Friday, 10 February 2017

Q & A with Lily Graham


Did you always dream of being a writer?

Yes!  As soon as I realised that books were written by actual people, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I’ve been a life long reader and there came a day when I thought: I have to try writing one.

How did your writing career develop?

I was always scribbling away as a child, making up stories. Then after university I became a journalist for ten years which really helped my writing – there’s nothing quite like a busy newsroom for learning how to write. It also taught me the importance of deadlines. In the meantime, I’d been writing one book or another which I never completed since I was about nineteen, then a couple of years ago my best friend set me a challenge to finish a book in a year and I did
 
Your newest novel is called A Cornish Christmas, what is it about?

It’s the story of a young woman who moves back home to Cornwall when she and her husband are finally pregnant, after suffering many miscarriages. Her mother died five years before, and she misses her now more than ever, wishing she could speak to her. When she finds a postcard hidden in her mother’s desk, strange things start happening and she realises that her mother never truly left her.

What was your inspiration for the book?

When my mother had breast cancer my worst fear was losing her, I was driving to work one day, when I got the idea of a postcard and a secret message from a mother and got so inspired.  At the time I was meant to be writing another novel while I took part in NaNoWriMo – it was already day three of the challenge, but I couldn’t let this new idea go. I phoned my mum who basically told me to just go for it if I felt that passionate about it.

     Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Sure! The main character Ivy is a children’s book illustrator, she is the co-creator of a children’s detective series based on the antics of a talking bulldog named DS Fudge, who solves crimes in the animal world. Her husband Stuart, is a former marketing executive who has a passion for gardening, and has fashioned himself into the next Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall, making weird and wonderful concoctions, like turnip jam.

Where and when do you write your stories?

I’ve gone full time as an author now, but I used to write everywhere I could in the margins of my day – before work, at lunch, in bed. Weekends were always writing days. Now I work in my little writing room in Suffolk with my snoring bulldog as company and try to keep regular hours – try being the operative word as there’s often days where I’m typing or editing at 1.a.m to meet my deadlines.


What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love just getting out and about and being in nature. I’m so lucky where I live as we are just ten minutes away from the sea and have the gorgeous River Orwell right around the corner. I also spend a lot of my free time reading (of course!) and occasionally I also paint and draw – I LOVE art.

If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

I think I wouldn’t want to completely switch places with any of them as I put all my poor characters through such hell – in my first novel Ria, loses her fianc√© on the day of his wedding, and poor Ivy in A Cornish Christmas has had such a rough road after her mother’s death and so many miscarriages. But I would love to visit Ria’s beautiful honey coloured cottage in the mountains, overlooking the sea in Crete in the beautiful village of Ourano, which means heaven.

What books have influenced your life most?

I am always influenced by books! A Life of Charlotte Bronte by Ellizabeth Gaskell inspired me so much with my writing, when I was at university. All of the Brontes created their stories before they were thirty. Also they were talented n other ways too like drawing and music. After I read it I signed up for my first art class.

Anne of Green Gables made me fall in love with nature and whimsy. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic made me appreciate the beauty of language and magic in the ordinary, Terry Pratchett developed my love of all things a bit odd and fun.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished my third book, which at the moment is called A Cornish Escape. It’s about a woman who finds an abandoned cottage and uncovers an incredible secret that goes back to the First World War.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

I think the creating, getting lost in the world I imagine. Then there’s how things surprise you, little plot twists you weren’t expecting and characters take over.

    Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

JK Rowling because I just adore her – I think she is incredibly wise and has just about the best imagination ever, Neil Gaiman – who I think is just wonderfully passionate and kind and talented – and Marion Keyes because she is so incredibly fun and funny.

    Imagine A Cornish Christmas would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

Love this question though it would be hard to do – they are sort of very real in my head, but maybe Colin Farrell as Stuart, and Carey Mulligan as Ivy.

    You also wrote The Summer Escape, can you tell us more about it?

It’s a story of running away to find yourself. After losing the love of her life, and being pushed too far at work, journalist Ria Laburinthos descides enough is enough and runs away to Crete armed only with her passport. There in the country where her beloved yaya is from she begins to heal, she uncovers a ten year old mystery surrounding a burnt down vineyard, and the handsome owner who is trying against all the odds to bring it back to life.

    How would you describe your style of writing?

Tragi-comedy in a way. I like blending the light with the dark.

    Coffee or tea?
Coffee!

    Paperback or e-reader?
Both.

    Mountains or the sea?
Sea!!

Summer or winter?
Winter in South Africa, Summer in England.

Sweet or salty?
Sweet, always!


About the author

Lily Graham is the author of The Summer Escape and A Cornish Christmas, you can find out more at lilygraham.net or get in touch with on twitter at @lilygwritesbooks and on Facebook at @LilyRoseGrahamAuthor

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