Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl . I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks.
So far I’ve
interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G and Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v: and Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG , Judith Arnopp: http://bit.ly/290cJMl and Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,
There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.
Today I’m chatting with the lovely author Juliet Greenwood, fellow Honno author and friend who writes the most wonderful books,
Welcome, Juliet. Great to see you here today. and love the hat by the way
Why, thank you Judith, and it’s good to be here.
So, let’s get going, tell me … why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I am published by Honno Press, and write historical novels, mainly set in the Victorian/Edwardian eras, which move between Cornwall, Wales and London. There is always a big house and a mystery to be solved, and plenty of drama along the way, so they are along the lines of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.
I’ve chosen to write in this genre as I’m fascinated by the lives of women in those periods, especially the way things were changing, and the battles for the independence we take for granted today. So much of women’s lives have been forgotten, particularly how active they were, and how many campaigns they fought and won, despite having no legal existence for most of this period.
My first book ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a time-shift, with a mystery set between contemporary and Victorian times. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing a time-shift, so I’m hoping to be working on another timeshift mystery soon. I enjoy the challenge of moving between two times.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I was a bookworm as a child, who loved stories. My mum loved reading, so she always inspired me to try new things. She encouraged me to absorb the classics, which gave me a great background. It started a lifelong love affair with reading and writing!
Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? .
I started researching ‘The White Camellia’, to be published by Honno this September, thinking that the background would be that of the suffragettes, but I soon came across the far less well-known suffrage movement, which was a revelation.
The suffrage movement included both men and women who fought alongside each other for over fifty years for every citizen over the age of 21 to have the vote. Although a small number of men had the vote at the start of the campaign, this wasn’t achieved for either men or women until 1928. The women and men of the suffrage movement used democratic tactics, civil disobedience and persuasion. It also fought for equal employment rights for men and women, and won endless battles to give women legal rights, including to keep their earnings and property, and to keep their children in the case of divorce.
Although they didn’t resort to violence, they were brave and resourceful, especially when you consider that at the beginning of their campaign women had no legal existence at all. I think what I found most fascinating about the suffrage movement was that it showed women taking on those in power on their own terms and out-manoeuvring and outwitting them at every turn, using rational arguments (and a bit of clever publicity) to achieve many of the freedoms we take for granted today.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
I think the biggest misconception about the genre is that it’s always rich women floating around in nice houses, solving a bit of a mystery and probably finding a few pearls and Mr Darcy along the way. The greatest misconception about the struggle for the vote is that it was always violent – and that it was only about the women. In fact, most men in Victorian times also did not have the vote, and it was only the last few years when the violence erupted – and that was only after parliament, thanks to the work of the suffrage movement, had twice voted for women to have the vote.
I find that setting a story in the past can also be a way of exploring dilemmas that are universal and we still experience today. I feel the past can give more distance, so can give more freedom to explore experiences. As well as the role of women in politics, one of the main threads of the story in ‘The White Camellia’ is a character who takes the perfect revenge, with the most terrible and unexpected consequences – and that’s a story that could take place at any time.
What inspires you?
Primarily the untold stories of women. The more I learn, the clearer it becomes that so much of women’s achievements and experiences have not been told. Before I researched ‘We That are Left, I had no idea women worked on the front line in the First World War, often under fire, and were even given medals, as well as working as spies behind enemy lines. Although it’s now changing, too often women are still seen as passive victims, trailing behind their men, rather than being incredibly resourceful and resilient and worthy of taking centre stage. A love story is important – but there is so much more to women’s lives as well, including huge moral dilemmas, a need to live a fulfilled life, and the deep human need for self-determination.
How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
Working hard, always reading, writing and learning – and never giving up! I’ve also tried to find jobs that allow me time and head space to write, which means I’ve never followed a conventional career path. It’s felt a bit scary at times, but I love what I do, and so it definitely feels it’s been worth it.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a part-time writer at the moment. I earn most of my living as an academic proofreader. I work freelance to try and organise my life to do as much writing as possible. I enjoy the work, and it’s taught me to be precise in the use of language, and it’s definitely extended my vocabulary. The downside is never having enough time to write the next book while editing and doing publicity. It can be very frustrating at times, but I also feel it’s given me the freedom to develop as a writer.
For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
There are some excellent books on the subject of the suffrage movement, these are some of the best introductions:
Margaret Forster Significant sisters
Lucinda Hawksley March Women, March
Melanie Phillips The Ascent of Woman
How do you find or make time to write?
I get up about six each morning (weekends included!) to get my ‘day’ job done, which frees up as much of the day as possible. I try to have a set time for writing, but being freelance with strict deadlines that doesn’t always work. I walk my dog for a couple of hours each day, which I use as thinking time (just as valuable as writing time). I try to be strict about not spending too much time on social media (I have a room in the house that is a wifi free zone). I also try not to get sucked into series on TV (the Great British Bake Off and Sewing Bee don’t count!) and watch as little as possible, (except when I’m very tired and just want to switch off after a long day proofreading and writing, when I don’t want to see another word in front of me, and hanging out the brain to dry on the secret life of kittens just hits the spot). My friends know that I’ve sacrificed housework, except on a strictly necessary basis (like when expecting a plumber), and love me all the same.
‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014
The Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month, March 2014
The National Museum of Wales Book of the Month, March 2014
Waterstones Wales Book of the Month March, 2014
Amazon Kindle #4 May 2014
‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012
Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014
Amazon Kindle #5 June 2014