Author Letter: Escape Through The Book of Doors with Gareth Brown

Author Letter: Escape Through The Book of Doors with Gareth Brown

Dear Reader

 

My name is Gareth Brown, and I am writing this letter because I am the author of The Book of Doors. If you are reading this, I assume that you, like me, love books. (If you don’t love books, what are you doing here?)  The Book of Doors is essentially a love letter to the power of books, represented literally in the novel through the different magical books that drive the plot, but also figuratively through the novels that our main character Cassie Andrews has spent her whole life escaping into.

 

When I wrote The Book of Doors I too needed an escape of sorts. It was two years into the Covid Pandemic. I had moved jobs early in the pandemic, taking up a role within the NHS in Scotland, and it was a very difficult time. I was comparatively lucky, I did not become seriously ill and nobody I was close too died or was hospitalised. But even those of us who were largely unaffected by the worst of the virus, were affected by the societal impact of the pandemic. My working life became contained within my spare bedroom whereas before the pandemic working days had been bustling and stimulating, full of formal and informal meetings, catch-ups over coffees and workshops, trips around Scotland to see the people my work connected with. I loved all of that, but during the pandemic work turned into long days in front of a computer screen, endless virtual meetings often with people I had never yet met in person. And beyond all of that, in the wider world, the news was full of horrors, of the dreadful impact of this disease as it spread around the world.  Hope and optimism seemed a very fragile thing, particularly over that first year.

 

It was against this backdrop that I sat down to write The Book of Doors, so it is perhaps not surprising that the novel was all about a book that opens doorways to different places, that enables escape. Like Cassie I wanted to have a book that could open a door and let me go somewhere else - anywhere else.  Looking back now there is perhaps something of the Covid pandemic manifesting in The Woman, the novel’s terrifying antagonist: she is essentially nameless, a dreadful threat that appears like a force of nature and causes death and destruction. People in the secret world of magical books depicted in the novel are terrified of The Woman, and her presence hangs over everything they do, changing behaviours and disrupting normal human interactions.  I don’t remember thinking any of this when I was writing The Book of Doors, but I can see it now. I was probably working through something in my unconscious mind that wasn’t obvious to me at the time.

 

In my conscious mind, in writing The Book of Doors, I wanted to do a few things. I wanted to write a thrilling adventure full of magic, but I also wanted to capture my own feelings about what books mean to me.  And I wanted to reflect the sense of wonder and excitement I feel whenever I open a new book, the optimism and hope that this book is going to be one of those very special books that I will carry with me even when I am finished.  We all have those books, stories we have loved and really connected with, tales that have spoken to us in a very specific way or thrilled us to the point that we cannot stop reading until we are done.   Every new book is possibly one of those books, and I find that so exciting.

 

I hope I have captured these things in The Book of Doors¸ but most of all I hope some of you readers find that the novel is one of those special books that you carry with you after you’re done. I hope it offers you an escape from whatever troubles you are facing, just as it allowed me to escape from my troubles when I was writing it.

 

- Gareth Brown

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