure it’s fictionalised – to spare any blushes and because – as Hitchcock said – Fiction is real life with the boring bits taken out.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m writing a romcom about a woman who thinks she’s too tall, has a daft name, and who falls for the mysterious man with a carthorse named Dave.
What inspired you to write this book?
It began life as a different novel which my agent didn’t like, but she did like the man and Dave the carthorse. My main character is loosely based on a tall and beautiful friend of mine (fictionalised, of course!). We had some lovely chats about the “issues/ problems/ things you wouldn’t think of” when you’re a woman over six feet tall.
What time of the day do you write best?
Mornings are best for me. I try and get up at 6am to write for a couple of hours before taking the dog out, and then do my OU work, and freelance stuff. Well, that’s the plan …
What are your hobbies?
Performing poetry and silly comedy songs. I adore the company of poets. All bonkers!
What advice would you give to other writers?
Write. Nobody else will finish your book for you. Write and write. Don’t be too “snobby” about using pen and paper. Often timed freewriting with pen and paper is the way to go and can – at the very least – help with sticky plot problems. Always carry a small notebook and pen with you. Always and everywhere.
Thanks so much for chatting to us today, Rosie. Wishing you many sales of your new book!
Rosemary Dun has been writing novels, short stories and poetry for ever (or so it seems). She has a MA in Creative Writing and a literary agent. A protracted period of chronic illness took a big chunk out of her writing life, but she’s now back on form. She lives in Somerset with her cockapoo Miss Tilsworth of Tillington Manor (Tilly for short). Only Hummingbirds Fly Backwards is written under the pen name of Rosie Parker
Website: (being updated) rosemarydun.co.uk
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryDunAuthor
Twitter: @rosemarydun and @RosiePa49123542
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karen-King/e/B0034P6W7I
2 thoughts on “Friday Reads – Only Hummingbirds Fly Backwards by Rosie Parker”
Thank you so much for inviting me along, Karen. xx
You’re very welcome x