Introducing… Eva Verde by SJV
I was delighted to be asked, but unsure of what to write for my first Books and The City feature. It’s mid-February, mid-lockdown – what’s happening in the Verde household? Truthfully, not a lot. Like most folk, my most honest response when asked how things are lately, is that I am coping. I’ll be grateful to rejoin the real world once it’s safe, but I’d rather sit tight till it is.
Yet, I am no stranger to being patient. Or being hopeful. As an emerging writer, trying to get my work noticed, I had grown accustomed to a life in limbo. From submitting my first three chapters for a competition, to finding an agent, every stage of the path to publication has involved gargantuan amounts of waiting.
And I’m not too sure about patience being a virtue, but it’s certainly a life skill. At a time when the world feels especially scary; worrying about the health of loved ones, worrying about the health of strangers, the odd mix of angst, empathy and sadness that accompany my thoughts as I watch another news report, or read another painful tweet, I try telling myself that most things, just like always, are beyond my control anyway. And though I no longer can plan or predict, it’s spontaneity and physical contact that I can’t help longing for. I want to read to my niece and nephew, to hug my oldest mates, and be able to hug new friends, too. And touch hands as we talk or try each other’s food in noisy restaurants. I want to kiss and laugh and see whole faces. I want the world to feel like it’s turning again. My coping mechanism this past year has been simply to try keeping buoyant within my own four walls – ensuring my family’s ok is the best I can do, right now. Accept a life on pause and stop fighting it. I try losing myself in a book, or a film, or by having baths at odd times of the day, and, if only temporarily, it takes me away from all I’m missing – and keeps the news and the catastrophe that is politics at bay, too.
Patiently coping. Always hoping. Just like with the writing.
I’ve been more than a little bit blessed, by having the journey of my book, Lives Like Mine, as distraction too. While the limbo-life in my homely little bubble continues; a giddy mix of repetition; housework, homeschool, with the odd attempt to write on the side, it’s a comfort that it’s business as usual in the world of publishing. It’s been my one solid Saviour, the stream of books I’ve still been able to buy, and my purse is very glad that my shopping sprees only stretch as far as books and tealights. This time of pausing offered me a chance to think, too. To brace myself for what’s to come. Though undoubtedly exciting, and everything I’ve worked madly for, the reality that my debut novel Lives Like Mine will be published in June, also leaves me terrified. While it feels like I’m on the top diving board, anticipating my jump and terrified of heights, it is also worth remembering all that’s behind me. What got me here, to this point. All the uncertainty, the waiting and self-sabotaging thoughts about whether my writing was good enough, whether the dream of seeing my words in Waterstones would ever become a reality. And if all that worrying had not a single shred of influence over my writing future, what good can I source from those mountains of anxious waiting I’ve already endured to get here, on the cusp on publication? What good are nerves until June?
And what about hope?
Hope is why I persisted, why, when the rejections came and crushed me, I’d lick my wounds and crack back on. I’d cope, and still hope.
So, for now, I surrender, finding pleasure in the smallest of beauties, like three fairy cakes baked by one of the kids, or double breakfast because hey, we’re all in joggers anyway. A family walk, and while the kids fight and argue their way across the fields, I think good. Expend that energy, because when we get home, we can collapse guilt free into the sofa with piles of cheese on toast and rubbish telly. Nothing much can happen, and in some ways, it is exactly the time I have craved. To press pause. Have time to do absolutely nothing. Stop that mad cycle of useless worry in my head.
And if there’s one thing guaranteed to make me hopeful, it’s Spring. There are hints of it, from me writing this at gone five while it’s still daylight, to the sprinklings of daffodils and crocuses across the railway verge at the back of my house. At last! A sign of life beyond the endless winter of January that felt more like a decade. With lighter, brighter days ahead, I wait not only for the gentle return to my version of normality, but to the excitements of life as a published author, too.
I can’t help but feel positive. For all good things ahead. For all of us.
And here’s to new friends on the other side.
‘Londoner Eva Verde’s Lives Like Mine explores the theme of a school-run affair and the complications and joys it brings to a dual-heritage mother struggling with her intolerant in-laws’ Independent
‘A bitter sweet story of longing and self-discovery, of deceit and regret. Visceral, authentic and funny, Eva’s prose reads like something between a conversation and a confession. An exciting new voice and a joy to read’ Kit de Waal
‘Eva’s writing breaks new ground in a confident and original voice, with a sharp eye for detail, wonderful characterisation and some seriously badass humour’ Yvvette Edwards, author of the Man Booker Prize longlisted novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats
To three small children, their heritage dual like hers.
To a mother who immigrated to make a better life but has been rejected by her chosen country.
To a man who loves her but who will not defend her to his intolerant family.
Whose roles now define her and trap her in a life she no longer recognises…
Meet Monica, the flawed heroine at the heart of LIVES LIKE MINE.
With her three children in school, Monica finds herself wondering if this is all there is. Despite all the effort and the smiles, in the mirror she sees a woman hollowed out from putting everyone else first, tolerating her in-laws’ intolerance, and wondering if she has a right to complain when she’s living the life that she has created for herself.
Then along comes Joe, a catalyst for change in the guise of a flirtatious parent on the school run. Though the sudden spark of their affair is hedonistic and oh so cathartic, Joe soon offers a friendship that shows Monica how to resurrect and honour the parts of her identity that she has long suppressed. He is able to do for Monica what Dan has never managed to, enabling her both to face up to a past of guilty secrets and family estrangements, and to redefine her future.
‘A brilliant read’ **** Victoria
‘A great look at interracial relationships and dynamics, alongside a pre mid-life crisis and deep rooted family issues’ **** Sophia
‘I adored this’ **** Lisa
‘A delicious and deeply moving story’ ***** Gem