Monday, September 26, 2011
Stories that Never Leave You - by Kate Walker
To distract us from getting worried and while waiting for the electricty to be restored, the teacher - a Mr Grogan - told us to sit quietly and he would tell us a story. The story he told was a bout a man who returned home to his farm, high on the Yorkshire moors, bringing with him an orphan gipsy boy he has found in the streets of Liverpool . The farmer already had a son and daughter, Hindly and Catherine - and the gipsy boy's name was of course Heathcliff. This story was the beginning of the classic romantic novel - Wuthering Heights.
I never got to hear the end of the story that day because the lights came back on before my teacher had got past the point where Heathcliff and Cathy fight, and Heathcliff runs away, to go and make his fortune. I never learned what happened when he came back - because it was obvious that he did come back - and I always wanted to know. But of course most of the story of Heathcliff's revenge was probably not suitable for young children.
But the story stayed with me and I wanted to know so much about it. It was some years later that I found a book on my mother's bookshelf and, opening it, saw the names I remembered so well. I started to read - and didn't put it down until I had finished. It was an amazing story - but it never had the happy ending that I had hoped for.
I've read Wuthering Heights many times again and again since that day. I've studied it at school and at university and never tired of it. It's a story that never really leaves my imagination, specially as the place I grew up was so close to Haworth village where the Bronte sisters lived and where Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights in the parsonage there.
So when editorial suggested a special mini series where Presents Authors took the themes of classics of romantic fiction - Jane Eyre, Emma, Pride and Prejudice - and Wuthering Heights, I was thrilled to be asked to take part in it. Specially when I learned that the book they wanted me to work on was my own favourite - Wuthering Heights. I've had an amazing time looking back at this great book and honouring it by using it as the inspiration for my own Presents version of this amazing story. I've had to make changes of course - Wuthering Heights isn't really a love story. It's a story about passion and possession and power - so while all those other books had happy endings already set, I had to create one for my characters. I also had to take wild, willful Cathy and dark, dangerous Heathcliff and give them the happy ever after ending that Emily Bronte's story never had.
I found it a challenge - but I loved doing it. I created the story I had always hoped for all those years ago. I didn't copy or steal from Wuthering Heights, just used the basic themes that are in the book and created a romance that stands on its own. You don't have to have read Wuthering Heights to enjoy The Return of The Stranger - you can read it entirely on its own and enjoy it.
Last week I was back in Haworth village, talking to The Bronte Society about writing The Return of The Stranger. I met a lot of people there who had never been able to get the story of Wuthering Heights out of their minds too - and I was trilled to find that so many of them felt that way about Return of The Stranger too They loved this modernised, Presents version. (I'm going to be sharing some of my pictures of Haworth on my own blog soon - and on the I Heart Presents blog at the begining of October.)
Oh yes - and they loved the cover too. I've posted the Presents Extra cover of The Return of the Stranger because that's the one that will be in the shops in October - but I have to share the UK cover with you as well - because . . . . well - look at it! It's fantastic - isn't it?
I hope you enjoy The Return of the Stranger as much as they all did.