Three years into the civil war that has turned his country upside down, Sami’s home village in Syria is hit by a deadly bomb attack and he is forced to leave behind everything he knows and loves. Eventually, Sami and his family are given refuge in Coventry, England, but city life is hard to adjust to. It’s grey and cold and there are no fields to play in or animals to tend. Worse still, Sami worries about the fate of his uncle and cousins back in Syria and struggles to make new friends. In a bid to take his mind off his homesickness, Sami is introduced to Harry Adams, one of the elderly residents at the care home where his mum works. Although wary of one another at first, the pair gradually form a bond, as Harry tells Sami the story of the unusually named Splen and his dog Bobby, who lived through the Second World War and the infamous Coventry Blitz. As Sami discovers more about Splen and his dramatic escape from the horrors of conflict, the two unlikely friends make peace with their troubled pasts and forge a new sense of hope for the future.
Where to buy Running From The Sky
I’d like to welcome Amanda to my blog today with a wonderful guest post on places to go, ten to be precise…
Places To Go
Ten places to go, hmm, I thought, well that’s easy. Sometimes the easiest thing can be quite hard. Trying to pick out places that sit in a special corner of my heart was rather difficult as there are lots, and lots of great places that I love, but these are the most significant.
I spent 12 years living on a canal boat – I have always been a Gypsy rather than a princess. Spending time traveling, finding new places to stay for a while, making new friends along the way. Sometime not being welcome and regarded as an itinerant has given me an insight – albeit tiny- into how it feels to be a wanderer trying to find a place for themselves. Impossible to pick my favourite spots as there are so many rivers and canals it would take a whole book. What better way to visit London than by canal. Tie your boat up in the heart of London. Travel along the canal past the zoo. Stop at Camden market, then make your way to Lime House basin and out onto the River Thames, to sail up under Tower Bridge, past HMS Belfast, The London Eye, and Houses of Parliament, utterly brilliant.
Much as I would love to say I’ve been to Syria where my story starts, I cannot tell a lie! But imagination is a wonderful thing! I have however visited Coventry. Although the city has had to reinvent itself and lost so many of its historic buildings it has such a spirit. If you want to fill yourself with hope, to see the true meaning of what it means to rise from the ashes, visit Coventry Cathedral. The extraordinary new building that sits so compellingly next to the bombed ruins will touch your soul. While you’re there pop into The Blitz Experience—I got so much of my material from my visit, it hits all the senses.
Away from the book and into my top places I have to put a beach in northwest Scotland, up there at the summit. Mellon Udrigle, there’s not much there, a few houses, some glorious wooded chalets, and a camp site, wonderful walks and a beach that is a bit of paradise. If you fancy swimming as the sun sinks in front of you behind the mountains that tower in the near distance, with a seal bobbing alongside you, you’ve got it. Then chill out draped in blankets round the fire pit in the sand dunes — well welcome to my heaven.
Next on my list is Cornwall, the North Cornish coast is home to my husband and has become my second home. Best time to visit — as far as I’m concerned – is winter when the sea is wild and the jagged rocks work their magic. The beaches are lonely windswept and exhilarating. Also the cleanest due to Surfers Against Plastic… brilliant. Favourite spots? Northcott Mouth Beach and Trebarwith Strand for a pub lunch. But it’s all gorgeous. Being in wild places clears the mind, the best form of meditation. It’s while walking I write in my head, I created a lot of the book when out with the dog – in fact she always gets to hear every twist and turn. I rather suspect that some people have heard me talking away to myself…mad old biddy!
So let’s move away from the wild and to something a little more civilised. The wonderfully eccentric Whitby with its history, culture; vampires and Goths; and yes fish and chips, but I don’t really do fish and chips, not to worry there’s loads of great places to eat. It’s friendly and fun with lovely places all round it. Staithes, famous for its arty connections, but be warned my normally, rational husband, was completely spooked by Staithes – so just as well I didn’t book the cottage there! However I thought it was charming. Robin Hood’s Bay, so beautiful but don’t even think about it if you struggle to walk up hills!
The city of Lincoln, again oodles of history with the Castle and Cathedral, definitely a ghost or two, art, culture and food — yes, I do like food! If you’re into quirky, there’s Steampunk because Lincoln is officially the world’s most Steampunk location, this seems to give it the most entertaining charity shops — bound to find a top hat! Both Whitby and Lincoln have an acceptance of the strange and bizarre that weaves itself into the deep rooted historical fabric of these towns. I find places like these stimulate my imagination, stories and characters leap out at you.
OK wiz back home again now.
Although my roaming days are over, the feet still itch! So we bought a caravan to enable quick getaways and take the much loved dog. One of the most favourite of these is 1½ miles away from home! A field by a canal, where we can sit and dream. Forgive me, but I’m not telling where this field is, as I’m far too mean to share it! I’m one of those truly lucky souls who live in a little piece of undiscovered, English, rural, countryside. All of us who live round here call it the best kept secret in England — so my lips are sealed.
I guess reading this I chose places that contribute to my writing process, and one very essential thing for me ….Freedom. In most of my work there is the undercurrent of freedom of mind, body and spirit. In essence that is what Running From The Sky is all about, freedom for a boy in Syria and freedom for a boy in Coventry.
Thank you Amanda, I so enjoyed this. At least three of your favourite places are also mine and the rest are now on my ‘places I’d like to visit list’!
All About Amanda
Amanda Malben trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama but has dedicated herself to teaching. She taught adults with learning difficulties at Northampton College, specialising in drama, and English as a foreign language to adults. A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she co-founded a project with Northampton University to help improve the language skills of immigrant children and their parents. Now retired, she lives in the Northamptonshire countryside close to the Warwickshire border and enjoys writing and walking her dog.
Where to find Amanda