Gill Mann has always loved writing. To keep her parents happy she started her working life as a solicitor but sixteen years after qualifying she re-trained as a professional photographer, becoming an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Finally she worked out what she really wanted to do and returned to university to study for a Post-graduate Diploma and Masters degree in Psychodynamic Counselling and has worked as a therapist ever since. Her interest in people informs her writing. Although she writes mainly from life she has recently turned to fiction, starting work on a collection of short stories based on the theme of therapy. Below you can read about her first book, the new memoir A Song Inside, as well as an extract from it.
A Song Inside, by Gill Mann
‘You are a song inside me now, a melody that stirs and bursts into life when I think of you.’
In this heart-breaking, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting memoir, Gill Mann remembers life with her son Sam - a boy and young man who enchanted and infuriated in equal measure. Sam saw colours where others saw grey. He made people feel alive. His unvanquishable spirit sings out as Gill reflects on the joys he brought, the difficulties of his struggles with schizophrenia, and the impact of his death.
Part journal, part journey into the past, and part conversation with Sam, in this beautifully written memoir, Gill thoughtfully and tenderly reveals her relationship with her son, both before and after his death. A Song Inside explores universal issues of love and loss to reveal how we can move forward and find happiness again, without leaving behind the people we have lost.
Featured below is an excerpt from the opening of the memoir.
From A Song Inside
At the garden table, mug of tea in hand, I sit and wait for the young policewoman to speak. It is Bank Holiday Monday: a day of bright sunshine and impossible clarity. Colours around me shout and sing. Blood-red geraniums in terracotta pots, fresh-cut grass as green as newly minted peas, wisteria hanging in swathes of smoky mauve.
"You have a son," she says, placing one hand on the swell of her unborn child. It is such a simple statement of fact, a lovely truth, but a strange one for this young woman to be telling me, sitting in my own garden beneath a sky of cobalt blue. It seems she doesn’t expect an answer for she is carrying on, but
"Yes," I agree in my head, "I have." She tells me his name too.
"Samuel Edward Roberts," she says.
"Yes," I agree in my head, again, and then I realise. Of course, not the burglary. It’s about Sam’s passport, stolen ten days ago as he slept on a train from Bangkok to Chiangmai.
More words come, yet still there’s no mention of the passport. I feel a sudden, cool waft of foreboding, as fleeting as the shadow of an aeroplane passing before the sun. Then a strange thing happens. The words cease to belong to the young woman opposite me. They take on an embodiment all of their own. I can see and feel them, floating on the garden air.
"He’s travelling in Thailand, in Mae Hong Son province," her words continue, relentless. Suspending themselves in the space between us, above the table, they hang in the air like an executioner’s axe.
There is no faltering, no change of pace or tone when she speaks again. "Your son has been found dead in his hotel room. We’ve been contacted by the Thai police."
There is silence as the words sway in front of me. Such an innocent conglomeration of consonants and vowels; but put together, such devastating words. Words which must not be allowed to turn that simple, lovely truth, "You have a son," into a terrible lie.