I’m really pleased to welcome Susi Osborne to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today as I have been hearing great things about her books so I thought it was time to find out more.
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Staying in with Susi Osborne
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Susi. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thank you. And thank you for inviting me, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
‘Twas a difficult choice! Am joking – it was an easy decision to make. Although I still feel very attached my previous three books, particularly to Grace & Disgrace, my most recent book, Angelica Stone, is definitely the one of which I am most proud. It actually took me a lot longer to write, and entailed a lot more soul-searching and research than the others did so it definitely holds a special place in my heart. In fact my daughter reckons that writing it changed me as a person – although I wouldn’t go quite that far! So yes, the book I have brought along to share is Angelica Stone.
(I’d like a chat with your daughter some time to find out exactly how she thinks you’ve changed! Such an interesting concept. Books change me as a reader all the time but I don’t really consider the impact on their authors.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Susi Osborne and Angelica Stone?
I think you can expect a little bit of anything really. A mixture. An unpredictable one! But first of all, can I just say – don’t you just love the cover? I am so pleased with it – so much darker than the covers of my previous ones which hints, correctly, at the fact that the story is much darker too.
(I agree – it’s very atmospheric.)
The idea for writing Angelica Stone originally stemmed from thinking about how, when you start out in life, you don’t get a choice about which family you are to be born into and, if you’re given a particularly bad start in life, is it ever possible to break free from that cycle. Education can, in fact, play a huge part in this but often it is the people we meet along life’s way that can be the biggest influence. Friendship choices can really make a big difference to our lives – the mutual support that comes from a good friendship can be phenomenal and, with reservations, this is what happened to Angelica when she formed an unlikely friendship with Lola.
In the beginning Angelica has nothing and Lola has it all…apparently. Sexually abused as a young child, Angelica has been brought up in care, had an ever-changing succession of social workers and was moved around from one foster placement to another. Understandably she rebelled against everything and everyone and could never trust anyone, having been let down so often in her life. She ends up homeless, living on the streets and eventually is led into prostitution in order to survive.
Middle-class Lola, in complete contrast, appears to have it all – apart from the man of her dreams and a sylph-like figure, both of which she craves. However, as a strong bond of friendship gradually develops between the two of them, cracks start to appear in Lola’s life and a series of events lead to a very major and shocking twist which almost leaves her in ruin.
Despite the dark underlying theme around which this story unfolds, there are a lot of light and humorous moments too – it wouldn’t have been written by me otherwise, I am noted for my sense of humour! I especially liked writing the character called Arthur – he wasn’t even in the book to start with but he kind of grew into his role!
Angelica Stone is receiving some really excellent reviews – I am so pleased, especially as this book is so much darker than my other ones, I really didn’t know how people would react. But they love it – I hope you do too!
(It sounds just my kind of read – especially as I have taught so many students like Angelica in the past and understand completely how that kind of life can emerge.)
What else have you brought along and why?
Hmmm. This was more difficult. Bring along something that fits the subject of the book… Okay. Weird. This may sound weird. But I was thinking about Angelica sleeping out on the street, needing something to keep her warm…and something we could also wear on our evening in, and I came up with the perfect solution… Onesies – one each! I even have a friend who supplied them for us, purple like the book cover, Angelica Stone printed across the back!! (orders can be taken, any colour, any name printed!)
I brought food as well…and drink. Luxury items that Angelica could never afford to buy for herself, things that occasionally Lola bought for her, things that I’m sure we shall enjoy even if they don’t go together that well. Cream cakes, chocolate…and gin!
Ooh, and I brought a Barbie doll with me too… Don’t ask!
The music I brought along with me is just perfect, the words are so relevant to Angelica’s story. Phil Collins – Just Another Day in Paradise. The downside is that it brings tears to my eyes when I hear it but I’m sure the gin and chocolate will make us smile again. In fact we’ll end up crying with laughter if iI read you some of the funny bits from Angelica Stone.
(I’ll hold you to that – I could do with a good laugh.)
Incidentally, I would have liked to have brought along my bestie, just to represent Angelica’s friendship with Lola. I did ask her actually but she declined – she hates onesies!
Well bring her along next time Susi! Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Angelica Stone.
Following years of sexual abuse and resulting psychological trauma, Angelica Stone has learnt to rely solely on herself. Unwilling to allow anyone to get close to her, Angelica is reluctant to allow her work colleague Lola into her life.
Lola, in contrast to the damaged Angelica, is from what appears to be a happy middle-class family.
But all is not what it seems. An unlikely bond is formed between the two as they learn more about each other. As they become closer, a series of life-changing events leave Lola on the verge of ruin.
Will the friends be able to better themselves and have the lives they so desperately want? Or will they succumb to the expectations and the path already laid out for them?
Angelica Stone follows both characters in their own journey of self-discovery. This close and in-depth look into the lives of Angelica and Lola will see the reader laugh and cry as the two women learn about themselves and the invaluable friendship they have.
Angelica Stone is available for purchase here.
About Susi Osborne
Susi Osborne is the author of The Ripples of Life, Grace & Disgrace, Secrets, Lies & Butterflies and Angelica Stone. She lives in Cheshire with her Scottish husband, her actress daughter and two mischievous little dogs. Their house is termed affectionately (hopefully!) amongst their numerous friends as the Osborne madhouse for obvious reasons. Susi also has an adult son and a grandson who live nearby.
Before she became a writer, Susi worked in libraries for many years. She also worked as a classroom assistant in a junior school. In addition to her writing, Susi organises Northwich LitFest, which she has been running for the past six years.
Alongside the writing of her latest book, Angelica Stone, Susi has been raising money for Centrepoint, the charity for youth homelessness, and has set up a Just Giving Page for the charity in her name.
Susi is a firm believer in the fact that it’s never too late to do anything. ‘You have one life – go out and grab it with both hands!’
She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website or on Facebook. You can follow Susi on Twitter @susiosborne. Susi is also available to give talks at festivals, events, libraries and reading groups and can be contacted at email@example.com.