Fossend Publishing

Fossend Publishing

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Boy Who Hugs Trees by Dougie McHale


Everyone has secrets but some can change your world forever.
Emily has a secret; 30 years ago the choices she made changed her world forever. And now, it resonates in the present, threatening to reveal its truth.
When Georgia removes her son, Dylan, from a prominent Edinburgh school, she relocates to the family home on the Greek island of Corfu. The discovery of her late mother’s diary immerses Georgia in her parent's troubled marriage, a story of love and tragedy.

Adam’s life has become predictable, something is missing, and it has to change. When he answers an advert to home teach a boy with autism, he hopes his life will take on a new direction and meaning. But he hasn’t bargained on falling in love.

Can Georgia and Adam continue to resist the attraction that draws them closer?
Nothing will prepare Georgia for the diaries final revelation which will force her to question everything she knew about her mother and everything she knows about herself.

The Boy Who Hugs Trees is an intimate, compelling and intensely moving love story that unfolds and reveals the profound impact of impossible choices.       


Q: Welcome back to the Fossend Publishing blog Dougie.  Can you give the readers a brief overview of your book, The Boy Who Hugs Trees.
A: It’s a pleasure and thank you for having me Chrissie. The Boy Who Hugs Trees is my second novel and like the first it is set in Greece, but this time Corfu. It flits from two time lines, the early 1970’s and 2008.
Georgia is a woman of substance, who lives in Stockbridge, Edinburgh with her property developer husband, Stephen. They have a son, Dylan, who attends a private school in Edinburgh. Dylan has autism, he is bright and likes to learn, but school is not a happy place for him.
Georgia decides to remove Dylan from the school and home tutor him. The family has a house in Corfu. It belonged to Georgia’s parents and passed to her upon their deaths. Georgia is convinced that Dylan will benefit from spending some time there. She sets about the task of employing a tutor. At the same time, Stephen’s business interests have taken him to Majorca, Spain, where he will spend several months on and off. The proposed move to Corfu intensifies the cracks that have been festering in their marriage, and as tensions rise, their relationship is tested when Georgia hires a male tutor.
Adam is a university lecturer, specializing in autism. His life has become unbearably predictable and when he applies to an advert to tutor a boy with autism on the island of Corfu, he hopes his life will take on a new direction and meaning. But he hasn’t bargained on falling in love.
The discovery of Georgia’s late mother’s diary immerses Georgia in her parent's troubled marriage, a story of love and tragedy that feels very familiar to her own. Within the diary there is a secret her mother kept for thirty years and with each page Georgia reads it will soon resonate in the present and threaten to reveal its truth.
As life at the house in Corfu takes on routine and meaning and Adam blends into the lives of Georgia and Dylan, he finds his feelings for Georgia grow with each day, but unsure of how Georgia feels he tries to suppress them. Stephen visits when he can, but each time he does his intolerance of having another man live with his family has devastating effects for them all. 
Can Georgia and Adam continue to resist the attraction that draws them closer?
Nothing will prepare Georgia for the diaries final revelation which will force her to question everything she knew about her mother and everything she knows about herself.

The Boy Who Hugs Trees is an intimate, compelling and intensely moving love story that unfolds and reveals the profound impact of impossible choices.       

Q: What inspired you to write The Boy Who Hugs Trees?
A: I wanted to write about a search for happiness and this is what the two main characters try to achieve. It’s a journey into the human heart that exposes the beauty and frailty of what it means to be human, to love, to hate, and to discover that the choices people make in the past can have devastating outcomes in the future.  

Q: Can you tell readers why you chose to highlight Autism in The Boy Who Hugs Trees?
A: There is that saying, you should write about what you know. As well as having a son who has autism, I am a children’s learning disability nurse with a postgraduate diploma in autism and I work with families who have children and young people with autism. I am also part of a team that diagnoses children and young people for autism. I didn’t want to portray the stereotypical image of autism that is often in the media. I wanted to show that people who have autism are individuals with their own personalities and characteristics who are not defined just by autism alone. So it was important to try and get over how someone with autism may experience the world around them, but equally Dylan, who is the young boy in the novel, has the same wants, and needs as every other person his age.      

Q: Like your first book The Homecoming, The Boy Who Hugs Trees is set Greece. What made you choose to write about Greece again?
A: Although my books are standalone novels, they have a common theme, and that is they are mostly set in Greece and in particular, the Ionian Islands and that was a conscious choice I made right at the start when I was writing my first novel. I had the idea of writing a trilogy, but I didn’t want to be restricted to the same characters or story lines so the concept of making the books set on the same group of islands was formed. I haven’t marketed the novels as a trilogy, but in my head they are. I should call them ‘The Ionian Trilogy.’ 

Q: Did writing The Boy Who Hugs Trees involve any research?
A: It did actually. Although I have been to Corfu, when it came to writing about the island I still had to research about the capital, Corfu Town and the island in general. Google is a lifesaver. During the novel, Georgia’s husband, Stephen, gets involved in drugs trafficking so I had to make myself familiar with the drugs trade in Greece, Spain, and the Balkans. Scary stuff. Also, as part of the novel is set in the early 1970’s I needed to make that period in the novel as authentic as possible so I researched that time period in Corfu as well. 

Q: What do you enjoy the most about writing?
A: I love the creative process. I get a lot of satisfaction from writing words that become sentences, paragraphs and finally chapters that have the potential to connect with the reader by conjuring images within their minds eye with the possibility to evoke potent emotions, laughter, sadness, empathy etc.  I like to observe human behavior and mannerisms. I often listen to how people speak and watch the gestures they use to communicate with one another. It informs my writing and characterization. I love the feeling I get when I’m satisfied with a piece I’ve just written.
To know that people are actually reading my books, meeting the characters, and hopefully emotionally responding to them and their story is quite humbling actually.

Q: What do you dislike the most about writing?
A: I don’t dislike anything about writing, how can I dislike something I love?   

Q: Tell the readers something interesting about yourself that others may not know.
A: My favourite classical instrument is the Cello.

Q: What’s next for Dougie McHale? 
A: Another book. A few years ago I saw a painting by an artist called Lena Sotskova. I knew that one day I would write a book with that painting as its inspiration. I have ideas forming in my head. I know it will have two time lines, one in the early 1900’s and modern day. Of course, it will be set in Greece on an Ionian island, but I’m not sure which one. The story will lead me to the particular island.  Since it takes me about a year from start to finish, it won’t be published until late 2017. 


Quick fire round
Beach or countryside – Both
EBook or paperback – Paperback
Classic or modern – Mostly classic
Notebook and pen or computer A bit of both really
Sun or Snow – Sun 


About the author












In a past life Dougie has been a dockyard worker, student, musician and song writer, playing in several bands, performing live and recording music. He has a degree in Learning Disability nursing and a post graduate diploma in autism. Dougie lives in Dunfermline, Fife, with his wife, teenage daughter, older son and hyper active golden retriever. He is interested in identifying with a physical place and the feeling of belonging therefore Edinburgh and especially Greece are prominent in his writing.  Dougie has written two novels, inspired by a love of all things Greek, her islands, people, landscapes, sea, light and ambience all of which are important themes and symbols in his writing.

To learn more about Dougie McHale go to his website or follow him on facebook.  

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