Monday, June 04, 2007

FROZEN SUMMER by Crysse Morrison

Yesterday I read about a Polish man , Jan Grzebski, a railway worker, who woke after lying in a coma for nineteen years. It is hard to imagine how he must feel to have lost all those years of his life but from his interview it seems that what mostly concerns him is how things have changed. Only tea and sardines in the shops then - and now so many things...yet still people grumble, he adds wryly. It is a touching tale because his wife never gave up hope and insisted on taking his inert form to family events which he says he can now vaguely remember.

At the start of
Crysse Morrison's thriller FROZEN SUMMER, the protagonist, Kirsty (or 'Kirsten' as it seems she is now expected to call herself) has also lost time - but instead of languishing in a coma, Kirsty has lived a rather full life and a small knock on the head has caused her to forget her last nine years.

As far as she is concerned she is still a young student and cannot understand why a child calls her 'mummy'.

'I wish she wouldn't do that Mummy thing: it really spooks me.' she says.

There is also a man called Clyde who claims to be her husband and wants to know how long it will take her 'to get over that for Chrissake.'

But she doesn't know. As Kirsty says:

' I don't know him and I don't know her and I don't know how long before I understand why they have trapped me in this house, in this curious world called 1996. It's not the world I know.'

The world that Kirsty knows is 1987 (by strange coincidence Jan
Grzebski had his accident just a year later) when she was a photography student making a trip to Glastonbury with her friend Debs and their boyfriends Miles and Paul. For a while the book alternates between the two times (like Jan, Kirsty is incredulous at the way the world has changed) before concentrating on Kirsten's world of 1996 and the mysteries of the relationships around her.

I read FROZEN SUMMER in a day. It is a gripping story with an excellent plot and an ending that is both satisfying and yet unexpected - it would make an excellent psychological drama for the TV.

About the Author.

Crysse Morrison writes both prose and poetry and contributes a regular style column to Writing Magazine. Hailed by The Times as a 'superb storyteller' for her debut novel Frozen Summer, she has also written short stories which have been published and broadcast, and writes for the First Cut Theatre Company. Crysse grew up in London, gained her MA in Dublin, and now lives in Frome, where she is Spoken Word Coordinator for the Merlin Theatre. She performs her poetry at venues throughout the southwest, and runs Creative Writing courses - mostly abroad in warm climates and beautiful settings.

Crysse keeps a blog

Crysse Morrison is a guest author at the Seven Day Holiday in Languedoc in July (with me and the crime novelist Chris Simms) and she has kindly answered a few questions for this blog.

Interview with Crysse Morrison.

Questions about writing:

CD: How long have you been writing?

CM: All my life. I used to write plays for my teddy bears.

CD: How long did you take to write the book?
CM: The full draft of my first novel took 8 weeks - the 8 weeks of real time of the action of the book. All the radio songs & media stories are the current ones - even the weather is just how it was. Editing took longer.

CD: Did you think of the plot first or did it come to you as you were writing the book?

CM: Both. I knew Kirsty's story in essence from the start, the bits she knew herself anyway, but the part she was hiding from herself took longer to discover and I only did that by writing it.

CD: Is there any way the heroine, Kirsty, in FROZEN SUMMER autobiographical?

CM: I'm not, and never have been, a gorjus blonde (Samantha Janus, as the vulnerable-vamp in Game On, was my mental picture of my narrator) and I've never lost my memory or any of the other stuff - though I have been to Glastonbury festival. So I used to think the answer to that was No, but I discovered, after the book was published, that the question at the heart of it was actually very relevant to me: How did I get from the girl with such high hopes to the woman I am now? When I realised that I changed my life.

CD: Are the other characters in FROZEN SUMMER based on anyone you know?

CM: No.

CD: What research did you do for the book?

CM: I wrote the book from imagining the emotions, and then checked later with an OT (occupational therapy) that I was roughly on track with the medical response. It doesn't come in much, as it's not important to Kirsty who's telling the tale.

CD: Have you any tips for writers who want to make their work more thrilling?
CM: It's always a fine line between telling too much and revealing too much, isn't it. I think first person narration is great for tension, as readers tend to believe what an author tells them, but if the character speaks, there's no certain way of knowing if what's said is really true... so who can you trust?

The Seven Questions.

CD: Do you have any connection with snails?

CM: I have met snails, consider them more as passing acquaintances than friends. I wouldn't want my son going out with one.

CD: What is your proudest moment?

CM: Pride is to me more an ongoing pleasure - I'm mega-proud of both my sons - but I was extremely chuffed when I did the New Forest Marathon in 4 and a quarter hours. (I haven't bothered to run since, so pride really did come before a fall-off of enthusiasm.)

CD: Have you ever had a life-changing event - if so what was it?

CM: I have lots of life changing experiences. That's the great thing about life.

CD: What is the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of or seen?

CM: My father used to say "Of all the sad words that are heard or seen, the saddest are these: It might have been" and I think there's a lot of truth in that. Everything we most deplore seems to come from unnecessary wastage, and failure to love.

CD: If there was one thing you’d change about yourself what would it be?
CM: Eyelashes. I'd love to have lush long ones like my granddaughter. Seriously, I'd love to be much closer to my idea of the Perfect Me, but I don't think it's possible to change one thing without shifting everything. I guess I'd rather just stick to the challenge of what my friend Hazel Stewart calls 'my flawed irridescent madness'.

CD: What is happiness?
CM: It's a thing everyone has a right to pursue and most people want a shot at, which makes it sound like an endangered species, but I think it lies in doing small things with full awareness.

CD: What is the first thing you do when you get up?

CM: Switch on the iBook and tap out some bleary 'morning page' writing while still half asleep


Blogger Marly Youmans said...

"he can now vaguely remember."

Strange. And very interesting for neurologists and families of such people.

Now that's a very handy way to write a book--keeping the length of time in the book exactly paired with the time spent writing it, and matching weather and songs and so.

Mon Jun 04, 05:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Marly, I thought it strange too (about the coma victim). In the BBC on-line interview he said he now recalled the voices when he was taken to things like christenings and birthdays while still apparently unconscious.

To be honest I find that slightly disturbing. It smacks of 'locked-in syndrome' which I find terrifying.

And yes, I too am intrigued by the real-time book - excellent idea.

Mon Jun 04, 05:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


'Locked-in' is utterly terrifying. Like being buried alive for a lifetime.

I can imagine that the real-time thing could send one into a panic at a "stuck" moment. Or perhaps one just waits for another year to come round!

Mon Jun 04, 06:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marly, something for a writing retreat, perhaps? Hmm - maybe a long one...

Mon Jun 04, 07:22:00 pm  
Blogger Susanna said...

wow, this book and the auther both seem super cool. It sounds like a great pick for book club.

I really enjoyed your questions. Very interesting.

Mon Jun 04, 08:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Susannah!

Mon Jun 04, 09:06:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll enjoy the Languedoc event with this lady - she looks like a nice person.

I'm stuck on that quote from her father...I know it, but what I remember is "of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'it might have been'". I've checked Bartletts and various other sources and I can't find it! It's going to drive me crazy - I'm one of those pitbull people who can't let go of a question.

Tue Jun 05, 04:30:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found it!
Maude Muller, by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Tue Jun 05, 04:42:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan: Unfortunately I don't think I'll get to see Crysse on the course - we come one after the other.

As for the quote - it is a rather beautiful one, isn't it? I am so ignorant about poetry. There's very few I've even heard of.

Tue Jun 05, 08:57:00 am  

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation.

<< Home