Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Rebecca Bryn who’s going to talk about her latest novel, On Different Shores.
We will hear more of Rebecca: she will be one of the authors at the Tenby Book Fair: http://tenbybookfair.blogspot.co.uk/ which is one of the first events at the the Tenby Arts Festival: http://www.tenbyartsfest.co.uk
Hi Rebecca, please introduce yourself and your book to help our readers get to know you.
Hi Judith. I write under the name of Rebecca Bryn, chosen to protect my family from the embarrassment of being associated with me. I’d like to talk about my latest novel, ‘On Different Shores’ based on a true family story, which I hope to release later this year.
What inspired you to write your book and how long did it take.
A: Someone once asked me how long it took me to paint a seascape they were interested in buying. I told them thirty years, because that was how long it had taken me to learn my craft, to be able to produce that particular painting. So, on that basis, On Different Shores is the culmination of about twelve years of writing, rewriting, editing, tearing apart and rebuilding, and a lifetime of experiences that broke me and allowed me to rebuild myself.
On Different Shores is inspired by a family story, my grandmother was somewhat tight-lipped about. After my mother died, I delved into her family history and found this story was true. I haven’t been able to confirm the assertion that we have relatives in Tasmania who own a shipping line, but I have found the committal proceedings, trial reports, convict records and probations records of my great-great-great uncle James, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) aboard the convict ship Tortoise, in 1841, along with his two cousins. They were found guilty of ‘very aggravated manslaughter’ and transported for life. James married twice; (his first wife died in childbirth and his baby son 8 days later) he died in 1913, aged 93, and is buried in Hobart alongside his Irish convict wife, who died in 1912 aged 92. So Hobart was not bad for them, it seems. A short story that may raise a smile can be found free at www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn. It’s called ‘Ooh Air Margrit’ and is embarrassingly true. (And a little too honest)
What did you enjoy most about creating this book?
The research. I feel really close now to James and to my roots in Yardley Hastings, East of the Brook.
What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?
I enjoy research so I can accurately depict, pictorially almost, the time, the place and the emotional strictures this must have placed on the people who become my characters. I’ve used my artist head to clothe a character in ‘The Silence of the Stones’ and my love of my maternal grandfather to bring Walt to life in ‘Touching the Wire’. I recommended honesty, earlier, to aspiring writers, so I can do no less here. My novels all have an underlying theme, that of unbreakable love. Walt for Miriam, Alana for Tony, Raphel for Kiya, and Ella for Jem. Losing my first husband broke me. To be deserted, unloved, discarded was unbearable. To lose the man I adored, my friends and family, people I’d grown up with, was so painful I suffered clinical depression for many years. I didn’t know I was clinically depressed then but, reading the symptoms now, I realise I had all of them. Each day was a struggle. I lived to get through the next two minutes, then the next. I had to, to bring up two children alone and hold down a full-time job to keep a roof over our heads. But they say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I met a wonderful man, who showed me it was possible to love again, and I married him. I shall always love my first husband, despite the pain he put me through. Love, in my mind, is unbreakable. This was a concern to me for a long while. It felt disloyal to my second husband, but my ex mother-in-law, who is ninety-six and has been my role model since I was thirteen, assured me it is possible to love two men in your life. So I do, without guilt, and this determination and ability to love inspires many of the tangled relationships in my novels. Excuse me while I reach for a tissue. I’ve come over all emotional.
How did you get published?
After a close shave with traditional publishing, that frankly scared me witless, I decided to take my destiny in my own hands and self-publish. I like the freedom to write what I want and promote it how I want. It’s been a huge but very satisfying learning curve. I can say, however, that I did everything myself… with a little help from my friends.
Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process?
Hiccups have usually been accepting criticism and finding a way forward through it: using it in the best way to improve my writing. That can sometimes be a challenge… I did say I liked a challenge. I think the main surprise was the physical difficulty of putting a book under a reader’s nose and, if they do see it and read it, getting them to leave a review.
What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started this project?
Probably nothing. If I’d known what was involved, I’d never have started. Not knowing what I can’t do has always been a huge help to me.
You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book. What would you hope to hear them say about it?
That they empathised with my characters and understood them, even if they didn’t like them. That they found an honesty in my writing, and that it made them think. I tackle difficult and sometimes traumatic subjects, and I hope it makes people appreciate what they have in life.
Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know or would surprise them.
Oh gosh. I have one leg longer than the other? I did say I wasn’t symmetrical. I sound quite deformed don’t I? Maybe I should write under the name of Quasimodo.
What single piece of advice would you give new authors?
Write from the heart. Dig deep into your own experiences and don’t be afraid to write what you feel. (Like me, you can always hide behind a pseudonym)
Share a short summary of a typical day in your life with us please.
I get up too late to do the writing I promised myself I’d do before my husband gets up. I walk the dog, have breakfast, deal with e-mails and social media. Catch up on my promoting from the previous day, (Do interviews J) By this time it’s usually lunchtime and I wonder where the morning’s gone. Lunch, watch Bargain Hunt on the TV. Walk dog, water greenhouse, wander round garden not weeding. Feel guilty because husband is weeding. Don’t manage to find time to do the painting I should have finished last week for an exhibition that’s looming ominously. Fit in a bit of cleaning in case the estate agent rings up with a viewing. By this time it’s four-thirty, which is when I feel justified in sitting down to do a bit of writing. I catch up with e-mails and social media instead, and do some promoting, by which time it’s time to think about tea. I throw something together, eat, watch the soaps, and wish I had a quiet place to write. Reread the last bit I wrote and rewrite it. Maybe, if I’m inspired, write a few new words, delete them and write a few more. Do tonight’s promoting, ignore husband talking about what’s on TV and the fact that he needs an early night for once… And just as I’m getting into a character… it’s almost midnight: bed time and I’ve achieved precious little. Hey ho, tomorrow is another day. I promise myself I’ll get up early and write before husband gets up…
Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?
You’d be sitting on top of my dog, on the settee in my living room, in front of a log burner and a rug that’s thirty-four years into its thirty-five year guarantee. I wonder if the company that made it still exists?
What’s your motto or favourite quote you like to live by?
‘Never judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.’ Another is ‘The only thing written in stone is your epitaph.’ (I made that one up myself – I’m rather proud of it.)
Links to find Rebecca: and her books: