– ‘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 ‘The English Wife’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.
The English Wife
Two women, a world apart.
A secret waiting to be discovered…
VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.
Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…
September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Okay, here we go. I’m an Anglo-Canadian – my mother was a Newfoundland Canadian and my father an Englishman who grew up in Canada. I was born in Newfoundland and grew up in Quebec, and I have a workable knowledge of French.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My mother says my first word was “Book”. I did a MA in English Literature and became as journalist in Canada before moving to the UK 29 years ago. My writing path then diverted for several years as I worked in the film and TV industry as a researcher, then retrained as an interior designer (architecture and design is another passion of mine).
I had a significant birthday in 2010 and decided to take my childhood desire to be a writer seriously, so I signed up with the Faber Academy in London on their 6-month novel-writing course with Richard Skinner. I started writing The Lost Letter From Morocco on that course and I’ve kept going ever since. I’m now working on my third novel, set in WW1 London and 1890s Italy, which is the first in a series about the lives of three English sisters.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child a read all the time. Early on I was horse mad so read Black Beauty and all The Black Stallion books. Being Canadian, I read Anne of Green Gables, which I loved. Then all the Nancy Drews, of course, followed by a Sir Walter Scott phase, then King Arthur. I liked Jack London’s books – Call of the Wild and White Fang. I read Gone With The Wind when I was 15 and fell in love with it. I still re-read every few years. I went through a John Fowles phase as a teenager and even ploughed through The Magus. And I love Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca is my favourite novel, and The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles is a very close second.
Now, my reading is pretty preclectic. I’m currently reading Isabel Allende’s “In the Midst of Winter”, and I’ve recently read a pile of novels by Lawrence Osborne who is being called the new Graham Greene. I’ve read a lot of Elif Shafak and Margaret Atwood (I love The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace). I liked Cold Mountain, Snow Falling on Cedars, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, The Goldfinch. I’ve read some Liane Moriarty which I’ve enjoyed, and Carrie Fisher wrote fantastically funny novels. David Niven’s memoires make me laugh out loud.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Daphne du Maurier. Sadly, not now possible. She wrote great stories; she wrote description that make places characters in her novels; she wrote tension like no one else I’ve ever read.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Oh, Florie from The English Wife! She’d be a hoot! She’s so full of fun, with such a great sense of humour and a love of life. You couldn’t help but have a great time with Florie.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I usually play Jewel Legend for 10 minutes or so first. Then I write a haiku poem and post it on Instagram – I have over a hundred of them and plan to self-publish a poetry book soon. I started writing haiku as a writing exercise about 8 years ago. It’s quite a challenge to create a strong visual image in 17 syllables. Then I get comfy on my bed and prop my laptop on a pillow on my lap, and away I go.
I’ll re-read what I wrote the day before, review my chapter list, and do any research I need for that chapter, then I start writing. I usually write about 4-5 hours, 5 or 6 days a week and I aim to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
My ideas come from different places. I’ve spent a lot of time in Morocco over the past 13 years, and was married to a Moroccan Berber who lived in the Atlas Mountains for several years. We had a bi-continental relationship! My experiences inspired my first book, The Lost Letter From Morocco. Then, for The English Wife, which is set in WW2 England and contemporary Newfoundland, I’d always wanted to write a novel set in Newfoundland, which is such a unique, ruggedly beautiful place with wonderful, hospitable people. My uncle Gus was a Newfoundland soldier in England during the war and met his English wife there. She was a war bride and I thought that was an interesting subject to explore in a novel. Then, of course, there is the true story of all the international flights that were diverted to the small airport of Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 and how the Newfoundlanders took them into their homes. I was born in Grand Falls, near Gander, and I heard about this early on from my Newfoundland relatives. So, I put 2 and 2 together and The English Wife was born.
As to whether people in my life should be worried? I love this quote from the writer Ann Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better in the first place.”
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Half and half. I work out the shape of the story, or, in the case of my last two books and my book in progress, which are all timeslips, the stories with coloured post-it notes which I post on a wall. Then I create character summaries for all the main characters in a document, including photos of actors and actresses who I feel encapsulate the look of these characters. Then I create another document that summarises all the chapters with a sentence or two for each chapter, including the month/year and which characters are in the chapter. Finally, I create a research document where I keep adding links and photos and notes and thoughts as I write. So, that’s all the plotting.
Then, I start writing, and sometimes the chapters change as the characters grow and become real. Sometimes things happen out of the blue, which is marvellous. I usually have an idea of how I want the book to end, but this actually changed in both The Lost Letter From Morocco and The English Wife. I love it when the characters start asserting themselves on the writing. I believe part of my job as a novelist is to listen to them.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
-Don’t give up.
-Do read a lot of different stuff. Read out of your comfort zone. Read novels by foreign authors.
-Do watch good movies. They are fantastic ways to learn pacing, creating dramatic scenes, and dialogue.
-Do take writing courses/attend writing workshops/cultivate writing friends
-Do believe in yourself.
-Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do it.
-Do try writing other forms: poems, plays, non-fiction, journalism, etc. It all stretches your writing muscle and helps you hone your craft.
-Do recognise that good writing takes time – it’s a craft. Keep learning.
-Do read novels by authors you admire and notice how they create dialogue, characters, tension, humour, etc.
-Did I say, don’t give up?
What are your future plans as an author?
Finish my current novel; self-publish a book of poetry; research and write the following two novels in the series; write a play; write a suspense novel set in the Caribbean; write a novel set in China… write another play. Basically, to just keep writing.
Last, but not least, can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Ellie Burgess confronts her younger sister, Dottie, about a crucial telegram Ellie has been expecting from her Newfoundlander lover, Thomas, that Ellie has found hidden in Dottie’s room.
‘Ellie? What are you doing in my room?’
Ellie looks up at her sister from the window bench, the navy velvet jewellery box in her lap. She holds out the telegram. ‘What’s this?’
‘You shouldn’t have been looking in my room!’
‘This is my telegram. What are you doing with it?’
Dottie rushes forward and snatches for the sheet of yellow paper. Ellie jerks it away. ‘It’s my telegram, Dottie! I was supposed to go to London to marry Thomas. He’ll think I … he’ll think I—’ She presses her hand against her mouth. ‘Oh, Dottie, how could you? This is an evil thing you’ve done.’
Dottie stamps around the room, her arms wrapped around her body. ‘I’m going to tell Poppy you went through my things.’
‘Dottie! What’s got into you? You stole my engagement ring and you hid a telegram meant for me. A very important telegram. Poppy would be appalled! Poor Mummy must be spinning in her grave.’
‘Don’t you talk about Mummy like that!’
‘Well, it’s true, Dottie! It’s shocking what you did. It’s theft, pure and simple. It’s a sin.’
Dottie throws herself onto the bed and bursts into tears. ‘You’re awful, Ellie! You’re awful! You were going to just run away!’
‘I wasn’t going to just run away. I was coming back. I was only going to be gone a few days.’
‘You were! You were running away! You were leaving me and Poppy behind!’
‘I wasn’t, Dottie!’
‘Wait till I tell Poppy!’
‘No, don’t do that. Don’t tell Poppy. Promise me. This whole thing will only upset him. I’m still here. Nothing’s changed.’
‘You were going to leave! Just like Mummy did.’
‘What do you mean?’
Dottie sits up and wipes at her tear-streaked face. ‘Mummy left us, didn’t she?’
‘It was an accident, Dottie. You know that. You were there.’
A sob escapes from Dottie’s mouth. ‘Don’t leave me, Ellie. Please don’t leave me.’
Ellie sets down the telegram and walks over to the bed. Sitting down, she hugs Dottie. ‘I won’t leave you, Dottie. I promise. We’re sisters, aren’t we? If you promise not to tell Poppy about the engagement, I won’t tell him that you’ve turned into a little thief.’
Dottie sniffs and nods. She doesn’t need to tell Ellie that Thomas rang from the train station. That she’d promised him to tell Ellie he’d rung. Ellie doesn’t need to know that. Maybe Thomas would never come back. That would be the best thing. Everything was fine now. Everything would be fine.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Adrienne Chinn.
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!