BLOG TOUR ~ How To Make A Friend by Fleur Smithwick

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Fleur Smithwick's How To Make A Friend. I'd also like to wish Fleur Smithwick a superb publication day for what sounds to be an absolutely fantastic novel, a copy of which I received recently in the post courtesy of the lovely publishers! I really cannot wait to dive in! 

I'll be sharing with you the prologue of How To Make A Friend to whet your appetite. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to leave a comment below to share your thoughts! 

Title - How To Make A Friend
Author - Fleur Smithwick 
Publication Date - October 8th 2015
Publisher - Black Swan
Format - Paperback
Pages - 432

As a lonely child, Alice found comfort the same way so many others do - she invented a friend. Sam was always there when she needed him, until one day... he wasn't.

Now, Alice has a happy, normal life; she has a handful of close friends and a career as a photographer.

But when a tragic accident shatters the world Alice has constructed, the sense of isolation that haunted her in childhood returns. And with it, so does Sam.

To Alice, he looks and feels like a real person, but how can that be?

And who will decide when it is time for him to leave again?


'Sam, come and play with me.'
I spring up. I'm always happy to do what Alice wants. She's been dropping grass, brown-edged rose petals and soil into a blue plastic bowl and is stirring them, a frown of concentration creasing her brow. I inspect the mush and wrinkle my nose.
'Don't you want to smell it?' she asks.
'OK.' I breathe it in. It smells of earth and grass and not much of flowers.
Alice gives it another stir and I settle beside her. She looks at me expectantly.
'It's nice,' I say.
She sits up straighter and goes pink. I pick a daisy and she takes it and pulls each petal off and adds them one at a time. I count them in and sit back on my heels and feel the sun on my face. These are my favourite days, when nothing else matters, when I feel safe and happy. When it's just me and Alice and nothing in between. I think she's the most beautiful girl in the world.
'Do you want some?' she says.
'Boys don't wear perfume.'
'It's called aftershave when boys wear it.' She looks at me: 'You don't have to be a grown-up. You just have to put it on your chin.'
I shrug and jut my chin forward and she dabs some on my skin. Her fingers look like she's been washing in muddy water and I wipe the wet away with the edge of my T-shirt. 
Alice jumps up and runs over to the tree house. Her father built it when Simon was little so it's at least nine years old. Simon hasn't used it for ages. He's a punk. He doesn't take much notice of Alice. He's ten years older after all, and when I see her following him, her eyes all hopeful, I want to shout at her to leave him alone because he'll only make her sad. But at times like that she never pays me any attention. 
I watch as she clambers up the ladder. I'd climb up with her, but she doesn't ask me to and I daren't go uninvited. Sometimes she doesn't want me for days and at other times it's as if I'm the other half of her. Those are the best times. When her mother's making a fuss of her, which isn't very often, I feel like I'm sitting at the end of a long dark tunnel. Right now, I'm happy just to lie on the grass with my arms crossed under my head, watching her.
The neighbour's cat, a black, white and brown spoilt thing that Alice loves, slinks through a hole in the fence. The cat hesitates, the hair on her back rising, and then lets out a sharp hiss and stalks past me. I don't like her at all.
Alice laughs and calls it over.
I am distracted by the sound of Alice's mother chatting to one of her friends on the telephone and I can smell her cigarette smoke drifting out of the kitchen. Her name is Julia and she used to be a model. She's very thin and very beautiful with big blue eyes and a sweet smile that makes people think she's nice when she isn't. Sometimes Alice sits at her mother's dressing table, picking through her jewellery while Julia stares at her own reflection, pressing her fingertips on the skin above her eyebrows and lifting it. Alice is chubby and when they're with other people Julia often finds some reason to mention that. She cuts Alice's hair herself, as short as a boy's. 
The sound of Julia's laughter goes up and down like children practising their piano scales. I pull a face. Alice is sitting on the balcony of the tree house, her legs hanging over the edge, the cat curled up beside her. Her feet are bare and dirty. She swings them to and fro and hums a tune. I wait, watching her, and she waves at me.
'Come up, Sam.'
I wrinkle my nose. 'Why?'
'Because you have to.'
'No, I don't.'
'Yes, you do. You have to do as I tell you.'
I shrug and wander over slowly, stopping to pick up a pigeon feather.
'Hurry up!'
'Alice, what're you doing?' Julia calls from the kitchen.
I hesitate, one foot on the bottom rung of the ladder, my hands clutching the sides and I draw back.
The cat has already run away. I stare up at Alice and she pokes her tongue out at me. Her legs stop swinging.
'I'm playing with Sam.'

Fleur Smithwick was brought up in London and studied French Literature & Language at Southampton University. She worked in various jobs, before becoming a full-time writer. As well as novels, Fleur writes short stories and has won The Writers' Village and Segora competitions. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children. 

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