Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mary Grand to Chat About Books 🙂
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Thank you so much for inviting me along.
I grew up in Wales but I now live on the Isle of Wight with my family and cocker spaniel, Pepper. (There is usually a cocker spaniel somewhere in my stories!)
I write Woman’s Fiction, the central character is usually a woman at a decisive point in her life.
‘Free to Be Tegan’ is my debut novel about Tegan’s recovery from her upbringing in a cult. My second novel ‘Hidden Chapters’ is set on the spectacular Gower Peninsula and is about Catrin an adoptive mother of a Deaf child, Bethan, and their meeting with Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth. I have recently published my third novel ‘Behind the Smile’. This is about Lowri who moves to an idyllic village but soon finds that the smiles that greet her hide dark secrets. I have also published two short collections of short stories ‘Catching the Light’ and ‘Making Changes’. ‘Catching the Light’ is also available as an audio book.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The seeds of my ideas relate to my own experiences and places that are important to me. For example, Hidden Chapters was originally inspired by the mysterious island of Worm’s Head which is linked to Rhossili Bay by a causeway, a place I visited a lot as a child.
“ Behind the Smile” is set on Mottistone Down where I walk my dog .Not only is it incredibly beautiful but it has the ancient Longstone and an Elizabethan manor tucked in the woods behind it.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
In my first novel Free to Be Tegan the cult leader Daniel is partly inspired by some of the teachers within the sect where I was brought up in. I experienced how they used fear as a weapon of control. It was important to me that Tegan not only left the cult but developed an understanding of what had happened to her. Her confrontation with Daniel is a pivotal point in her story.
How do you pick your characters names?
I love choosing the names of my characters! I often research the meaning or the name but sometimes the name will just come to me and be right for that person. On a practical note, for the reader I try not to have two characters with names starting with the same initial.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Before I start writing I roughly plot my novel. I work on the main character arcs; research the topics and the setting. During the writing I re plot many times, and characters can change a great deal.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Lianne Moriarty, Victoria Hislop, Sarah Dunant, Joanna Trollope, and Agatha Christie.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would like to meet Sarah Dunant and talk to her about how she manages to seamlessly fold so much interesting research into her stories.
Were you a big reader as a child?
My dad took us to the library every Saturday, and from my parents example books became an integral part of my life. Despite being in a sect my parents were very liberal about what we were allowed to read. Books introduced me to a much richer, warmer world.
When did you start to write?
I started writing seriously about six years ago.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I would re write the end of Jane Eyre! It has to be one of my favourite books but I have never been comfortable with the treatment of the character of Bertha Rochester, “the madwoman in the attic”. She is described as a demon and locked away in a room. I hate her horrible, violent ending, with her jumping to her death. There has to be a better and more empathetic way to portray and treat this deeply unhappy and disturbed woman.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I would love to have her ability to describe a setting and atmosphere. It is an amazing story. Staggeringly beautiful.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Feeling the Fear but Doing it Anyway.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would invite a minor character such as Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice. I would like to understand her better; she seems a good woman and loyal friend and doesn’t really get much chance to talk about the way she feels. I would take her for afternoon tea at the Ritz.
What are you working on right now?
My new book is to be set here on the Isle of Wight. Its early days to share too much but it will be about a woman, Anya, who looses her husband suddenly and in mysterious circumstances.
Tell us about your last release?
I have recently published Behind the Smile. It is a dark family drama and explores what people are hiding behind a mask of fake smiles. The central character is Lowri and at the beginning of the novel we find her pregnant, facially scarred from a car accident, abandoned by her lover. She decides to reunite with her husband and move to the idyllic village of Elmstone on the Isle of Wight. Lowri is deeply unhappy but hides her feelings. She is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. Both appear to Lowri to have perfect lives. However she slowly discovers that Heather and Carina are also both living a lie, that behind their smiles lie secrets, addictions and an obsession that threatens to destroy her.
Do you have a new release due?
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
It is usually a very busy, emotional day. It is a nerve wracking day as you send your new book into the world and wait to see how readers will respond. I am very fortunate to be in touch with a lot of my readers on line, I love social media! I spend the day chatting, letting people know the book is out, and contacting groups I am involved with. There is then a flurry of replies and conversations rush around. There is normally a large glass of wine with family at the end of it!
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Grand/e/B00UEHEXMK
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Just to say a very big thank you Kerry for inviting me onto your blog. The work you do supporting writers is invaluable, thank you.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Mary 🙂
An emotionally charged, totally gripping story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night..
Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone.
Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village?
Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?
Free to Be Tegan
Catching the Light