"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E.L. Doctorow

Monday, October 3, 2011

Inside the Author’s Studio Interview: October

Please help me welcome...





Juliet Greenwood
Debut Author of Eden’s Garden



1.) Can you tell us a little about your debut novel EDEN’S GARDEN?


Eden’s Garden is a ‘time-shift’ novel, with two intertwined strands of the story taking place in different eras, as in Kate Morton’s ‘The House at Riverton’. Eden’s Garden follows the Meredith family of Plas Eden, a dilapidated mansion with a collection of mysterious statues in its overgrown garden, and the servants who once served there. If you love ‘Downton Abbey’, this is the book for you!
In the present day, 34 year old Carys returns home to look after her ailing mother and finds herself drawn once more to Plas Eden, home of her lost love, David Meredith.
In late Victorian London, a woman wracked with loss and guilt stands on Westminster Bridge, preparing to end her life in the dark waters of the Thames. At the last moment she turns, making her way instead to the nearby Meredith Charity Hospital.
Slowly, the long-buried secrets of the Meredith family are revealed, while Carys begins to uncover unexpected secrets of her own. And as she and David pursue the trail to the coast of Cornwall, Carys begins to realise that it is not only the fate of a long-ago love story, but her own future, that is at stake.


2.) When is your release date?


My lips are sealed! But I can tell you it will during spring 2012. Watch this space!

3.) I see EDEN’S GARDEN has been contracted by Honno Press, a fantastic independent publisher that is run by women and whose main goal is to publish the best of Welsh women’s writing. How do you feel about being a part of this group?

I am so excited about becoming part of Honno! I still can’t quite believe it. When I first sent my manuscript to them, they didn’t accept it straightaway, but instead gave me the opportunity of working with one of their editors to bring the book up to publishable standard. I knew there was no guarantee that Honno would then take the book, but that the experience would be like gold dust. And it was! It was like having a personal trainer who pushed me further than I would have believed and has changed my attitude to my work forever.
I’m proud to be published by Honno and to join such an awesome group of women who really believe in women’s writing.

4.) How did you come up with the concept for EDEN’S GARDEN?

My original inspiration for the book was Celtic myth of Blodeuwedd, the woman made out of flowers to be a perfect wife. Blodeuwedd doesn’t stay the ‘perfect’ and the dutiful woman she was made to be, but falls in love with someone else. She tries to get rid of her husband and is punished by being turned into an owl, to spend the rest of her life ugly and despised.
The story has always fascinated me, especially as I’ve grown older. It seemed to symbolise the way we as women are valued when we are young and wish to please others, but this changes as we gain life experience and develop minds of our own. While men are venerated and rewarded as they show signs of growing older, our society still sidelines older women, and our life experience is still not recognised and celebrated, let alone respected. I feel passionately that it’s time we women claimed our right to wrinkles as a badge of honour! For, if you look really look, an owl is a creature of the most exquisite beauty. So the story of Eden’s Garden is about women growing older and wiser, and the true beauty that they gain.
And the garden? I love gardens, large and small. When I was beginning Eden’s Garden I had just read a book about the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall and how Heligan was brought back to life after being abandoned when the gardeners went off to fight in the First World War. There was no way that was going to stay out of my book!

5.) Favorite character?

Ah. A bit of a tricky one, this. I don’t want to spoil the central mystery. All I can say is that it’s the character who goes on the longest inner journey of all during the book. And you’ll know who I mean when you’ve read it. (So you’ve just got to buy it now, you see)

6.) When, where and how did you get into writing?

I began writing seriously about ten years ago. Five years before that, I’d moved back to Wales after living in London, bought a house and started a new career. Life seemed to be sorted. But then I contracted glandular fever. Fool that I was, I battled on without realising how ill I was, until my body began to fall apart, and by then the damage was done. I was very ill for twelve months and then left with years of debilitating M.E.
Going from a fit person who climbed mountains to being scarcely able to walk to the end of my garden was a life-changing experience. It made me look at my life and what I wanted to really do. When you only have enough energy to do anything for a couple of hours each day, it doesn’t half concentrate the mind! So, strangely, the thing that broke me, was the thing that made me. Without M.E I would never have found the courage to attempt to become a writer.
It took me a while to get my energy back and find part-time work. I started writing slowly, entering short story competitions and getting feedback. Some of it swingeing, and deservedly so. Gradually I built up to selling stories to magazines, then novelettes and a short novel. I had lots of false starts, and I’ve plenty of novels stashed away that will never, ever see the light of day. It’s been a long, gradual process. But I’ve learnt so much along the way, met so many wonderful and supportive writers and had so much fun I wouldn’t change a thing (Well a few million in the bank and a housekeeper, maybe).

7.) On your website, you’ve have some absolutely gorgeous photos of the landscape of Wales.


How has living in such rural beauty influenced your writing?
Thank you! I think it’s influenced my writing mainly by giving me the mental space to write. I loved living in London, and I still enjoy going back there and the buzz of city life. But to be creative I find I need stillness and a lack of distraction. Because I am still building up my fitness after my illness, I walk for miles with my dog through the landscape, and it’s this that is my thinking time.
Plus living amongst mountains and ruined castles just has to bring out the romantic in you! It’s probably why I haven’t concentrated on crime!

8.) What is your favorite book?

Jane Eyre. I love following the inner life of such a passionate, independently minded woman struggling against her society’s pre-conceived ideas of what a woman should be.

9.) Can you tell us about finding your agent and everything you went through signing with her/him?

I’m still looking for an agent. Honno takes un-agented submissions and I’ve sold my stories and serials to magazines myself. I know I’ll need an agent in the future, but I’m happy to wait for now until I find one who loves my work and who I really ‘click’ with. It’s such an important relationship I feel it’s worth waiting.

10.) How was dealing with the contract negotiations from the writer’s standpoint?

Because I’d been working with them for so long, and they are such a supportive small press, I found the negotiations very civilised. The contract was a bit daunting, even though I’ve had ones for my novelettes and my short book, ‘Elissa’s Castle’, but once I was sure I understood the legal language, it was fine. The bit that worried me was the e-book rights, but that’s fine as ‘Eden’s Garden’ will be coming out as an e-book as well.

Lipton’s Questionnaire

1.) What is your favorite word?

Cariad’. It’s the Welsh word for ‘love’ or ‘darling’ and is used as a general term of endearment.
I was nearly wicked and claimed it was the name of a nearby village, which is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Only we call it Llanfair PG. And that’s not quite the same!

Hahahaha. Wow that’s a mouthful! Well I thank you for saving me from having to try to pronounce it. Although, I do have to wonder exactly what other names the Welsh give to their villages.

2.) What is your least favorite word?

‘People’, when used by (usually middle-aged male) historians as ‘the people’, meaning general assorted peasantry who can’t think and don’t count for much. Unlike kings and lords who do. Being one of the general assorted peasantry, I object!

3.) What turns you on about writing?

Oh, it has to be the buzz when suddenly a scene comes together and it’s all clicking and you’re in The Zone. It’s better than sex. It’s even better than chocolate.

4.) What turns you off?

The start of the day, or coming back to a book after several days in the day job. When you are most definitely not in the zone, and you haven’t a clue how you ever got there in the first place or if it even exists. And even housework suddenly seems far more appealing … When my house is tidy, my friends know not to even mention the Work in Progress.

5.) What sound or noise do you love?

The pull of the sea over pebbles. On a quiet summer’s day, that seems to me like the sound of eternity.

6.) What sound or noise do you hate?

I live on the edges of a village built around a slate quarry. I hate the sound of blasting, because it is always a reminder of how many men died in the past, when they had to place dynamite into holes in the mountain face while dangling precariously from a rope.

7.) What is your favorite curse word?

‘Sod’. Actually, my ultimate favourite is ‘rats’. But I’m not sure if that counts as a swear word!

8.) What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Archeology. I love the idea of finding out about lives of ordinary people in the past. I’d want to be the kind who lives in roundhouses and reconstructs how Iron-Age people cooked or wove clothes and told stories round a central fire. (And then goes home for a shower)

9.) What profession other than your own would you not like to attempt?

Anything to do with selling stocks and shares. Making a load of money while risking others’ – no thanks!

10.) If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?


“Welcome to the garden. Please choose your selection of seeds.”

Thank you so much, Juliet, for coming to share a little of yourself and your experiences! It has been lovely getting to meet you and I wish you all the best!


P.S. If you meet Prince William at any point, do me a favor and say "HI" for me. :D


If you'd like to know more about Juliet and her works please feel free to visit her site here.





16 comments:

Beverly Diehl said...

Thanks for the interview, CM, Juliet. Can totally relate to that drag about the day job, ugh!

Kelly Hashway said...

Great interview. I loved Jane Eyre too. Best of luck to Juliet. Eden's Garden sounds great.

julietgreenwoodauthor said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview, CM! I had a great time, and it's an honour to be on your blog.

Get your tongue around 'Dwygyfylchi'. Luckily it's where I work, not live. My village has a very sober biblical name.

I'll pass on your regards the next time Prince William flies over my cottage. I keep on waving, but he hasn't stopped for tea yet.

Here's hoping ...

Juliet :)

julietgreenwoodauthor said...

Glad you liked the interview and the sound of Eden's Garden, Kelly! I had Jane Eyre in mind when I was writing the Victorian part. For a Jane Eyre geek, it was a dream come true :)

inluvwithwords said...

Wow. Love this interview. So many great questions. Eden's Garden sounds wonderful.

LK Watts said...

Great interview Juliet, your book sounds interesting. I also love the word 'cariad' too, being part Welsh.
http://lkwattsconfessions.blogspot.com

Margaret James said...

Ooh, this looks like a great story - looking forward to reading it! Margaret XXX

marlenedotterer said...

This is a wonderful interview. I totally get the tidy house thing. There are times that my WIP drives me to do housework, too.

EDEN'S GARDEN sounds like a wonderful book. I can't wait to read it!

C.M. Villani said...

Thanks to everyone for all of the great comments. And thank you to Juliet for being a fabulous interviewie. :) I wish her all the luck in the future.

clairemca said...

Can't wait to read the book, all that inspiration that's behind it and the /timeplace you are now in that has enabled you to fulfill completing it.

julietgreenwoodauthor said...

Thank you for all the lovely comments! And thank you again, CM for a great interview.

I've been deep in final edits for Eden's Garden, so just surfacing. I'll catch up with everyone now!

Hugs all round for being so positive and wonderful!

Juliet

hideaheart said...

Is there a way to reserve a copy of Eden's Garden?
MCatherine

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