Yestetday, my dad and I went to the Wrest Point art prize exhibition. Like always, the standard was astonishingly high, and I was having huge difficulty deciding on what to vote for in the People’s Choice (a responsibility I always take VERY seriously). That is, until I stopped in front of the above painting, by Jonathan Barnard, an artist I’ve admired for several years now.
“Look, Tessa,” I cried, pointing. “Can you see the tiger?”
At that, Tessa grew very excited. She kicked and she wiggled and she roly-polied ecstatically.
Tessa did like the painting.
Tessa liked the tiger.
For those of you who have read Thyla, no, I wasn’t going a bit loopy as I walked amongst the acrylics and watercolours. I hadn’t started to believe that Tessa Connolly, the protagonist of my novel, had come to life and was standing with me in the middle of Wrest Point Casino.
No, I was talking to another Tessa entirely .
See, in seven weeks, Husband Bear, Mephy Danger and I will be joined by a new, very small, member of the Gordon family.
She is a very brave, strong little thing. She’s gone through a lot in her seven months’ of existence. And, if the ultrasound is anything to go by, she has tiger stripes. So she’s very deserving of the name Tessa, a name that belongs to the bravest of the Thylas, to the courageous Tess Durbeyfield in my favourite novel, and to the Tasmanian tiger pup in the story my dad wrote me when I was a little girl.
Bear and I love her so much already.
So if I’m a bit quiet over the next months, it’s because I’ll be beginning the greatest adventure if my life, with my adored Bear by my side, as we bring a little tiger into the world and help her grow big and strong.
And of course I’ll continue to write. I want Tessa to have a mother she can look up to – a mother who follows her dreams.
But I’ll also take Tessa with me, exploring the big wide world.
A world full of wonder and strangeness and magic –
… And tigers.