Publication Day: 'Love Lessons in Starcross Valley.'

I feel extremely grateful and excited to be writing my sixth blog post to celebrate a publication day. Today 'Love Lessons in Starcross Valley' is out in EBook and I am beyond nervous, joyful, thrilled and giddy to be sharing this story with you. 

The journey to this story making it's way onto the page started back in August/September of 2020. I had finished writing my first draft of 'The Little Barn of Dreams' and had begun to daydream about Nova, pictured top left. (Illustrated by the phenomenal Breagh.) Nova loved dinosaurs and was a bit of a space nerd and having been desperate to go on a trip to Canada and doing lots of research of all the beautiful places to visit in Vancouver, she became my dream Canadian meet cute and so I started making notes in a crisp new notebook. 

I have written characters before that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community but this was the first time I really felt like I was confidently expressing myself and truly comfortable bringing more of myself to the page through Marnie, so this book feels incredibly special to me in that way. Being able to step into Queer spaces and insert myself into conversations in my own time has meant the world and I am beyond grateful to a wonderful host of authors who inspired me and kept me going when there were times I doubted myself and felt anxious about where I belonged. Writing Marnie and Nova's story has meant everything to me. 

Rewinding a little back to first putting pen to paper, my job as a teaching assistant was constantly changing due to Covid. Routine was very much up in the air and me and the little boy I worked with were having to adapt each day to all these changes and were making the most of it. One day when talking about books, the teacher pulled me up on Google and showed the class my books and Author bio. My little boy looked shocked that I was on the internet and made the comment 'I hope I'm in one of your books.' The comment pulled at my heartstrings and ideas started to pop into my head. Over the days that followed, the thought of writing about a teaching assistant kept coming up in my mind. However, my experience as a teaching assistant (on and off) for the last fifteen years has very much been that of a one on one support and the most recent two years being me and my little boy by each others side day in and day out, creating our own routine, adapting the curriculum, doing experiments and creating the world that we wish to live in, and so with his words in my head, I very much wanted to write our story. 

The little boy I worked with is Autistic and I have to be honest and say that a question that kept popping up in my head was 'Who was I to write about Autism?' and it made me feel anxious. There are so many incredible Authors out there who are Autistic and when learning about Autism I always, always listen to Autistic people and want to know what they think and feel individually. I didn't want to come across as though I was writing on their behalf or speaking for all Autistic children. But then as each day went by and with the smiles and love they bought with it, I realised I simply wanted to capture mine and my little boys days and all the memories and moments we were creating and the bond that we had formed. The little boy I talk about is one of my best friends, we get each other, and even though he is now at big school that hasn't changed. We keep in touch and I still see him. I would do absolutely anything for him. The story does touch on the fight he had to go through at school, through Paislee, and it shows Marnie's understanding and fight as a teaching assistant to help her be seen and heard for all that she is. I want to live in a world where everyone has that acceptance that we are all different as human beings and we all learn differently. I want to live in a world where school's are accommodating for all Neurodivergent children and not just those who are Neurotypical. I want to live in a world where schools talk about and celebrate differences more so that children can better understand each other and in turn grow into adults who are less judgemental and more accepting of those who are different to them. 

I hope Marnie and Paislee's story comes through with the joy and love of finding that friendship and knowing that you have someone by your side for life who loves and accepts all of you for who you are and that works both ways, Marnie accepting Paislee and Paislee accepting Marnie. I also hope that maybe it might open people's eyes to how much the world needs changing and how much we have to see people for who they are instead of trying to fit them into boxes and moulds for the sake of tick sheets and exams. Children don't all learn the same way and that in itself can be a magical thing to witness if you get rid of preconceived notions of what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to act and simply follow their lead and allow them to be who they are. 

I adored writing about all the wonderful people in the Starcrossed Valleys. It was the first time writing about twins and Marnie and Jovi's relationship makes me smile. I love their banter with each other and how they know each other inside out but also sometimes have difficulty with their twin guilt and comparing themselves to each other. Marnie and Jovi's best friend Antoni was a dream to write and yes, he was absolutely inspired by Antoni from Queer Eye. Cameron and Esme had my heart and getting to write about a bakery and a craft shop was so much fun. And of course, dinosaurs were an absolute must in honouring my best friend because he instilled a love of dinosaurs in me, so I had a blast putting that interest into this book. 

I really hope you enjoy 'Love Lessons in Starcross Valley' if you pick it up today. The blog tour kicks off today, run by the amazing Rachel Gibley, and so if you want to chat about the book and read reviews then keep an eye across social media, @theblossomtwins, where I will be sharing the links of all the incredible bloggers who are taking part. I appreciate you all greatly! 

You can order 'Love Lessons' from Amazon or Kobo now or you can pre-order the paperback from the wonderful Queer Lit, or Waterstones or WHSmith. 

Thank you so much for all your love and support with my books, it truly means the world to me when you give my stories a chance and when they connect with you! 

I hope you all have an amazing day! 
All my love

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