Welcome to my stop on Liz Treachers’ The Wrong Envelope blog tour with Love Books Tours 🙂
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Liz Treacher…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m a writer and a Creative Writing tutor. I’ve written two novels – ‘The Wrong Envelope’, and a sequel, ‘The Wrong Direction’, both published. They are set in 1920 and tell a light, witty tale of a romance between Bernard, a London artist and Evie, a Devon post lady. They use humour and irony to explore the years just after the First World War. Life was trying to return to normal but the shadow of the conflict still hung over everyone. I also work as an art photographer and I think that my love of images influences the way I write.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
A few years ago, I stumbled across a tiny suitcase belonging to my late grandmother. It was full of letters written to her by two soldiers during the First World War. I was fascinated by their tone and content and began to immerse myself in the way people communicated at that time. I wanted to write two novels that would explore letter writing, but I didn’t want to set them during the war itself. 1920 seemed a good year. Although the fighting was well and truly over, the effects were still being felt. Women found themselves in a very difficult position. They had possibly lost brothers or sweethearts at the front. Added to this, the jobs they had so competently covered during the war were being taken away again and given back to returning soldiers. I wanted to expose the problems people faced.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I don’t really base characters on people I know but places I know have a big influence on where my books are set. In my first novel, The Wrong Envelope I wanted to revisit the high-hedged Devon lanes I loved when I was younger, and a particular house which was quite dreamlike the way it sat, tall-chimneyed in a sunny garden. That house became High View, and Bernard Cavalier, artist and hero of The Wrong Envelope spends a summer there.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I tend to start with one name that I really like and then get the others to fit around it. My grandmother was called Phoebe, and I think it’s a lovely name and it felt suitably dated for a 1920s book so I gave that name to my favourite character, (Bernard’s romantic correspondent). Then I set about finding names that would go with it. Evie, the heroine was next. Originally, I called her best friend Crassie, but I didn’t like the ‘Cr’ sound so changed it to Cassie.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I try and write in the mornings because that’s when my brain works best (!) But the first half of the morning usually involves deleting or rewriting half of what I wrote the day before. Coffees are a must. Once I have an overall plan for a novel, I tend to write the ‘best’ bits first and leave the trickier scenes till last. (Tricky scenes need coffee and chocolate!) I always try and have a walk every day and if I’m stuck, I have a long walk and take my mobile so if I have any ideas I can dictate them while I remember. (That also works if I wake up with an idea in the middle of the night!)
I’m sure I’m not the first writer to say this but, once created, characters are hard to control. While I was editing The Wrong Envelope, rather than towing the line and cooperating with rewrites, the characters started whispering: ‘You don’t think that’s it do you? Surely you realise there’s more? And then they started telling me what happened next. So, as I was trying to finish the first book, they were already dictating the second.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
E M Forster
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would meet Shakespeare and ask him if he really wrote all those plays…
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes! I loved books. I could read a whole series, one after the other, like the ‘Anne of Avonlea’ books or ‘Little Women’ etc. I guess it’s like the equivalent of gorging on box-sets these days! I always felt cheated that the book stopped when the ‘happy ending’ was reached and I didn’t get to see what happened next!
When did you start to write?
I’d always written bits and bobs, short stories and poems, but never submitted anything for publication and I never embarked on a novel. Then about three years ago, when I was reading some letters my grandmother was sent during the First World War, I got an idea for a plot involving letters and that became The Wrong Envelope which was published in November 2017.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
That’s a really interesting question! When I read the end of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, (a book I loved) I was devastated and felt like writing to the author to complain! But then when I saw the film, which of course has a different ending, I realised that the book ending worked much better. So now I think that the first ending is probably the right one.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It’s wonderful in every way.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘Better late than never!’
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would invite Reta Winters, the mother and writer from the novel Unless by Carol Shields. I loved her honesty and her vulnerability and her fury. I’d take her to our local chocolate shop for what’s known as a ‘Mountain Mocha’ and talk to her about writing and being a Mum.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a darker, contemporary novel about a hapless commuter and a mysterious life-death coach. It explores the themes of family, relationships and our desperate search for fulfilment in life.
Tell us about your last release?
My last release was The Wrong Direction, the sequel to The Wrong Envelope. It’s about what happens after ‘the happy ending’.
Do you have a new release due?
Unfortunately, my current novel is still at the 99th draft stage…
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
When my second novel, The Wrong Direction was released as a paperback, I had a launch in my local bookstore, with my husband playing 1920s tunes on a piano. Then friends came home for tea and something stronger. It was 1 December and we sat by the wood-burning stove and talked for hours.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Liz 🙂
The Wrong Envelope
Summer 1920 and two different lives are about to collide.
Evie Brunton is a hard-working Devon post lady. She spins along country lanes on her bicycle, delivering letters from a heavy post bag. Bernard Cavalier is a lazy London artist. He swans around Mayfair, quaffing champagne with the smart set. So when Bernard is packed off to Devon to prepare for an important exhibition, and drops like a meteor into Evie’s sleepy village, there is bound to be trouble. Away from the distractions of London, Bernard is supposed to be painting, but the countryside has its own charms, in particular his young post lady…
Light and witty, and full of twists and turns, The Wrong Envelope captures the spirit of another age, when letters could change lives.
‘Evie is a splendid heroine. She thinks for herself and has a strong moral compass, but her fatal flaw is Bernard. He’s a blustering, impulsive yet endearing character, with a great deal to learn about life, and about Evie.’ – Alison Munro
happy reading 🙂