It started with a program on the radio, one winter afternoon while I was sitting by the fireplace in the ancient house I’d rented in a small Welsh village, where I’d gone to write. I don’t recall what program I was listening to, or what the claim to fame was of the woman being interviewed (although it seems to be she may have also been a writer), but I do remember listening, enthralled, as she recounted tales of growing up in Wales, and how she’d sometimes, as a child, heard whispers in the walls. They’d frightened her, those voices, till her mother told her not to worry—they were only voices of the people who had lived in that house in the past, and who still lived there, in another time.
I loved that explanation; loved that Celtic sense of time as something fluid and not linear, of past and present running close beside each other, separated only by the thinnest curtain that could sometimes part and let us get a glimpse of what lay on the other side.
The farmhouse I’d rented that winter in Wales was five centuries old, with a ruined square tower just steps from the front door, and when the wind from the sea shook the windows and set the floors creaking it didn’t take much to imagine I wasn’t alone.
It was there, by my fire with the radio on and the wind raising whispers of sorts from my own walls, that I first began to see a pair of characters, from different times, who glimpsed each other through that shifting veil while sharing rooms in the same house.
I’m often asked where my ideas come from, and I usually confess that I don’t know. But in this case, at least, I know exactly where those first seeds of The Rose Garden were planted, in the depths of that Welsh winter nearly fifteen years ago, when in the middle of that program on the radio I heard a creaking on the stairs and wondered who was passing by…and when.
About Susanna Kearsley
Susanna Kearsley is a Globe & Mail bestselling author of modern gothic novels blending adventure, history, romance and suspense. A former museum curator, she won the U.K.’s Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize for her novel Mariana, and her thriller Every Secret Thing was shortlisted for the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. Her book The Winter Sea, a time-slip novel dealing with a little-known true event in Jacobite history, was a finalist for both the U.K.’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award and a RITA® award, and won this year’s RT Bookreviews Reviewer’s Choice Award for Historical Fiction. She lives in Ontario with her husband and two young children.