Along with the ideas that make up the content of the book, I also spend a lot of time working on my structure.

I'm drawn to stories that explore the relationship between the present and the past, (I don't see them as discrete temporal locations, rather it's my experience that the past is always with us in the present: our memories, our dreams, and the very fabric, genetic and experiential, that makes us who we are) so I'm always looking for different ways to marry various narrative lines together in a coherent whole.


I knew that The Forgotten Garden would require a tripartite structure-three related but discrete strands woven together to form a single narrative plait-and in my first draft I approached this in a very strict way so that  each chapter was divided into three parts, one belonging to each of the main characters and times. Ultimately, however, this structure proved too restrictive and I decided that if it wasn't going to serve the story it had to go, no matter how much it pleased my inner mathematician!

Instead, I used the looser tripartite structure that appears in the book,always imagining that I was plaiting the strands of Eliza, Nell and Cassandra's stories, so that each woman's journey could play its part in the solution of the book's mystery.

I like to think of The Forgotten Garden that way: just as a Victorian mourning brooch contains a plait made from the hairs of family members, my book's narrative binds the lives of three women in three different eras into a single story.