Years ago I read about an experiment in an old peoples’ home. I can’t remember where I read this or what they were attempting to prove, but I do remember that the experiment consisted of recreating the environment of the residents’ youth with films, radio programmes, newspapers, etc. and the thing that intrigued me, which is what made me remember it, was that the subjects’ hair darkened.
I’ve had the idea lurking at the back of my mind ever since. What if you carried the experiment to its logical conclusion?
Last year I entered Nanowrimo for the first time (a competition to write a novel in a month) and this was the idea that resurfaced when I sat down at my computer. I have never written so fast and furiously in my life before. The story just poured onto the page.
I kept coming across gaps in my knowledge but followed Stephen King’s advice and just carried on writing, intending to deal with all that later.
When I picked it up again a few weeks later and got down to seriously working on it I found I had to do a lot of research on the Second World War. I knew a fair bit already from reading and television documentaries, as well as from the experiences of my own parents, but I needed to know things like what branded goods they used, how the rationing system worked and so on.
I also realised, when one of my characters suddenly got completely out of hand and decided to return to India, that I was woefully ignorant of Indian culture. I knew some from reading, and I had studied a lot of Indian history at university, but I had no idea whether my knowledge would suffice for modern day India. The problem with something like that is you don’t know what it is you don’t know. I did not realise, for example, that a Hindu would be unlikely to understand Urdu. So I appealed on Twitter for experts on Hindu culture to read and correct it. I had four responses and checked all their comments with Google. Thank you, you wonderful people. You’ve saved me a lot of embarrassment. And thank God for Google. It’s saved me weeks of work.
My dear friend, Caroline, read the proofs when she was staying with me and suggested the idea for a cover. She painted the beautiful hands. They belong to her mother, Anne Ritson, to whom the book is dedicated. The photograph is of my own mother, May Thornton, who was a nurse at the end of the Second World War.
So, to a large extent, this book is the product of friendship.
Here are some of the things other authors have to say about it:
“Jenny Twist is an enormously talented story-weaver who just goes on getting better. Fans of the wonderful novel, ‘Domingo’s Angel’ will not be disappointed with this latest offering from her. It’s a sweet and haunting feel-good story which will immerse you totally in its fictional world and leave you feeling deeply satisfied. Absolutely recommended.”
“All in the Mind will take you on a mind trip, one from which you won't want to return. As always, Jenny Twist's fiction is an addictive treat that's tightly woven to draw the readers in and keep them there.”
“This book moved me more than any other in recent memory, not because it was sad, although some scenes were very tragic, but because of the depth of emotion I felt for the characters, and the lasting love they share. . I dare anyone to read this book and not be moved to tears of joy.”
Tara Fox Hall
Tilly was dreaming.
It was VE Day and they were dancing in the streets. All the lights were lit. She kept looking at them, not quite believing it.
She was dancing with Johnny, her head against his chest, exhilarated by his closeness and the knowledge that the war was over.
It was so real, the dream. She could feel the rough fabric of his greatcoat against her cheek, smell its particular aroma of damp wool and tobacco.
She felt the dream slipping away and tried to hold on to it, but it escaped her grasp and shifted seamlessly into memory.
They had danced late into the night. Long after the gates to the nurses' home were locked. Eventually, exhausted and intoxicated with the euphoria of the crowd, they had walked back to the nurses' home and he had given her a leg up to climb the wall.
And as she sat at the top of the wall, one leg on each side, getting ready to swing over to the other side, he had grasped her by the ankle and said, “Will you marry me, Tilly? As soon as I'm demobbed.”
She looked down at his face, illuminated by the one street lamp in the lane, one lock of hair hanging over his forehead, his expression earnest and pleading.
She said the first thing that came into her head. “You're supposed to get down on one knee.”
“OK,” he said, with a grin, and dropped down on one knee. Did he know? Did he know then what her answer would be?
“Tilly”... he began in a loud, theatrical voice.
“No, get up,” she whispered urgently. “Someone might hear.”
“Who cares? What are they going to do – sack you?”
She smiled back at him in the lamplight. “You fool!”
And she pulled her leg out of his grasp and dropped gracefully down to the grass on the other side.
“Well?” His head appeared over the top of the wall. “Will you?”
“Yes,” she whispered back to him. Then she picked up the skirts of her uniform and ran across the lawn towards the darkened building.
As she ran, she heard someone whistling the Wedding March, the sound fading as he reached the end of the lane and turned into the street.
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat
Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien and Uncle Albert’s Christmas were published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011, Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011 and Away With the Fairies, her first self-published story, in September 2012.
Her new anthology, with Tara Fox Hall, Bedtime Shadows, a collection of spooky, speculative and romance stories, was published 24th September 2012.
Her new novel, All in the Mind, about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger, will be published 29th October 2012.
You can find out more about Jenny here:
Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4848320.Jenny_Twist/blog