A Letter from Laura Shepherd-Robinson

A Letter from Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Dear Goldsboro PREM1ER members,

 

Fortune has smiled on me. THE SQUARE OF SEVENS is Goldsboro’s Book of the Month for July. It is a story born out of my desire to write about fortune-telling in the age of the Enlightenment, the clash and indeed the overlap between magic and science, a Dickensian tale of lost heirs, disputed inheritances, duels and elopements. It is a quest, a romance, a mystery, and a love letter to an age of superstition, trickery and sleight of hand. At its heart lies the method of fortune-telling known as the Square of Sevens: seven rows of seven cards, a perfect square of mystery and harmony, in which resides the distilled essence of the soul.

 

Not only does the plot of the book centre on this method of fortune-telling, I also decided to structure the book around it too. Each of the book’s four parts corresponds to a different fortune that my main character, Red, tells in the story, with each chapter headed by a playing card, the meaning of which mirrors the events in that chapter. This proved no easy task, and my flat became littered with playing cards and post-it notes, until my husband staged an intervention and made me a spreadsheet!

 

THE SQUARE OF SEVENS was my lockdown project and the pandemic undoubtedly influenced the writing. In the narrow world of my one-bedroom flat, my novel became more epic and more sweeping, the action moving from the hollow-ways of Cornwall, to Georgian Bath, to London’s Bartholomew Fair, to a grand country estate in Devon, eventually going full circle, and returning to the ancient inn in Cornwall where Red’s story began. The book also became more magical, more tricksy, and more FUN – perhaps my reaction to so much fear and bleakness in the modern world.

 

Georgian aristocrats, Cornish cunning-men, corrupt politicians, scheming relatives, priest holes, automata, electricity shows and astrology. I had a lot of fun researching and writing this book and I hope you will enjoy THE SQUARE OF SEVENS. I predict you will, for I have seen it in the cards!

 

Laura Shepherd-Robinson

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