Character Interview; Flora from ‘Letters To Eloise’

Welcome to another character interview! Today I’m chatting to the lovely Flora, from Letter To Eloise by Emily Williams.

Enjoy!

1) Do you have any negative character traits, and if so what would you say they are?

I have many! I’m an over-thinker and this makes me a daydreamer and over emotional. You’ll read this in Letters to Eloise and understand! I get irritable and short-tempered when I know I’m in the wrong and I struggle to find the words sometimes to apologise. I turn to food (not a bad thing!) when I need comfort, especially biscuits and cheeses!

2) What are your most positive traits?

Hopefully, others will think that I’m a kind and loyal friend. I am fun loving and up for trying most things, which is a useful trait when starting university as there is many social activities and events to participate in. I am hardworking and dedicated to my studies and always down the library, but for those who have read Letters to Eloise, you’ll know that sometimes studying wasn’t on the agenda when I was there! Tut tut!

3) What are your current ambitions or dreams?

I’m hoping to finish university and take up a teaching place after my maternity leave. My ambitions have been slightly put on hold, but fear not, I will get back there and complete my childhood ambition of teaching children. I do dream that one day I’ll make amends with River, but we’ll see…

4) What are you scared of?

Absolutely everything, but mainly of missing opportunities. You’ll see in Letters to Eloise why I was scared of the future and being pregnant and alone at University. I wasn’t afraid of the pregnancy and of little Eloise, the rest of the future terrified me!

5) Who is your best friend and why?

I’d have to say Brooke (otherwise she’d kill me!) but it’s a close toss up between Brian and Brooke. Brooke is loyal and there for me one hundred percent but her ways of going about things sometimes leave me stifled. Brian struggles with communicating his feelings, except in a jokey way, but he is a true friend and is always there for me.

6) What do you think true love feels like?

Like jumping between big puffy clouds. Light and effortless.

7) Do you have any secrets?

That would be telling! I’m not good at keeping secrets unless they are really important to me.

8) Do you have any regrets?

I regret the way things have been left between myself and River. I wish more than anything I’d worked harder to make it work. I’m not sure, even if I had of, whether it would have made much of a difference but I regret not trying.

9) Where would you like to be 5 years from now?

Settled, happy and with a healthy and beautiful daughter. Anything else fades into insignificance.

10) How would you like to be remembered?

For my strength and for never giving in

 

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Author Interview: Emily Williams

Emily Williams has written an endearing and emotional debut novel about the enduring and powerful love between mother and unborn child. Letters To Eloise is a book that had me smiling in recognition, and wiping away the tears. The narrator, Flora, is a student who falls pregnant and begins to write heartfelt letters to her unborn baby daughter, who she names Eloise. The story weaves the past with the present, as Flora deals with an unexpected pregnancy, unsuitable men, and heartbreak. The ending was one I did not see coming and I would highly recommend this charming tearjerker. Emily kindly agreed to an interview, and here she talks about the inspiration for her debut novel, her experience of publishing so far and her plans for the future…

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1) Can you tell us about your writing and publishing journey so far?

Letters to Eloise has become a very special novel to me. The journey has been a long one and started quite a few years ago. I started the novel when I had the initial idea five years ago, which I jotted down into a notebook and then onto post-it notes. These post-it notes then formed the timeline of the letters for the whole novel.

I choose the epistolary element for Letters to Eloise as I have always enjoyed reading books that contain diary entries or letters so felt this would fit Flora’s situation perfectly. I liked that she had someone real to write to, someone to pour out her emotions. I loved writing every single letter and making sure that the plot linked up through Flora’s narrative.

I was at a time in my life where I desperately wanted a family but wasn’t in a situation where this was possible, so I wrote Letters to Eloise as an outlet to that. The novel took so long to write as, unexpectedly, I also fell pregnant like protagonist Flora. I had just finished the first draft, and when dealing with all things pregnancy related, I found that I couldn’t read or even look at the book so it was put aside!

Luckily, I did return to the novel after my second child, a daughter, last July. I finally completed my long journey to publication; however, my journey isn’t over and now continues with my new projects.

I am very excited about my next two novels.

2) How would you describe your debut novel Letters To Eloise?

I find it hard to describe my own novel! I will combine some of the lovely words from reviews to make a sentence – a heart-breaking yet warm, witty and touching love story.

I like writing things a bit different and enjoyed writing Letters to Eloise in letter format.

3) What has been the hardest part of your publishing journey?

The hardest part has been learning all the formatting and other details that go with publishing an eBook and paperback. I have had to learn everything from scratch, which although hard, I have really enjoyed! The other hard bits have been the marketing side and embracing social media.

Everything is still such a learning curve at the moment.

4) What do you feel has been the best part of your publishing journey?

Each time I read a review, it has all been worth it. I’ve been so lucky to receive such lovely reviews and reading them makes me smile. I am so pleased that others enjoy my writing and have loved Letters to Eloise.

5) Do you have any advice or tips for new writers about to hit publish?

Don’t rush! Before you hit publish, make sure you have been through the novel with a fine toothcomb. Ensure you have rested your book for a while to look at it again with fresh eyes. Hitting publish doesn’t just end the process though, there’s plenty more work to do! I wish I had organised beta readers and blog tours etc earlier, so be prepared well in advance.

6) Tell us about your writing process. How does a typical day go?

During the day, if any ideas come to me, I use the notes app on my phone to jot down any ideas or post-it notes. Then in the evening (when the kids are safely tucked in bed out the way!), I look back through my notes. I have a chapter’s grid, which keeps track of the order of the novel and any chapters I need to add in. With both Letters to Eloise and now with my current novel, I don’t write the chapters in order. I like to pick and choose what to write which helps with writers block!

I then write for a couple hours in the evening or until at least one chapter is finished. I re-read before saving! The next day I will re-read and edit the work and carry on with another chapter!

7) What are you working on right now? What else can we expect from you?

I am working on a charity novel entitled ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse.’ The proceeds from the novel will go to two horse charities, one of which is the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre. The story is a YA book about teenagers, a missing racehorse, secrets, lies and chaos!

I am also working on another adult novel, more of a psychological thriller than a romance, but will be just as emotional as Letters to Eloise.

8) Who are your favourite authors?

Favourite authors would include Cecelia Ahern, who creates amazingly imaginative worlds for her characters that I can picture myself in. Her stories have strong characters with a magical element of fantasy to them. She too has inspired me to think outside the box! Sheila O’Flanagan writes very clearly about the families in her stories and her characters emotions. There are many, many authors who inspire me and all the books I have read as a child have made me the writer and reader I am today.

I was, and still am sometimes, a massive pony book fan and still have all my childhood pony stories, especially Patricia Leitch novels. I am hoping my son and daughter will love reading them too!

9) Tell us about your long-term goals and dreams

I would love to be a full-time writer and live in the countryside with all our animals. We are hoping to move to the country or even to France soon, to run a small business. I hope that my writing can pay the bills!

10) Tell us 3 interesting things about either yourself or your novel

1. I have no funny bones! After a riding accident I had surgery on both my arms which moved the nerve that causes the funny bone sensation! I find writing difficult now so hand-write or use a Dictaphone if they are particularly painful.

2. The protagonist in Letters to Eloise is called Flora, short for Florence. I called my daughter Florence too. I wasn’t allowed to call her Eloise, so Eloise is a pet cockatiel I have in my aviary!

3. I have never ever been to the hairdresser! My hair does need a good chop but I’m still scared to go!

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Bio; Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school. Letters to Eloise is her debut novel.

Links; You can follow Emily on FacebookTwitter

Interview with indie author Joel Dennstedt

Almost a year ago I interviewed two great author’s about their experiences of writing and publishing, Kate Rigby and Alec John Belle. You can find the interviews here. I’ve been meaning to interview more author’s since then, and just have not had the chance to get around to it. Anyway, that’s all about to change! Joel Dennstedt is a very diverse indie author, and I have enjoyed all three of his novels. Here he chats to me about his indie journey so far, his books, his on-going travels, and his plans for the future.

 

1) You and your brother are currently travelling through South America. Could you tell us a bit about what made you decide to do this? And was there a conscious decision to write and blog about it as you went?

Everything was Steve’s idea. As of 2010, I was working for the same evil corporation as he, a criminal organization known as the largest bank in the United States. He couldn’t take it anymore and decided to retire. His wife could not take that, so they divorced. He said he was off to see the world. I had to ask him twice – he did not believe me the first time – if I could tag along. So, in April of 2012 we packed everything we owned into our backpacks and duffels and went off to see the world …. slowly. Four years later, we have made it to Peru. He began his blog a year before we left, and once we hit our first stop in Merida, Yucatan, MX he said: you should publish your novel Orange Cappuccino. So I did. Because he has really great ideas.

2) Your novels are all quite different. Could you tell us what inspired you to write each one? Where did each idea come from?

Orange Cappuccino is true. I wrote it as a novel for the style. It tells the story of my life with my second wife and our trials and tribulations in Alaska. I had to write that story to make way for other things. And yet, the first book I wrote was Hermit – A Novella. I wrote that during my breaks at work, and though the main character is a lot like me, the story was simply a fantasy to help me get through my days in the real world. I published Orange Cappuccino first, and Hermit only after a hundred hours of editing while ensconced in a hostel/brewery in the jungles of Honduras. Guanjo is my science fiction novel, a promise to myself when I was young. The idea came from two photographs I had collected along the way: one of a huge longhouse situated in the canopy of a rainforest; the other of a little native girl with her pet frog.

3) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I have never wanted or intended to be anything else. I considered myself an abject failure for 60 years of my life because I caved to the necessities of the real world.

4) What has been your journey so far as a writer? How would you describe the experiences you’ve had?

Mostly, I have felt rather lost. The writing is not fun. There has been little appreciation for my work. And yet, when I compare now to four years ago, that is not true at all. I have had a lot of fun. The appreciation has been immense. Now put those two feelings into one and shake them up every single day, and you know something of the rollercoaster ride that you and I are on. The experience of writing has called on every reserve of wisdom that I possess, and made me practice the path I follow with an intensity far beyond what I had known

before. The best things come unexpectedly. The worst come from my own expectations. The lesson: stop expecting and start accepting. And all I can say to that is when I do, things seem to progress perfectly.

5) What would you say are the best things about being an indie writer?

This is pretty easy. The creative control is great. The ability to immediately respond to any new idea, whether in the writing itself or in the marketing and sales keeps everything alive and fresh. The rebelliousness of it all. The interactions with other indie writers, their support and commiserations.

6) What would you say are the worst things about being an indie writer?

Only one thing that I know of: lack of exposure. The challenge to locate your audience, when mainstream authors seem to find their audience ready-made.

7) What are your personal top tips for indie survival?

Be prepared to do it all. Create, Write, Proofread, Edit, Produce, Promote, Market & Sell. If you don’t understand the essential elements of business, then enjoy the vanity of it all, but don’t expect success. And one personal tip for Indie Authors in general: if you don’t start learning to edit and correct your mistakes, you are going to fail. I read a lot of Indie works now, and I am nauseated by the typo’s, grammatical errors, misspellings, and simple format errors that permeate their books. It has given and will continue to give Indie Authors a bad reputation.

8) What are you working on at the moment?

I am supposed to be working on my literary novel: In the Church of the Blue-Eyed Prophets. Instead, I work most consistently on my blog, my collection of horror short stories, and my book reviews.

9) Who are your favourite authors?

My top 5 favorite authors are British: Barry Unsworth, Jean LeCarre, William Golding, Charles Dickens, and Graham Greene.

10) What are your dreams/hopes for the future in terms of your writing?

My biggest dream is to be accepted by the industry professionals and regarded as a writer of great literary merit. I know I ought to be seeking popular approval, but mostly I just want affirmation from those who know good writing.

11) Tell us about your writing routine/process

I guess that you’re assuming I have a routine. Not so much, really. I write what I want, when I want, at the pace I want. In this regard I pretty much go against all the advice of others. I do not write a certain number of words a day. I do not challenge myself to write so many pages. I do not even make myself write each day. It does not work for me. And even if it did, I would not do it. When I have experimented with such a program, what I wrote was trash, and I had to go back and rewrite every word. Sometimes I write a single paragraph in a day. Sometimes a page. Much more than that, and once again it turns to trash. I also ignore the trusted advice to just get the first draft out. Doesn’t work for me. I edit as I write. A lot. I cannot proceed until the writing is almost at the standard I maintain. And when I’m done, I go back and edit, edit, edit all over again. You see, writing does not come easily to me. And if I don’t take long breaks between, the writing suffers … a lot!

12) Tell us three interesting things about you

I am the son of a dwarf.

I believe that I am high-functioning autistic, enough not to be diagnosed.

I believe that animals can talk.

http://www.amazon.com/Joel-R.-Dennstedt/e/B008VJZ6RE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1456438558&sr=1-1

https://www.facebook.com/JoelRDennstedt/

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The Boy With The Headphones (short story)

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The Boy With The Headphones

For the first few days, I didn’t even know his name. The boy with the headphones. He wore them all the time. Over his ears, or in class, around his neck. I can still remember the very first time I saw him, because I am certain that my heart stopped. Or if it didn’t, then time did. Everything slowed down. I think there was suddenly music in my head too, the way there always was in his. It was like we were in a film, not ordinary, muddy real life. It was just me and him. The rest of the school corridor blurred out, sounded out. He slowed down, and so did I.

The boy with the headphones. Eyes down, moving fast. Moving through the crowd as if he did not even see them. His hair was long, and I saw this first. Perhaps it was the first thing that drew my eye. Because all of the other boys back then looked like boy band material. Curtains and short back and sides. Not the boy with the headphones, who marched through them like they were nothing to him. His hair was a dirty shade of blonde and my heart skipped a thousand beats. His hair was touching his shoulders, curled and tousled around his ears. It flopped over his face, shielding one eye, until he flicked it back, and that was when our eyes met across the corridor.

That was the first time. When I did not know his name. When he was just the boy with the headphones. The new boy. Ear to the ground, I listened for gossip, soaking it up when it came my way, tucking my hair behind my ear to listen in. I was quiet back then, but popular. Of course, all the kids like me were popular. We had it easy, and I never really understood this until I met the boy with the headphones.

‘From the estate,’ they said. ‘New in town.’

‘In trouble already,’ they said, as the days passed by. ‘Fighting in the boys toilets!’

The rumour mill went into overdrive that week. The new boy was a troublemaker. He came from the estate, just like the boy he fought in the toilet. His mother was a single parent, and looked like a model. He had long hair and angry blue eyes and he always had his headphones on.

By the end of the week I knew his name, and the boy with the headphones had made friends with the boys from the toilet. Eyebrows raised and people smirked. I was an outsider then, thirsty for more information. All I could see when I closed my eyes at night was his face, and his dark blue eyes staring back at me accusingly. He always looked angry, like he was about to punch someone. I could stare at him all day, when he wasn’t looking. Those beautiful blue eyes with the thick black lashes. His face was hard angles and defiance. His lower lip was fuller than his top. I thought he looked like he belonged in a film, not here in my life, not in this place where everybody looked the same.

I didn’t want to know about him, or think about him, but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop looking at him. I kept him in the corner of my eye during class. I could feel him behind me sometimes. I could feel his eyes burning into my back. I wanted to turn around and smile at him, say hello, I’m Lucy. But I didn’t, because I couldn’t. I couldn’t open my mouth when he was near me.

Looking back, those first few weeks were the easiest. Although at the time they felt like utter torture. Every night I pulled out my diary, lay on my bed in my house that overlooked the sea, and wrote about him. He brushed past me after Maths. His elbow bumped me as he walked past my desk. I was hot cheeked and mortified about a hundred times a day. I tried to avoid him, because that seemed safer. How could I be around a boy like that? A boy who made my heart skip and my mouth dry? Our eyes met in Science today. So embarrassing. I looked up, so did he. I looked down, then up and it happened again. But he has no idea who I am.

            The boy with the headphones was lost in music and life on the gritty side of town. He didn’t have time to make friends with people like me. We were from different walks of life. All I could do was watch him from afar and hear the things that were said.

‘Arrested at school! Broke someone’s nose!’

‘His mum goes out with that guy from the garage?’

‘Him and those other boys are always in trouble.’

‘Yeah, dirty skanks.’

He wasn’t a dirty skank to me. He was a mystery that I wanted to unravel. But looking back, I needn’t have worried. In truth, we were always going to cross paths, again and again, until something happened. We were always going to dance this way and that, coming together and then breaking apart.

The first few times we spoke, it was stuttering and shy. He gave me the first tiny glimpse that maybe, just maybe, he had been watching me too, waiting for me to speak to him. He called my name one day as I passed his house on the way to meet Zoe. Oh Zoe. So much of it was down to her!

My best friend Zoe. The prettiest girl in school. She came from the other estate near school. Long blonde hair that looked dyed but wasn’t. Her lips pouted when she spoke. Her hips jutted to one side and then the other. Her backside swung when she walked tall in her white slingbacks with the cork wedges. The men who whistled didn’t care that she was thirteen, or fourteen years old. All they could see was who she would become. She was like something from a movie. And she was madly in love with Michael, and Michael was best friends with the boy with the headphones.

We chatted briefly that day in front of his house. He wore his shirt around his waist and his small hard body glared back at me as I blinked in the sunshine. His was a dirtied tan, and his hands were oily. His ribs were bruised from his latest scuffle. He was cleaning cars to make things up to his mother’s boyfriend.

That was the first time I had hope. Me and the boy with the headphones. Maybe one day I would get to hear the music too.

What came next was our awkward, teenage dance. One step forward, then two steps back. I will never forget the day he took me on a proper date. My dad grilled him on the doorstep. It was mortifying. I could have killed him. But after that he took my hand, and we walked in silence.

That was the thing about us. Our comfortable silence. He didn’t always want to speak, and neither did I. But one night at a party, I hugged him and told him I would marry him one day, and I meant it. I can still hear the music from that night. He was alive when the music played. He was the music. Nirvana on the makeshift dance floor. Four teenage boys going crazy. Flinging their hair about, headbanging and yelling the words that meant so much to them. After that, I watched his face when the music played, and saw the way his lips moved with the words. He always knew all of the words.

Those were good times, but good times never last. Summer turns to winter, and everything changes. I tried to be his girlfriend, but it never seemed to happen. I couldn’t get close. I couldn’t break through. His mum had a new boyfriend and he hated this one more than ever. That was all I really knew, and it wasn’t enough. The rumours followed us back to school, and I saw the way that everyone looked at him, even the teachers. Especially the teachers. With pity and concern and suspicion.

That term he changed so much. The boy with the headphones became a ghost. A fading figure we barely saw. I looked out for him every day. I would grab the window seat and train my eyes on the school gates. But he rarely came, and when he did, he was just as absent. His eyes guarded, his head even lower, but still with the headphones, still with the music that none of us could hear.

Our story seemed to be over before it had even begun, until the day I saw him walking on the beach. I was sat there revising, my text books spread out on the sand. I saw him walking, and I called out to him and then wished I hadn’t. For a moment he just stared back at me, his hands in his pockets, and for the longest time I thought he was going to ignore me and walk on. He was wearing a suit, which looked so odd on him with his messy tangled hair.

In the end he came and sat with me. He didn’t have his headphones that day, which made him seem sadder than ever. I leant into him, and wondered if that was too much, too soon. But he let me stay. And we watched the sea, and talked about where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see.

Our story faltered, but it winded on in a ragged, haphazard fashion. I went to the beach the next week, and he did too. And the next week, and the next. We didn’t talk much, because he didn’t have much to say. Sometimes he let me listen to the music with him. Sometimes his headphones were broken and his neck was covered in bruises.

Side by side on the beach, or lying on his bed in his room, I watched his face and listened to him breathe. He talked to me about music and songs. He was into everything. He listened to it all. He wrote the lyrics down if they meant something to him. We wrote love letters and I still have them all now. We used to write lyrics and circle them, circle the bits that meant the most.

Ten Storey Love Song…I built this thing for you…

When the boy with headphones went away, the music died down. It all went quiet and none of us could listen to it in the same way again. I remember I went out that day and got his name tattooed on my hip, so that he would always be with me, always be part of me, whether he knew about it or not. Whenever I heard a certain song, out of the blue, on the radio, or in a pub, or a shop, I would stop and so would my heart, just for a moment, like that day in the corridor, like the first time our eyes met. I would have to fight hard to take a breath and carry on, with the music fading out behind me. Every song, every guitar riff, every drum beat brought him back to me with a crash. There was no escaping it, because the music was everywhere. It followed us about like a haunting. Although he was gone, he was with us every single time we heard a song. It was a punch in the gut, a knife to the heart, but it was also beautiful and wonderful. Every time we heard the right song, one of his, the boy with the headphones was with us again.

This short story is written from the point of view of Lucy, one of the characters in my novel The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – if you are interested to find out more about Lucy and the boy with the headphones, you can download the novel here;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Thorn-His-Side-ebook/dp/B00W8DLGKA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1431972783&sr=1-1&keywords=the+boy+with+the+thorn+in+his+side