Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview with bestselling author Lesley Pearse

I’m delighted to welcome bestselling author Lesley Pearse to the Blog today. Lesley is one of the UK's best-loved novelists with fans across the globe and sales of over 7 million copies of her books to date. And a loyal member of the RNA. Please do tell us a little of your journey as a writer. Would you say it was an easy one?

My journey as a writer was a long and tortuous one. I wrote 3 books before 'Georgia', all of which were huge tomes, and pretty dire. I came up with the idea for Georgia after being told by Darley Anderson, now my agent, that I could write but the one he'd seen was rubbish and I was to go home and write about something I knew.
My second husband was in a rock band during the 60's, so I knew about struggling musicians, so this seemed to be a perfect choice of subject. I finished it in 6 months but it was 6 years, after many rejections and re-writes before it was finally accepted for publication. I was 35 when I first began writing, 48 when finally published, thought there were lots of short stories during that long period.

You are a hugely successful author yet your stories do not fit into an exact genre as they include traditional sagas, historical, contemporary and crime. What elements would you say you bring to each which makes them so popular? 

It is a fact that my books do not fit an exact genre. But whether saga's, historical, contemporary or crime they do tend to have a common link in that my heroines have troubled or difficult childhoods. That is maybe what appeals to my readers, or perhaps it’s just that I take them on an exciting and sometimes dangerous journey, to arrive at a safe haven at the end.

As a fan of your books one of my favourites is TRUST ME where you write about child migrants sent to Australia without their parents’ knowledge. Damaged childhoods does seem to be a theme close to your heart, why is that?

Yes, damaged childhoods are close to my heart because I had one. I know how it feels to be sad, unloved, a bit of a reject. I got over it and if I can help a few people to get over theirs too, then that makes me happy

Tell us something of your daily routine and writing schedule. Do you have an office where you hideaway to write, or can you write anywhere? 

These days I find I can only write at my desk in my office, with silence and no one but my dogs around. But I started out at the dining room table with the children underneath it playing with dolls and Lego. Dogs are good writing companions, they don't ask when you are going to make the tea, iron a shirt, or look over your shoulder. I walk them first in the morning and then sit down to write.

Sunny days I work in the garden, but I always write best in the evenings, often until the early hours. Would you say writing gets easier with success, or more difficult? The craft of writing becomes easier with practice, but success does have its own problems, namely that I am always worried my readers won't like the next one. I live in fear of people saying 'I used to like her books but she's gone off the boil.'

I know you’ve suffered rejections yourself in your early years, as do we all. What tips would you give an aspiring writer on dealing with these?

When I got rejected, and I did hundreds of times, I would throw the letter across the room in anger, then pick it up later and look for shreds of hope in it. As in 'This is rubbish but you can write'. But I was always stoic about them, as soon as the m/s had gone to a new publisher I could indulge in happy day dreams of a good outcome. I lived on those dreams for so long, I became a master.

Tell us how you relax? What interests do you have other than writing? 

I am not terribly good at relaxing. My passion is gardening, and it goes well with writing. I like DIY, sewing, reading and walking my dogs in the woods gives me time to think. I also like throwing parties, and that's about the only time I cook these days.

When you start on a new novel which comes first: plot, place or character?

It can be any way round. A place often gives me the idea for a plot. A plot suggests a type of character. I don't think I've ever thought of the main character first. One of the reasons I love doing historical books is that you have a readymade framework in which to put characters and find a plot.

Your latest book: The Promise, sounds like another must read. What inspired you to write it?

I was inspired to write THE PROMISE purely because I loved Belle so much I felt unable to let her go. Her time frame fitted in very well with WW1 and as I love writing about war, and men in uniform this was a bonus! But Belle herself was the inspiration.

On the outbreak of war, Belle Reilly's husband Jimmy enlists and heads for the deadly trenches of northern France. But Belle knows she cannot stand idly by when so many are sacrificing their lives. 

Volunteering to help battlefield wounded, Belle is posted to France as a Red Cross ambulance driver. There, a tragic accident brings her face to face with Etienne - a man from her past she's never quite forgotten. 

Torn between forbidden passion, loyalty and love, Belle is caught in an impossible situation. Will she succumb to the dark forces of this most brutal of wars? Or will fate intervene and finally lead her to lasting happiness?  

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today Lesley, as I know that you are a very busy lady. I’m sure our readers will be inspired to hear of your struggles and how you never gave up. We wish you continuing success in the years to come. 
Best wishes, 
You can find out more by visiting Lesley’s website.
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


Jan Jones said...

Lovely interview!

Rachel Brimble said...

As always, Lesley is an inspiration - and of course, writes the most unforgettable books :)

Rachel x

Unknown said...

A lovely interview. I just wish there had been more pictures of Lesley's beautiful garden (I've seen some on Twitter). :)

I love Lesley's books but I think my favourite is TRUST ME.

Gilli Allan said...

Fantastic interview, Lesley. You are an ispiration to us all.

Evonne Wareham said...

If you ever get the chance to hear Lesley speak about her life and her writing, grab it - I spent an enthralling hour listening to her at The Big Read in Newport last year.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Thanks for the great interview and fabulous pictures of your garden and study.

Susan Bergen said...

An inspiring story, Lesley.

Anna Jacobs said...

I enjoyed reading about your journey to publication, Lesley. It rang a lot of bells with my own journey. The perseverance factor is so important.

Love your garden. It looks beautiful.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

What an encouraging interview, thank you, Lesley. It's good to know that even such successful authors had to persevere so much first! Lovely photos.

R F Long said...

A fascinating interview. And I'm very jealous of your study and your garden!