Escritores na Primeira Pessoa - Linda Gillard

A little bit about Linda Gillard: .
Linda Gillard graduated from Bristol University and then trained as an actress at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. While she was employed at the National Theatre, she also worked as a freelance journalist. She became a primary teacher twelve years later and then moved to the Isle of Skye, where she lived in a house overlooking the Cuillin mountain range (which was featured in her first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY. Linda's first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, was short-listed for the 2006 Waverton Good Read Award. Her second novel, A LIFETIME BURNING, was published by Transita in 2006. In 2010, Linda's third novel, STAR GAZING, was short-listed for Romantic Novel of the Year and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award (the UK's first environmental book award). STAR GAZING was also voted Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010 by Woman's Weekly readers. Although EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY and A LIFETIME BURNING are now technically out of print, copies are available from the author herself. Also, the following link to The Book Depository ships worldwide post-free: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781905175253/A-Lifetime-Burning
Interview: .
Diana L: Did you always want to write? When and why did you begin writing?
. Linda Gillard: I became a novelist by accident. I’d been an actress, journalist and teacher before I took up writing fiction and I’d had a mental breakdown as a result of stress and overwork as a teacher. When I was convalescing I did a lot of reading. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any commercial fiction that reflected my life and interests. This was 1999, I was 47 and I wasn’t interested in chick lit which was very big at the time. I couldn’t find any heroines who were over 40! Older women were always somebody’s mother or somebody’s wife and they never featured as romantic heroines. So I started writing the sort of book I wanted to read, but couldn’t find: a thinking woman’s love story that dealt with real issues, had believable characters, a gorgeous hero, but no easy answers. As a matter of principle I made my heroine 47. This was suicide in terms of finding a publisher, but I didn’t care - I was just writing to amuse myself. I got the writing bug pretty badly and joined a writer’s e-group. We were all writing novels and we read each other’s books chapter by chapter. The group was encouraging and said I should try to get my novel published. I didn’t think I stood a chance because my heroine was 47 and also suffered from bipolar affective disorder (manic depression), but I found an agent who loved the book and eventually we found a publisher. That book became my first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, published in 2005. .
DL: How do you get your ideas for the plot and setting of your books? Do you plan your books before you start writing them or do you just start to write?
 LG: I don’t plan much. I don’t like knowing what happens! I need to know enough about the story to get started, that’s all. (I actually think your unconscious mind – if you let it – will write a better book than your conscious mind.) For me the genesis of a book tends to be a combination of visual things, ideas that gnaw away at me, until I find I'm thinking about them a lot and making links. I start with ideas, but those ideas always seem to come with people attached and often snatches of dialogue. This is no doubt a throwback to my days as an actress. I’m familiar with storytelling through dialogue (which might be why two of my novels have been optioned for films.) An example of this “vision” process in EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was the “woman alone in a light, white room” opening. I could see that room and sense the atmosphere. I could see the woman, but I didn’t know who she was or who she was writing to. When I’m plotting, I just keep saying “What if…?”, trying to make things as complicated as possible. (You can always simplify later.) But I don’t think I’m all that interested in plot. My plots always arise out of character. What goes on inside the mind of a character interests me more than what goes on outside it. Fortunately, I don’t need a plot to start writing, I just need a situation, some interesting characters and a lot of unanswered questions. .

DL: Where did you get your inspiration for A LIFETIME BURNING?

There were two key ideas that I brought together for A LIFETIME BURNING. One came from a radio interview in which a middle-aged, middle-class female vagrant talked about how she’d wound up living on the streets. Her story was desperately sad, but also darkly comic and slightly sinister. The other idea was a writing challenge I set myself. I wanted to write a scene where a character walked into a room and saw or experienced something that turned his world upside down and made him re-evaluate his entire life, but from the reader’s point of view, I wanted nothing to happen and no-one to know. Nothing would happen on the surface. Life would just carry on as normal, whilst seismic shocks reverberated beneath the character's surface. I thought of something eventually and it became a pivotal scene in A LIFETIME BURNING, but when you read it, "nothing happens". Only much later do you find out what was going on. That kind of plotting fascinates me. Nothing happens, but at the same time everything happens. I love the paradox. .
 DL: When I finished reading A LIFETIME BURNING, I had to go back and re-read the prologue because it is written in a way that you don’t really know what’s going on in the beginning. In EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, everyone seemed to have a secret, and after the secrets are finally exposed to the reader, the reader is tempted to go back and re-read. Did you write your books with this intention?
Yes! I’m so glad this is how you felt. I write all my books to be read twice and I think they’re very different on the second read. (Two books for the price of one!) I know some readers go back and re-read to see if I’ve “cheated”, but I never do. It was quite hard keeping tabs on everything in EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY because the characters knew far more than they were letting on and everyone had something to hide. So a lot of the dialogue had to be written to work on two levels, meaning one thing to the reader, but something else to the characters, who knew a lot more. .
DL: Who is your favourite author and do you find that your writing style is similar to his/hers?
My favourite is a Scottish author, the late Dorothy Dunnett who wrote historical fiction. (Start with GAME OF KINGS)http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780679777434/The-Game-of-Kings if you want to try her.) My style is nothing like Dunnett’s, but I think she’s been an influence on my writing, in terms of characterization and plotting. I learned from her that it’s character not plot that carries a good book. But Dunnett also wrote a lot of memorable, highly dramatic scenes. Seeing how brilliantly she handled them made me want to be ambitious in my writing. She also developed my taste for complex, flawed heroes and heroines. I love and admire her so much, I’ve posted an appreciation of her on my website: http://www.lindagillard.co.uk/further-reading.php .
DL: Which one of your three books is your favourite and why?
A LIFETIME BURNING. Most readers prefer one of the others, which are easier reads, but I don’t expect ever to write a better novel than ALB, which was technically and thematically ambitious. Some people have hated the book, many have been shocked by it, but many more have been moved and found it a real page-turner. I get lots of complaints from readers about being kept up until the small hours because they want to finish one of my books. Now when I sign a book at an author event, I warn people not to start reading late at night! .
DL: I enjoyed all the female protagonists in your books, because they seem like real women with real problems, facing real obstacles. In STAR GAZING, the female protagonist is a 45 year old woman who is blind, widowed and lonely. In EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, the female protagonist is 47 and she suffers from bi-polar affective disorder. In A LIFETIME BURNING you span many generations of women from the same family and the female protagonist is very complex. How do you get ideas for your characters? Are they made up or based on real people?

I was glad to hear you liked the women in my books. They are flawed, even a bit irritating at times. I don’t try to make my heroines immediately likeable as they usually are in rom-coms and chick lit. I find some heroines in commercial fiction pretty bland. I think the first duty of a fictional protagonist is to be fascinating, not likeable. Jane Eyre wasn’t exactly Miss Happy-go-lucky, was she? ;-) All my characters are made up. Some of them owe a lot to me. (Not the heroines particularly. I put a lot of myself into my heroes.) Some characters might owe their physical form to someone I met or just someone I’ve seen in a film. (I work a lot with photographs when developing characters.) But I’ve never based a fictional character on anyone real. It’s so much more exciting to create something from scratch and see what happens. Garth the Goth in STAR GAZING (http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780749938970/Star-Gazing) was like that. He was just supposed to be a minor character, but he took over and became one of my favourites. Garth turned out to be much more interesting than I could ever have planned and his origin was the Goth teenagers I used to see hanging around the shopping precinct in Inverness. I had the idea for a blind heroine in STAR GAZING because I wanted to write about a (possibly) imaginary hero. I wondered if I could I write a book where the reader wasn’t sure if the hero actually existed. It occurred to me that if you’re blind, the existence of other people is confirmed by voice, touch and the corroboration of others. But you only touch people you know well and a voice could be imagined. And what if no one else sees the man you hear?… So I decided I would make my heroine blind and because I never do things the easy way, I thought I might as well write in the first person, from my blind heroine’s “point of view”. It was a fascinating experiment. I suppose it must have worked because STAR GAZING was short-listed for 2 awards and won another. I thought omitting visual references could be boring for the reader, but in fact the book was enriched by having so much expressed in terms of other senses. It was certainly a challenge having to create a hero by describing how he sounded, felt and smelt! .
DL: Do you communicate with your readers? If so, what are some of the things they say about your books?

Yes, I get a lot of emails from readers and I always reply. Some readers have become friends. I’ve guested on blogs and discussion forums where my books have been Book of the Month. That’s terrific fun. You can get into a real dialogue with readers and they always manage to show you aspects of your book that you haven’t seen yourself. I also have an author page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Gillard/148890999324?v=wall&ref=mf) and I’ve met a lot of readers at author events – always a happy experience. My readers are passionate about my books and they love my characters - especially the heroes! EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY features a textile artist and a poet and some readers said, as a result of reading the book, they wanted to take up or resume a creative hobby. At a more serious level, many readers have said they learned a lot from EG about mental illness and the problems carers experience. Some people have written to me to say, “I didn’t realise that what was wrong with my mother/sister/friend was manic depression until I read your book.” EG seems to have been inspiring in different ways. I had an email from a teenager who’d been self-harming. She said thanks to reading EG, she’d stopped cutting and had started writing poetry. Fan mail doesn’t get any better than that. Hearing from readers has been the best thing about being published. To be able to discuss your characters as if they’re real people is a huge treat! On a bad day, writing fiction seems such a silly way to spend your time. (My son refers to my writing as “playing with my imaginary friends”!) But when readers share your obsession with you, it all makes a crazy kind of sense.
.DL: I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for taking the time to share your thoughts and your works with us here on Destante. You have enriched us with such food for thought! As one of your readers who finished your books in all-nighter sessions, I found each one of your books to be unique and fascinating in their own individual ways. Your books captured me with their engaging characters, breathtakingly magnificent settings and unique writing style. Although, one thing that your books had in common was that they all enticed me to read them again! Thank you Linda.

4 comentários:

Ângelo Marques disse...

Olá Di,
Desconhecia a Autora (Linda Gillard) mas gostei de ler a entrevista, parece ser uma pessoas muito divertida. Gostei em especial de saber que escreve com o intuito dos leitores relerem os seus livros (Two books for price of one!), é que por vezes tenha aquela sensação que existem escritores que escrevem com o intuito de só lermos meio livro...
Espero ver mais entrevistas tuas, Di, um grande enriquecimento para este blog.
Thanks and best regards.

Unknown disse...

Olá Di,
Estás de facto de parabéns pela entrevista.
Já li dois livros da autora e recomendo!
São histórias bastante reais com personagens muito interessantes.

Concordo contigo quando dizes que há autores com o intuito de lermos só metade do livro. Os livros em Portugal são muitooo caros! Já comecei a comprar livros em 2ª mão e realmente compensa.

Di disse...

Hi Ângelo,
Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the interview. It was my first time interviewing an author and I was a bit nervous, but there was no need, because Linda Gillard is so very kind and sincere. She was so forthcoming and honest with all my questions and reviews about her books. After having read her 3 books, it was a real treat to pick her brain for a bit ;) I was also intrigued that she wrote her books with the "two books for the price of one" intention. I think it gives the book more mystery and intrigue when you know that the second time you read it will be an entirely different experience.
Thanks Ângelo and take care.

Di disse...

Hi Paula,
Thank you for the parabéns. I totally agree with you about her stories having very interesting characters. That was one of the main things that kept me so hooked on her books. I found that all Linda Gillard's books have very realistic characters, with real problems and they were all so complex, with their secrets and flaws etc. making them so easy to identify with.

I know what you mean about the prices of books being so high. I myself am a regular at second hand book stores and book sales. I bought a kindle thinking I would find better pricing, but even kindle book copies are almost as expensive as the hard copies!

Take care Paula ;)