It’s not fair. I don’t reckon the police should lock people up without hearing their side of the story.
Lurking in the first two books I wrote about Rowena, Sticky Beak and Blabber Mouth, was the death of Ro’s mother which happened very shortly after Ro was born. Ro has always assumed the two were somehow connected. Her dad has never said anything to contradict that.
But what, I started to wonder, if there was something about the tragedy that Dad had always been too guilty or ashamed to admit? In the first two books, Ro’s lack of a speaking voice allows several communication-related themes to develop. What an interesting extension of that, I thought, if she gets wind of a big family secret.
As I started to get a feel for what Gift Of The Gab would be about, another idea came along and wouldn’t go away. I’d written Blabber Mouth in France and had belatedly realised how my own rather pathetic attempts to communicate in mangled French had led me to write about Rowena’s communication problems. Now that she was embarking in this third book on the biggest search for truth in her life, with a vital need to communicate with some key people, what if these people spoke a different language to her? Like French.
Mon Dieu, is there no end to the obstacles an author will place in a character’s path? Désolé, mais non. And I think most characters wouldn’t have it any other way once they discover how problems can be their friends, because grappling with a problem can often bring out the best in us.
Rowena doesn’t speak French, but that turns out not to matter because unlike me at the local markets in Provence, Rowena is brilliant at communicating in a dozen different ways.
And when she does discover the secret of her mother’s death, and shares her thoughts and feelings about it with us, we feel very special. Because it’s only us, her author and readers, who get to experience those words in her own true voice.
Gift Of The Gab is available in bookshops and libraries in Australia and New Zealand, and online: