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sriensche
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Ms. Adams,
 
Thank you.  Thank you for your time and creativity.  I also chose not to be deeply involved in many of the early discussions due to the "dissection" and also because this book coincided with a time when many people were trying to label my son and I just reveled in your "eccentrics".  I truly enjoyed entering Ginnys world and I found myself just absorbing it all, moths and all, throughout your tale. My next project is to look up a few facts about moths, now they seem interesting!  May you find success in this endeavor!
 
Stephanie Riensche
~Steph
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Poppy_Adams
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



psujulie wrote:
Ms. Adams,
 
Thank you so much for sharing your book with us. I have enjoyed the discussion very much! I have a few questions for you. How long did it take for you to write this book? Did you write every day for a set period of time (kind of like a job?) What are your favorite books and who are your favorite authors?
 
Thanks so much!


Hi there psujulie
It took me three years on and off (and a baby between) to write the book.  When I was in the writing 'groove' I wrote every day, in the mornings, like a job.  But school holidays would come along, or Christmas, or a domestic drama, and once I'd lost the thread, I'd give it up for a few weeks / months.  I needed to know I had a stretch of a few clear weeks before I went back to it, as it took me about a week just to get up to speed with the story again.
So many great books I can't mention - I love all books by Rose Tremain and Ian McEwan and I love The God of Small things, by Arundati Roy.  I like great classic stories too like The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas and foreign atmospheric mysteries like The Shadow of the Wind and The Athenian Murders.
Do you like any of these?
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Linda10 wrote:
Dear Miss Adams,
 
I only have about 20 more pages to read before I finish your book tonight.  Wow!  I really am enjoying it!
 
One thought began creeping through my head towards the beginning of the book and kept getting stronger the more that I read.  This story reminds me of something Alfred Hitchcock might have done, like maybe "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"  Did you ever see that movie or any of his other works?  This SO reminds me of the type of thing he would have done.  Did Mr. Hitchcock influence you in any way when writing this book?  And, if not, how did you ever come up with this idea?  I think you have an amazing imagination and would look forward to reading any books you may write in the future.
 
Thank you for sharing "The Sister" with us!
 
 


Hi Linda
So many people have told me it reminds them of Hitchcock.  My UK editor says, for her, its a mixture of Hitchcock and Rebecca (a huge compliment obviously...).  I can't really recall seeing any Hitchcock films, although I'm sure I must have when I was younger.  But no, he didn't influence me.  I daydream an awful lot, have always made up stories and can make them seem so real in my head.  I'm told the similarity to Hitchcock comes from building suspense around everyday small dramas - just a hint of something out of place, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.  I do like that aspect of writing so I don't think I'm ever going to be a big thriller / blockbuster!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Readingrat wrote:
I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to read your book. Ginny was an interesting character and I enjoyed the opportunity to get inside her head for a bit. I also think you did a wonderful job with all the entomology references. It was all quite believable, so much so, that it made me wonder if you are an amateur entomologist yourself. I really don't have any questions about the book that haven't already been asked in previous posts; I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading it.
Thanks,
Elaine

Thank you Readingrat
It's lovely to hear your thoughts on the book, even if you don't have questions.  I'm glad you enjoyed it and, no, I'm not an amateur entomologist although I did study biochemistry at college.
All the best
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Ms. Adams,
 
I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to read your book and for you taking the time to answer our questions.
 
I must admit that at first I did not really enjoy your book, I had a hard time picking it up to read.  I also felt that sometimes the discussion seemed to spend too much time trying to analyze every little thing that was said and that happened.  Maybe I am more interested in the entire story rather than in trying to understand if
everything has some unseen significance or ulterior motive(does that make sense?).
 
Anyway, the more of the book that I read, the more I enjoyed it(even the moth parts).  I liked that it made me make some of my own decisions about what happened, rather than laying it all out for me.  I think it will be interesting to reread it at some time in the future to see if my perceptions of what happened have changed.
 
The one question I do have is if there is any significance to Ginnys obession with time and her being so upset with not being able to find the exact time?  Or is that just another one of her eccentricities.
 
Thank you, Abby.
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



DSaff wrote:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your book, Ms. Adams! I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading more in the future. There are many good questions here and mine are these: What made you select this venue for introducing your book? Are you surprised at the intensity of the conversation your book has created?
 


Dear Donna
Thank you for your contributions throughout the discussions and I'm very glad you enjoyed the book. 
 
I didn't select this venue for introducing my book.  The B & N online bookclub team selected the book which is a real honor for me as it's a very coveted venue.  Remember they can only select 12 books a year for the First Look Bookclub, out of thousands that are published, so it's great to be asked.  And yes, I'm completely surprised at the intensity of the conversation.  Rather, the book was written to generate debate, and I'm glad that it has, but - surprisingly to you lot this might seem - no one has ever said there was too much moth information before!  I know its not been published yet so it's early days, but none of the publishers, editors, or translators in all the other countries its been sold to throughout the world thought the moth was overplayed!  But I'm finding it very interesting though, and I'm glad I threw moths at you when you're all so squeamish about them!!
 
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



kmensing wrote:
Poppy-
 
Thank you for joining us & giving us this opportunity to be the first few to read your new book.  I must say that the last few chapters had me gripping my sofa cushion--very intense.
 
Was it your decision to allow the First Look club to share your book with us and what do you hope to gain from anyone reading your ARC's?
 
How did you go about putting together the mental state of Ginny & the rest of the family?  Was there certain mental illnesses you researched? 
 
What authors inspire you?  Please share your favorite books and what are you reading right now?
 
Again--many thanks--
 
kmensing 


Hi kmensing
I've been so behind on my replies to you all, I'm sorry.  But I think I've now answered most of your questions in previous posts, so let me know if I haven't. 
I'm actually reading Martin Amis's London Fields right now, which is nothing like the type of book (or author) I would usually read, but I'm purposefully reading first person narratives from the POV of people very different from Ginny - lots of male writters, more 'blokey' styles, just to make sure Ginny is completely out of my head!  Thanks for the questions.
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Fozzie wrote:
Poppy, do you have any questions, for us, your readers, about the book, a character, what drew us to the book, etc.?


Dear Fozzie
I thought I would have loads of questions but everyone seems to have covered everything so thoroughly that the only one I had was in relation to the different titles, and I've already asked it.  My questions to new readers are always along the lines of what they were thinking at certain stages of the book, and I have followed the detailed discussions along those lines during the last few weeks. It's been very useful for me.  I'm sure I'll have other questions as the week progresses.
Thanks
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Thank you for your response, Poppy. I have enjoyed reading all of your responses and look forward to more.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Poppy_Adams wrote:

 I 'became' Ginny for a while when i was writing it and had no idea that from an observer's perspective she may have become a little creepy. 



Poppy,

Thank you for sharing The Sister with us!  I was wondering something.  The author of the last First Look book stated that her main character came to her "fully formed" and lived in her head probably in a similar way to your "becoming" Ginny.  Did Ginny come to you as a complete character, or did she morph like the moths?  I have read that many authors "experience" their characters in this way; do you think that these characters are born from a single individuals mind/thoughts/experiences?   Or could there be some shared Jungian/archetypal experience that writers tap into from which these characters evolve?

 

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lrusch wrote:
I also thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I've had many of the same questions that other readers have already posed. I would also like to know why the father left Ginny to be in charge of the estate when he so happily left? It was implied that everyone in the family knew she had mental problems. Also, did she really become a recognized expert in the field, or was that part of her fantasy life?
 
The novel reminds me in many ways of Charlotte Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" where it is difficult to determine when the narrator began to lose touch with reality.
 
Thanks for such a thought-provoking novel!
 
Helen


Hi Helen
I think Clive had sacriced his life (and his wife) and his ambitions, and wanted to go away to wilt.  he thought that setting Ginny up in the house with her 'job' was the only way to make her self-sufficient.  I think from when she was little her parents thought the only job that would work for her would be following on in the moths (rather than having to interact with real people in an office or in society).  obviously it was probably the worse thing for her, but when parents protect their children they do not always make the best decision.  When the girls were younger I'm also not sure to the extent that Vivien knew (or let herself believe) that Ginny had severe mental problems.  I think that she was deluded about her fame.  Do you remember when she went up to the attic for the first time, in the middle of the night, and described the state of decay, the roof caved in, the dust, the bats, and the lab - a tribute to time 'looking as though her and Clive were on their lunch break' ?  I don't think it had been worked in for an awful long time.  Do you remember when she visited Clive in his home and he was so concerned that she was managing the research by herself that she said she 'started to make up stories of her success, even though she hadn't managed to get back to it yet'? Finally, didn't you think she told you just a few too many times how famous she was!  So yes, I think you are right about her fantasy life.
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Aunt_Beth_64 wrote:
Ms Adams-

Thank you for taking the time to discuss your book. I sincerely appreciate the early opportunity to read this provocative story. I found THE SISTER to be spell-binding. I was unable to stop myself from reading it cover-to-cover, as a result I had to hold off from participating in the group discussion because I didn't want to give anything away. My questions are the same as the ones already posted, I just wanted to add my voice to the others who are praising your fist book. I'm already looking forward to the next one.

Beth

Thank you Beth, for your lovely message!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



carriele wrote:
Ms. Adams,
 
 
I just wanted to give a quick thanks to you for taking the time to share this book with the BN First Look club. 
 
I just had one general question for you.  When you decided to write this book, did you have a specific/target audience in mind?  Some discussion in the threads has been given to the fact certain books do well in England but not so well in America and vice versa.  Beyond that, it seems some types of books appeal more to women versus men or older readers versus younger readers.
 
My reason for asking is that I thought Ginny was either speaking to herself or to the reader directly, which made me wonder if you had an idea of a certain type of reader in mind. 
 
Thanks again for your time. 
 
Carrie E. 


Dear Carrie E
I had absolutely no target audience in mind.  I wrote completely for myself and had no idea it would be published.  Had I thought of a market, or an audience, I probably would not have decided on moths, science and retired women - none of which are hot on sales!  I would have written an historical mystery novel - and, ironically, I'm sure no publisher would have looked at it!  I like picking unfashionable topics though, I like breaking the rules! 
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Jeanie0522 wrote:
Ms. Adams:  I simply want to thank you for the opportunity to read your novel.  The only question that I couldn't seem to answer myself was why was Vivi back home after all of these years and what was she looking for? 
 
Thanks again!  -Jeanie


Dear Jeanie
It's a good question - why Viv came back.  When I first wrote the book, I intended it to simply be what she put in her letter - that they were both now lonely and retired and should live out the rest of their lives together.  I soon realised that, after all they'd been through it couldn't be the case, but I also knew that she can't return home for one single practical reason like she'd run out of money - so, even though I thought about it, I couldn't write anything like that into the story. That simple diagnostic answer would not suit a story about complex emotions and different perspectives.  So I just try to put myself in her shoes.  She feels like the daughter who didn't get the attention, the one who's left to fend for herself, is always made to entertain and look out for her sister - she leaves home for London desperate to get away from all this.    I think she'd feel slightly ousted to.  Perhaps now she thinks its her right to be back in the house that Ginny has lived all her life (afterall 'it's my house too').  Nostalgia would play a part - as you get older I think you often want to go back to your past.  But also forgiveness and mellowing.  Has she slowly worked out that although she blames Ginny for her mothers death (or for Clive doing it to protect her), that it might not really be Ginny's fault because Ginny might not understand?  Does she want to set the past straight with Ginny?  Or has she worked out that Ginny must have had a disorder (which she'd never fully understood when they were young) and its her duty to go back and look after her. 
It all depends on the readers perspective, which way they will lean.  All I say, is that its going to be a mix of emotion, don't you think?
Hope that helps!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



SandyS wrote:
Ms. Adams:
 
Thanks so much for allowing us to read and review your novel before publication.  I am anxious for your input to previous questions, which are so similar ro my own.
 
One additional question:  Did you develop your characters completely before beginning the actual story?  Or do you need to stop at various points and expand the character's personality by completing another portion of their biography.  If not, how do you keep a character true to his/her upbringing and life events?
 
Thank you for joining us with your thoughts.
 
SandyS


Hi SandyS
I did develop the characters completely before I started.  I knew the themes and ideas I wanted to explore.  Then I got to know my characters inside out.  Plot came last and I left it loose so that I could let the characters take their own course - I knew where the story started and ended and afew bits in the middle!   Invaribably though, the characters do develop as you take them on the journey.  Infact I think they must develop as part of a successful story.  each character must end up differently from how they started, even if it is having a slightly different understanding.  I'm really keen on intimate and meticulous characterisation.
Thanks for the question
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Linda10 wrote:
Dear Poppy,
 
I finished your book last night.  I have felt totally lost today without "The Sister" to read!  As someone else wrote, I keep going over and over parts of the book in my mind.  And that has made me think of a couple more questions.
 
When Ginny found the locket with the picture in it of a pregnant Vivien, was Vivien really pregnant?  And, if so, then why does she need Ginny to have her baby?  (And how could she be if she no longer had a uterus?)
 
Then that got me to thinking, did Ginny perhaps fantasize more than we thought?  In other words, was she really only imagining that she and Arthur were making a baby together (especially since the baby dies, perhaps conveniently?)?
 
Or, to flip that thought, did Ginny really have a baby and it really lived, not died?  Was Michael, who lived in the stables, really her son?  Or am I just reading way, way too much into the story?
 
There are so many unanswered questions to this book!  Is that intentional?  Is there no right answer?  Is it whatever the reader decides the answers to be?  Or is it just meant to leave us asking questions?
 
How clever of you!  Thank you, again, for this book!
 


Dear Linda
 
Yes, the unanswered questions are intentional.  I'd prefer them not to be unanswered, but answered by the reader!  Then the reader can look at their own perceptions of the story and ask themselves why they came to those conclusions.  I think there are a couple of ways to view the baby story and you thought of them both:  either Ginny is even more unreliable than we might have originally thought and fantasized the entire thing (take it further, the entire book perhaps - maybe she's been in the home/prison (she has no idea where she is so nor do we) for the last fifty years, and the entire story of a sister, a mansion etc is all fantasy!!) 
 
OR the picture was taken during the time when Vivien became obsessed with her 'pretend' pregnancy, eating the same things as Ginny and stuffing her front to make her look pregnant.  she was so distraught that she couldn't be pregnant in reality that she did everything she could (including badgering Arthur with questions about Ginny's pregnancy habits) to try and have the experience herself.  I can imagine she'd take a photo, and I can imagine why Arthur might not be looking too content in it.
 
I like to think of things on all these different levels.  But really, the answer is up to you.
 
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



CAG wrote:
First of all thank you so much for sharing this book with us as an ARC. I loved the book and found it so interesting from the character of Ginny to the science of moths. I believe you intentionally left many questions unanswered. Am I correct about that? And where did the character of Ginny come from? As many others have asked, did you know about moths prior to writing the novel or was it a subject you learned about through research? I wish you the very best of luck and much success with the release of this novel. I would certainly read anything else you write. Thank you again.


Dear CAG
Thanks for your postings.  I'm sure I've answered your questions now in my previous posts - sorry, taken me a while to get round to them all.  But if I haven't, let me know.
Thanks for your encouragement!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



pheath wrote:
Dear Ms. Adams,

Thank you for a captivating read! The more I read, the harder it was to put the book down. One thing I thought was interesting was the amount of backstory that you used. If The Sister were made as a movie, would it be better told sequentially or would it be better to stick to the arrangement in the novel?


Dear Philip
Firstly, thanks for your enthusiasm from the start!  As for your question about a film version, and whether it would be better told sequentially, I have absolutely no idea.  I've just had an offer for the dramatic rights actually, but I'm not sure yet if I even want to sell them (not that most of them that get sold get made anyway).  Personally I can't see it as a good film, but I am told that is because I have no experience in how a brilliant scriptwriter is able to adapt it.  I understand that some of the writing and the setting is very visual, but it's the actual plot I'm not so sure about.  Most of it happens in her head!  Take the motive for murder:  on the face of it (if you weren't privy to Ginny's unusual mind) she is looking forward to Vivien coming home, but within a couple of days of Vivien not doing anything out of the ordinary (going to church, meeting villagers, looking round her family home, visiting family graves), she's decided to murder her.  Most people watching that film would not think it was a well constructed motive, and they wouldn't believe the character!  It's only when you get sucked into the weird journey she's taken herself on in her head, that you can believe the outcome.
 
Actually this was one of the challenges I first set myself when thinking about the book: A woman who could, during the course of a long weekend, go from loving her sister to hating her enough to kill her - not because her sister did anything particularly wrong during the weekend, but simply because of a change of perception in Ginny's mind.  And I wanted it to be utterly believable!
 
So I'm going to take some convincing of it as a film!
 
Poppy


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MSaff wrote:
Ms Adams,

Thank you for the opportunity of reading your book. I really enjoyed it, and while my questions aren't all answered, have been able to draw my own conclusions. I like it when an author makes me think. What drew you from documentaries to writing "The Sister"? Have you always wanted to be an author? Thank you for taking the time to join us and answer our many, varied questions.

Hi Mike
I have always wanted to write fiction, but I have no idea why I thought I could.  I make up stories in my head all the time.  I'd be a good prisoner, I could just live in my head (although I can imagine it would be dangerous to encourage it too much,  I'll become one of those people who mutter to themselves along the street...).  I didn't want to give up my documentary career but I was finding it increasingly difficult to go off for weeks of filming when I had children.   I thought I'd pursue this dream of writing while my children were young and then pick up the documentaries again later.  Although i won't now, I much prefer writing, and I can do if from home. 
Thank you for taking the time to read and discuss The Sister
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams


Poppy_Adams wrote:


Linda10 wrote:
Dear Poppy,
I finished your book last night. I have felt totally lost today without "The Sister" to read! As someone else wrote, I keep going over and over parts of the book in my mind. And that has made me think of a couple more questions.
When Ginny found the locket with the picture in it of a pregnant Vivien, was Vivien really pregnant? And, if so, then why does she need Ginny to have her baby? (And how could she be if she no longer had a uterus?)
Then that got me to thinking, did Ginny perhaps fantasize more than we thought? In other words, was she really only imagining that she and Arthur were making a baby together (especially since the baby dies, perhaps conveniently?)?
Or, to flip that thought, did Ginny really have a baby and it really lived, not died? Was Michael, who lived in the stables, really her son? Or am I just reading way, way too much into the story?
There are so many unanswered questions to this book! Is that intentional? Is there no right answer? Is it whatever the reader decides the answers to be? Or is it just meant to leave us asking questions?
How clever of you! Thank you, again, for this book!


Dear Linda
Yes, the unanswered questions are intentional. I'd prefer them not to be unanswered, but answered by the reader! Then the reader can look at their own perceptions of the story and ask themselves why they came to those conclusions. I think there are a couple of ways to view the baby story and you thought of them both: either Ginny is even more unreliable than we might have originally thought and fantasized the entire thing (take it further, the entire book perhaps - maybe she's been in the home/prison (she has no idea where she is so nor do we) for the last fifty years, and the entire story of a sister, a mansion etc is all fantasy!!)
OR the picture was taken during the time when Vivien became obsessed with her 'pretend' pregnancy, eating the same things as Ginny and stuffing her front to make her look pregnant. she was so distraught that she couldn't be pregnant in reality that she did everything she could (including badgering Arthur with questions about Ginny's pregnancy habits) to try and have the experience herself. I can imagine she'd take a photo, and I can imagine why Arthur might not be looking too content in it.
I like to think of things on all these different levels. But really, the answer is up to you.
Poppy



You know, I guess I just took it for granted that Vivi was faking a pregnancy so that when the baby was born, everyone would think it was hers and Arthur just looked the way he did in the picture because he probably thought it was silly and looked it too. It was not that far off that in the 50s someone would do that. I know of cases where daughters who were pregnant were sent away to have the baby, while her mother pretended to be pregnant at home so she could have the baby to raise and her daughter back, at the right time, "unsullied".

Poppy,
I wondered about Arthur and Ginny. At first I felt sorry for her that this whole sex thing just seemed so mechanical and couldnt even understand his embarrassment at being naked at first. I felt like, man whatever robbed you of a "normal" childhood, has robbed you of the ability to feel the anxious excitement or nervousness that goes along with one's first time. And then maybe sex would never mean anything to her more than a biological function, just one more lost feeling to her. I really felt bad that she couldn't feel. But as they went along and Author seemed to like coming there more and wanted to spend time with her, I wondered if Vivi was a pretty unfeeling wife too. But maybe in other ways, maybe she could take or leave intimacy but cared more about the social set, maybe not too different than Maud could have been when she was younger.

As Arthur and Ginny started to spend time together, I felt like she was starting to feel something, she was enjoying time with him and I wondered if when the baby was born, could there be a chance for them, Arthur and Ginny and a way and a person for her to finally feel, something outside her pupa soup of just being. I don't think they could tho in the end. I am not even sure she could have connected with the baby, I think she really saw it as her sisters. I wondered too if maybe Vivi felt these were two more people Ginny took from her (or got to have, even tho it was her idea), that if maybe she held some thought too when the baby died, and Author was wanting to go to Ginny too much, maybe she felt Ginny was messing in her life again.

You know, it would not have surprised me, if Vivi had stayed, well alive that is lol, that the way things were going, one day in a heated fit of all the pent up feelings she had about Ginny and Clive and what she may have perceived they both took from her, that things could have been reversed and Vivi could have killed Ginny in a fit of rage. If thats possible, then was Ginny really so off in her thinking that Vivi was a threat she needed to get rid of? Interesting thoughts anyway. Sorry for writing so much. Did you ever think as you were writing those interactions between Ginny and Arthur, of what might happen if you let them get closer? Thanks, (the other viv hehe)
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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