I am delighted to announce that the lovely writer Rita Chapman interviewed me for her guest author spot. Rita originates from the UK and now lives in Australia and has a love of travel. She has written several romantic travel books in addition to a crime mystery and a horse lover tale. Click on the links below to see my interview and to find out more about Rita.
Tag Archives: novel writing
The lovely Michelle from the successful LiveLaughLove Ladies Clubs in the UK has invited me to be the guest speaker at one of the luncheon events in May. While I am confined to the settee, recovering from a fractured ankle, I am using the time to plan the agenda and content of my 45 minute slot.
It is difficult to achieve a good balance between book promotion and my experience as a novelist. Some of the women have expressed an interest in the process of writing and publication and this made me realise what a mysterious world the book industry is. I lived every step of producing Silencio over a 4 year period and it probably takes the average reader less than 2 weeks to read it.
Never mind the trauma of producing 100,000 words (give or take a few), there are the rewrites (6 at least), editing, proof reading, and deciding on publishing routes. Then I had to choose the typeface, paper, book cover image including matt or gloss, and so on in addition to writing blurbs, author information sheets, deciding on a marketing strategy. . . The list goes on and now I am wondering why I am writing another novel. Motherhood is hard and writing a book is a labour of love.
Earlier this week, I attended my new gym for a fitness assessment. I managed to stand on the scales (Horror!!) and endure the tape measure but within five seconds of starting the fitness part of the test, I tore a muscle in my calf. Even though I was shocked by the injury, this type of event does not surprise anyone who knows me – I am accident prone. My mother often retells a story of when I disappeared on to the ground after a meal in a restaurant and my daughter warned her colleagues at the sports holiday resort she worked at that they would recognise me when I fell down the airplane’s steps (I actually made it to the resort but promptly took a tumble and couldn’t do any sports the entire holiday). My future daughter-in-law was warned to look after me in Spain – I fell and broke my ankle giving her a guilt complex forever.
I have had injuries in some of the best places – a broken cheek in the Caribbean, severe leg injuries after water-skiing in Greece. I even broke my hand while working as a nurse in the Accident & Emergency department.
I once read that injury prone people are focused too much on what is coming instead of living in the present. Maybe I was trying to avoid an exposure of my level of fitness!
Oh well, the good news is that I am forced to stay put and write so my new novel should benefit.
After a long period away from Spain due to illness, a family wedding, book launch, etc, our arrival on Friday was anticipated with some trepidation. During those months, there have been serious fires that wiped out our local national park and apparently licked the borders near our house, severe rains and floods that destroyed local properties, and of course, Spain is still recovering from a period of recession. In addition, our home has not had anyone staying in it for months and we expected problems with heating, water, television, etc.
The landscape is somewhat scarred but Mother Nature is doing her miraculous job and green shoots are already appearing amongst the burned out remains of the forest. Few houses were lost to the flames and the area retains its beautiful Mediterranean character. Waves have broken some of the sea walls and some sea-front buildings look a bit battered but the locals are already repairing what they can. Sand scooped to form a breakwater has protected the bars and restaurants along the main tourist beach and we sat outside this morning enjoying our coffee and croissants watching the promenading locals.
The house is fine, thanks to a lovely Spanish girl and our friends.
So, things do not look as bad as we feared and this part of the eastern Spanish coast remains a stunning place to escape the chilly UK winter weather. In addition, the peace means that I should be able to concentrate on my second novel and finally finish its first draft.
The following is a copy of the guest blog piece I wrote for the lovely UK author Jenny Kane. You can read about her books and hook in to lots of interesting interviews by visiting her site at http://jennykane.co.uk
Writing What I Know (or How Life Influences My Fiction Writing)
Thank you Jenny for inviting me to write a guest blog piece for your website today.
In the company of other writers and readers, we often discuss what inspires our storytelling. During November, I was with a group of four writers at a retreat in Shropshire and it was clear that each of us had in-depth knowledge and experiences that informed our writing. One focused his story on his life as an Asian child within a predominately-white British community and another was using the experiences of a relative within the mental health sector. The third writer was interested in the modern history narrative, drawing from her own memories and I enjoy writing about human strength, in particular what happen when a female character faces a threatening situation.
Silencio, my debut novel, is a suspense story set in Spain, narrated with Spanish characters, and based on real life events that took place during the mid to late 1900’s.
Writing tutors and experts instruct writers that it is best to write about something they know but most of us have not committed a crime, witnessed a murder or had a new-born baby stolen whilst in the Maternity Unit. I started writing this first full-length novel in 2011 after watching a BBC documentary on television about the Stolen Babies of Spain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJJ7Pp_Zvvs). The investigative documentary introduced me to the background behind the baby trafficking of an estimated 300,000 babies in Spain during the Franco and immediate post-Franco periods.
I am an English woman, too old to worry about childbirth, and have not experienced the loss of an infant. How did I ensure that I wrote with authority and authenticity without the value of these experiences?
I am a Mum. My daughter may be in her 30’s but I remember holding her as a newly delivered baby – the colour of her skin, the warmth and smell of her body. The memory
of the sleepless nights and leaping out of bed to run to her assistance having recognised her cry in a room full of other babies, will not be forgotten. My maternal intuition kicked in from the moment of conception, well before the morning sickness and the tickling of tiny feet inside of my womb. Even now that she is an adult, I sense when my daughter is in danger and needs my support.
My previous employment was as a midwife and nurse. Every hospital has common features and my experiences of working in various hospitals allowed me to add detail to the hospital scenes in Silencio. It doesn’t matter that a Spanish hospital is different from one in the UK because this is a work of fiction and as long as the reader believes that the place could be real, he or she will not be distracted from the story. Having had experience of Spanish health care and hospitals, I can testify that there are more similarities than differences.
Spain is my second home and I have lived there for a number of years, speak conversational Spanish, have travelled throughout the country, and have experienced life in a Spanish community.
However, I am English and was not brought up as a Spanish girl within a Catholic family. Not a problem, because as the saying goes I know a man who can or in this case, a young Spanish woman who was delighted to read and correct my work and give me an insight to the lives of her mother, her sisters, her fellow villagers, etc.
Mercedes, the main character in Silencio, is a journalist. I am not a journalist but I studied the subject at university many years ago, I read newspaper articles and I am lucky to know a young magazine journalist who gave me the benefit of her experience.
Many readers have commented on the development of the love relationship and the passion between Mercedes and Orlando. Apparently, it is quite steamy and some of my daughter’s friends are shocked that Rachael’s mum ‘wrote this’. 25 years ago, I met my husband and I thought back to those early days and the excitement that a look or a brush of the fingers could stimulate. I remembered the heightened senses and the fear of commitment and tried to bring these to my writing.
During a three-year period, I researched background information for Silencio and most of it has not ended up in my novel. One of my pet hates as a reader is to read a research-led story instead of one that focuses on the characters and plot.
In addition to internet searches, books and library research, I tried to visit each of the places in my novel. I travelled on the public transport and ate in local cafes so that I absorbed the culture. This was important when writing about a country as large and diverse as Spain because the northern life is different to that of Madrid, and the society of the eastern coastal towns does not resemble that of the central plane. The clothing changes to suit the local climate and the locals socialise in different ways. Hearty foods of the north are too heavy for the warmer climates of the south. I changed a number of details after each research visit; for example, the men in a northern village play cards instead of dominos.
My novel-in-progress A Life on the Line takes place in 1961 between York and Scarborough.
Last summer I spent several weeks in the area as I surveyed the layout for detail and interviewed local people who remembered the period. In the York library, microfiche records of local press helped me to discover the products, trends and issues of that year and the library of the excellent National Railway Museum holds information and photos that add detail to the backstory.
There is a saying that goes something like this ‘be careful of what you tell a writer as you or it may end up in her next book’. None of my characters is based on a single person I know but each is a compilation of the characteristics of many people I have met. Mercedes, in Silencio, does not represent either of these two beautiful friends but she has the strength of one and the humour of the other. Without the people in my life, there would be no characters in my stories.
It is time to finish this piece but if anyone wants to have a discussion about what influences their own writing, I would be delighted to read your comments. You can find out more information about my writing and research (including links to articles about baby trafficking and the Spanish stolen babies) at my website www.laberrynovels.org
Follow me on twitter @LABerryNovels or @writelindy
Like me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/silenciobylaberry
Silencio is available to purchase as a paperback through the following link or to order from any good book retailer – ISBN 9781785890994
The EBOOK version of Silencio by LA Berry is available on all major ebook retail sites including Amazon, Ibook, Google play, Kobo, Nook – EISBN 9781785894732
Today I am thrilled that I am the guest blogger on Jenny Kane’s entertaining website, a perfect blend of coffee and articles about writing, books and life. Jenny is a talented writer living in the southwest UK and we connected through a Facebook group for local authors.
Click on the link below to read my article about how real life affects fiction writing.
Also at http://www.jennykane.co.uk
The ebook version of Silencio has now been discounted to £.99 for 9 days. At the end of the 14 day period, I will evaluate the impact of price on sales. I am not sure how sensitive pricing is in the debut novel market.
Have any of my readers put their own books in to a price drop situation? How successful was it at driving sales? I will enjoy reading about your experiences.