Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with Giselle Green

I’m delighted to welcome Giselle Green to the blog today. Giselle was brought up in Gibraltar and then moved to London to study Science at University. She is mum to six boys (the youngest being twins) and lives in Kent. Her first published book was the non-fiction title The Writer’s Guide to the Zodiac. Her debut novel Pandora’s Box won the RNA New Writer’s Award in 2008 and her books have sold across Europe. You write with heartbreaking emotion, do you find it difficult to put your heart on the page?

I think my real breakthrough came when I learned to do precisely that. The trick with emotional scenes is to get yourself into the right ‘space’ in which to write them, get your thinking brain out of the way and just feel it. I imagine that’s how actors must work – I’ve always admired how unselfconscious great actors are in front of the camera; they’re not looking over their shoulder all the time, they are completely and utterly centred in the scene. They immerse themselves in it and it becomes real. I think the same holds true for writing as well. You are known as the English Jodi Picoult, what attracted you to this particular genre? Jodi writes about ethical dilemmas, and I tend to write about dilemmas of the heart. By that I mean my characters need to do some soul-searching, they need to really examine what feels right or wrong to them, even when their heads might be telling them something different. The characters are always put in a situation of huge conflict - the traditional ‘rock and a hard place’ - but the key thing that interests me is always the emotional catharsis that results from the testing situation.

When I listen to the news every day I often think it’s full of extraordinary events about ordinary people ... it’s about everyman and everywoman put into situations often beyond their control that bring out extraordinary qualities in them. I like to write about people who have been pushed right out of their comfort zone, who’ve been forced to take a stand or make a difficult choice, because whenever we make those kinds of choices, we’re making a statement about what we truly value, we’re learning about what gives meaning to our life.

Your books are often on the bestseller lists, what do you think is the secret of your success, your magic ingredient?

I think every writer’s own magic ingredient is their ‘voice’ – and what that voice is, is not some stylistic trait or signature, but the sum total of what that writer ‘says’ every time they open their mouths (or write a book). Your voice is the message you are sending out when you write, it’s what you stand for. It’s what will make all your books consistent and recognisable as coming from you. That’s why I never advocate anyone to write according to what the market says it ‘wants’ or to study any particular style or genre, because it’s what each writer has to offer that is unique to them that’s the most precious thing. When you write from the heart, there’s an easily-recognisable truth to that and I like to think that’s what my readers appreciate about my books.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

It depends why it’s just got tough. If I’ve been over-working then sometimes the only solution is to take some time off and go and do something else – a sunny afternoon beckons, or coffee with a friend. We are our own employers, so we have to treat ourselves kindly! However - if I’ve got to a space in the novel that I don’t want to write or don’t know HOW to write, then I usually find it helps to go and talk it over with someone. Either another writer, or my husband usually, who has become very good at helping me with how I think about things and hone in on the bit that is causing the discomfort. I often write scenes completely out of sequence – and then come back when I’ve psyched myself up to write the tough scene.

There were a lot of those tough scenes in my latest novel - FALLING FOR YOU. The scene where the hero Lawrence finally has to confront his brutal father was a point in hand - the confrontation between them was a smoking gun set at the beginning and I knew there was no way I could avoid it and that it would be tough! I wrote one short scene and kept coming back to it again and again until it eventually spanned three scenes, but I had to let myself feel the discomfort of those characters being in that space. You’ve got to be prepared to go into those dark places or the reader will feel cheated.

With the increasing popularity of e-books, how do you think digitisation has helped or changed your own career as a writer? Have you self-published anything? 

I’ve recently self-published my latest book – FALLING FOR YOU as an e-book, and it has done extraordinarily well. It reached number three in the kindle charts in January, which I assume was because my previous bestselling title A SISTER’S GIFT reached the number one kindle slot over Christmas. The best thing about bringing it out as an e-book was that I could do it all to my own timing – with huge family commitments, the one book a year contract with my publisher was something I found hard. I think the e-book phenomenon is totally revolutionising the publishing world just now. In a little while the boundaries may be reset by other factors but right now it’s an exciting time to be e-publishing.

Have you ever won or been short-listed for any awards and do you think they help with a writer’s success? 

My debut novel PANDORA’S BOX won the RNA New Writers’ Award in 2008. It was fabulous to be recognised by my peers, of course. My feeling is that awards and recognition of any sort in the writing world can generally only be of help to aspiring authors. Having said that, I don’t think it’s by any means essential – loads of books that have never won any awards will go on to sell in huge numbers simply because they are popular.

There are some thought-provoking answers there, Giselle. Now for some lighter questions. Do you work with the door locked? 

No. I need to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the rest of the house. I can’t just ignore the phone or the doorbell, unfortunately.

This is the view from your office, but where would you most like to escape to, to write?

A deserted island, in a hut by the beach somewhere sunny. I could go for long walks and enjoy the sea views every time I needed a break. A chef and a cleaner would be included in the package of course.

What was your favourite book as a child? 

Anything by Rosemary Sutcliff. Let’s go with Eagle of the Ninth. I also liked ‘Simon,’ set during the civil war.

If you could clone yourself, what job would you hand over? 

The never-ending taxi-ing to and fro of various of my sons!

If your book could be a movie, who would play the hero?

Tricky one, this. I’m not actually sure what my latest hero, Lawrence in FALLING FOR YOU actually looks like! The husband Richard in A SISTER’S GIFT could be played by Richard Armitage because he’d portray the right kind of old fashioned qualities (and no, before you ask - I didn’t nick his name from the actor).


A modern-day Romeo and Juliet with a twist, set over five days at Christmas. 18-yr old Rose’s life is devastated - as sole carer for her disabled father, her own dreams of pursuing a career or finding love are fast fading. In desperation, Rose borrows from pagan knowledge and casts a spell. 22-yr old Lawrence has been working as a paramedic in war-torn Sri Lanka. Compelled to return home, he’s suddenly a man on the run. Lawrence ends up sheltering near Rose’s family farm in Kent. When a fierce snowstorm traps Rose in the same isolated ruin for 48 hours, the two meet and fall in love - the beguilingly gentle and handsome Lawrence is everything Rose has dreamed of but why does he keep warning her away? As the opportunity to pursue her own dreams suddenly open up for Rose, she discovers just how far she is prepared to go to keep him. 

I know you are a busy lady so I thank you for finding the time to talk to us today, and wish you continuing success with your books. 

To find out more about Gizelle, you can check her out here: http://www.Gisellegreen.com

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk 


Lesley Cookman said...

Nice interview, Giselle and Freda. I well remember the party for Pandora's Box!

giselle green said...

Thanks Lesley! Yes we got the hottest day of the year...

Christina said...

Great interview, Giselle! Can't wait to read Falling For You - it's on my TBR pile.

Nicky Wells said...

Fabulous interview--it's always wonderful to look behind the scenes and to get to meet the author. Thanks for sharing your story, Giselle! Falling for you will be going on my wishlist...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Christina and Nicky! Good to 'meet' you too, Nicky !

The Pocketeers said...

People always advise writing from the heart - it's a difficult thing to do but you achieve it Giselle, with a lot of hard work and application. Good luck with your latest book! All the best Cara

Henriette said...

Fabulous interview, Giselle, and I "heard" your voice coming through in every word. I agree that writing a novel building on our own values is the best way to achieve consistency throughout, but it's probably also the hardest because it's so personal. Good luck with your new book.

giselle green said...

I actually found it very hard to learn to 'write from the heart' Cara, and I have to keep reminding myself that's what I'm doing every time I write, so I'm very glad when people like yourself appreciate it!

Henry - your comment made me smile! My cousin - who has known me since childhood - always says she can hear my voice in her head when she reads my books. As if I am reading it to her... just like we used to do when we were kids and I'd line my cousins up and read them my stories - lol!

Anonymous said...

Hi Giselle

Love the idea of your cousin "hearing" you read the story to her. Doesn't get much more personal than that :-).

I too remember the party for Pandora's Box and the rather chillier celebration for A Sister's Gift. (Well it was February!) I wonder how far the furthest balloon travelled?

All the best with Falling for You.

Susan Bergen said...

"Falling For You" is definitely on my To Read list. Enjoyed the interview, Gizelle.

giselle green said...

Hope you enjoy it Susan! Let me know how you get on...

Toni Sands said...

Great interview, Giselle and Freda, plus interesting comments about writing from the heart, something which I too have struggled with. I have 'A Writer's Guide to the Zodiac' on my bookshelf and hope to read 'Falling for You' soon.

giselle green said...

Thanks Toni! Hope that A Writer's Guide to the Zodiac proves useful to you, too!