A little bit about Innocence, a little bit about boats, and quite a lot about me.

InnocenceFSGrowing up I remember being told to write what you know, to write about things relative to your own life experiences, otherwise your writing was not going to be authentic. But I discovered early on it’s not about writing what you know as such, it’s about writing what you feel, writing what moves you. Emotions are universal–man,woman, child, adult. We all feel something. We’re all scared, we all love, we all get hurt–it’s the language of our hearts.

And yet, I kinda did write what I know with this story. I did grow up on a boat, as does my main character, Christopher.

Funnily enough Christopher is the name of a very close relative of mine, so this story was going to be close to me from the start.

I grew up on an old fishing boat, not a canal boat like the one Christopher lives on. My mum called us sea gypsies, but I have no Romani blood.The pictures here look about a hundred years old (they’re not), it’s only the 1980’s, but we lost most of our possessions when we were shipwrecked in the Bay of Biscay when I was three and a half, and those things that weren’t lost, like these photographs, were damaged (mostly irreparably) by sea water.

146116493_8d4781430b_o 262879423_9d46d718cf_o 168444926_4228be1691_o (2) 290769784_f54e7fb83e_o (2)

I remember being ship wrecked vividly. We hit rocks. It was night and I had been sleeping. My mum had moved me to the front cabin earlier in the evening. She doesn’t know why she did that, but if she hadn’t I would have drowned. I wasn’t scared. I was only three and a half and my parents must have done a good job with being calm. I held onto the side of the boat as it sank into the water. My my dad dived into the sea to rescue our dingy that had floated off. Our boat went down pretty fast. I’m guessing minutes. She was a beautiful boat, all warm wood and brass. She was called Cruban.

146104012_40c8a9b4b8_o(Cruban on the rocks-you can just about see the masts tilted into the rock.)

It took six hours of floating at sea (about twenty miles off the coast of France) in our dingy and setting off flares I had to cover my eyes for, before we were picked up by a large French fishing boat on its way home. I slept in a bunk with my mum, I remember it being like a cubby hole with a curtain across.

So that was how we lost our home.

While the French authorities tried to un-sink our boat, we lived first (I think) on a tiny French island, in a tent. We were the only inhabitants as far as I can remember, apart from the rats I used to chase thinking they were rabbits. And at one point I had a goat. After that I’m not sure where we lived but I remember a square white house in the middle of the field, with a mezzanine all around the inside. I remember a fishing village called Concarneau. I had a puppy. I called him Noisette (Hazelnut) and I gave him tea to drink.

We moved around so much a lot of my memories are disjointed. I’m not sure what happened first or last, only that things happened. I remember the sea on good days, I remember dolphins racing alongside us when we had a different, much faster boat–a yacht this time. I remember storms with fifty foot waves and trapping my fingers in the door as it swung shut on them in the middle of one. I remember travelling down French canals, the Camargue and playing in a dingy with an itchy seat. I remember sunshine and friends who couldn’t speak the same language as me. I remember playing on their long, narrow boats with their dark interiors and being fascinated by everything.

When I was small, I don’t remember being sad. We drifted and I loved the changes. Even now I find it hard to stay in one place. I make friends easily but I’ve also been bullied and rejected as an outsider more times that I can remember. I’ve never fitted into the groups of friends people make, because I was never anywhere long enough to know a group of people. And I’ve never felt that any one place was home. It’s these experiences that echo in Christopher’s story. Because these experiences echo on within me.

My dad still lives on a boat to this day.



Buy links for Innocence:

Dreamspinner Press


About sukifleet

Suki Fleet currently lives in the heart of England. Her childhood was quite unconventional and she spent some time living on a boat and travelling at sea with her family. Since she was very small she has always dreamed of writing for a living, but though she has written original fiction online for years and encouraged many new writers to keep going and follow their author dreams, it is only recently she got the courage to make her own dream a reality and actually send something off to a publisher. By day she runs her own business selling fabric (her second love) and juggling family commitments, by night she weaves the stories that the characters in her head dictate. These stories often start with pain or longing but always end with love.
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3 Responses to Innocence

  1. Dude, what lovely post. I can’t wait to read this book. *hugs*

  2. Melisa says:

    I’m looking through your posts again and can’t imagine how I missed out on this one before. You’re probably one of the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing about. I think your early life sounds absolutely enchanting. No wonder your stories are so lovely. ♡

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