A Song for Tomorrow… by Alice Peterson
I never thought I’d be a writer. I was always Alice, the tennis player. Tennis was my childhood passion. I trained with Tim Henman, was ranked in the top eight under eighteen and was all set to go to America on a tennis scholarship, but then, overnight, I developed pain in my feet and hands. It was rheumatoid arthritis (RA) a chronic autoimmune condition of which there is no cure. I have never picked up a racket since, a sadness that will always be with me.
In my early twenties, uncertain of my future, I was encouraged by my cousin and fellow author, Bella Pollen to write my personal story. Bella taught me how to write. She said it wasn’t good enough to highlight a condition like RA or tell readers what had happened in chronological order. Why should they care? I needed to entertain them, make them smile and laugh and cry and feel as if they were living in my shoes. Since writing my own story, A Will to Win, now republished as Another Alice, I have written eight novels, which are very much influenced by my experiences. In each, I include hard-hitting and thought-provoking themes, including disability, taking my protagonists to dark places where they have to dig deep to overcome adversity.
A Song for Tomorrow is inspired by the singer and songwriter Alice Martineau. I read about Alice in a weekend magazine back in 2002. The story of her battle to live with cystic fibrosis (CF) a genetic condition that causes lung damage and steals lives struck such a chord with me. Here she was, aged twenty-eight, on a triple transplant list but not only fighting for her life – her life expectancy was thirty – she was passionate to achieve her ambition to be a singer. Move on to when I was forty, looking for a new subject for a novel, and Alice came into my head. Alice had very sadly died in 2003, but she had signed a recording deal with Sony. Her story of music, love, defiance and dreaming when all the odds are against you, was so powerful that I had to write about her. I believe it is my most emotional story to date, and it is certainly the one I feel I was meant to write.
It has been wonderful working on A Song for Tomorrow with my agent and the new team at Simon & Schuster. My editor, Jo Dickinson, has skillfully strengthened this novel in a way that I couldn’t possibly have done working on my own. I may have written ten books, but the excitement of seeing the finished copy for the first time never diminishes. If anything it means more to me now. I just cannot wait to see that brown cardboard box with the copies of A Song for Tomorrow inside! Similarly when I receive reviews from my blogger friends they mean a huge amount to me, and coming to events like the Books and the City ones is a fabulous way to meet people in the writing community – and also enjoy a few cocktails and cake! Writing is hard and often solitary work but being published is a dream.