Printer Friendly

I drew on my mormon faith to write.

Byline: with LAURA DAVIS

CARYS Bray knows all about grief. She experienced it when her newborn baby died in hospital 15 years ago, and it pervades the pages of her debut novel about a family coping with the loss of their own daughter.

A Song for Issy Bradley is a heartbreaking, heartwarming book, which looks at how different types of people manage grief.

A father, whose unswerving Mormon faith makes him soldier on. A mother, who hides under the bedclothes. A seven-year-old boy looking for a miracle.

Their grief is fresh, but the Southport-based author has found a place in her life's history.

"It's something that's a part of my story, that I'm very comfortable with because I wouldn't have had the children I had afterwards if she had lived," explains Carys.

"My grieving is done but I am really interested in the way grief affects different people.

"My daughter was never well enough to come home from hospital.

"When we got home on the day she died there was nothing of hers in the house apart from the double buggy that we'd bought. As the years went by I would think 'gosh, what must it be like for parents who have to come home to a house full of things and memories?' It must be like being assaulted at every turn."

Carys thinks imagining herself into others' grief is probably a "morbid, writely thing to do" but she is nonetheless compelled to do it.

At parties she would be the one standing at the side watching the other guests - "not in a creepy way".

But it wasn't until she began writing that she started looking at her own town.

Southport plays a strong part in the novel, emphasing mum Claire's isolation as she walks out along its desolate beach towards the tide that never seems to arrive.

Carys made the same journeys with a notepad and pencil while she wrote the book for her PhD in creative writing at Edge Hill University.

After marrying at the age of 20 and having five children in seven years, she was in her late-20s when she realised she hadn't fulfilled her teenager dreams of getting a degree and becoming a writer.

She completed a literature degree with the Open University, then an MA at Edge Hill before her PhD.

"When I first thought about writing a book I felt I hadn't done enough interesting things in my life and that I didn't live in an interesting enough place," she says.

"Once I got past that, I realised the really weird, eerie atmosphere on the beach and the idea of being on the edge of something, the way the town is this long, thin stretch along the coast, did make it interesting."

Although the characters and the book's premise - the loss of little Issy - are entirely from Carys' own imagination, there is still much that has been drawn from her own experiences.

The Bradley family are immersed in Southport's Mormon community, where Carys herself grew up.

When she was looking to write about how her characters' faith was tested, she drew on Mormonism because it was what she already knew.

"I really liked it growing up," she says.

"We went to school and to swimming lessons and I learned to play the violin - and I also spent three hours in church every Sunday. It was just an ordinary part of my life.

"There were always lots of activities, lots of plays and dance festivals, and you felt part of something bigger. You felt special because you believed that Mormonism was the right way to do things."

When she had her own children however, Carys started questioning whether she wanted to remain in the church.

"I wanted to bring my children up in a more liberal way," she explains.

"They were all very different people and I wanted them to be able to be very different and not to feel there was a particular path they had to follow."

They still have ties to the church however, and her husband and sons play in its traditional bank holiday football matches. She has also made it clear that it will be fine with her if her children choose to rejoin the church when they are older.

Despite putting off telling her family, she found they accepted her decision.

"The worry really existed in my imagination," she says.

"Obviously they're very disappointed, and worried for our eternal salvation but they've been absolutely fine."

? A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray is published by Hutchinson on June 19, priced PS12.99 in hardback. Carys will be launching her debut novel at Broadhursts in Southport at 5.30pm on June 21, all welcome. She will also be signing copies at Formby Books at 12pm on July 5.

CAPTION(S):

DEBUT: Southport-based author Carys Bray PICTURE: Colin McPherson
COPYRIGHT 2014 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 23, 2014
Words:810
Previous Article:BITZ Video Gaming with Cheryl Mullin.
Next Article:Linda Grant murders her library.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters