Sunday, 4 June 2017

Guest Post & Giveaway - Chances: how a move to Spain inspired my second novel by Sandra Danby- Chances Fortnight

The word ‘a chance’ in Spanish translates as una oportunidad or opportunity. When my husband and I saw our Spanish house for the first time, we knew it was ‘the one’. Set in a quiet valley surrounded by beautiful hills, we took the chance and said ‘Yes’ because we fell in love with its tranquillity. We loved waking to the sound of the waterfall, the birdsong, we never failed to notice the absence of that background roar of traffic and planes which seems to fill modern life.

I decided Los Leñadores was the perfect place to write my next novel, of which I had a vague outline in my head. Ignoring Gravity, my first novel, is set totally in the UK but my original setting for the sequel was Paris. In Connectedness, successful artist Justine searches for the baby she gave away as a student. She was originally destined to spend a year at art college in Paris, in truth because I fancied the idea of research trips involving sitting at pavement cafes, watching people go by, drinking coffee and eating croissants. And perhaps a little shopping. Until I realized that living in Andalucía in Southern Spain means I am within a stone’s throw of the home of Pablo Picasso. So Justine changed countries and I made the first of many research trips to the city of art.

I learned Spanish at weekly classes, got to know the locals, made some friends, and embarked on the first of many research trips to Malaga. In truth these visits involved a lot of walking around, getting lost, taking photos and sitting at pavement cafes, watching people go by, drinking coffee or beer. The only variation was we ate olives, rather than croissants.

What began with Picasso, evolved into a love affair with the city and its art. It is a real case of the setting inspiring the story. Justine’s time in Malaga is short but the action could only take place there and the fantastic streets and Spanish flavour brought my sketchy ideas to life. As a child growing up on the Yorkshire coast, Justine’s father encourages her to draw seabirds. He tells her the true story of how Pablo, as a boy, took over his father’s unfinished sketch of a pigeon and completed it better than his father could.

In Connectedness, Justine arrives in Malaga in 1982 as an art student. It is her first time abroad and Malaga was a very different place, it was only seven years since the death of General Franco and the end of the dictatorship. Despite the boom of seaside tourism and the naming of the Costa del Sol, Malaga had a down-market image of kiss-me-quick hats and cafes serving fried English breakfasts.  There was no Museo Picasso, no Casa Natal [Picasso’s birthplace], no CAC [Contemporary Art Centre], no Centre Pompidou Malaga, no St Petersburg State Russian Museum, no Carmen Thyssen Museum.

I wanted to convey the strangeness of being in a place where you cannot speak the language, where you are far from home and feel, though not exactly friendless, adrift. I used my experiences of when we first lived in Spain - the little difficulties with being understood, the sheer ‘different-ness’ of things, the puzzling habits and mores, the old-fashioned way of doing things - to bring truth to Justine’s isolation. At first she revels in the light, the sun, she is a top art student destined for success until love, and life, gets in the way. Connectedness, the story of Justine Tree, will be published in late 2017.

Sadly for us, life has got in the way too. We have lived in and loved this house for almost ten years but now, sadly due to changing circumstances, are moving back to the UK. Los Leñadores, which translates as ‘The Woodcutters’, is for sale. Read more about my life in Spain at my blog, Notes on a Spanish Valley.

Proud Yorkshirewoman, tennis nut, tea drinker. Used to be a journalist, now makes things up instead. Unlike Rose Haldane, in Ignoring Gravity, she is not adopted.

Spanish Twitter: @Spanish_Valley
Author website & blog:
Twitter: @SandraDanby
Buy Ignoring Gravity at Amazon UK:
Buy Sandra’s Spanish house:


If you like Maggie O'Farrell, try Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby. When you don’t know who you are anymore, it's time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers, or wish she'd never asked?

Ignoring Gravity is available as ebook and paperback at Amazon, and ebook at Smashwords, Nook, Apple & Kobo.

And coming soon… Connectedness. Rose Haldane must investigate the past from Yorkshire to Spain to find the birth child of a controversial artist. To the outside world, Justine Tree has it all, but she also has a secret which threatens to destroy everything. Connectedness is book two in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

Giveaway to Win a paperback of Ignoring Gravity (UK Only)

Sandra Danby is very kindly giving my followers a chance to win a paperback copy of Ignoring Gravity. 

Giveaway open to UK Only, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 18/06/2017. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win a paperback of Ignoring Gravity (UK Only)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to tell the Los Lenadores story, Rachel. Today it is a quiet Sunday morning, eagles are circling above, swallows are swooping to their nest in the pool house, and I am sitting on the terrace reading 'The Believers' by Zoe Heller!


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