WHEN NO ONE'S LOOKING
A NOVEL BY
"When No One's Looking makes me homesick for the simple, hardscrabble, poetic life that unfolds daily in the Ortiz Mountains of New Mexico -- and for the raw, fearless emotions and journeys of its people, as brought to life in Sarah Leamy's protagonist Joey. It's a travel story that has finally come home. A story about the outer and inner landscapes that lead to love, to hate, and ultimately to wisdom."Carol Carpenter, playwright
A beautifully written saga that spans six countries and over 40 years, the story centers on an obsessive pair of lovers who cannot stay away from each other. Joey and Kat have had a messy relationship dating back to 1967. We follow their mis-adventures from a small town in New Mexico, then to Central America, Russia, the United Kingdom, and back to New Mexico. Looking back over the years, Joey reminisces with best friend, Paula on what could have been, while planning a final gathering of friends and family.
About the Author: Sarah Leamy is best-known as a clown and vaudeville entertainer as she writes, performs and produces both solo shows as well as community focused festivals and cabarets. She has already written her next book, Random Tales (Out On The Road), a travel memoir of her twenties and thirties, living first in Europe and then crossing the States and Guatemala, performing, writing and working odd jobs as she explored new countries alone or with Daisy, her slightly grumpy Border Collie.
When No One’s Looking is her first published novel and it is a bittersweet success. She took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge of finishing within one month what most take years to complete. She wrote at six in the mornings before working as a landscaper in New Mexico, and came home, dirty and tired yet energized by this story that demanded to be written. In December she edited her first draft, sent out query letters to various agents and publishers but then had to suddenly return to England as her Mum was in Intensive Care. All thought of the book fell aside as she sat with her family. At the end of January 2010, she came back to the States heartbroken after the funeral. Yet, there was the offer. To publish the novel.
It is dedicated to both her parents.
A REVIEW BY SANDRA SANCHEZ OF BOOKPLEASURES.COM
"This 200 page novel is written like a memoir, a dying look back on a long life of extensive travel and an improbable come and go love affair with a narcissistic but mysteriously magnetic woman who believes in loving and leaving and loving and leaving year after year and decade after decade all around the world. The narrator does not linger over memories, whether joyful or painful, but marches right along at a terse, tense, clipped pace that covers a lot of distance both emotionally and geographically in a few words. For instance, remembering a few years in Guatamala:
"And after two years or so, I wrote. The more time I spent out and about, the more trust I got from everyone in town. So many neighbors talked to me and they wanted me to tell the world about their lives within the civil war. And it truly was a war. I wrote and sent off photos, articles and essays to the papers in the U.S. I started out utterly ignorant. I learned so much."
Dialogues are similarly short and get right to the point:
"Last month they killed my grandfather," Diego told me one afternoon.
"Because he wore his traditional clothes. Not western ones like the government demands of us. He died wearing his own clothes. I am proud of him."
And upon the heart stopping appearance of the come and go lover in this most unlikely place at this most unlikely time:
"She strolled into the bar. My local. Not good. I didn't know what to do. I waited. I watched the front door. I waited. And I walked in."
The author establishes and maintains this stacatto rythmn throughout the novel giving it a tension and suspense that moves the story along at a very fast pace, except for those respites back in the mountains of New Mexico when the author takes a deep breath, looks around and finds comfort in the beauty of the landscape. The reader feels it, the slow deep inhalation, the beauty. And this is of course what good writing is all about: putting the reader there, in Russia, in Guatamala, in Spain and Wales and of course New Mexico, there with real people who speak in authentic voices. When I finished I felt like I'd taken a very interesting trip with a fascinating guide. But there is more to When No One's Looking than fascinating tales of travel and love, there is also a secret that is hinted at throughout but not fully revealed for certain until the last few pages. And there is one memory so awful that once we become aware of it in the middle of the book, we understand fully why this narrator is a person of few words because words could never fully describe what that childhood memory must have felt like. No wonder Joey, prefers to write news articles about intentional communities, or the political realities of communities around the world, and participate in other people's family lives.
Joey's triumph is in fact turning what could have been a life marked forever and completely by tragedy into a life fully lived and for the most part enjoyed, more ups than downs. In fact what might seem like a sad ending to younger readers will seem like a happy ending to older readers: you'll get different rewards from reading this book depending on what experience you bring to it, but in any case, this book is a rewarding read."
Click Here To Purchase When No One's Looking
THE TELLING TALES ROADSHOW is Sarah’s chance to bring her book into communities with readings, story –telling, signings, while also offering other local performers time on stage to round off the event. All ages show that Sleam hopes to make much more interesting than the average reading words off the page, so she brings her trunk of props, her musical friends and a box or two of books to be signed and sold. Who knows what will happen! Come on out to see the Roadshow in your local town!
On tour through Northern New Mexico, then into Moab and Salt Lake City, Boise, Portland, Olympia, and the Seattle area in December 2010.
The intention is to market When No One’s Looking online and more importantly in person, an old school network of meeting new people as Sarah crosses the country with the boxes of books, and her most recent pup, Harold, and driving in the 1959 Land Rover. It should be quite the trip! Hope to see you on the road somewhere!
Q & A INTERVIEW
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid at middle school, winning a book for my journal on a mountaineering trip we’d taken in Wales. I make sense of my world and experiences through words on paper. I create new lives, and explore darker emotions than possible in my daily life. So, as a writer in my early forties, I come with many voices to be heard after having lived in Europe, the US and Guatemala.
Would you like to share your age with readers?
The vulnerabilities, the joys, and betrayals we all commit in the name of love.
What motivated you to write this book?
I picked up the challenge to write a novel in a month from an online organization Nanowrimo.
What are your future plans?
To publish my book of travel stories, Random Tales, within a year, and to take this book on tour, with me and my dog Harold. At some time I want to travel from New Mexico to Patagonia, working, writing and clowning. (I’m a professional clown and vaudeville performer on the side.)
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Worcestershire, England, spending much of my time on my Gran’s farm nearby, where generations of my family have lived and worked.
Why do you write?
I write because I have to. If I spend too many days without putting words on paper, I lose my enthusiasm for life, I withdraw. I need to create. Writing is one facet of all that I do.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
As a kid, I knew that I wanted to write and be read. Writing is a need. Being read was the hope.
Do you ever have problems with writer's block? How do you deal with it?
I have phases when I write, others when I am creating a new show for myself, or am focused on producing variety fundraisers for people in my village. I don’t worry if the words don’t come. There is always a creative outpouring.
What research did you do for the book, if any?
Falling in love with someone I knew would betray me.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Again?”
“You really are telling me this, again? That there is nothing going on between us? No affair? No love?”
I looked into her eyes, as cold and dark as my dog’s water was this winter’s morning. She watched me. Her arms were folded across her chest as if to protect herself from me. Me. Who has been her sweet secret lover, for how many years now? Five? Ten? More?
Like now, when I’m no longer convenient, she forgets how much we have been in each other’s lives. How much we mean to each other. She forgets that it’s her, always her, who comes back to me, stirs it all up and then leaves once again, usually within a few weeks. She came to me in New Mexico. In Guatemala. In Spain. In Russia. She comes back to me. Always. I don’t look for her.
I waited. Kat said nothing. She simply stood there in her leggings and t-shirt. Barefoot, she looked me straight in the eye. Both of us are five foot ten—one of the few ways we are evenly matched.
But then she looked away.
“So, there is nothing going on, right? Why then do you have to shut me out? If there is nothing to hide from Mark, why act as if we’re not even friends? Why hide me on the sidelines of your life?”
How I lived with myself, being in the same social circle as this happy couple, I don’t know. I didn’t look too deeply. I simply wanted her. However I could. Whenever I could.
“Kat. Wake up. Talk to me.”
I saw movement in there. She shook loose of her own tight grip. This strikingly dark-haired feline woman shook herself free. Her arms stretched out toward me and then collapsed at her sides.
“Joey. There is nothing going on between us. I told you that last week. I’ve been nothing but extremely consistent with you about this. There is nothing going on. Now you need to leave. Mark’s coming back any minute and I don’t want to explain why you’re here. He doesn’t want you here.” She looked at me. “And neither do I.”
I watched. I waited. For more. For more honesty. Well, for some honesty. Anything but that dismissal. Sometimes it worked, if I stood and waited. Sometimes she’d remember to reassure me of her deep love, remind me of the passion that sparks and ignites between us when no one’s looking. I waited. But no. Not this time. She said nothing else.
I bit my tongue to hold back the bitter words. I tasted the rich blood between my teeth. I wanted to spit it into her mouth, to have her know the depths of how she hurts me with this oh-so-consistent rejection of hers. I didn’t. I waited. She folded her arms across her chest again.
That was it, then?
I said nothing more. I turned away, walked to the gate and let myself out, whistling for Jimmy, my Husky mongrel. He bounded up to me. I nodded toward the truck and he sprang into the bed and waited for us to drive off. He watched Kat. I knew it. He adored her, more than a casual friend of mine would usually elicit from this shy dog, but with her—Jimmy was in love.
TO ORDER YOUR OWN COPY