As part of the featured author Q&A sessions, I am very pleased to announce that the featured author for the current session is Mary Grand, author of several bestsellers including the most recent Hidden Chapters.
Hi Mary, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi, I live on the Isle of Wight with my husband and cocker spaniel Pepper. My children are now off working. I was a teacher of Deaf children and was brought up in Cardiff in Wales.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? I want to write books which entertain, enthral, which tackle difficult subjects but don’t lecture, that have the reader turning the pages and at the end feel better about themselves and life.
So, what have you written? My debut novel was Free to Be Tegan, the story of a woman recovering from her upbringing in a psychologically abusive cult. It was partly based on my experience being raised in a strict religious sect. I then wrote a book of short stories Catching the Light which is a free download. I then wrote Hidden Chapters.
What is your most recent novel? Hidden Chapters, set on the Gower Peninsula in Wales. It is a story which explores motherhood, adoption and family secrets.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The central character is Catrin. She is fifty and at a crossroads in her life. Her marriage is in difficulties and then the birth mother of her adopted daughter arrives. She has secrets in her past which she must face before she can move on with her life.
What genre are your books? Woman’s Fiction / Contemporary Fiction
What draws you to this genre? I like to write about the issues women face, be they personal or family.
When did you decide to become a writer? A few years ago I attended a creative writing course. I had a great group and an inspiring teacher.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I always start the day walking the dog. After this I try to write for a few hours. Life then takes over and I write again in the afternoon when I can. The evenings I watch TV and /or spend time chatting to writers and readers on social media.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? This has never worked for me. I need to take time to plot and plan as well as write.
Where do your ideas come from? Setting often inspires me and then it might be an issue, such as mental health issues. I think that nature and the environment we are in can be inspiring and healing.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Both! I plot a lot, then write, find everything changes, then re-plot and so on!
How long on average does it take you to write a book? The first book took me a few years. Hidden chapters was about a year.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I am definitely much more aware of readers now. To be honest, when I wrote Free to Be Tegan I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read it. Well, fortunately they did and I have got to know so many people since. This has given more confidence and actually I feel free-er about what I write now.
Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I read a lot and like most people read different books for different reasons. When I am tired and life has been hard I read Agatha Christie and James Herriot to escape. I have really enjoyed discovering a whole new world of Indie writers. Writers who inspire me include Jodi Picoult, Adele Parks, Jill Mansell, Maeve Binchy, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austin and Joanna Trollope.
What is your favourite book and why? I am torn on this one. I guess it is The Rector’s Wife by Joanna Trollope. I still carry the main character in my head.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I would love to have her ability to describe a setting and atmosphere. It is an amazing story.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
1. Have courage and start writing, keep a diary, use the titles in short story competitions to inspire you.
2. Go on a good creative course, one where you will get individual feedback.
3. Create a world and characters that hold and inspire you; when you write a novel you are in a place with those characters a long time.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? I think this is such an exciting time to be a writer. Blogs like this and social media give writers the most wonderful opportunities to interact with readers and also to discover other writers and their worlds.
Catching the Light