#BlogTour @urbanebooks 12 Days Of Christmas. Q&A with @ggaffa David Gaffney #Author of, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived

9781911331063
All The Places I’ve Ever Lived by David Gaffney
Synopsis:

Part murder ballad, part ghost story, part true crime, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived takes you on a gripping journey from the small-town murder of a teenage girl in the 1970s to the recent real-life shootings in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. Are the crimes linked? Fifteen-year-old Barry Dyer may have the answers, but when events impact so horrifically on a town and its people, it always pays to tread carefully when revealing the truth…

Quirky, disturbing, and haunting, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived is a moving and tender exploration of a teenage outsider in a small community, as well as being a finely wrought portrayal of the neglected industrial settlements of West Cumbria, where nuclear plants, thermometer factories and chemical works contrast vividly with the desolate beauty of the Lake District.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I grew up in a remote part of the north of England called west cumbria where not much happens and hardly anyone goes. It’s not the lake district. And it’s not touristy or developed for visitors – no tea shops or scented candle emporiums It’s a bit grim and industrial to be honest. There is a big nuclear plant on the coast and some old iron ore mines and lots of other old defunct factories dotted about. But I really like it.

I always think that being brought up there formed my desire to write and tell stories about being on the edge, being outside of things, being different. So this book began as way of talking about Cleator Moor, the town where I was brought up, and trying to explain what it was like as a teenager to live in the middle of nowhere, in a place no one has heard of. But as well as this, I wanted to explore something else. When I was young I developed a skin condition called psoriasis which although it is quite common and harmless, it was quite debilitating for a teenage to have something disfiguring like that all over your skin when you are going through adolescence, and it had a big psychological effect on me, which I also think informed my being drawn into creative pursuits like music and writing.

I also discovered that other writers and creative people suffered from psoriasis too – John Updike, Dennis Potter, Ben Elton, Tom Waits, Gordon Lish (Raymond Carver’s editor) Art Garfunkel – even Nabakov apparently. I was in great company I thought – although they do say Stalin had it as well.

So I began to write about the psoriasis. However, I didn’t want the main character to be a sad little victim, moaning all the time about his poor skin, how special he was, and isn’t life awful. So I turned the skin condition into a kind supernatural thing – a covering of metal studs – which linked him to a sexy ghost and made him able to travel through time. I wanted his skin condition to be more like a superpower than a disability. And that’s how the books works. It links two crimes together over a period of thirty years – the murder of a teenage girl in Cleator Moor in the seventies and the multiple shootings by a taxi driver in west cumbria in 2010 who killed13 people including himself.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The book began as a very short novella but my agent at the time felt it could be improved by adding more detail about life in the town in the 1970s. And if it were longer, he said, it was likely to be be more successful. I agreed to write more and I added a further 20k words to the total, including more scenes at the boy’s school, scenes in the local church, a scene with a priest, a scene where they run away and sleep in a barn, and in general more texture and detail. It seems from feedback that people do really like these extra sections and so it turned out to have been a good move to extend the middle of the book in that way. I normally write very short stories (flash fiction) and I have a tendency towards the minimalist. But when writing a novel I feel there is a need to create a fuller world that readers can immerse themselves in, enable them to wallow in the reality of it. I think that more texture and detail about the world you are creating really helps. It feels like the budget on a film being increased so that there are more locations, more extras, more background action, and more believable props and costumes. I realised that with a novel, money is no object, so it isn’t necessary to have the same boy repeatedly cycling past on a chopper bike in the background to remind us we are in the seventies; we can have a cast of thousands. So, after that rewrite, I then sent the book to Urbane and they agreed to put it out. Mathew at Urbane has been just great. He worked closely with me on the cover which we were both really pleased with, and then he took the whole thing to market in a really clever way. It hasn’t been an easy sell because the mass shootings which the book focusses around were very recent, so many media outlets just haven’t felt able to discuss it.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I am a massive fan of Magnus Mills so would recommend everything by him

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I’d like to say that the first book that really got me interested in writing was something like Camus or Beckett. But it was actually Billy Liar a novel by Keith Waterhouse which I read and re-read when I was very young and it always made a big impression. Before that I thought all novels were Victorian and set in London and all about people of wealth; this story of a working class lad in Yorkshire made me realise what writing could do

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s seeing someone on a train or in a shop picking up your book and watching their face as they read a little bit. Its not always a good expression I have to say.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) I am part of a writing group ann all the members encouraged me and gave me detailed critical feedback on the work as it was in progress – so thanks to Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Butler, Sarah- Clare Conlon and Adrian Slatcher for all their help

David Gaffney, writer
David Gaffney
Authors Links:
Website: http://www.davidgaffney.org.uk
Twitter: @ggaffa

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #Location Tall Chimneys by @Alliescribbler Allie Cresswell @rararesources

Tall Chimneys - Cover image
Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell
Synopsis:

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.
Publication Date: 12th December 2017

Guest post:

Location
There is nothing better than a book with an evocative, tangible setting. What would Wuthering Heights be without the brooding moor? What a loss the teeming streets of London and the busy banks of the Thames would be to Dickens’ novels. Anthony Trollope is the master of fictional geography. His imaginary county Barsetshire takes on a life on its own in his novels.

I think location should be authentic. If a writer sets his novel in Dallas he needs to know the geography, the street lay-out, the whereabouts of the rail terminus and the police station. You can be sure, if he gets it wrong, a reader will point it out to him, and rightly so. If readers are to engage with our stories we must make them believable. Similarly, if a writer uses an imaginary setting, that, too, must be plausible and consistent, so that readers can immerse themselves in it. Any wrong note will jar, and break the spell. I don’t know if you recall the film Somewhere in Time? A man literally wills himself back in time seventy or so years, transporting himself bodily through the power of his mind, but the discovery of a modern coin in his pocket breaks his concentration and he is yanked back to the present. This is not an experience we writers want for our readers!

Location should also be dynamic – it must exert an influence on the plot and the characters, or else, what is the point of it? It must be much more than a flat and immutable canvas. It must breathe and ripple and play a part. I might almost say it should be a character itself – changing, developing, vital, unpredicatable.

Location plays a large part in my latest novel, Tall Chimneys. It is set in Yorkshire, in a rural community hemmed in by moor. It is a beautiful setting, very painterly, and I introduced an artist, John Cressing, to render its colours and textures. The house itself is located in a peculiar depression in the moor, a sort of crater, surrounded by trees and invisible to the passer by. I wanted a sense of seclusion, for it to be outside of modern progress and almost outside of time itself. I hoped the house and the woman would be in a sort of vacuum, their close kinship fermented by their utter isolation. But I found the amphitheatre-like setting did occasionally echo with strains of the modern world – I couldn’t keep it out entirely. So the rise of the Fascists in the 1930s, the abdication crisis and WW2 do find their way to Tall Chimneys. The house is a shelter to the woman but it is also a huge burden of responsibility. At one point she asks herself if it is a refuge or a prison.

I have always been fascinated by houses and I wanted Tall Chimneys to have a vivid presence in the book, to be a character itself. It exerts a strange influence on Evelyn, my protagonist. In another of my books, Relative Strangers, a dysfunctional family spends a week at a country house and it acts as a crucible for all their resentments and misplaced loyalties. With all its many rooms and labyrinthine passageways, there is nowhere to hide and the family’s secrets come spilling out with tragic results. In The Hoarder’s Widow, a woman has become almost imprisoned in her house, fenced in by the towering piles of furniture and rubbish accumulated by her compulsive hoarder husband. In each case, the location of the stories – the houses and their surrounding environments – are authentic – I drew out their floorplans and gardens and localities so that I would be sure to be consistent. Each plays a part in the plots, influencing events, so they are dynamic too. I hope each is more than just bricks and mortar in the readers’ minds. I hope, like every good location, they reach out and grab the imagination, and draw the reader in.

Tall Chimneys - Allie Cresswell
Allie Cresswell
Author Bio
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Author links:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/
Website – http://allie-cresswell.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alliescribbler

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