Some of my most creative thoughts happen when on a dog walk, as do my best conversations with my dog-walking buddy. So I thought I’d invite some of my author friends along to join me and my girls and see if I can find out a little more about them and the book they’ve just released.
Joining me in her walking boots today, and all the way from her home in Spain, is Luccia Gray, who has come to chat to me on the release of her second novel, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. Luccia Gray stopped scribbling surreptitiously a while ago, and decided her life-long dream of stringing words into stories, and stories into novels should come true, and it did.
I came across Luccia’s work more than a year ago now having met her somewhere on social media. She writes a lively and informative blog (where I have been lucky enough to be a guest right here!) and is a great supporter of all of us in this mad writing world. I hadn’t read any books before where someone had taken a well-known classic and carried on the story and I can honestly say that I was initially sceptical. However this indie world has opened my eyes to the variety of fabulous work out there and I was intrigued to see how it would work. Eventually All Hallows at Eyre Hall made it to the top of my to-be-read list and I’m delighted that it did. You can read my review here.
Luccia Gray was born and brought up in London where she graduated in Modern Foreign Languages. She now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and is Language Tutor at the Spanish Distance (Open) University in Córdoba.
Hi Luccia, I hope you’ve had a good flight and are ready for a hike across the fields of sunny Cambridgeshire?
Hi Georgia, I’m delighted to accept your invitation for an interview and travel all the way to Cambridgeshire, which is a beautiful part of England. I’ve visited Cambridge and the surrounding countryside on several occasions. I’ll never forget my visit, a few years ago, to the Tea Garden at Grantchester with a wonderful group of professors and students from the University. Very inspiring!
Now that you’ve got my undivided attention Luccia this is your chance to tell me all about Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, encourage everyone to buy it and then move it up their to-be-read lists?
If you like romance, mystery, and suspense, with lots of action, you will love this absorbing narrative, which will transport you to the Yorkshire countryside, Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.
I’ve written the kind of book I love to read. I hope you’ll also enjoy reading about the mature Jane Eyre and what happened to all the amazing characters in the original novel, plus lots of new ones I’ve created, for your pleasure!
By the way, if you like a challenging read, there’s also plenty of food for thought…
All Hallows at Eyre Hall was the first in this trilogy and as a sequel to Jane Eyre must have presented its own challenges, but how did you find writing the next book on in this ongoing story? Were you always going to write a trilogy and have it all planned out before hand or has this next part come to you after finishing the first book?
When I started writing my sequel to Jane Eyre, I had no title, and no specific design. My plan was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha as his victim. Under these circumstances, Jane could have been either his accomplice or his victim. I chose the latter. I have been harsh on Rochester, but I have treated Jane with the admiration and love that she deserves.
My initial plot was that Bertha’s brother, Mason, would return to Eyre Hall, while Rochester was on his death bed, with Bertha’s secret daughter, who would fall in love with Jane’s son. I revived the original characters, twenty years ahead of the ending of Jane Eyre, and started writing. The novel quickly grew, as new characters and ideas emerged in my inspired and overactive imagination!
I soon realised I had so much to write about, that it had to be a trilogy, and it would be called The Eyre Hall Trilogy, based on the name of the house Jane rebuilt. The first instalment is the darkest, exposing all the secrets, betrayals and lies, and takes place at Halloween (All Hallows at Eyre Hall). The second is more exciting and suspenseful moving the story on more hopefully the following Christmas (Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall). The third and final volume, which will wrap up this story, is the both the most dramatic and the most romantic. It’s a firework finale, which will take place in summer. Midsummer Night at Eyre Hall will be available in 2016.
By the way, the trilogy is not a contemporary invention. The three-volume novel, also called the three-Decker or triple Decker, was a standard form of publishing for British fiction during the nineteenth century. Jane Eyre is, in fact a three-volume novel!
We all need help at various stages of writing and I’d like to know more about the team you have behind you. Who helps you pull your books together until they are ready to be published? Also I liked the first cover you had for All Hallows at Eyre Hall but the new one out and the cover for Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall are stunning so please share your cover designer.
I’m glad you asked me this question, because it gives me the chance to thank so many people who deserve to be mentioned.
I used to think a writer just sits and writes and agents and publishers did the rest. Now I know that even if you do have an agent and a publisher that is not true!
I completed the first draft of my novel in November 2013. Then I started investigating on the Internet about what to do next. That’s when I realised, thanks mostly to Goodreads and other writers’ blogs, (like yours, Georgia), that I needed beta readers, a proof reader, an editor, a good cover, presence in social media, a marketing plan, etc. I finally published it in May 2014!
I can’t say how grateful I am to my eight invaluable beta readers, who have helped me make the most of the good points and fix all the weaker aspects in both novels. The next stage was an editor/proof reader. I didn’t know anyone, so a Goodreads friend recommended someone. She did a good job, but not a perfect job. Fortunately, another editor, Alison Williams, (https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/) who happened to read my novel, thanks to having it on Rosie’s Book Review Team (https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/rosies-book-review-team/), another wonderful blog for readers and writers, pointed out some minor errors shortly after publishing, and I was mortified. Fortunately, Alison was kind enough to fix them. She has also edited my second book, so I feel safe! I can understand people not liking certain aspects or characters in my novel (you can’t please everyone!), but I couldn’t bear the thought of being told it was badly written or that there were editing issues. Alison is very sensible, down-to-earth and honest with her criticism, and she’s also a great writer herself! She’s an expert at pointing out and curbing my verbosity. Editing is the most expensive aspect of self-publishing, but it is worth every penny. I do the formatting for kindle and CreateSpace myself. I’m good with word processing, so I manage.
My first cover was kindly designed by a friend of my son-in-law’s, who is a graphic designer, but not a cover artist. It was a nice cover, but as time passed, I realised how important covers are. I wanted mine to have brighter colours and a more forceful image. All Hallows is darker and more mysterious as the complex and gothic story unfolds. Twelfth Night is more optimistic, and takes place at Christmas, so I wanted a more positive image. I’ll start working on the third cover this autumn. I found Melody, the cover artist, searching on the Internet (http://ebookindiecovers.com/tag/melody-simmons/). It took me some time to find the right style. I spent hours and literally months browsing on the Internet. Melody is wonderful, very quick and professional and understood exactly what I wanted.
If you could choose to be any character out of any book, who would you choose? And why?
I’d love to have the beauty, intelligence, and determination of Scarlett O’Hara, but I’d make sure I wasted no time on Ashley Wilkes and enjoyed life with Rhett Butler! (Oooh…so would I! Ed)
A few quick fire ones.
Cocktail or cuppa?
Always a cuppa! I’m not much of a cocktail drinker. I prefer white wine.
Sunsets or sunrises?
Sometimes the sky’s too bright,
Or has too many clouds or birds,
And far away’s too sharp a sun
To nourish thinking of him.
Dylan Thomas’s poem is one of my favourites. I love sunrises, but often the sun is too bright to see clearly.
I agree with another of my favourites, Keats:
O that our dreamings all, of sleep or wake,
Would all their colours from the sunset take:
I prefer sunsets because the colours are softer and more evocative.
Which superpower would you like to have? And Why?
I’d like to be able to read as fast as lightning! (I think we all need that one! What a fabulous thought! Ed)
What piece of advice would you like to give your 16 year old self – if you were given the opportunity to use a time machine!?
I used to be very self-conscious and lacked self-esteem when I was young. I was too tall, not the right shape, had too many spots, unruly hair, braces, what can I say? A typical teenager!
I know this sounds strange, but I’ve been trying to ‘heal’ that insecure child for years, doing exactly what you propose. I have a lovely school picture of myself aged about seven in my upstairs landing, which I ‘bump into’ several times a day. Every time I see it I tell little Lucy how beautiful and clever she is, and how she has to believe in herself and be happy, because a wonderful life is waiting for her.
Perhaps it works. I consider myself very fortunate because, in spite of the ups and downs (and there are plenty!), the older I become, the happier I am. (What a lovely answer :-))
I believe that perfect days are unplanned, BUT if you were to plan your perfect day what would it look like?
I’d wake up early and go for a ninety-minute walk with my husband along the beachfront. Come back to a delicious breakfast on my terrace overlooking the sea, and write, because I’m very inspired on my perfect day! I’d have a swim in the sea, just before a very late lunch, 3.30ish, with all my children and grandchildren, at a beach bar. After lunch, I’d read on a sunbed, in the shade, and watch my grandchildren make sandcastles. I’d go back to the apartment when the sun’s setting, have a shower, wash my hair, and look as pretty as possible for dinner at a restaurant with a live pianist and some of my best friends. We’d move on to a wine bar with a live band for the last drinks and get home very late, but not too late for a cuddle!
That sounds wonderful Luccia and thanks for joining me. I wish you every success for the sales of Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall I’m delighted to say my copy has already downloaded this morning and I’m looking forward to reading it! J
Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It was a pleasure to answer your questions and spend some time with you and your followers.
Links to website / Blog: https://lucciagray.com
The big day is here and you no longer have to wait for your copy so the purchase links for Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall are below:-
(PS. I also notice that All Hallows at Eyre Hall is only 99p so if you haven’t got this already now is a really good time!)