Monday, 3 August 2020

Spotlight & Author Guest Post: The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klee

Have you ever made a snap decision and lived to regret it? I have made a few in my life, for example, the time I packed a rucksack and left for Arizona to surprise a male penfriend, forgetting that I only had a post box address.
I was twenty-one, had finished my diploma course as an OT and rather than leave London to return home to my parents, I decided to accept his invitation to stay with him in Bisbee, Arizona. I caught a Freddie Laker flight to LA, and then an internal flight to Tucson. I didn’t have to book tickets in advance, and so I just set off. I think I phoned my parents just before leaving to tell them of my plan. It wasn’t until I was in Tucson in the early hours of the morning that I realised the gravity of my situation. I didn’t have an address or even a phone number I could call to announce my arrival. My friend had sent directions to his house in a letter but I had left it at home. What had seemed romantic and exciting when I set off was now a bit scary.
We all make impulsive decisions at some point in our life, maybe several times. We are acting on a gut instinct that it is the right thing to do, despite it seeming to be irrational. Angie Winkle in The Borrowed Boy does just that. Her head tells her that she must return Danny to the young woman who lost him on the Tube and she tries to reunite them, but her instincts tell her that Danny needs her. He has welts on his back, and talks of being a naughty boy; he clings to Angie when they see the woman he was parted from waiting at the statue. The woman is smiling as she chats on her phone. Angie’s train is about to depart and she has to decide in haste. So, she acts on instinct, listening to her gut, and takes Danny with her on a journey that changes both of their lives.
The decisions that we make, shape our lives. There is a quote by Ayn Rand:
‘Everyman builds his world in his own image.
He has the power to choose,
But no power to escape the necessity of choice.’
For forty years Angie had been afraid of making wrong decisions, and so she let life pass her by, watching from the sidelines. She found that not making decisions comes with consequences too. It wasn’t until Angie realised that life was short that she decided to make the most of every minute of every day. She had let life pass her by and now she vowed not to waste another moment.
You may be wondering what happened to the twenty-one-year-old me, standing in line for a cab in Tucson, Arizona, 95 miles from Bisbee at 3.00am with no address and not enough money for a hotel. I must have a guardian angel, or the young black guy behind me in the queue was my angel. The cab driver asked me where I wanted to go. I said, ‘Bisbee but I don’t have an address’.
‘Who are you looking for in Bisbee?’ the young guy behind me said.
‘Kenneth Cabbage.’
‘Hey, I know KC. Give me a ride and I’ll show you where he lives.’
And that was what happened. Bisbee was a two-hour drive and yet by a lucky coincidence the man behind me in the line lived there and knew my friend KC. Of course, KC was not home when I arrived to surprise him, but that is another story.
I made a reckless and impulsive decision. Thank goodness my own daughter has more sense than I did at that young age. But I do not regret that decision. I spent many happy months with KC in Bisbee and it led to other favourable events that shaped my life.
Angie’s decision to take Danny with her shapes her life. Whether it was the right decision or not, I will leave you to decide. One final quote from a meme – author unknown.
‘Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.’

The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klee
A borrowed boy, a borrowed name and living on borrowed time.

What do you put on a bucket list when you haven’t done anything with your life? No interesting job, no lovers, no family, no friends. Believing she has only weeks left to live, Angie Winkle vows to make the most of every minute.

Going back to Jaywick Sands, is top of her bucket list. Experiencing life as a grandmother is not, but the universe has other plans and when four-year-old Danny is separated from his mum on the tube, Angie goes to his rescue. She tries to return him to his mum but things do not go exactly as planned and the two of them embark on a life-changing journey.

Set in Jaywick Sands, once an idyllic Essex holiday village in the 70s, but now a shantytown of displaced Londoners, this is a story about hidden communities and our need to belong.

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Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.
Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.
The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019. Just Bea, her second novel will be published in 2021.
Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.

Twitter @deborahKlee