Can Tiff shine without her mum?
'The page is staring at me waiting for words, but I don't even know where to start. I'd quite like to begin the letter with something like, "Dear Mum, thanks for ruining my life," but I don't think that's the kind of letter that Auntie Cass has in mind.'
Tiff's mum is a thief and she's about to get caught! Twelve-year-old Tiff loves her mum, Carla, who is glitzy and fun and always coming home with shiny new amazing stuff. The trouble is, Tiff's mum doesn't buy things, she takes them. The fact is, Tiff's mum is a thief! When Carla gets caught, Tiff's shiny life is ruined. She's packed off to a remote island to live with Carla's family. A family her mum never even talks about and that Tiff has never even met! How can she survive in this dull, dull place? But the island of Sark isn't as awful as Tiff imagined it would be. The islanders are kind and honest and she's happy spending time with them. So three months later, when it's finally time for her mum to join her, Tiff can't help feeling more than a little bit worried!
I decided to write SHINE after someone I know was sent to prison. It was such a painful process for their children it got me wondering about other children who face this difficulty. After doing some research I discovered that around 200,000 children in the UK each year are affected by one or other parent going to prison.
I was so shocked by these figures that got me wondering some more...
It got me thinking… How would I have felt if my mum had been sent to prison when I was growing up? Where would I have gone? Who would have helped me with all the feelings swimming inside?
Then Tiff popped into my head with her white blonde hair and started telling me her story and all I had to do was write it down!
I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. Some of the book is set on the tiny Island of Sark, which meant I had to go for a visit to do my research. It's an amazing place and is so small they're not allowed to use cars. Instead, the 600 inhabitants of the island travel about on bicycles, ponies and on foot. Everyone was really, really friendly and helpful and I had such a great time. I even got to spend a morning in the school finding out what life would actually be like for Tiff if she were a real live girl! One of the most incredible things I learned was that Sark has NO CRIME! Everyone leaves their front doors open and no one has to lock up their bikes. It was so peaceful too and because there's hardly any light pollution the stars were totally amazing, so twinkly and bright! If ever you get the chance to go to Sark I hope you love it too.