Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.
How are you enjoying your spring (or autumn) so far? It’s been stunning here in Newcastle, with gloriously bright days and mild weather which has been perfect for our morning walks. Here’s a sample of what we see each morning. This is a view over Nobbys Beach. Isn’t it lovely?
Our walks have been great for spotting wildlife too. Last week we saw a whale blowing and fin slapping off Newcastle Beach and had several dolphin sightings. Fishing must be good in the harbour right now because we saw the dolphins cruising around the mouth three mornings in a row.
I’m absolutely delighted to welcome a sparkling new guest today – bestselling Australian author Fiona Higgins.
Fiona has had some cracking releases, including the thrillers Fearless, The Mother’s Group and Wife on the Run, as well as the memoir Love in the Age of Drought (watch out for a giveaway for that in coming weeks!). Her novels have been translated internationally, including in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Estonia. A great Aussie success story!
Fiona’s fifth book, An Unusual Boy, releases today and judging from early reviews on Goodreads, not to mention the stunning cover, this is going to be a bumper release.
And a Kindle copy of An Unusual Boy could be yours with our special giveaway. Simply read on…
Bestselling novelist Fiona Higgins returns with a heart-stopping, devastating, but ultimately uplifting story about loyalty, love and forgiveness – this is a novel that any modern parent will relate to.
Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her only son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone around him – and bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.
Then, one Monday morning, an incident at school changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.
Flopping back onto the mattress Jackson asks, ‘Can you remember everything about Dead Granny, Mum?’
‘Not as much as I’d like,’ I admit. ‘But luckily we’ve got some videos of her and Grandpa. Scoot over, I’ll show you one.’
Jackson slides towards the wall, leaving ample space for me to snuggle in next to him. It feels like a throwback to his toddler years when, in order to send three-year-old Jackson off to sleep, I’d have to climb under the duvet wearing my pyjamas, pretending I was ready for bed too. Then I’d sing him ‘Summertime’ on loop until the wriggling stopped, his body relaxed and eventually, I’d start extricating myself from his bed. More often than not, I’d simply fall asleep beside him, waking up at some unearthly hour entangled in the sheets.
‘Screentime?’ Jackson grins.
‘Not quite,’ I smile, then begin scrolling through countless thumbnail images in my digital albums. When I find the video I’m looking for, I lift up the screen so we both can see it. ‘Watch this, Jackson.’
I sigh with nostalgia at the sight of our Erskineville home. In the clip, I’m standing outside Jackson’s bedroom door with my mother, who’d taken the day off work to visit her only grandson on his first birthday. As I film through the phone, my mother’s hand pushes open the bedroom door. Baby Jackson lies gurgling in his cot after his afternoon nap, sunlight streaming through a gap in the curtains.
The camera takes in a tall white bookcase, jammed full of stuffed toys, then pans to a stack of books piled next to an old rocking chair.
‘That was your favourite as a baby.’ I point to a book entitled Where is the Green Sheep?
Jackson shakes his head. ‘No, it wasn’t. Tough Boris was my favourite, about a big grungy pirate who really loved his parrot.’
‘Oh, right.’ I vaguely recall that title. ‘You remembered that well.’
The camera moves to the cot now and we see the infant Jackson, wrapped up in a blue baby blanket with embroidered elephants on it, and my mother’s arms reaching in to pick him up.
‘There’s Granny,’ I whisper. ‘Look how she adored you.’
Mum cradles Jackson against her chest, beaming with grandmotherly pride. ‘Who’s my gorgeous boy?’ she coos. ‘What a special little one we have here.’
I wince at the prescience of her words. Little did my mother know that barely three years later, doctors would be trying to determine exactly how ‘special’ Jackson was.
She wrinkles her nose at the camera. ‘I think he’s done a poo-poo.’
‘No I didn’t,’ objects Jackson. ‘My nappy wasn’t dirty. Where’s Incy?’
‘Incy,’ he repeats. ‘My pull-toy with the music. Incy-Wincy spider climbed up the water spout…’
I look blankly at him.
‘You put Incy on the change table before my afternoon nap,’ he says. ‘I remember.’
The camera follows my mother, still holding Jackson, as she walks to the other side of the room where the change table stands. ‘Come on, let’s get you a fresh nappy.’
Perched on top of the change mat, exactly where Jackson predicted, is a fluffy spider pull-toy.
‘There’s Incy.’ Jackson points at the screen. ‘See?’
My mother passes the toy to Jackson, then lowers him onto the change table.
‘Have you watched this video before, Jackson?’ I stare at him hard.
He shakes his head. ‘You never let me touch your phone. Look at my flubbery cheeks!’
From a close-up of Jackson’s face, the camera whips sideways and the screen pixelates. When it reforms, it’s clear that I’ve swapped places with my mother. Changing Jackson was always a difficult task, due to his penchant for rolling in his own poo.
‘Mum! You look like a princess,’ says Jackson, gazing at the footage. My hair was much longer, my face plumper.
‘Do you still have your tree bracelet?’ he asks suddenly.
‘It was gold with a red jewel,’ he continues. ‘Was it a real ruby?’
I say nothing for a moment, then pause the video.
Rolling onto one side, I prop a hand under my chin. ‘Do you mean… my Tree of Life bracelet with the garnet at the centre?’
‘I haven’t worn that bracelet for nine years, Jackson. I lost it at the beach when you were two years old.’
It’s getting much lighter outside. The sun has risen and the top- knots are cooing and everything is signifying a normal Monday morning, except for this.
‘How did you even… remember that bracelet?’ I ask. ‘I wasn’t wearing it in the video.’
‘I remember everything,’ he says. ‘I’m a memory magnet.’
I’m reluctant to repeat the judgements he’s heard before.
No one can remember that far back. It’s just a fertile imagination. You’re using creative licence. Don’t make fibbing a habit.
Instead, I try a different tack. ‘Tell me, Jackson, what else can you… remember?’
His eyes light up. ‘So much, Mum.’
Wow, Jackson certainly does sound an unusual boy. I feel nervous for his future already and being a Fiona Higgins novel, you just know you’ll be in for a heart-stopping – but ultimately uplifting – read.
An Unusual Boy is available now from these retailers:
But it’s your lucky day because as mentioned in the intro, this Teaser Tuesday we have a…
Yes, my lovelies, this week Boldwood Books are giving you the chance to win a Kindle copy of An Unusual Boy.
Oooh! Well, after talking about them earlier, how can I not say whales? Although it’s nowhere near as unusual to spot them these days, there was once a time when seeing a whale was a rarity.
The thrill of seeing one – and often it’s more than one during the east coast migration season – has yet to get old. I doubt it ever will. There’s just something about a whale fin slapping or breaching that brings joy to my heart.
What about you? What unusual thing brings delight to you? Answer in a comment and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a Kindle download of Fiona Higgins’ just-released new novel, An Unusual Boy.
Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday Australian Eastern Daylight Time, 23rd October 2020. Open worldwide. Prize is a Kindle download of An Unusual Boy.