– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Buried Treasure’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
Currently published by Accent Press, each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.
Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Thank you for having me.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Though my ambition from as young as I can remember was to be ‘an artist’ (it was what I was good at) my other hobby up until late teenage, was writing. I wrote simply to please myself, to give my hormones a vicarious work-out. I went to art college and my career was as an illustrator in advertising. I only started writing again, this time with the serious intent of writing something publishable, when I was in my early thirties and at home with my young son.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I was a slow starter, but once the light-bulb went on I became a voracious reader. I read all the children’s classics, Coral Island, Black Beauty, The Stream that Stood Still, The Secret Garden, Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island. But the childhood book that always springs first to mind, when asked this question, is the present I received on my eighth birthday. Up until then anything I’d read was passed on, shared, or borrowed. It was the first full-length book I’d been given – it was brand new and it was mine and mine alone. I can still remember how it smelt. ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri.
As an adult …. What can I say? So many books, such a bad memory! And I’m sure I’m not alone in that I have gone through many phases in my reading habits. And what I loved once I might not love now. ‘Sovereign’ by C J Sansom, ‘One Good Turn’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘Us’ by David Nichols are stand out books from more recent years.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I enjoy reading crime and thrillers. Although I don’t write in this genre, I would love to be able to create more suspense in my stories, that underlying tension that makes you hold your breath because you know something is going to happen, but you’re not sure what or why or who. An author I loved who had this gift was Ruth Rendell, and she employed it to perfection in her psychological thrillers.
If you could, which fictional character from your own books would you like to invite for tea and why?
What a question! For pure fun, I think I have to choose Patrick Lynch, from ‘Fly or Fall’. Outwardly he is the most light-hearted of my heroes. Not only would he be lovely to look at across the tea table, but he is also funny, vain, charismatic, a flirt and a fibber, so – knowing all this about him – I’d be interested to see what he came out with.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
No, other than always writing at my desktop computer in my study. We have a laptop, which I only use if we have a problem with the desktop, and I don’t possess a tablet. I can write notes longhand in the garden or on holiday but it’s hard and I don’t really like doing it. My desktop keeps calling to me!
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
If I may, I will answer these two questions together as the answers overlap. Ideas are very few and far between and hard won. I am definitely not one of those writers whose imagination fizzes with new plots and who can’t wait to finish the work in progress in order to start on the next project. If only!
I am a pantster. I have to dream up a scenario in which to set a story, for which I often plunder my own life and experiences. I then begin to think about the characters who will populate my stage. I will spend quite a long time on this process, not necessarily giving them physical attributes or personalities, but thinking about their backstories and what brought them to this place at this time. The story and the fleshing out of the characters only begins after I’ve started writing. Only then does anything like inspiration strikes.
I rarely base a character on anyone real, or only in the form of a sketch. For instance, there are two sisters in ‘Life Class’. I have a sister so, in a very broad-brush way, Dory and Fran were initially me and my sister. But I swapped our characteristics. Then, as the book progressed – as any book progresses – my characters told me what they were like, only then was I able to flesh them out in ways that were uniquely individual.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
When I made the decision to try to write seriously, I began instantly. I didn’t read any ‘How To’ books about writing a best-seller, or go on any writing courses (I was so green I didn’t even know such things existed). In other words, I didn’t angst about it and worry that I wasn’t ‘good enough’. I found a notebook and started.
I am not telling anyone that they shouldn’t be systematic and business-like about writing. Do go to work-shops and courses, by all means. Read the ‘how to’ books. But don’t let ‘thinking about it’ stop you from doing it. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish. It may not be. And the more you do it the better you become.
What are your future plans as an author?
I am currently writing a book set in the world of costume design. But consistent with my answer to questions 6 & 7, I don’t really know where I am going with this story although I am a third of the way in! I have taken a break while I have been getting BURIED TREASURE published and promoted (and there’s been a lot of domestic shenanigans, because we’ve just decorated our bedroom and have been extensively re-carpeted, which involved a lot of furniture moving back and forth!) And guess what? The interruption has been useful because I’ve just realised I’ve got my heroine wrong. The downside is that I’m going to have to do a lot of rewriting, but in doing so, I hope the way forward will become clearer.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Her conference is over and it is Jane Smith’s final evening at Lancaster College. After a pub meal together, Jane has asked Theo Tyler to her room to look again at the artefact, discovered by her aunt amongst her husband’s belongings, suspected to be part of a Viking Hoard. They are sitting on the bed, and Jane recalls the last time they were in such close proximity. It was just after she’d received the news that her aunt had died.
She looks up into his face and shakes her head. They are so close together now, his expression intent, and his eyes, that intriguing mosaic of blue, grey and brown that together almost makes green, seem to darken. Only weeks ago, she’d been in his arms….
‘I can’t,’ she says. ‘I won’t…’
His head jerks back as if rebuffed. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘No! I mean … I refuse to cry. Not in front of you. Not again. I was so embarrassed.’
‘No need for embarrassment. I understood. I’m not so blinkered by my own narrow concerns I can’t empathise.’
‘But I don’t want you to think I’m that kind of woman … one who blubs at the drop of a hat, deliberately falling into the arms of a likely man.’
‘I don’t think that of you. And, as far as I recall, no falling was involved. I took the initiative.
Jane smiles. ‘You were very kind. Had I been more in control of myself, I’d have pushed you off.’
‘Thank you! You know how to put a man in his place … likely or not.’
‘I drew a lot of comfort from you being there.’
‘I’m only glad I came up with an appropriate response. I don’t often find myself confronted by raw female emotion, not these days anyway. In the past I’d grown used to not taking it seriously … to assume it was play-acting and manipulation … and walking away. Although that course of action could prove dangerous. I was liable to have a heavy object thrown at my head. You must remember my Pavlovian response when you picked up that volume of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles?’
Jane gazes at him, well remembering the incident he describes. They’d been arguing over Brexit of all things.
‘I’m not an aggressive person. I don’t believe I’ve ever thrown anything at anyone in anger. Perhaps I should have. Preferably something sharp.’ Jane looks away from his steady gaze.
‘At me? I probably deserved it.’
‘You were being a bit up-yourself. Your assumption of the moral high-ground annoyed me. But no, not at you.’
He smiles, but then the smile fades. ‘You’ve been hurt.’
Her shoulders droop. Jane looks away from the question in his eyes and attempts to change the subject…
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Gilli Allan.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!