The Twenty-one-year Contract

Harriet Laws is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Twenty-one-year Contract by L.B. Griffins.

Welcome, Harriet. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

“When my good friend Lynn AKA LB GRIFFIN decided she wanted to write about me I felt a little reluctant to share my world. At the time it was difficult. My name is Harriet Laws and Lynn encouraged me to share my story. So I agreed and she wrote me into her debut novel: Secrets, Shame and a Shoebox.

Then I became a part of The Twenty-One-Year Contract. Lynn, the author, decided it would be a good thing to keep the books as standalone but they are also sequel and prequel.

For the moment I live in Secrets, Shame and a Shoebox.

Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox: and my name is Harriet. Harriet Laws.

“When my only surviving relative died. My wonderful Nana who I lived with. I was 17. At the time of my Nana’s death, we were barely scraping by on two incomes. I was alone, bereft, and penniless.

I had nowhere to turn. London is so expensive in the 1950s. Landlords were ruthless. The council didn’t care.

When I was about to be thrown out onto the street, having lost my job for going to the funeral and no money to pay the rent. Fired for nothing and nothing to live for I was about to do away with myself. Then Tom stepped in. Coincidence. Fate. Kismet. Whatever it was, he saved me.

What I should have also known was the people in my street loved my nana. It turns out they loved me too. Nana was generous of heart, and soul. She would give away our last morsel of bread to the families who needed food more than us. My Nana was like that. She was the gatekeeper and taught people to be tolerant of one another.  I learned so much from her.

I realised just how lucky I was. My extended family in Ham Street stepped in. They gave me enough money for a deposit on a bedsit. Then my life took on a whole new meaning.

I met two men. CJ. He was rich, handsome and never knew the meaning of ‘No’. The other, Tom, my lovely, gentle Tom. He was older than me. He was the baker where I now work as a shop assistant. I fell in love with him, but he was too much of a gentleman to reciprocate any feelings in that way. Though we had a great relationship, CJ was a master manipulator. I found that out, too late. After we were married.

Then later I met Kate Westfield.  Kate comes more to life in The Twenty-One-Year Contract which is about her. Coincidence. Fate. Kismet. How many times have you walked down the street, or gone to another continent, or walked into a shop and met someone you know you haven’t seen for years?

 Kate and I became firm friends. We needed one another, and we never knew how much until the end.”

The Twenty-One-Year Contract.

Kate Westfield lives inside The Twenty-One-Year Contract. Though she’s a force to be reckoned with. She was fourteen when her adopted family were killed in a freak road accident.

“I couldn’t bear Uncle Jack having to look after me. He lived in America and worked as an engineer across the world. He had his own life, without me getting in the way. I made plans to run away to London. I was lucky he gave me an allowance which I saved. It gave me the chance I needed. Only one other person knew where I was, my school friend Lucy.

When a manhunt for me began I was having a great time. Well, it was interesting. I’d moved to a tiny bedsit in London. Worked as a fashion designer for Madam Raines at her Atelier. Her clientele, rich and famous. Madam Raines never knew how old I was. I lied. I had to. I couldn’t tell her I was 14. But she loved my work. I became well known and I even adjusted a dress for royalty. I was fifteen when Uncle Jack found me. Though he understood my desire to remain in London and insisted he support me to do that safely. I love my Uncle Jack. He is amazing.

Then came Dorian Craddock. The daughter of a gangster who had been sent to prison for murder and much more. She took over his business empire. Dorian was fearsome. She took me into her world of pleasure where I could network my skills. I quickly learned I needed to be careful around her.

When I met Harriet, it turned out she too knew Dorian Craddock. Dorian owed her life to Harriet. Though she would never admit it. Harriet and I became great friends. We both had a desire to find out who our parents were. Harriet knew all about her mother, but she had no idea who her father was.    

I, on the other hand, had no idea who my parents were. Adoption meant no-one was allowed to reveal their identity. That was until I became twenty-one, then life offered up the solution.

I guess you’ll have to read more to find out what I mean by that. Coincidence. Fate. Kismet.

Our stories continue as our writer friend Lynn has decided to write about us as grandparents. Harriet and I are grandparents! How strange to think. But then we’ve been talking to her about the in between bit. She needs to listen. I’m sure Harriet and I will have a say in that….”

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

“Oh my goodness. LB Griffin is a pussycat. Well, she pretends she is, but I guess Harriet and I wear her down. Both of us have had a big say in what happens to us. Don’t you think that’s true Harriet?”

“Yes, Kate, I do. But you’re a devil, waking her up in the middle of the night with all sorts of ‘when you write this make sure you say that.’ I can understand how Lynn has to get out of bed and start writing, so she can get some sleep!”

“She’s fun to work with though, Harriet and I enjoy her company. She’s got a wicked sense of humour, but she wants us to learn and show what true life is all about. She’s shown us both how to survive and look after others. That’s why we set up a refuge for women and children.”

“Yes, my proudest achievement in life so far Kate. Thank you for helping us achieve it.”

“You’re my best friend Harriet and always welcome. I agree, setting up a refuge in my old home Westfield was a brilliant move.”

How did you evolve as the main character?

Harriet: “My life was a mess. We were poor. My nana died and I was totally alone. I thought life was worth living until I was shown kindness by a stranger. His humanity showed me the way. His name was Tom.

My nana was wonderful. She had a way with her, she also taught me the meaning of life. In the end I began to discover it for myself. I am proud of who I became.”

Kate: “I was Kathleen to begin with. A child, wild, carefree, living in a world of fun in rural Somerset. I found school easy. I climbed trees and sewed with my adopted mother. We had money. Then it all came crashing down. They died. I had been abandoned, again. This time it wasn’t a choice. My natural mother didn’t want me. My adopted family did, but they were gone.

I needed to find myself. Find out if I could survive. I began to survive in London, and in the world of fashion. It was fraught with danger, but I survived. All of it. Harriet will show you her story. I will show you mine.”

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

“From my point of view – as Kate, I loved Dorian Craddock, the monster, the gangster. She’s someone you love to hate. I also loved Uncle Jack. Every little girl needs an Uncle Jack in their life. I was gloriously fortunate to have him.”

“From my point of view as Harriet, I loved Tom. Always will. I also loved my friends in Ham Street, Rosa, with her funny, wonderful, cloud of children. My landlady, Mrs Gaffney, who became one of my firmest friends. She looked after the shoebox. It’s significance to me at the time was it was a part of who I was. It held my mother’s ballet shoes and a cutting of her when she was about to become a prima donna. Then she died. Leaving me with my Nana before I had the chance to meet her.

Mrs Baker was a marvel, as was Mrs Turpin. But Dorian blighted my life at school. She blighted the lives of everyone around. I won’t give any spoilers. I’d much rather you found out for yourself.”

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

It’s 1950s London. I live in the smaller, backstreets of London, which tourists don’t travel to. It’s hard. Dirty and can be dangerous. The Windrush generation have just arrived. The black community is treated with contempt. I hate it. We all need to take a hard, uncomfortable look at ourselves and work out why. I’m white. I have a friend who is black, her name is Patience. I’m proud to call her friend. She is amazing.

As a child I saw the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11.

Posh people own black and white televisions the size of a biscuit tin. The utilitarian clothing of the war years is starting to change. Though I can’t afford to buy anything new or special. Some shops will offer a way to buy clothes on the never-never. I won’t do that. I make and mend.

The milkman has gold top and silver top milk in his crate and delivers to your door in a little electric open ended wagon. I love the sound of its quiet swooshing along the street. The birds will peck the cream when it rises in freezing weather.

We don’t have heating, other than fires. They cause the pea-soupers. We don’t have so many pea-soupers these days. Just as well, when the fog drops your life is in imminent danger.  

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

Our stories are about courage, survival, and love. We would love it if you stepped inside our world and shared a part of it with us. We would welcome you with open arms.

Thank you for answering my questions, Harriet, and good luck to you and your author, L.B. Griffin, with The Twenty-one-year Contract.

Readers can learn more about Harriet and her author, L. B. Griffin by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Apple – Kobo

About L.B. Griffin: She was born and raised in the UK. She is married and came out of retirement when she received a contract for her debut novel. Griffin loves to write stories to touch people’s hearts, She draws upon social issues that are often hidden in deep drawers but readers can identify with. Her women don’t see themselves as courageous, strong, or survivors, but they certainly are.

Her debut, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox has received superb 5 star reviews, amongst them Whispering stories and VINE VOICE reader/blogger Michelle Ryles, singing high praise: ‘Incredibly well-written, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox is a magnificent debut. It’s a poignant, disturbing and a heart-warming page-turner that has left me chomping at the bit to continue Harriet’s story.’ The sequel, and also standalone – The Twenty-One-Year Contract, is already receiving fantastic five star reviews such as: VINE VOICE “This book will have you laughing, crying and cheering.” L.B. Griffin continues to turn silent stories into courage, hope, and survival. Be warned, she is a self-confessed chocolate-raisin and strawberry addict!


About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
This entry was posted in Archives, May 2023 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Twenty-one-year Contract

  1. Pingback: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours–The Twenty-One-Year Contract – mjbreviewers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s