Today I am thrilled to welcome Alice May! 🙂
Hi Kerry, thank you for giving me the opportunity to take part in your Q&A.
For those who don’t already know can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books please?
My name is Alice May and I am the author of ‘Accidental Damage’ which is book 1 in the series entitled ‘Tales From The House That Sat Down’.
I am currently working on the sequel ‘Consequences’. There is also a third book (as yet un-named) in the series which is in the early planning stages. In addition to these projects I am writing and illustrating a children’s book.
‘Accidental Damage’ is the tale of a family of six (mum, dad and four kids) who suddenly find themselves homeless after their old cottage falls down completely out of the blue one day. With nowhere to go they are forced to move into a tent in the garden. The tent is supposed to be a temporary solution but when their house insurance company refuse to help them the tent becomes a more permanent fixture.
Told retrospectively from the mother’s point of view, ‘Accidental Damage’ is packed with both humorous anecdotes and brutally honest emotional reactions to what it is like to live in your garden whilst working out how you are going to rebuild your home.
It is a tale of family love and loyalty, proving that if you pull together as a team and look after each other you can survive anything.
Where did/do you get your idea(s) from?
‘Accidental Damage’ was inspired by a real life event. My husband, four children and I spent a year living in our garden after our house fell down.
I felt it was such an unusual experience to go through that it was important to write about it. In spite of the horrible circumstances it was a time of massive positivity and growth for the whole family. Once we accepted that we couldn’t live in our house and couldn’t really go anywhere else we just had to knuckle down and get on with life.
So many funny and ridiculous things happened to us on our journey to rebuild our home it made such a cracking story on which to base my first fictional novel.
In fact there were so many ideas developing in my head from that time that I had to accept that it was going to be a series of books and not just the one.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
The characters of the family in ‘Accidental Damage’ are based (loosely) on my own family. Nobody else would do I am afraid. The book is written retrospectively from the mother’s point of view and I wanted to convey to the reader the complex interactions of a large family under such uniquely stressful circumstances. (Don’t worry my husband and kids have all read the book and approve.)
No other characters in the book are actually based on real people but over the years I have been involved in a number of building projects so have had a lot of interactions with various builders, roofers, electricians, architects and structural engineers etc. As a result some vague characteristics may well have been drawn on during the creative process to develop the personalities within the plot but the characters themselves are fictional.
The cat is definitely our cat.
How do you pick you character’s names?
Character names are a difficult one as it is important to make your character as approachable to your reader as possible. I have used specific personality traits for each person as the main basis behind the choice of name.
Can you share your writing process with us in a nutshell?
Writing ‘Accidental Damage’ was a bit of an out-of-the-blue event because I literally sat down one day and started writing.
Once I started I couldn’t stop and so I wrote day and night for three weeks. My beloved husband thought I had gone nuts but just kept bringing me cups of tea and snacks in the hope that I would eventually return to the real world. When I finally ground to a halt I had 60,000 words and the first draft of my novel.
With subsequent pieces of work I am a little less manic. I generally try to spend the mornings writing (after the school run) and the afternoons and evenings sorting out the children and the house.
However I always find that the best ideas come when I am too busy to stop and focus on writing. As a result I always have a notebook on hand to scribble ideas down. Then then next day during my official morning writing hours I trawl through my illegible scrawls and translate them into the computer documents I am working on.
Ideas don’t always come fully formed, I just have to make notes and wait for the ‘light-bulb’ moment that pulls all the strings together. It is very exciting.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
As a prolific reader I have to admit that this is hard question. Picking only 5 authors from so many talented people is difficult. So in no particular order my top 5 favourite authors are:
Lisa Gardner writes the most amazing crime fiction. I particularly enjoyed ‘Love You More’ but have read many others of her books. She also writes as Alicia Scott.
I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey’s world of Pern in my early twenties and it has been a delight to read her books ever since. I had thought I didn’t like science fiction at the time but she opened my eyes to a whole new genre and I cannot thank her enough.
I really enjoy the irreverent humour in Kate Fenton’s books my particular favourites are ‘Too Many Godmothers’ and ‘Picking Up’.
I love the way that Katie Fforde’s characters are strong independent women overcoming the odds. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Rose Revived’, ‘Stately Pursuits’ and ‘Thyme Out’.
Trisha Ashley’s books are packed with quirky, different but highly believable characters. Reading one of her books is like sinking into a warm hug. I look forward to treating myself to each new book as it is published.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If I could have met Richard Adams author of ‘Watership Down’ I would ask him how it felt to have influenced so many generations of children with his amazing story. This was the first book I remember buying with my pocket money at the age of ten and it completely mesmerised me. I read it so many times the book eventually fell apart.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes I was a prolific reader as a child and that hasn’t really changed as I have grown older. (I won’t say I have grown up because I really haven’t.) Fortunately my Beloved Husband puts up with the fact that I have always got my nose in a book when I am not writing.
I do try to remember to feed the children and do some housework but reading is so much more fun than doing chores.
My best decision was to encourage the children to love books as much as I do because then we can all pile on the sofa with a book or two each and I can pretend its educational time.
When did you start to write?
I have always written short pieces and played around with storylines and ideas, but I never sat down with the intention of writing a book until last year when I wrote ‘Accidental Damage’.
Now I have seriously started writing I don’t seem to be able to stop.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them.
I think I’d like to go for a coffee with Pamela Torres the female lead character from ‘Undercover Thief’ and the sequel ‘Thief Underground’ both part of the ‘Victoria Institute series by H. T. King.
Pamela is a sassy go-get-em-girl with such character, skills and energy. I’d love to spend some time chatting with her. We’d go somewhere in Cornwall on the cliffs where they serve fantastic coffee and we can look at the sea and just chill.
Is there a book you wish you’d written?
I rather wish I had been clever enough to write ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne. Such a classic piece of work and so beautifully illustrated. Deeply meaningful and yet deceptively simple. Ingenious!
What are you working on right now?
I am currently engaged in two projects at the moment. Firstly I am half way through the first draft of ‘Consequences’ Book 2 – More Tales From The House That Sat Down. I am finding this immensely inspiring and am thoroughly enjoying the creative process.
I have plans for the third book in that series and another completely separate general fiction book but they will have to wait their turn. I am constantly surprised how so many plot ideas can arrive at once leaving hardly a moment to write them down let alone follow them through to completion. All in good time!
I am also in the process of publishing a children’s book that I wrote and illustrated a few years ago. Having learned a very great deal through the publishing of ‘Accidental Damage’ I feel that now is the time to move that project forward.
Do you have a new release date due?
Yes, ‘Consequences’ will be published this summer (2017) hopefully on August 1st to coincide with the anniversary of the release date of ‘Accidental Damage’ but we shall see……
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Readers can contact me through my website www.alicemay.weebly.com
via my Alice May Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AliceMayAuthor/
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Accidental Damage is available from Amazon.co.uk as a paperback or in kindle format. I really hope you enjoy my story. Please let me know what you think.
Thanks for answering my questions, Alice 🙂
Alice sent me a lovely signed paperback copy of Accidental Damage, so watch this space for my review!
If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?
Does she really deserve to be whole again?
Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!