British expat author, Sandra Danby, has recently published the second instalment of her popular identity detective novel series. Her first book, Ignoring Gravity, received rave reviews and a five-star rating on Amazon, and the second in the series is already attracting considerable interest.
The detective series focuses on journalist Rose Haldane, who sets out to reunite people lost through adoption. The latest novel, Connectedness, focuses on the life of Justine, an art student who arrives in Malaga in the early 1980s in order to study. When her mother dies, Justine decides to confront her past and by asking the journalist to find the baby she gave away when she was a young student.
Sandra, who lives for part of the year in Ronda, describes herself as a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker who believes a walk on the beach will cure most of life's misfortunes.
Drawn to the Spanish countryside by the sun and the tranquil pace of life, she found the rural area surrounding Ronda an ideal place to write fiction.
Sandra studied English at Goldsmiths College in London, before embarking on a 35-year career as a journalist and magazine editor. She taught journalism and creative writing at adult education colleges and became an award-winning author of short stories, having her work published in magazines and journals in the UK.
Similar to the protagonist of her new novel, Sandra left home and moved to Spain in 2008, and she soon fell in love with the scenery and the Andalusian way of life.
“Anyone who has ever lived in a foreign country is aware of that initial wave of euphoria on arrival; 80 per cent excitement combined with 20 per cent panic. The first phase is full of strangeness. Not just the simple things - the sounds and language spoken around you, the geography of finding your way around and the colours and the scents which fill your head with exotic images,” the author tells SUR in English.
As a good proportion of the book is set in Malaga, Sandra spent many days over a period of two years walking the streets of the city. Her life in Andalucía was invaluable in helping her imagine how the city may have been during the early 80s.
“I had to factor in the passing of time, because the protagonist of the book arrives in Malaga in 1982, a very different city from today. I narrowed my settings to the Plaza de la Merced, the Plaza del Obispo, the cathedral and El Palo. I spent a lot of time at the locations, just sitting, watching and absorbing,” Sandra explains.
A well as writing novels, Sandra also writes a blog - Notes on a Spanish Valley - which relates her life as a foreigner living in the Ronda mountains.
“We live in a small community and the people are so friendly. We are the only English in the village and the people are unfailingly helpful and forgiving of our muddled spoken Spanish. A cup of coffee is a social ritual, as is the swapping of vegetables,” Sandra says contentedly.