Today I am here to introduce you to Emma Claire Sweeney author of Owl Song at Dawn. I have for you all a guest post from Emma about her inspiration for the book. First though, here’s some more information on the book!
About the Book
Maeve Maloney is a force to be reckoned with. Despite nearing eighty, she keeps Sea View Lodge just as her parents did during Morecambe’s 1950s heyday. But now only her employees and regular guests recognise the tenderness and heartbreak hidden beneath her spikiness. Until, that is, Vincent shows up. Vincent is the last person Maeve wants to see. He is the only man alive to have known her twin sister, Edie. The nightingale to Maeve’s crow, the dawn to Maeve’s dusk, Edie would have set her sights on the stage all things being equal. But, from birth, things never were. If only Maeve could confront the secret past she shares with Vincent, she might finally see what it means to love and be loved a lesson that her exuberant yet inexplicable twin may have been trying to teach her all along.
My grandma lived off the state pension, but managed to wear fur coats and visit the hairdresser every week. She fed me milk loaf and strawberry splits; people gathered around the piano when she played; the local librarians all knew her by name.
Bam-bam – my pet name for her – died when I was just nine, but she still holds sway over my imagination. We found exercise books stacked in her bedside cabinet all of them filled with her own handwritten poems. For me, the search for literary forebears stems back to the discovery that my own grandma was a closet poet.
My dad kept her exercise books, but I chose a different memento: the bar of Pears soap that I found on her washstand. I’ve kept hold of it for decades, packing and unpacking it every time I move house, its scent of thyme still reminding me of her.
Maeve, one of the main characters in Owl Song at Dawn, detects the lingering scent of Pears on her twin. During the redrafting of the novel, I took my keepsake of Bam-bam out from the high cupboard where it had been stowed for years.
The bar of soap fell from my hand, hitting the hard floor and cracking in two.
After my initial dismay, I realised that there was perhaps something appropriate about this. My grandma was broken too, by the death of her eldest son and the disintegration of her marriage – unforgivable for a 1950s Liverpool Catholic.
But I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the broken. When that treasured bar of Pears soap splintered, a brighter amber was revealed and I inhaled a headier scent of thyme.
Perhaps Bam-bam is the reason why I’ve always been drawn to broken things: derelict funfairs; threadbare cardigans; people whose surface resilience hides their distress. Maybe this explains why I created in Owl Song at Dawn an elderly woman, both proud and brave; why I offered her one last chance.
About the Author
Emma Claire Sweeney is a multi-award-winning author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, who currently teaches on City University’s Novel Studio and at New York University in London.
Emma was brought up in the North West of England, the elder sibling of twins, and OWL SONG AT DAWN is inspired by her autistic sister.
With her writer friend and colleague, Emily Midorikawa, she runs the website Something Rhymed, which shines a light on the forgotten friendships of the world’s most famous female authors.
Emma writes literary features, reviews, and pieces on disability for broadsheets and magazines.