Sunday, 2 June 2013

Interrogating Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot is the author of historical fiction.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I'm a reader first and a writer second, and it's no coincidence that my favourite stories are historical romance - which is also the genre I write. Because of this I don't think there is a conflict between author and prospective reader, because my aim is to write the sort of book I love to read.  My rule of thumb is to keep a firm focus on the story and characters because if they don't keep me hooked, why should anyone else want to read it? For me there is no compromise between my expectations and that of my readers.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
Oh I'm a bit of a stationary addict and being a writer is the best excuse to buy arch-lever files, plastic wallets and notebooks. Indeed, for each new novel I buy a fresh, hardback A4 notebook in which to jot down thoughts about, character, setting, costume and weather. In the name of 'research' I also buy gossip magazines and cut out pictures of people with similar looks my characters, and these phtoos get glued into this notebook.
That said - I am beginning to move with the times and my son introduced me to Google images. Now I have files on my laptop where relevant photos are saved. I've also developed my own digital filing system for character description, setting, costume et.c - but I do still miss flicking through the pages of a physical notebook.
Also, I had a brief flirtation with Scrivener. I like the idea of having a fluid manuscript where you drag and drop elements to rearrange them, but as a non-techy person, I'm afraid the program outwitted me.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?

This is a good question and tricky to answer. Any writer must draw on their own experiences and emotions. In my case, the characters are born from their name, background and what they look like, with a sprinkling of putting myself in their place to work out how they react in different circumstances. As to which character I'd most like to be, then Celeste Armitage from 'A Dead Man's Debt' springs to mind. She is a woman who doesn’t 'need' a man to feel fulfilled and is determined to control her own future…so when the deliciously handsome Lord Ranulf Charing falls for her, a very merry chase ensues.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

That's a bit spooky, Joo- do you have a hidden camera in my house?
Seriously, I visualise the characters in a setting and then watch the scene play out in my head, so as to transcribe what I've seen onto the page. This is almost a form of meditation and in order to concentrate I need to sit in a quiet room with no distractions. Occasionally, hubs gets a bit angsty, complaining that I'd rather spend time with my characters than him…but we sort things out quickly and I appreciate that he misses my company. I wonder how many other author's have partners who get jealous of fictional heroes?

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I'm an avid reader of historical romance and it was through reading this genre that I felt inspired to write. Historical romance appeals to me for so many reasons, but all with the common factor of escapism. For me, history lends a distance in time that gives my imagination free rein in a way that might be inhibited if the setting was more contemporary.( I'm guessing that escapism is also the reason behind the current popularity of the paranormal genre.)

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

In a word 'dreadful'. My philosophy is to learn from criticism and improve, so I try to turn negatives into positives…even if they do sting for a while.  That said, I sometimes get slammed unfairly because of the differences between US and UK spelling. When my debut novel, "A Dead Man's Debt" came out one reviewer was positively vitriolic that I'd spelt "dishevelled" with two L's. At the time I was mystified, especially when the Oxford dictionary said the spelling was correct - it was only some time that I twigged what had happened. The reviewer was American and the book had UK spelling. This experience taught me a lesson: that you can do your best and yet there's no accounting for the reader's perception.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

A good forum is a friendly place where you are made welcome and participate in a bit of banter.  Two things keep me going back to certain forums, and those are book recommendations and gossip. I've picked some great novels I might otherwise have missed by following certain threads and even ventured outside my favourite genre (Hugh Howie's  'Wool', springs to mind.)
The other draw is gossip: and by this I mean the light-hearted discussions, verging on the absurd, about things like 'what did you have for breakfast', or 'should Jeremy Clarkson be the next Prime Minister?'  Life is too serious - what harm in a little diversion?

What is on your near horizon?

My immediate horizon is dominated by the edits for 'Verity's Lie', #3 the Huntley Trilogy. It's been an interesting challenge to write a standalone story that also ties together the stories of all three Huntley brothers. I had a lot of fun writing 'Verity's Lie' especially as the hero, Charles Huntley, Lord Ryevale is a bit of a bad boy who needed bringing down a peg or two!
To keep the editing fresh I'm concurrently working on my next book, a series of Georgian romances based on a fictional location, Foxhall Pleasure Gardens. I wanted to give this series a different twist to other HR's and so the heroes and heroines are not aristocrats and the nobility, but ordinary working people.

Where can we find you for more information?

My blog 'Fall in Love with History' is a great place to start
You can find me on twitter: @Grace_Elliot
I also have a quarterly newsletter and it's worth subscribing because you'll get news of giveaways, freebies and new releases. The sign up is here:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Joo, for interviewing me.
    You have the patience of a saint (Joo will know what I mean!)
    kind regards,
    Grace x