Tag Archives: genres

**The Gilded Shroud Blog Tour** Author Interview

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It’s my pleasure today to have Elizabeth Bailey, author of ‘The Gilded Shroud‘ on the blog.

Elizabeth Bailey says she feels lucky to have found several paths that have given her immense satisfaction – acting, directing, teaching and, by no means least, writing. 

She has been privileged to work with some wonderful artistic people, and been fortunate enough to find publishers who believed in her and set her on the road.

Elizabeth has kindly taken the time to answer my questions so we can get to know her, and her writing process, better. My thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my questions. If you fancy getting in touch with her, you can tweet Elizabeth

Vic x

Elizabeth Bailey (002)

Tell us about your book(s).
The Gilded Shroud
 is the genesis of Ottilia, Lady Fan, who turns by chance into sleuth extraordinaire and, incidentally, meets the love of her life in the process. It’s a murder mystery set in the late 18th Century, with a dollop of upstairs downstairs and a touch of romance too.

What inspired them?
My original idea was Ottilia as a potential heroine for the first in a series of sweeping romantic historicals which never materialised. My brother one day suggested it might make a detective story, and that set me off thinking. When I finally took the plunge, I intended at first that Ottilia, a wispy retiring sort of female as I thought, would be the brains in the background behind the apparent showy male sleuth, but the moment she set foot on the page she took centre stage and refused to be dislodged. So that was that.

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What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?
I love the way it surprises me with turns and twists I never expected, and I like finding creative ways to express things rather than turning to clichés. I like the process of watching it unrolling as I write what I see, like a film reel projecting onto a screen somewhere in the air around me. 

I hate what we writers call treacle books, when the words won’t flow and you just have to drag them out one by one, sticking with it as you really feel as if you are wading through a sticky sea. You learn to keep at it, and quite often find you do good work in spite of the stop/start nature of the writing. Fortunately, readers can’t usually tell if a book was treacle to write. There’s always the editing process to fix it.

Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?
I can’t not read. I started as a reader and reading feeds my imagination. My reading time is an hour or so before I go to sleep – assuming I’m not so hooked I can’t put the book down. I’m just finishing Tarquin Olivier’s book about his famous father, and I’ll be starting on Jodi Taylor’s latest St Mary’s Chronicles, to which I am addicted. My TBR pile is pretty eclectic as I read all sorts of genres, as well as biographies and books that add to my knowledge of my period and other history.

Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Primarily Georgette Heyer – of course. Also Daphne du Maurier, who does dark with panache and beauty; Rumer Godden, who is both lyrical and cryptic, as she doesn’t tell you everything. And Dean Koontz, who is so good at surprising twists. Finally, PG Wodehouse for humour. He has the one-liner gag down to a fine art. But I can learn from almost any writer – a turn of phrase, a twist, a different voice. It all goes into the maelstrom and comes out somewhere without my realising it.

Where do you get your ideas from?
They tend to leap out from nowhere. I might catch a rhythm, a fleeting glimpse of some image, song or dream, a snippet in a news item or programme, a phrase or word in a social media post even. The spark might not even reveal itself because the idea wafts in and before I know it the what-if game is on. I do jot ideas in notebooks. If I’m stuck for a plot, I can sift through to see if anything catches my imagination. I think most writers have more ideas than they know what to do with, or will ever write up as stories. The ones that gel will hopefully roll into fodder for readers, if the process goes well.

Do you have a favourite scene/character/story you’ve written?
My current completed book is usually my favourite. Not the one I’m writing because that’s in too much upheaval to be loved. Though I am usually falling in love with my characters in the work in progress. But the one that’s done and dusted, that’s the one I can afford to love until it gets superseded by the next. I do have a few that are perennial favourites and I am rather in love with Lord Francis Fanshawe. As for scenes, when I have occasion to re-read a book, sometimes I find one that really pleases me, and I will wonder how I managed to make it that good.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing another Lady Fan mystery, in between my traditional Regency romances. Mysteries take more thought, more time and energy as one must tie everything in together and half the time I don’t know what’s about to happen.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given (and who was it from)?
Funnily enough, it was my mother, who is a poet rather than a novelist and my beta reader in my early days, who gave me the best piece of advice. She said one day that she thought I was ending my chapters in the wrong place by running a scene to a conclusion rather than keeping it back. She woke me up to cliffhangers.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?
When I began writing I plotted extensively, but was forever having to adjust the plot as new ideas sprang up. Now I’m a total pantster. Apart from the opening springboard, I have no idea where the story is going and must trust to my inner writer. That is not to say that ideas don’t float about in my head, but when I sit down to write I never know what words are going to come out through my fingers. Still less do I know who committed the murder!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep at it. We all say that. Get the words down any way you can. You can’t edit a blank page. Being a writer is all about persistence. Not just keeping going against the rejections. But keeping going when life throws brickbats at you; when you think you’ll never get to the end; when the deadline is looming and panic strikes; and when you’d honestly do anything – take out the rubbish, clean the car, walk the cat – rather than sit down and write. Successful writers work through every pit stop and drive through to the end. Every time.

What’s been your proudest writing-related moment?
Apart from my very first acceptance which sent me to the ceiling where I remained for days, I think it’s the review of The Gilded Shroud that said: “Georgette Heyer lives – and is writing mysteries as Elizabeth Bailey”. That accolade said it all for me. I grew up on Heyer and still consider her the greatest writer in the Regency genre she spawned. We all wish we could write at her level, so this was to me the best compliment ever.

 

 

Review of 2016: Emma Whitehall

It’s with great pleasure that I host Emma Whitehall on the blog today. Emma has become an integral part of Elementary Writers over the past twelve months and her performance at ‘The Visitation’ at Old Low Light was phenomenal. 

Thanks for taking the time to reflect on your 2016 and sharing your thoughts with us, Emma. 

Vic x

Emma Whitehall

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2016?
This would probably be getting my modern North East-based take on The Little Mermaid story published in Holdfast magazine in February. ‘Where the People Are’ is one of my favourite things that I’ve written this year, and I’m so proud of it. It came about from a weird brainstorming session with some friends, and started off as a joke. But, as I played about with the idea in my head, things just fell into place. Seeing it in print, with its own illustration, was incredible.

Emma and I with Moira Conway at the launch of Blood from the Quill

And how about a favourite moment from 2016 generally?
I’ve loved becoming a part of Elementary Writers. I have lots of friends who write, but they are mostly spoken word performers, or poets. Having a chance to connect with people who write in the same prose-based style as me – even meeting people who work in the same genres I do – has been amazing.

Emma has become an integral part of Elementary Writers

That one is writing related, so here’s a bonus moment. I got to watch my oldest friend get married at a beautiful service in Hexham. She’s an incredible person, and I’m so proud of her and her new husband. I cried through the entire service!

Favourite book in 2016?
I thought about this one really hard! The most powerful book I’ve read this year is Death at Seaworld, by David Kirby. I was deeply moved by the plight of Tilikum, the subject of the documentary Blackfish, and this book talks in depth about the history of orcas in captivity. There’s also a lot of fascinating information about the social lives of wild orcas – which makes the causes of Tilikum’s violence all the more tragic. It’s a deeply sad situation – but one that deserves to be known about.

Favourite film in 2016?
The VVitch was a brilliant piece of gothic cinema. It was beautifully shot, and managed to keep the tension tight without resorting to jump scares. The end sequence looked like it came fully formed out of my imagination – I was shaking my boyfriend’s arm with excitement at the gorgeously dark visuals!

Favourite song of the year?
My Shot
, from Hamilton. I’ve become a devout fan of writer/composer/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda this year. Lin is passionate, intelligent, creative, and driven – everything I aspire to be. His entire portfolio is amazing, but My Shot has a special place in my heart. It’s a song about seizing your chances, about determination and ambition. If I’m ever in a funk, or feeling down, or even just being lazy during my morning writing sessions, I blast this song, and I always get something done.

Any downsides for you in 2016?
The major downside of this year is the fact I was unable to get a mortgage, due to my circumstances at work. I was bitterly disappointed, but I’m using the time to save up, and to advance my writing career prospects.

Are you making resolutions for 2017?
I’m not sure yet. I feel like I have made great strides in my personal and professional life this year, and I just want to keep that up! I would like to get back into my swimming, which tailed off around the summer holidays. I want to keep becoming more disciplined in my day-to-day life, as well – my bullet journal has helped with that, so I will be using that well into the new year.

What are you hoping for from 2017?
I’ve actually just started up a mini-business (Emma Whitehall – Professional Feedback – find me on Facebook!), where I offer bespoke help and feedback to writers on their works in progress. My biggest hope is that this takes off the way that I hope that it will – I love writing, and I want to use the experience I have gathered over the last four years to help my peers. I know so many wonderful, talented writers who are nervous about sending out their work to magazines, and if I can help them achieve their goals, while managing to work as a professional in my field, then I’ll be happy for 2017.

You can find out more about Emma at her website and you can also follow her on Twitter.