Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sandlands - Rosy Thornton - a fascinating short story collection

Author Guest spot - Rosy Thornton

I'm delighted to welcome to my blog today author Rosy Thorton.

An established author of several highly acclaimed books including The Tapestry of love and the wonderful Ninepins, find my review here Rosy has used her love and knowledge of the Suffolk countryside to write a new short story collection in which wildlife and nature play a large part.

I'm thrilled to participate in helping promote her work which is always delightfully different and intriguing. If you already love Rosy's writing you'll no doubt be queueing already for her book which comes out in paperback on 21st July and you can order yours here If you've not yet sampled her lovely atmospheric writing this beautiful collection of short stories is the perfect way to start and they will make the ideal travel companion for your summer holidays.

Here's a lovely article Rosy has written especially for Beadyjans books, which gives you a flavour of her writing and the kind of stories contained in Sandlands:

Something about owls

Have you ever had that creeping feeling you’re being watched?

Idling one morning in the woods near my Suffolk home, while my spaniel investigated some unapproved smell among the fallen leaves, I became convinced that someone was watching me.

Someone was – or maybe that should be something. Paradoxically, I think it was its lack of movement which made me notice it: funny how, among all the constant slight motion of a wood on a breezy day, attention is drawn to the one thing that’s entirely still. In this case it was an owl, staring out at me from the branch of a dead tree.

There’s something about owls, isn’t there? The stillness, yes, and the fact they never seem to blink. But I wonder if it’s also the shape of their face. Most small birds will cock their head and fix you with a single, berry eye, but an owl observes you with both eyes at once, giving it an oddly human gaze.

After that first encounter, when out with the dog I began to look out for the owl on the dead tree, and it was very often there, perched on the same truncated branch. It set me thinking about the mythology of owls, and reading up about them.

The Lenape peoples of the Delaware and Hudson rivers apparently believed that if they dreamed of an owl it would become their guardian and the protector of their soul. And if owls are guards and night watchmen, they are also, in folklore, clairvoyants. I suspect it’s their keen nocturnal vision that has led people over the centuries to endow the owl with the power of inner sight. The bird became the totem of prophets and seers, a messenger between the hidden world of death and shadow and the world of light. The one who hears what is not spoken and sees what is unseen. The knower of secrets; the watcher of souls.  

And that was it – the title for a short story. And very soon its subject-matter, too, because I felt as if the owl on my woodland walks was guarding something there beneath his dead tree, a hidden something. Buried treasure, forgotten secrets, an unknown grave? Or (of course – I had it!) letters: a cache of long-lost letters which would tell a story of their own.

‘The Watcher of Souls’ became, if not the title story of my collection, Sandlands, then at least the story which gave the book its cover. The designer chosen by my wonderful publishers, the Scottish independent Sandstone Press, came up with this striking and enigmatic image – gold on black, with the quirkily horizontal owl, and his glittering, unreadable gaze.     

Even on the spine, when the book is safely away on the shelf, he is still glaring hard at you with that penetrating, amber eye.

‘I can still see you,’ he seems to say.  ‘Ignore me at your peril. You know you can’t walk past: you’ve got to take me down and read me!’

Book blurb:

Sandlands (Sandstone Press, release date 21st July 2016)

From the white doe appearing through the dark wood to the blue-winged butterflies rising in a cloud as a poignant symbol of happier times, the creatures of the Suffolk landscape move through Rosy Thornton’s delicate and magical collection of stories. The enigmatic Mr Napier is feeding a fox rescued from the floods; an owl has been guarding a cache of long lost letters; a nightingale’s song echoes the sound of a loved voice; spiralling rooks recall the dogfights of wartime Spitfire pilot. Through the landscape and its creatures, the past is linked to the present, and generations of lives are intertwined.

Author bio:

Rosy Thornton is a Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge. She has published five novels (including Ninepins which won the East Anglian Book Awards prize for fiction in 2012), and Sandlands is her first short story collection. She divides her time between Cambridge and the Suffolk sandlings.

Her books to date are as follows:

More Than Love Letters (Headline, 2007)
Hearts and Minds (Headline Review, 2008)
Crossed Wires (Headline Review, 2009)
The Tapestry of Love (Headline Review, 2010)
Ninepins (Sandstone Press, 2012)
Sandlands (Sandstone Press, 2016)


Find Rosy's author website here:

She is also on Facebook here:


  1. Thank you so much for your very kind words of introduction, Jan, and for giving me this space on your blog.

  2. To kill the atmosphere entirely, I should also point out that my partner thinks the owl on my book cover is horizontal because he is looking under the wardrobe for his car keys. :)

    1. Rosy, that did make me laugh - that's actually exactly what he looks like! Nice post ladies... x

    2. My pleasure Rosy and now I can't take that owl seriously at all ;)


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