Today on the RNA blog we are thrilled to have Karen King interviewing author Juliet Greenwood about her writing life and latest novel The White Camellia. Huge thanks to Karen for asking so many interesting questions and to Juliet for allowing us to take a glimpse into her world.
Your new book, The White Camellia, is published today, 15th September. Can you tell us something about it?
The novel is set around a ladies’ tearoom in Covent Garden in 1909 called ‘The White Camellia’, and a dilapidated old mansion in Cornwall. It’s about a woman who has taken the perfect revenge on the family who destroyed her own – but revenge is never that simple, and now she must find a way of living with herself and the consequences of what she has done. There’s love, mystery and danger, and a Cornish mine promising riches, but with a terrible secret held in its depths…
Definitely the revolutionary role of ladies’ tearooms in the fight not only for the vote, but also for so many of the rights for education, work and independence that we take for granted – and the freedom they gave by providing the first public loos for women! (it really is the little things that count)
How much planning do you do before you start to write?
My stories always contain a mystery, with plenty of twists and turns, and intertwined lives along the way. They are also set against a historical background, so I need to make sure the story doesn’t clash with any historical events. This means I need to do quite a bit of planning before I start. But I don’t like to be rigid, because so much can change once the characters start to take on a life of their own, and so many new possibilities appear. I also don’t want anyone to guess – so I stay open to any fiendish twists that might appear!
When I first start a book, I start long-hand for the first few pages. It’s my way of finding myself in. It means I don’t go in cold when I start on the computer – there’s nothing like the stare of the blank screen! Once I start, however, I type straight onto my ancient Mac laptop, which I love, and is far too creaky for anything else. I save everything in a paranoid fashion, I’m terrifying of every machine I own crashing. I write straight through the first draft without stopping. Characters appear out of thin air, vanish, and change sex with abandon. It’s getting the bones down and getting to know the characters – there are always several further drafts to go until the story goes to my editor, and the final refining work begins.
I think agents are very important. They negotiate with the market, have their fingers on the pulse, and are also the first line of the editing process. When you are starting out, however, there are plenty of magazines and publishers who don’t require an agent, which is a good way of developing yourself as a writer, finding your niche, and giving yourself a chance to become an attractive client. Most writers are in this for the long haul, very few are an instant success. Like wine, the mature ones are the best!
Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?
I love Facebook for the friendships and the sense of community, and because I’m always taking plenty of photographs it great to share. At the same time I enjoy the quick-fire conversations of Twitter, which can be great fun, and I find it’s possible to have a much wider reach – very important when you have a small publisher.
How do you relax when not writing?
I live amongst the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia, so I love walking my dog in the hills and on the beaches – and meeting friends for afternoon tea within the shadow of a medieval castle or so, of course! I also have a large garden, with a polytunnel holding a grapevine. I love gardening – and also letting it grow wild and sitting amongst the lavender, deep in a book.
What’s next for author, Juliet Greenwood?
I’m finishing my next book, set in the grimy underworld of Victorian London, and there’s also another brewing, so there’s lots of exciting research planned – but that’s top secret!
Watch this space …
1909. Cornwall. Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart?
Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse? When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tressillion’s long buried secrets.
About Juliet Greenwood
Juliet Greenwood is a UK historical novelist published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Cornwall, London and Wales in Victorian and Edwardian times, reaching #4 in the UK Amazon Kindle store. Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia and has a passion for history, in particular the experiences of women, which are often overlooked or forgotten. She loves gardening and walking, and exploring the upstairs and downstairs of old country houses.
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us here on the RNA blog. It is always fascinating to peek into the lives of fellow writers and here about their work. Good luck with The White Camelia!
About our interviewer Karen King
Karen writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. She also writes YA and children’s books and is a writing tutor.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.
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This post was set up by Virginia Heath