Monday 17 December 2012
Christmas is not Christmas without that special tree we decorate with bits and pieces going back even to when the children were in playschool: old family baubles that remind us of those no longer with us, so many memories dangling from its branches and each year we add one or two from our travels. (The trees in the picture are an interesting selection from shops and museums on a recent visit to Washington. DC)
I grew up in Austerity Britain with just a tiny artificial tree placed on a stand in front of the bay window. Its branches looked more like bog brushes lined with cotton wool but the Pifco lantern lights seemed like so magical to me then. It was so small and now we compensate with the biggest that we can fit in.
Like most families we have our traditions of when it is put up and why, what goes underneath it, when presents are opened and who with…This is Christmas to me, the family gatherings, the sharing of meals, carol singing on Christmas morning under the village sycamore tree. It’s nothing to do with expensive presents and mega shopping sprees. (Although I have to admit that shopping in the States this month was cheaper than UK and they start their Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving so it was very festive everywhere.)
Our village Christmas tree used to be a modest affair of much leaf and few lights but on Tuesday we gather for the lighting and have a competition to find the most festive homemade Christmas card to hang on its branches giving greetings to all the village...Talking of cards. Every year I intend to make one by hand, sadly it never happens.
It’s been an exciting writing year for me and I have a deadline to meet but now is the season just to celebrate, gather together, meet up with old friends, eat and drink too much and watch too much TV. Yet all the time the clock is ticking and I must prepare for the launch of The Girl Under The Olive Tree in January and plan ahead for 2013 but not yet…and there is the vexing question of having to have the house rewired in the summer...Oh joy in the morning!
Warmest Season’s greetings to one and all...
Monday 29 October 2012
Julia Stagg bestselling author of the wonderful Fogas series invited me to take part in a blog event entitled The Next Big Thing so here‘s a sneak preview of my next book.
What is the working title of your book?
Its title is: THE GIRL UNDER THE OLIVE TREE.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It grew out of my frequent stays on Crete and discovering its dramatic history during the Second World War when it was occupied for four years. It has my usual looking back from the present to the dramas of the past and trying to make sense of a younger self.
Which actor would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My heroine is loosely based on a real life debutante nurse with Greek ancestry. Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith, one of the sisters in Downton Abbey has the right sort of demeanor and looks.) Dominic West to play Bruce Jardine
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Hmm… this is more of a pitch than blurb but here goes…In a sentence I’d say my story is: Berniere’s Captain Corelli (time) meets Victoria Hislop’s :The Island (place)
Who will be publishing this?
It will be published by Simon and Schuster in HB January 2013 and paperback June 2013.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have been growing this book for nearly ten years but the first draft took about 5 months with later drafts and edits taking a few more months to polish up.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I suppose the closest book to my subject ,I have been told, is Brenda Reid’s House of Dust and Dreams which I wasn’t aware of until recently…I never read any fiction around my WIP…
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
One of the key emotional factors in writing this story was wanting to describe the bravery of the Cretan Resistance movement and what happened to the Jewish community on the island destroyed in 1944.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
In returning to the island of their youth, both Penny and her German counterpart, Rainer Brecht revisit old haunts seeing them both now and then. This provides a small guide to NW Crete that visitors might wish to follow themselves.
And now watch out for three writers I’ve asked to participate in return….
Elizabeth Gill. a friend for years who has a new book out soon: elizabethgill.blogspot.co.uk
Diane Allen. Her debut novel is out next month; For The Sake of Her Family.Amazon.co.uk
Catherine King who writes gritty Yorkshire drama: www.catherineking.info