Today I have the pleasure of joining in with, and rounding off, Daniela Tully’s Hotel On Shadow Lake blog tour, with Legend Press 🙂
(Many thanks to Imogen Harris, at Legend Press)
Interview with Daniela Tully…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’ve been working for almost two decades in the film and TV world, first in script development and then as producer. So I had surrounded myself with stories and story tellers pretty much all of my adult life. Then I made the leap into writing myself, in a step away from the audio-visual world of story telling – and I’ve never regretted it. I am German, married to an American, currently living in Dubai, where I am writing my next novel, in English. Hotel on Shadow Lake is my debut novel. Its dual narrative is divided between a Munich on the cusp of WWII, and today’s upstate New York. In the media it has been described as “an intricate mystery, an epic romance, and a Gothic family saga.” It is a thriller at its core, about a young woman in Germany who thought she had come to terms with the disappearance of her grandmother, who was her surrogate mother, her best friend, and a storyteller of spellbinding, mystical fairy tales. When a landslide in upstate New York uncover her remains, twenty-seven years after her disappearance in a country her grandmother had no connections with, the granddaughter begins to question everything. Who was this woman? What made her leave Germany? What were her ties to the captivating yet chilling Montgomery Hotel, located near the site of her death? As Maya seeks answers in the States, she finds herself sidetracked by her own assumed identity—and how much it enchants the charming heir of the Montgomery dynasty. She soon discovers that the best way to the truth about her grandmother might be through surrendering herself to the majestic Montgomery Hotel, the strange family that owns it, and the spirits that live on in the dark surrounding wilderness.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
For Hotel on Shadow Lake it was the combination of a letter and a specific location that gave me the idea for the novel. The letter was written by my grandmother’s twin brother, a German fighter plane pilot, who died during WWII. As he felt his death nearing, he wrote a farewell letter to my grandmother and their mother, at the end of 1944. That letter, however, was held up in the East, when the Berlin Wall was erected, and only reached my grandmother in 1990, after the Wall had come down. The first scene of my novel recreates that moment, the receipt of the letter, delayed by forty-six years.
My husband is from upstate New York and so I was introduced to a beautiful area called the Hudson Valley, which I fell in love with immediately. And on one of my earliest visits he took me to this hotel, Mohonk Resort, a place unlike any other place I had ever seen. It blew me away. It’s a potpourri of different architectural styles, combined into a unique building, part castle, part Swiss Alpine chalet, looming over the surrounding valleys and Catskills in the distance, from a high plateau. Its Gothic aura fascinated me. In fact, they hold an annual murder mystery event there and people like Stephen King have attended and stayed there. The family in my plot has absolutely nothing to do with the Smiley family, a family who have run that resort for decades. My fictional family, or let’s say some of the family members, are as sinister and dark as the forests surrounding the hotel on the high plateau, blocking it off from the outside world, and giving birth to a world of its own.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Oh, yes, absolutely. Martha Wiesberg is partly based on my own grandmother, whose Christian name was also Martha. A couple of the people in the present plot strand, too, are based on existing people, people who I met in the Hudson Valley (I also spent a year living there).
How do you pick your characters names?
Subconsciously I probably give my heroines the names of existing people I either like, or adore, or have any form of positive association with. And the antagonist, probably the names of people I cannot stand in reality. But when I think of this novel, I just went with the first name that came to my mind. A name that suited the characters.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I write best on the move, on planes, trains, road trips… And since life doesn’t give me the luxury of being constantly on the road, I create my own mini-moves. I find it harder to write from home. I need to venture out into public, to observe people. I often find different coffee shops to write in.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jojo Moyes, Kate Morton, Jennifer McMahon, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Oh yes! In fact, I always wrote that into those friendship books, Poesiealbum we call it in German, which we used to pass around at school. When the book asked: “What do you want to become one day?” I always wrote: “A librarian.” Which in German is a long and complicated word, especially for someone in elementary school, and still I went through the trouble of writing Bibliothekarin. I ran into a mother of an old friend from elementary school on last year’s Christmas visit, and she remembered only that: that I wanted to become a librarian. I wanted to become one, just so that I could read all the books in the library (obviously I had the wrong idea about what a librarian does all day).
When did you start to write?
I started writing a first chapter of a coming-of-age novel once when I was twelve. I am sure that little booklet still exists, with my handwritten words. Probably cringeworthy, should I ever come across it again. But I lived in so many places and moved countries so often that I don’t know where some of my memorabilia are. Then I started writing again at the age of 28, with a concept for a series, a telenovela that was picked up by Italian television.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I have to admit that I don’t have the best memory, probably also because I read quite a bit, but I remember a recent book, a thriller, Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, one that I read last summer, where I felt so cheated by the end of that book. While I am not the type of reader that needs to have all plot points come full circle and leave nothing to wonder about, I felt betrayed by too open an ending.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
That’s a really tough question. I have the same reaction when I am asked what my favorite films are. There are many, not just one. Of course, there are the novels by my favorite writers, for example I would have loved to have written One Hundred Years of Solitude. Others because of the genius idea behind them – like an invention that drives you crazy because it seems to be such a simple idea in hindsight, yet it was so genius to be the first to come up with it. And Then There Were None, for example! And then, of course, several of the titles that Martha Wiesberg has to read secretly in my novel, the ones that had been blacklisted and kindled the fire during the book burnings in 1933, like Mann’s Buddenbrooks or some of Erich Kästner’s titles.
Do you have a new release due?
February 1st for Hotel on Shadow Lake
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
It’s my first time, so I don’t know yet. Probably drink (a lot of) champagne , and hope that all my readers will enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it, getting lost in the worlds I have painted for others.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I have a web page: www.danielatully.com and also a FB page, https://www.facebook.com/hotelonshadowlake/. They can also contact me through Goodreads and ask questions through that platform. I am very happy when readers reach out to me, no matter if it’s positive or negative criticism. I love creating a community.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Daniela Tully: Nomad On The Run
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I love Pippi Longstocking, but I wouldn’t want to take her for coffee, I would like to fight pirates with her for a day.
What are you working on right now?
My next novel is set in Dubai, a place where I have lived on and off now for almost seven years. It’s a place filled with contrasts, good and bad ones. But you have to have lived here to understand it fully. An important theme will be the third culture kids, or third culture individuals, as they are also often referred to. It will be my next thriller.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Well, first of all it would need to be someone who is dead now. The others I still have hopes I might meet with anyway one day (hope springs eternal). As for those who have passed away, again, there are many, so I need to make a selection. Henry James would be on the list, I loved Portrait of a Lady and have read it several times, as well as The Turn of the Screw. I would love to discuss European vs American identity with someone from the 19th century. Then there’s Hemingway. I would ask him if that penny stuck in his house on Key West was truly thrown by him into the wet cement (he was asking his wife why she doesn’t take all of his money, including his last penny).
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Daniela 🙂
When Maya was a girl, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void. Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to. Desperate for answers, Maya begins to unravel secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover what happened, she must decide whether her life, and a chance at love, are worth risking for the truth.
‘It’s a story of love, tragedy and intrigue that vividly illustrates the unyielding grip that the past holds in shaping the future…and the enduring power of love.’
Lee Goldberg, NYT Bestseller & TV Producer
(UK only due to postage costs)
For your chance to win a paperback copy of Hotel On Shadow Lake, courtesy of Legend Press, all you need to do is comment ‘Yes please’ and a winner will be picked at random.
Thanks in advance for entering!
**The winner will need to email me their address for me to pass on to the publisher**