Picking Up the Pieces by Bridget Fenton

Feel-good teen fiction connecting the turmoil and stigma faced by gay men in the 1950s to contemporary LGBTQ+ teen life, in a heartbreaking and hilarious, stereotype-busting, coming-of-age story with an important message about kindness and understanding.

 

Meet Jake, a black-belt in snark and sarcasm, who can only dream of designing a perfect homelife. But Dad is clearly homophobic, and Mum only speaks to him from the breakfast show on Radio Sunshine. He’d rather hang out with his mate Enid, even if she is an old lady. As their friendship grows, Enid reveals the tragic story of her husband who took his own life in 1958, after being accused of ‘gross indecency.’ She needs Jake’s help to find Leonard, who was imprisoned for his part in the affair. Jake attempts to make sense of his relationships, find justice for past wrongs, and discover the courage to create his own space in the world. As Jake sets off on a journey for justice, he doesn’t expect to discover so much about himself and the secrets within his own family.  

About the Author

Bridget grew up in Bristol, where her storytelling began at a young age. One of eight siblings, she entertained her family with tales of nights spent as a circus performer, before sneaking back to the house before anyone had realised that she was missing. She has worked in a dark, satanic pottery and a local radio station before becoming a teacher, presiding over the school library with obsessive nerdery. Her other passion is football, although a broken ankle has seen her role change from mid-field player to Provider of Half-time Oranges, or club secretary, as you will.

         

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Picking Up the Pieces by Bridget Fenton

Picking Up the Pieces is a feel-good, queer YA novel which connects the turmoil and stigma of gay men in the 1950s to contemporary teen life, in a heartbreaking and hilarious, stereotype-busting, coming-of-age story with an important message about the power of empathy.

The story is narrated by Jake, a black belt in snark and sarcasm, who can only dream of designing a perfect home life. But Dad is clearly homophobic, and Mum only speaks to him from the breakfast show on Radio Sunshine. He’d rather hang out with his mate Enid, even if she is an old lady. As their friendship grows, Enid reveals the tragic story of her husband who took his own life in 1958, after being accused of ‘gross indecency.’ She needs Jake’s help to find Leonard, who was imprisoned for his part in the affair. The story follows Jake’s attempts to make sense of his relationships, find justice for past wrongs and discover the courage to create his own space in the world. As Jake sets off on a journey for justice, he doesn’t expect to discover so much about himself and the secrets within his own family.

What was your inspiration for this story?

I went to see a stage play about the persecution of gay men in the 1950s and the subsequent turmoil, stigma and heartbreak of the victims and their families. I began wondering how these stories might be heard by young gay people today, and the significance they may have for historical empathy.

What was your most memorable moment on the MA?

Walking up the gravel path to Corsham Court, the peacocks scratching under the magnolia trees and the massive house quietly watching my approach, thinking to myself: This is where I’m going to write my book!

What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?

To read as a writer. After finishing a book, I used to think: That was a great story. Now I think: How did they make me feel like that? Oh, and that I’m not as good at punctuation as I thought I was!

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

Writing scenes for my characters where feelings are running high. Especially when the dialogue is misleading, misconstrued or repressed, but the body is an emotional blabbermouth.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing?

I like exploring new places in my camper-van, although 2020 has been particularly pants for this.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Write what you care about, read the stuff that inspires you and be brave!

What was your favourite book as a child?

Pippi Longstocking. Incredibly strong, lived alone (I was one of eight children), did whatever she wanted, had a pet monkey, a horse, and an endless supply of money. What’s not to love?

What place in fiction do you most want to visit?

I can’t stand shopping, but I think I’d make an exception for Diagon Alley.