Title: The Secret Thoughts of Leaves
Author: Anne Brooke
Release Date: April 19, 2010
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Literary fantasy
Blurb: When Henry wakes up one morning, he discovers that the trees in his garden are very different - how will he respond to the strange call of the leaves?
Welcome to Sizzling Releases, Anne. I’m so pleased you could join me today. What is your Sizzling Release?
The Secret Thoughts of Leaves
What is The Secret Thoughts of Leaves all about?
It’s about one man’s strange relationship with nature, and how the trees in his garden might not be as innocent as they appear.
That’s funny, my youngest daughter swears the trees talk to her. How did you come up with the idea?
My writing group held a themed session where we had to write about something ordinary but make it fantastical, and I started thinking about how nature can have its own strange voice, and this story is the result.
As a multi-published author, what advice do you have for those just beginning a career as a writer?
I’d say the first thing is to write what most thrills and inspires you – make it count and make it be special to you. Whatever that might be. It’s the best way to finding your writing voice. I’d also encourage people to join writing groups, either on- or off-line, and take part in writing workshops, conferences, etc. You learn a great deal that way!
Tell the readers about your backlist.
With Untreed Reads, I have an erotic story, How To Eat Fruit; a ghost story, The Girl in the Painting; and a biblical story, Dancing with Lions. I also publish gay erotic fiction with Amber Allure Press, which includes A Stranger’s Touch, Give and Take, The Hit List and The Delaneys and Me (m/m/m).
I also have a series of gay PI novels: Maloney’s Law (PD Publishing), and The Bones of Summer (Dreamspinner Press), and a new edition of my gay psychological thriller, A Dangerous Man, will be published by Cheyenne Publishing later in 2010. I also have a psychological thriller, Thorn in the Flesh, and a romantic comedy, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice, both published by Bristlecone Pine Press. Finally (phew!) the first in my fantasy trilogy, The Gifting, has just been contracted for publication by Bluewood Publishing.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the final part of my fantasy trilogy, The Executioner’s Cane, which is now about one-third through. It’s a real challenge as I’ve never written a series before, but I hope I’m getting there!
Do you have an evil day job, and if you do, how do you find time to write? Yes, I work part-time in Student Care Services at my local University on Mondays to Wednesdays. I work on short stories in the evenings, and focus on the novel on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s quite difficult sometimes making the balance work, but I think I’d probably go mad if I actually wrote full-time. My EDJ keeps me grounded!
What sparks your imagination and gets your juices flowing?
Odd things people say, TV, wondering “what if?” and dreams – yes, I’m big on dreams. I dreamt the whole of the first chapters of Maloney’s Law, and The Gifting, and had to start writing them to find out what happened. Does that make me weird?
What does your family and friends think about you being a published author?
My husband and mother love it, and my mother especially loves my gay erotic fiction – not bad for an 80-year-old! My stepfather doesn’t really know what to do with the fact so avoids it, and the rest of my family are shocked, which has caused problems. My cousins once emailed me to say I shouldn’t write gay male fiction as it was upsetting, so we’ve avoided the issue ever since. I think also the friends I’ve known for years find it very difficult as they aren’t used to me writing at all, so we never talk about it much, though I know they do read some of the non-gay work. But on the other hand newer friends and those at work are unusually keen, which is lovely!
It’s June and summer is upon us. Do you have any vacation plans?
Yes, my husband and I are off to Wales mid-June for a week’s R&R, so we’re very much looking forward to that! Even though it will rain, as it always rains in Wales …
Wow, am I envious! What is your favorite vacation memory?
Finally, (after years of being frightened of being on a plane for more than 2 hours), being persuaded by my husband to take the long (for me!) flight to Egypt and at last seeing Abu Simbel – which I’ve longed to see for a lifetime. It was magnificent. When I turned the corner of that long walk down to where it is, I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears and just couldn’t stop crying for 10 minutes. My husband was soooo embarrassed! But the guide was lovely and said this sort of thing happened all the time. She let me stay for ages too, just to gaze at stuff and soak it all up. It was wonderful. I’m even crying now as I think of it!!
Oh, that must have been an awesome place to visit. I have wanted to go there for years. (heavy sigh!) Now, when you go swimming, bikini, one-piece, tankini, or shorts and a t-shirt?
Shorts & t-shirt.
Lake, river or ocean?
River. I love river cruises.
Surfing or skiing?
Neither – I can’t swim! Which makes the above answer a bit strange, I know.
Snorkeling or scuba diving?
Thank you so much for being here. Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Thanks for reading (and thanks also for the interview, Rie)! It’s been a pleasure being here.
And before we go, how about an excerpt from The Secret Thoughts Of Trees?
Muttering to himself, Henry pulled his toast free, dropped it onto the nearest plate and ate it, standing and gazing out of the window. Something he had never done before. The trees in the garden were not as they had been yesterday and the day before that and, in fact, all the days he had lived here. Today they pulsated with energy, their trunks undulating in the sunlight, all the leaves quivering in something more than a breeze. Henry gasped. For the branches and the hint of green in his head began to vibrate in unison with their fellows outside. In his mind, he heard singing, although there were no words. He felt as if a spark of light had pierced his brain and formed a bridge between the outer and the inner worlds. He found himself humming, a deeper harmony than the higher tones of the branches.
Breakfast abandoned and surgery forgotten, he walked slowly out of the kitchen, through the hallway and towards the front door. The music seeped from his mind and flooded his body, flowing through blood and bone, vein and sinew. At the same time, the dark shapes and patterns in his thoughts began to grow ever more delineated. Through them he could see his rickety hall table complete with notepad and telephone, his neat line of shoes underneath and, when he glanced to his right, the faded watercolour of the Welsh coast bought for him by his mother many years ago. He’d never liked it.
But he did like the music. More than “like”. He needed it and he needed to hear it more deeply.
Not bothering with any kind of jacket – though it wasn’t cold – he stepped out over the threshold. At once the melody wrapped him in a greater warmth. The song of the garden trees – and now he gave a short cry as for the first time their names swam easily onto his tongue: dogwood; mulberry; yew – reached in through his skin and all his thoughts and touched the branches he held in his mind. The two images became one. The physicality of the first and the figurative nature of the second melded until Henry could no longer have explained where one began and the other started. His body, his mind became the bridge upon which all his worlds met.
Without knowing the steps he’d taken to get there, he found himself standing against the dogwood, the palm of his hand pressed to its bark so hard that he could feel the grooves and lines of the trunk imprinting their life onto his skin.