In YESTERDAY’S SUN newlyweds Holly and Tom have just moved into their dream home, a charming English carriage house in the London suburbs. A rising television journalist, Tom can’t wait to fill the house with children. Holly, a budding artist, isn’t so sure. She fears that as a mother, she will repeat the terrible mistakes of her own neglectful parents. But Holly and Tom are young and deeply in love, and they have time to decide.
While renovating the house, Holly finds an unusual crystal orb—the missing top to the moondial in their garden. She soon discovers this is no ordinary timepiece. Under the full moon’s brilliant light, it reveals the future—a future in which Tom cares for their baby daughter. Alone.
Holly’s new friend in the village, an elderly woman named Jocelyn, reveals the cursed secret of the moondial’s power. Now Holly must choose between herself and her and her future child—a painful decision that will ultimately teach her about motherhood and sacrifice…and reveal how far she will go in the name of love.
Born out of the author’s own tragedy, YESTERDAY’S SUN is Brooke’s exquisite and heart-breaking tribute to her son. A single mother of two, Brooke’s world was shattered when her son Nathan was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia—a disease that affects only young children and has only a 40% survival rate. Nathan died before reaching his fourth birthday. Determined to make his legacy one of inspiration and not devastation, Brooke artfully captures Holly’s moral dilemma; YESTERDAY’S SUN presents every reader – whether a parent or not – with the enduring potency of a mother’s love. I hope you enjoy and will consider sharing YESTERDAY’S SUN with your readers this winter.
YESTERDAY’S SUN is your first novel; did you always want to be a writer?
I think the desire to write was always there, I just didn’t have the belief in myself to actually get on and do it. I had plenty of ideas for stories and an overactive imagination but time passed by and I reached a point in my life where I thought if I’d really wanted to be a writer I would have done something about it by now. Nathan’s illness changed all of that. When he was first diagnosed with leukaemia I found it so difficult to talk, not because I didn’t want to but because I physically couldn’t get the words out and that was when I turned to writing. Poetry in particular became a way for me to express my feelings and I also kept an online journal. Then when he died, my writing didn’t just continue, it intensified. I wanted to write about Nathan first and foremost and then, when I was sure that I had preserved every precious memory, I realised that I didn’t want to give up writing. Somewhere along the way I had discovered a dream to become an author and I have Nathan to thank for that.
How did you first come to think of the idea of the moondial?
When I’m writing, I love those unexpected flashes of inspiration which come out of nowhere and magically connect all the dots and the moondial was one of them. I didn’t have a fully developed idea of what the dial would look like or precisely how it would work, even as I launched into the first chapter. I knew I needed something that held a mystical power which could transport Holly into the future and it seemed right to set time travel scenes in the middle of the night, so the connection with the full moon was a natural progression. It was only when I thought about the way that light was being reflected from the sun onto the moon and then onto the surface of the device I was trying to create that I realized that if light could be reflected, why not time too? Everything just fell into place and so the moondial was born.
The rules which govern the dial’s use took much longer to develop. The more I thought about how Holly might be able to influence her future, the more I realised that I was giving her too much opportunity to meddle with her fate. I created the rules to keep the story from falling into chaos and the life for a life rule was of particular importance as it ensures that there are only ever two options for Holly, her life or Libby’s.
Your imagery is very vivid; did you base the house and village on a real place?
The gatehouse and the village are simply figments of my imagination. The gatehouse is based on the many such houses scattered throughout England that have somehow become detached from the grand estates they once guarded whilst the village I’m afraid is possibly based on watching one too many property programmes.
The feel of the gatehouse however, or at least its potential to be a perfect family home for Holly and Tom, is based on a real place, my grandparents’ house. I grew up in a terraced house in Liverpool and although my grandparents lived nearby, their house seemed worlds apart. They lived in a traditional semi that had something we didn’t, a garden. Some of my favourite childhood memories are based in that garden and I can remember it so vividly, creeping into my granddad’s shed crammed full of carpentry tools, picking fruit for my nan to turn into jams and fruit pies or endless hours playing on the swing that hung from an apple tree grown from a pip that my mum had planted when she was a child. It was an idyllic setting that may have had its roots in the city but could easily be transplanted into a country setting.
Writing a book must involve a lot of planning and re-writing, how did you set about writing YESTERDAY’S SUN?
The premise for the novel was quite clear in my mind from the start, I was determined to weave a story that would take the reader to that pivotal moment when Holly realises she would give up life itself for her child. Of course, with time travel involved, I had to plan it out carefully so that I could keep the present and the future synchronised throughout. But not everything was planned out from the start, the Jocelyn character for example was most definitely one aspect of the story that came to life after I started writing and other ideas just happened along the way. The plan I created established the key markers for the story but I wasn’t a slave to it. There were suggestions and ideas from my agent and my editor as the redrafting started and I took on board their ideas, knowing that each time I set about a rewrite I was making my story stronger and more polished. Not that the rewrites were an easy process, far from it. The worst part was unravelling different threads of the story and then hoping I would be able to tie them all back together again. It was far more stressful than I would have believed and I dread to think how my daughter Jess put up with me during those times but then, when inspiration struck and I managed to bring the story back together again it was most definitely worth the pain.
What was the first thing you remember writing?
As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t start writing, not creatively at least until Nathan became ill. Before then, my writing was confined to producing policies and procedures as part of my job or writing limericks about members of the family to put inside our home-made Christmas crackers. As my desire to write took hold after Nathan died, I decided to take a creative writing course. I wanted to make sure I could do justice to the story I was writing about his life. When I’d finished the journal, I began writing short stories just to keep up the practice. The first full length fictional manuscript I attempted was actually a children’s story and this was one of those ideas I’d thought about for years but never set about writing. The story was intended to be in three parts and I was working on the second book when the idea for YESTERDAY’S SUN started to take hold and I just had drop everything and start writing it.
Do you relate to any of the characters in YESTERDAY’S SUN, and if so which ones and why?
In many ways I think I can relate most of all to Holly and in particular that mixture of being very organised and self-disciplined but also creative, characteristics that often compete with each other, but then when you have a manuscript to produce and a deadline to meet, it can work in your favour too. Like Holly, I also enjoy art and although I’m nowhere near as good as other members of my family I do sketch occasionally and one of the initial ideas Holly has for her commission for Mrs Bronson was based on something I’d drawn when Nathan was a baby, a circular form of three figures that represented me with my two children. Unlike Holly however, I’m not a planner and would never entertain the idea of having a five year plan, not because I’m too spontaneous like Tom but because I don’t count on things happening until they’ve happened, not the good things anyway…I’m still pinching myself that I’ve had my first novel published.
Do you believe in fate and that everyone is born with their future path laid out for them?
As a bereaved parent, there are so many “what if’s” and I could so easily torture myself over each and every decision that was taken during Nathan’s illness. So it would almost be reassuring to believe as Jocelyn does, that the world is less chaotic than we would imagine, that there are no right or wrong decisions, just different paths to the same place. But in truth, I think life is that chaotic and I certainly wouldn’t advocate accepting fate and giving up without a fight. My son didn’t.
Can you tell us about your next book?
My next book is about a young woman who is fighting cancer. It’s a recurrence of a previous illness which she thought she had beaten. She can sense her second chance at life being stolen from her so she begins to write an alternative version of her life, the life she would have wanted to live. It soon becomes clear that her writing is finding its way into the world around her and she’s unsure if this is a side-effect of the tumour invading her brain or something purely magical. The idea for the story has once again been inspired by my son. Nathan was only three when he died so I can only rely on the things he did in his short life to help me imagine what he would have become as he grew up. He fell in love twice, once with my nephew’s girlfriend and once with a nurse in the oncology unit. He was very polite but he also cheated at cards and he insisted on wearing his Thomas the Tank Engine sunglasses on his way to the operating theatre. Once, when an elderly lady asked his name, he replied, ‘sexy,’ so I really can’t help but wonder how his life would have played out and my newest heroine is wondering the same thing. The working title for this book is Autumn Child and further inspiration was drawn from a poem I had written when Nathan was fighting his own battle with cancer.