Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Gilli Allan
When the first flicker of the story which became ‘Fly or Fall’ sparked in my imagination, I was living in a nice house in Surrey, close to friends and family. My son attended a super primary school, my husband was in a good job and, to cap it all, I was a novelist.  My first book - Just Before Dawn - had recently been published, and my second - Desires and Dreams - was in the system. I’m a ‘panster’ style of writer. I’d begun to reflect on the opening of a new story that as yet had no title.  All I knew was that Nell married young because she’d become pregnant with twins.  Her husband, Trevor, is a teacher. They live with Nell’s invalid mother, in London. When the story opens, her mother has just died. Nell and her husband are faced with an unexpected change in their fortunes.  Trevor wants to move away, but Nell is haunted by a presentiment of disaster.

Then, in real life, my own mother died and my husband was head-hunted. Suddenly I was faced with exactly the same prospect that I’d envisaged for my heroine.  The new job was in Gloucestershire, a county neither my husband nor I had ever set foot in, let alone had connections to, but it was a good opportunity and I had a portable career. I put the book aside, planning to continue after we were settled. 

Even though  I’d  supported our relocation I found myself wading through all the emotions I’d only previously imagined for my heroine - loss, loneliness, disconnection and bereavement. Then, out of the blue, the demise of my publisher was added to the list. 

Over the years I’ve tinkered with this ‘book’ but it’s always gone back on the shelf.  I continued to write other stories, but everything I sent out, in my quest to find a new publisher, came winging back. But with the E-revolution I was at last able to add to my canon. I self-published TORN, and then LIFE CLASS, in 2011 and 2012. 

It was early in 2013, when I was wrestling with ideas for a new story, that I retrieved my abandoned book from its metaphorical shelf. As soon as I started to read it, not only did the title - FLY or FALL - leap out at me, but the rest of the story fell into place. It was great fun re-writing it, bringing it up-to-date and plaiting the threads into a satisfying conclusion.

Currently available in e-format only http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00EWSHCBQ, FLY or FALL - soon available in paperback.

My short story, Holiday Romance, which Katie Fforde badgered me into attempting  and is the first ss I’ve written since I was sixteen , is being published in February, 2014, in the e-edition of the RNA Anthology - Truly, Madly, Deeply.

I’ve recently produced the illustrations for the children’s book (provisionally titled The Tale of King Harald -The Last Viking Adventure) due to be published in the Spring of 2014 by The British Museum Press, to coincide with the Vikings exhibition.


She's not 'that kind of woman', but....

Now living in an unfamiliar landscape, Nell feels cast adrift.  Her husband is no longer the man she married; their young teenage twins are grumpy and difficult. The women she meets seem shallow and promiscuous. The new house is unwelcoming and needs modernisation.  Thrust into a continuing chaos of rubble, renovation and burly builders, she’s at first grateful and then resentful that one of these men, infamous as a local Lothario, doesn’t make a pass at her.
When Nell takes a bar job at the local sports club she begins to blossom and to become enthusiastic about her life. When she’s pursued by a beautiful and enigmatic young man, she’s tempted into behaviour she would never have previously imagined herself capable of. The foreshadowed upheaval, which began back in London as a tremor beneath her feet, rumbles into an earthquake.
FLY or FALL follows the dismantling of all of Nell’s certainties, her preconceptions and her moral code. Unwelcome truths about her friends, her husband, her teenage children and herself, are exposed.  Relationships are not what they appear. The hostility between brothers is finally explained. But by the autumn of 2013, the landscape of Nell’s life is transformed. She’s rebuilt herself as a different person, a braver person, and she’s embarked with optimism on a totally new life - a life that opens the door to love.

Gilli Allan

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today, Gilli. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes, Henri

Interviews on the RNA Blog are carried out by Freda, Henri and Livvie. They are for RNA members only. If you are interested in an interview, please contact: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk


Anonymous said...

Hi Gilli,
I enjoyed hearing the story behind Fly or Fall, Gilli, and can sympathise with your emotional upheaval. What a strange coincidence that life reflected art. On the positive side, at least you had a novel that grew out of your experience. And another plus note - at least you didn't have to contend with twins at the same time :) Best of luck with Fly or Fall!

Jill Barry said...

Thanks Henri and Gilli of course, for another interesting post. I wish you well with your latest book and, erm, take care with the next plot!


Cara Cooper said...

I often see or hear something in the news which mirrors a plot I have been working on so I guess it's not strange you should encounter one of your books turning into real life although a little spooky. Good luck with your new book and congrats on getting into the anthology.

Jenny Harper said...

Maybe you need to be careful what you write about, Gilli! Good luck with the book.

Unknown said...

Life Class was certainly great Gilli, I'm looking forward to more of your work and it'll be lovely to see your Vikings too. You're very talented! Lynne

Elizabeth Bailey said...

How scary, Gilli! but wonderful that the book is at last going to see the light of day. Good luck with it! Liz

Chris Stovell said...

And I'd read about you and your novels in the local paper and been inspired to keep going in my goal to be a published author! Thank you - I'm so glad we kept going! Wishing you every success with 'Fly or Fall'.

April Hardy said...

Funny how often life imitates art. I'm looking forward to reading this when it comes out in paperback, Gilli. Good luck with it.

Unknown said...

The muse is a very strange creature, but I have never heard of one actually requiring the author to live through the book. It seems we may all need to take heed. lol. Such a lovely story. I hope the book does well.

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Hello Gilli. This has happened to me a few times. After I have written something a similar situation happens in reality and it is a bit scary.I had written about a man being hurt with a bull (killed actually). The book was away being published and before it came out a man we knew was hurt, fortunately not killed.
I'm sure people would think that's where I had got the idea. I'm glad I am not the only one who writes too realistically.
Good luck and thanks to Henri for her work.

Gilli Allan said...

Good heavens! I'm absolutely delighted to find so many comments. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to come over to the blog, to read and to tell me so.

It really was a weird time of my life, and in a way my subsequent failure to find a new publisher allowed the experience to be more fully realised when I actually came to telling the story.

Nothing in life is ever wasted if you're a writer.

anne stenhouse said...

Hi Gilli, life can be so strange. I think stories that have simmered away below the surface of the brain are like really good gravy - unbeatable. Good luck with the book, Anne stenhouse

Unknown said...

Brilliant post Gilli, I love that you kept going back to the story over the years and now look it's a published novel. I wish you lots of sucess with your writing.

Helen xx

Gilli Allan said...

I like the gravy analogy, Anne, although I hope there's more than gravy - maybe a few dumplings and some juicy braising steak? - along with it.

Thanks again for comments, everyone. I really appreciate you taking the time. gx

Anna Jacobs said...

Very interesting blog, Gilli.

You should write a story about someone winning a lot of money!

Gilli Allan said...

Thanks Anna. Now that's a thought.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great background story, Gilli - so pleased to see all your work coming together!

Gilli Allan said...

Thanks for popping by, Rosemary.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for popping by, Rosemary.

Anonymous said...

I wish you lots of sucess with your writing.