Release date - 14th September 2017
Book length - 320 pages
Publisher - www.accentpress.co.uk
Book Depository - www.bookdepository.com
Amazon UK - www.amazon.co.uk
Amazon US - www.amazon.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
There are dark corners in your mind that even you can’t get to.
Anna Caldwell is terrified of falling asleep. A nightmare, her very own, will be there waiting for her. After sharing her bed with the same vision for fifteen years, she’s desperate to shake it. But it only holds on tighter.
Then Anna meets Jack. She’s drawn to the strange, alluring tension that she feels when she’s around him. It’s as though it’s meant to be. But creeping beneath the roots of their intimacy is darkness.
If you knew your dreams were trying to tell you something terrible, would you listen?
When I started to read WAKING by Helen Richardson I had hoped that it would be a decent story with the odd surprise or two, but nothing prepared me for this compelling, absorbing, and utterly brilliant story!
Anna Caldwell has a new job, a new home, and a new life in London but she is still haunted every night when she goes to sleep and the dreams take over. Desperate to understand why this keeps happening to her, Anna cannot help but feel that she is missing something crucial and that there is some sort of message in these nightmares if she could only find a way to unveil its secrets. But when Anna meets Jack, she feels optimistic for the first time in so long and there is a sense that this is just meant to be. But as the darkness starts to close in, even more, are her dreams trying to tell her something so important that it could change everything?
Thrown straight into the story, this perfectly-paced thriller kept me on edge from beginning to end. The characters are interesting and intriguing, and I became desperate to solve the riddle of Anna's dreams as the story unfolded. There are plenty of twists and drama along the way and I really connected with the characters which is always such an important part of reading for me.
WAKING by Helen Richardson is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it!!!
From a young age, Helen devoured books and wrote stories. Still in single digits, she surrounded herself with contemporary literature, writing stories or poetry at every available opportunity. This passion took her to University College London to study English Language & Literature. There, she discovered and fell in love with the classical, canonical works that developed her understanding of the more modern writing she had grown up loving.
Graduating with first class honours, and at the beginning of a long love affair with London, Helen remained in the city, and began work in the film and television industry. Now a freelance producer making films for brands, charities, and channels, Helen has travelled all over the world with her work, making documentaries about the Mississippi River, following the McLaren F1 team around the world for Johnnie Walker whisky, making films for Mazda on the southern coast of Spain, shooting world-class Hungarian skateboarders in Budapest, and scaling the snowy peaks of the Swiss alps with Sir Richard Branson for Virgin Media Business.
Throughout this developing career, Helen has continued to write, finding the combination of writing and producing brilliantly complimentary. Her work as a producer has helped her to understand the tensions that exist within every creative process, and to become practised in the long hard slog of execution that inevitably must follow that initial, seductive, flash of inspiration. Her writing has helped her flex her creative muscles, become practised in the art of storytelling, and to trust her instinct when it comes to an idea.
Helen continues to move between producing and writing. She is currently developing film work for CNN's sponsored content department in London, CNN Create, and hoping to take some time later this year to begin work on her next novel. She credits her daily yoga and meditation practice, for her ability to juggle the two sides of her life. She lives in East London with her husband.
For more information:
Website - readmesoftly.com
Twitter - twitter.com/helen_r_writes
Facebook - www.facebook.com/HelenRichardsonAuthor/
Instagram - www.instagram.com/helen_richardson_writes/
Please read on for a wonderful guest post from Helen herself about letting go of the idea of the perfect book.
Letting go of Perfection
"My book, it's perfect. It's all there; it's unsullied. But as soon as I start to write it, it just gets less and less perfect, and in the end I'll have ruined it just by writing it."
Does this sound familiar? It did to me when I sat in the theatre as a sixteen-year-old, watching Alan Ayckbourn's 2005 play, Improbable Fiction, with my parents. This line perfectly articulated that private, almost paralysing paranoia that stunted most of my writing efforts at the time.
I sat open-mouthed in the audience, realising for the first time why I never got to the end of anything: Once I had an idea that I loved, I was terrified of messing it up by rendering it imperfectly. I was seduced by the shiny joy of a fresh narrative, a new character, the untapped potential of an embryonic plot. I cherished a crisp empty notebook, bought specially and ready to be filled, a blank page, a new pen.
I used to hate the phrase 'Done is better than perfect'. It seemed invariably to paraphrase itself in my head to, 'Lower your expectations' or, 'Settle for mediocrity'. To my rigid, brittle, perfection-seeking young mind, it sounded like accepting second best, or worse: giving up on a dream.
I have written intensely my entire life, or at least, since I was old enough to put pen to paper. Over the years though, I noticed my passion for writing gradually begin to become a part of that larger, weightier shadow of perfectionism that hovered over everything else I did. My unfinished novels and poems were like black holes in the Milky Way, a negative space that pulled the light in. I never felt that anything was good enough, and so I never finished anything.
I remember sitting on Porthcurno beach in Cornwall, in my early teens, sketching alongside my Granny and my Great Aunt, both professional artists. As we drew, my Granny said, with absolute earnest sincerity, 'The most important thing about art is that while you're doing it, you musn't worry at all about whether or not it is any good.' She delivered this to me as an important fact, and this astonished me, because at that age my head was full to the brim with this exact worry, in every aspect of my creative life.
A sample of marbling done by my Great Aunt Colleen Gryspeerdt that appeared in a collector's edition of T.E. Lawrence letters, and the 'Rough Sea' is a collage by my Granny Juliet Wheeler.
When I was twenty-two, I was working with a researcher called Dan, who one day revealed to me while we made coffee in the office kitchen, that outside of work, he had just directed and finished his first feature film. He asked me if I wanted to watch it. Of course I did. I spent that evening at home in my flat enjoying the fruits of his labour.
Sure, there were a few issues with it: He was clearly inexperienced; the actors were great but not amazing; it had been made on a shoestring budget. But there were flashes of real brilliance, moments of utter beauty and sensitivity, an incredibly clever script, and a genuinely interesting idea at its heart. I remember being as impressed by the fact that here was a finished, completed, entire feature film, as I was by the film itself.
When I spoke to Dan about his work, his approach stunned me. He told me that he loved directing and making films, and that his ambition was to be a 'really run-of-the-mill, mediocre, middle-level, average director'. He said it partly for comic affect, but I could sense an element of truth behind his words. I could see how this less precious approach had freed him up, loosened him from the intense, self-critical, creative constipation that I was suffering with.
On top of this, I could see that by finishing a film, he had learnt more about filmmaking than he would ever have learnt by starting and then dropping ten separate ideas. By completing the process, he had come into contact with each and every stage of it. He had come to terms with the ratio of 10% inspiration to 90% execution and delivery, and most importantly, he had lived through the experience of that gap between your vision, and your creation.
And this gap is the crucial bit, because that's the bit we need to practise: it's only by repeating the whole process, that we stand any chance of reducing the distance between our intentions and the reality of what we are able to produce.
If you are a talented, gifted writer, with the potential to write an incredible book, that's quite a heady place to be. And just so long as you don't finish anything, you can stay there quite comfortably. If you throw yourself into the process from start to finish, you will inevitably come up against your own shortcomings, areas of weakness, problems that need to be worked through, external criticism, and even errors of creative judgment.
There will be times where you will think 'maybe I'm not so good at this after all'. In those moments, it will feel so easy to retreat to the lure of a sparkling new idea, a different one, something untainted by your efforts, something that will allow you to reclaim your identity as a gifted writer with potential. The problem with these repeated introductions, is that you are only ever practising how to start something. You are constantly learning how to begin. To be brutal, the beginning is the easy bit: it's the rest of the process that requires the most work.
I have realised that letting go of perfection doesn't mean settling for something less, or lowering your expectations. It is subtler and kinder than that. It means relaxing the vice-like grip that you might be strangling your own writing attempts with; it means realising that your initial idea is a malleable sketch, a faint blueprint that will inevitably evolve and grow as you dive into its detail.
In order to develop as a writer, the experience of the process is as important as the piece of writing itself. Try to view each piece you finish as a lesson, a stepping stone, a waypoint along your journey. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't even have to be good. But it should teach you something.
Take the legendary, triple-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, whose story begins with him being fired from his first proper job, or Sir Richard Branson, who almost declared bankruptcy during the early days of Virgin, or - of course - the initial rejections that J.K.Rowling received for Harry Potter. What unites successful, inspirational people, is not their superhuman ability to be pitch perfect winners at every stage of their life, it is their willingness to have an open and honest relationship with failure.
What you write next will probably not be perfect, but you have the power to make sure that it contains something valuable, something that you can learn from. Alan Ayckbourne's Improbable Fiction is a great example of this: I didn't actually love the play, and I don't think it is one of his best works, but it afforded me the nugget of self-awareness that I began this post with, a line from a character that travelled straight to my sixteen-year-old heart, drowning in unfinished stories.
The next few books you read, imagine you had written them. Look for a sentence you might change, for the parts of a story you might shift slightly, a different tone of voice that could work better in a certain scene. Don't do it with every book of course - it would ruin the joy of reading! - but just for a short time, extend the same harsh level of criticism and self-doubt that you load onto your own shoulders, on published works.
I guarantee you will find that very few books are entirely without fault, or room for improvement. And you know why? Because the differences between us are too great and too interesting. We won't ever unanimously receive a piece of writing in the same way. We don't arrive at a novel with identical personal contexts; we each carry different histories, experiences, and reference points.
You can't write the perfect book, but instead, if you're lucky, you can be a part of the conversation. For that to happen though, you will need to finish speaking, to complete the thing you are trying to say, to let go of perfection and find your way to The End.
*I want to thank Karen at Accent Press, and the author Helen Richardson, for the opportunity to read this novel, take part in this blog tour, and for such a fabulous guest post.
Hi fellow bookworms. My name is Linda and I'm a reviewer & blogger from Ireland. Oh and also a wife and mother!
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