Sunday, 2 August 2020

When Secrets Set Sail - patchwork pieces to publication

 When Secrets Set Sail

20th August
Hachette Orion

You're invited to step through the Globe Window in my story.
This window at The Children's Bookshop Muswell Hill is painted by illustrator and author Jane Ray. 

‘Truly unforgettable … deserves to be read and studied by all’ – Onjali Q. Rauf, bestselling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class

A gorgeously timely story of heritage and belonging and ghostly voices that won’t rest until their secrets are uncovered –  it had me mesmerised!’ 
Jasbinder Bilan, Costa award winning author)

'A wonderful, big-hearted story that shows how history connects with the present. Multi-layered, it upholds rights to identity, justice, equality and community.'
(Nicky Parker, Publisher, Amnesty UK)

When Secrets Set Sail is a scintillating adventure and a superb introduction to complex historical themes. (Waterstones says...)

'So much of our time and yet for all time. Sita weaves such magic in her writing. I absolutely loved it.  'When Secrets Set Sail' will be super for stimulating oral histories. It will be a gorgeous stimulus for looking at buildings, places and the history they can hold and unlock across generations.' Kate Agnew 

'Beautifully structured, magically told, this story reflects our times as different groups demand to be heard with equal merit in our society.'  Miriam Halahmy (Award Winning Author)

My childhood doll, conch shell and notebook on the steps of Ayahs' Home, Hackney. 
(Photo credit Farzanah Mamoojee)

Photo 1962 On arrival to work in NHS with fellow doctors. Illustration by Jane Ray from  'Gift of Time' in
 'Book Of Hopes' Ed. Katherine Rundell 

The dedication for this story is to my parents and their tireless work in the NHS.

Diary to publication....

In the lead up to the launch and publication day on 20th August I discussed the historical background to the  story at  a Webinar with Farhanah Mamoojee @ayahshome and Natasha Junejo founder of #SouthAsianWriters . The conversation explored the journey from fact to fiction followed by a Q&A, fielding questions via twitter. Thank you to South Asian Heritage Month for hosting this event.  

Look out for a Book Trust Blog about readers setting sail on their own local histories and research journeys during the summer holidays. I hope that this book will be a catalyst for young people to explore their own histories and untold stories and a generator of new diverse voices. Libraries and librarians are an important part of my character's Imtiaz and Usha's adventure and  I'm looking forward to engaging with libraries around this story with the fantastic resources being created by Felicity Highet at Hachette.

On the steps of Ayah's Home, Hackney with Farhanah Mamoojee @ayahshome 
(Photo credit Farzanah Mamoojee)


For families, libraries and school projects. Discover your own local/ global histories with this
downloadable #WSSSBluePlaque resource available from The Reading Agency:

Sincere thanks to the inspiring author Rozina Visram whose lifelong research into the Ayah's Home and South Asian people in Britain I credit in my book. To Natasha Junejo at #Southasianwriters and  Farhanah Mamoojee @ayahshome and Sanchita Basu De Sarkar and team at Children's Bookshop Muswell Hill and for  Jane Ray for painting the beautiful launch window. For Amnesty International for endorsing this book. The Book Trust and The Reading Agency. ( There are many more friends and family thanked in the acknowledgement of the book)

With huge thanks to my agent Sophie Gorell Barnes of MBA Literary Agents and the whole wonderful creative team at Orion in particular my editor Tig Wallace and desk editor Ruth Girmatsion, Designer Samuel Perrett  Publicist Dominic Kingston and Marketing Felicity Highet. To Sam Swinnerton for our early brainstorming.  So many thanks to Sarah Lambert, Ruth Alltimes,  Emily Finn, Hannah Cawse, Helen Hughes, Rachel Boden, Tracy Phillips, Annabel El-Kerm, Eshara Wijetunge.  It matters that you're all named... and placed in the story of the making of this book.

Finally thank you to illustrator Evan Hollingdale for creating this beautiful top deck of the ship house... the perfect launch pad for the imagination to roam.

Happy Dreaming ...

When Secrets Set Sail

Available in paperback, kindle and audiobook 

The first signed copies  at: