Suddenly bereaved, Molly White realises that she has never really known her feisty husband Jake when random boxes begin to appear through the post, each one containing a tantalising clue to the secrets of Jake and Molly’s past. Someone who knows them both well, for reasons of their own, has planned a trail of discovery. The clues seem to be designed to change Molly’s life completely, leading her around Britain and then onwards to rural France and deepest Bavaria.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Tom, a charismatic artist who runs a gallery in the same town. Strong, independent and wheelchair-bound from the age of fifteen, he leads a solitary life and has no idea how devastatingly attractive he is to women. When Tom meets curvy, beautiful and funny Molly, he knows that she is his dream woman, but she seems way out of his orbit until the boxes start to weave their spell and the two of them are thrown right out of their comfort zones.
Little Boxes is a story of love in a variety of guises – mother-love, unrequited passion, infatuation and the shadow-love held in memories that refuse to go away.
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After the day of the capsized chair, Tom began to feel seriously disappointed if he didn’t bump into Molly at least once a week. Sometimes she waved, but usually she was too preoccupied with trying to hold on to Max.
Tom thought she was absolutely beautiful. He often wondered what sort of man would be lucky enough to live with his Lady in Red. Maybe she was married to someone who worked away, or had a job with unsociable hours? Or maybe she was on her own with the children, struggling to make ends meet? He speculated as he painted, watching for Molly out of the corner of his eye, ready to look busy whenever she appeared, but aware of her every move.
But then one day in June, just when Tom had decided that Molly must be a single parent waiting for a new partner to come along and sweep her off her feet, Tom spotted Theo, Hattie and Max walking along the promenade with a gangly, spiky-haired man. He was urging them forwards with quick movements of his hands, frowning at Theo who stuck her tongue out at him and hissed something under her breath. They all laughed at this, and Tom heard the man shout, ‘Theo – your mum’ll go mad when she hears what you just said.’
‘But you won’t tell, will you, Daddy?’ said the little boy, catching hold of the man’s hand and swinging it to get his attention.
‘No, don’t, Dad – she didn’t mean it. She’s in enough trouble already this week,’ Hattie chipped in.
‘Well, whose fault’s that? She should never have got that tattoo. You knew how your mum felt about it, didn’t you, Theo? After last time, I thought you’d have had more sense.’
‘It’s only a little dragonfly. She loves dragonflies. I didn’t think she’d mind.’
The man sniffed. ‘Come on, Mum’ll be waiting for us at the restaurant by now so we can eat together for once. She won’t like being kept hanging around, will she?’
Tom hadn’t painted that day, but had been sitting looking out over the sea thinking about the future. He turned his wheelchair and kept within earshot of the family, feeling uncomfortably like a stalker but following at a discreet distance until they came to a doorway under a striped awning.
About the Author
Celia J Anderson spends most of her spare time writing in as many different genres as possible, including children’s fiction. In her other life, she’s Assistant Headteacher at a small Catholic primary school in the Midlands and loves teaching literature (now comfortingly called English again but still the best subject in the world.)
She tried a variety of random jobs before discovering that the careers advisor at secondary school was right, including running crèches, childminding, teaching children to ride bikes (having omitted to mention she couldn’t do it herself) and a stint in mental health care. All these were ideal preparation for the classroom and provided huge amounts of copy for the books that were to come.
Celia enjoys cooking and eating in equal measures, and thinks life without wine would be a sad thing indeed. She is married, with two grown up daughters who have defected to the seaside. One day she plans to scoop up husband and cats and join them there.
How did you come with the idea for your current story?
Little Boxes is actually the sequel to my very first (and also very bad) first attempt at a novel. Molly is the heroine of both books and the first one, Moondancing, is about her early attempts to break away from her mundane life. By the time Little Boxes opens, she’s beginning to take charge, and the quest in the boxes takes her further forward all the time. One day I hope to revamp Moondancing and make it publishable, but the years writing it (ten of them, off and on, just as a hobby) wasn’t wasted because by the time I came to write Little Boxes, Molly and her family were fully formed and real to me.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
Seat of the pants sums it up very well! I hate planning almost as much as I hate cleaning windows. As a teacher, I love a lesson that just evolves from one or two good ideas and my writing is much the same, although with Little Boxes, I did have an easy framework to use as each box holds a clue for Molly to follow and has its own setting and new character/s.
What is your usual writing routine?
On a perfect writing day, I’d get up soon after 5am, make strong black coffee and write for a couple of hours. Then I’d have breakfast with my husband, and write until lunchtime. A nap or a walk would be next, depending on the weather. Then later, a last couple of hours writing, preferably with a glass of wine or a g&t next to me. In the real world, I’m often at school by 8am so I grab an hour at the laptop first if I’m awake early and maybe a bit more in the evening. Holidays are the best times of all for upping the word count, especially if I’m at my little caravan on a farm in the Quantocks – it’s so peaceful and there’s no wifi to distract me.
Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?
This is going to sound extremely lame, but I’ve wanted to meet Katy Fforde for years because her books are such a good blueprint for a successful romantic novel. She’s often at the RNA parties/conference but every time there’s a chance to talk to her, I get overcome with shyness! I know it’s silly. One day I’ll do it!
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
To get a children’s book published is my dream – I’m getting closer …
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I once landed a job teaching cycling proficiency in schools without telling them I couldn’t ride a bike. (In my defence, they didn’t ask!)
- I love cooking but my bread is like concrete.
- My gaydar malfunctioned at an early age – I spent a very long time in love with Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Marc Bolan.
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