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  • sarahjmaxwell

The story behind 'What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up'.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a mum, wife and I also write books.

I’m outgoing, friendly, but throughout my life, I’ve struggled to take ownership of WHO I am and WHAT I'm capable of.

Outside voices can be too loud, our own voices drowned out. The view is obscured, barely glimpsed, and trusting ourselves can be the hardest thing to do. Self-doubt can be central to a spiral of negativity that leads to procrastination, destruction, loss of perspective, loss of cohesiveness. We stop striving because striving is pointless if we’re not good enough to ever achieve, right?

Trouble is, once we stop believing in ourselves, we’re easily led, fooled and foolish, and then it’s too easy to become derailed. I know, because it’s happened to me and trust me, once you’re derailed, it’s very tricky to get back on track.

My life informs what I write. In ‘What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up’, I’ve run with the notion that once we step from our path, we embark upon a life that doesn’t belong to us and because it’s not ours, it’s no life at all. Loving fantasy, I’ve given a murky, spooky feel to this—what should I call it—'dimension’.

This dimension is called ‘Sideways’ and it exists parallel to our own life. Only ever glimpsed from the corner of our eye and overall, easy to ignore because our day to day lives provide colour and noise, entertainment of some kind. We experience emotion, be it good, or bad. We feel alive.

But if we’re searching for something more, either because we don’t trust ourselves, or we’re too greedy/demanding/impatient, we might see ‘Sideways’. Then we’re in trouble because it’s easy to assume this alternative is our destiny. And why not? The grass is definitely greener—or is it?

Meet Alice. She’s the Knocker-Upper and generally doesn’t think beyond the cobbled streets, tightly packed houses, the smell, the dull moon, and her own bleak footsteps. Victorian London for the poor, is blighted, and Alice has little hope her life will change for the better. Her discontent overspills, and unexpectedly, from the corner of her eye, she sees a trail of silver. Alice knows her life will be transformed if she follows the trail and so her fate is sealed.

But Sideways is a LIE.

'What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up' is vastly different to ‘Billy Lemonade’. The launch of it, later this year, is a terrifying business because of this. Readers loved ‘Billy’, the reviews have been fantastic. My little debut gave me confidence as a writer. I secured an Agent and cemented the relationship with my publisher. There is much to lose.

That said. I’m 50. I’m done with looking sideways. This IS my path and for better or worse, fail, or succeed, it’s what I do and who I am.

I’m a Mum, wife, but I’m a writer, too and not a bad one.

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