Author: Annabel Pitcher
Pub. Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, eBook
My name is Tess Turner--at least, that's what I've always been told.
I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.
It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too.
Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn't mean to become mute. When she discovers that her dad isn't her biological father, at first she's just too shocked to speak. But quickly she begins to see the benefit of silence. She can protect herself from the questions she's too afraid to ask. It frustrates the heck out of her parents. And it also gets the attention of her handsome Math teacher, Mr Holdsworth...
Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. But when trouble strikes and everything spirals out of control, how can she ask for help when she's forgotten how to use her voice?
Five things you didn’t know about Silence Is Goldfish
1) The idea for Silence Is Goldfish came from listening in to a conversation on a train. Pretending to read my book, I tuned into a group of business men chatting about one of their colleagues. They described him as ‘a good bloke’ because he had ‘great banter’. A few days later, I overheard two women saying that a man they worked with was boring because he had ‘no chat’. This seemed to me to typify the world that we live in, a world where extroversion is prized over introversion and noise valued above silence. Being loud is a desirable quality. It’s not enough to be a good listener or a reflective thinker. Unless you want to be labelled ‘boring’, you have to bring your A-game to a social situation and entertain the room with your wildly amusing ‘chat’. It frustrated me – a person who has spent their life pretending to be an extrovert to hide their shyness and social anxiety – and Tess was born out of these frustrations! I wanted to write a book that champions the introvert.
2) In Silence Is Goldfish, Tess takes a vow of silence after learning that her loud, overbearing father is not her real dad. This catastrophic discovery shakes the foundation of Tess’s world and she retreats into silence, no longer willing to say the things he wants to hear. In the first draft, Tess had a phobia of speaking, but I changed it to a vow of silence in the second draft because I wanted her to be more proactive and empowered. She can speak, but she refuses to, unwilling to try and impress her so-called dad with her ‘chat.’
3) In the first draft, Tess didn’t speak to anyone at all! It was so hard to write as there was no real sense of Tess’s personality. I realised that I needed to give her an ally, someone that she could confide in and have a laugh with, so Mr. Goldfish (Tess’s imaginary friend) was born.
4) Mr. Goldfish is a torch in the shape of a – yes, you guessed it! – goldfish. Tess carries him about in her pocket, almost like a talisman, or a good luck charm. When his light is on, she imagines he can speak. Originally, I had the idea that Tess’s secret friend was a real goldfish in a tank in her bedroom, but that was too limiting. She could only fill him in at the end of the day when she got home, and I needed her to be able to speak to the fish while she was at school, out in night clubs and at parties, so I changed it to a torch.
5) The title of the book came to me while I was walking my dog. I had the phrase, ‘Silence is golden’ floating around my mind as well as the image of Mr Goldfish. I combined the two and – voila! – Silence is Goldfish was born. I was very excited about it. In fact, I think I told my dog of my idea as we stomped across the Yorkshire countryside in the rain. The goldfish symbolises Tess. If you think about a goldfish, it seems to have a lot to say as it constantly opens and closes its mouth, but nothing ever comes out, only bubbles, which in my mind look like empty speech bubbles. That is how Tess feels. She has so many questions she wants to ask her ‘dad’, but she’s too afraid of the answers. She retreats into silence, putting up barriers that no one can penetrate, swimming about in her own silent world like a fish stuck behind glass.
Five things you didn’t know about me
1) I went to Oxford University and was taught English by Jonathan Wordsworth, the great-great-great nephew of William Wordsworth.
2) After graduating from university, my first job was in a TV company where I worked on You’ve Been Framed (the British version of America’s Funniest Home Videos). Week one, I was convinced I had the best job in the world, being paid to sit and watch other people’s family videos all day long. Week two, the novelty wore off and I thought I had the worst! My job was to select the funniest clips and to sit through hours (and I mean HOURS) of tedious ones. There are A LOT of parrots out there who can sing the Friends theme tune.
3) I love hiking and my husband and I have walked across England from one side to the other, camping en route.
4) I wrote my first novel, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, while traveling round the world. I started it in Ecuador in a notepad and finished it in Jordan in the Middle East, before flying home to type it up. I never guessed that those scribbles would one day be published in over twenty five countries.
5) Don’t tell anyone, but I still suck my thumb.
Annabel Pitcher studied English at Oxford and has since worked as a script writer and an English teacher. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband. MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE was her first novel. She is a full-time writer.
(3) Winners will receive a finished copy of SILENCE IS GOLDFISH - US Only!
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