Today I’m pleased to welcome Carol Lovekin to the blog. Carol is the author of Ghostbird and her latest novel Snow Sisters was published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press on 21 September 2017.
Carol kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Snow Sisters.
Verity and Meredith live with their eccentric mother in their grandmother’s old house overlooking a remote beach on the west Wales coast. When Meredith discovers an old sewing box, she wakes up the ghost of Angharad, a child-woman harbouring a terrible secret. One hundred years separate the ghost and the girl who, when Angharad begins telling her tragic story, decides to believe in her. As well as being a ghost story, Snow Sisters is a tale rooted in family relationships and the ties that bind – sisters, mothers and daughters – and how they can be become entangled in heartache and sorrow.
2. What inspired the book?
Meredith was a left-over character from a story I abandoned several years ago. She stayed with me and wouldn’t let go. Snow Sisters evolved from Meredith: a feisty, funny, contrary girl I knew I still wanted to write about. And I fancied a more Gothic-inspired ghost too. Add this to a desire to write about snow and the pieces came together, and I had the outline of the book.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Once I have the bones I become a dedicated planner. I have to know everything: beginning, middle and end. When I start writing, it’s anyone’s guess where my characters – and the narrative – will take me. Having the detailed outline is essential though. If I get lost in the wordy wood (and in case the bag with the breadcrumbs bursts) I can return to the outline and centre myself.
4. Having been through the publishing process a couple of times is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
Everything about the process surprises me, Janet! Even the aspects I’m now au fait with. I continue to be amazed by the professionalism of the team at Honno who go above and beyond in their pursuit of a quality product. But it’s the editing process, above all, that still has the ability to surprise me. The way a professional editor can take apart your best endeavour and still find more. And the moment you hold a copy of an actual physical book in your hands is hard to beat.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’m not one of those writers who stops reading when she’s writing a book. I don’t subscribe to the notion that you risk contaminating your own voice if you read other authors. If your voice is strong enough it ought to be able to resist being influenced. I read every day – it’s my major form of relaxation. And I swim – swimming underwater is the coolest thing ever. It’s another form of relaxation and the best exercise too.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Wow! Now that is a question! It’s a choice between Jane Eyre and To Kill a Mockingbird. Ideally it would be something by Virginia Woolf – who I admire beyond rubies – but goodness me, she had a thing about paragraphs (the lack thereof!) I’d go blind if all I had to read for the rest of my life was Mrs Dalloway – marvellous though it is.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Which in itself is an interesting question! No one has ever asked me “Why did it take you so long to get serious about your writing?” The answer is deeply personal; suffice it to say, I decided it was time to take control of my life and do what I was meant to do: write the stories caught in the cracks between the chaos. It has been a joyful, healing process and it’s nice to have the opportunity to say so.
Thanks very much for answering my questions and for appearing on my blog.
It’s been a genuine pleasure, Janet. Thank you for having me.
About the book
Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad, the girl who cannot leave…
Verity and Meredith Pryce live with their fragile mother, Allegra in an old house overlooking the west Wales coast. Gull House is their haven. It also groans with the weight of its dark past. When Meredith discovers an old sewing box in a disused attic and a collection of handstitched red flannel hearts, she unwittingly wakes up the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman harbouring a horrific secret. As Angharad gradually reveals her story to Meredith, her more pragmatic sister remains sceptical until Verity sees the ghost for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm. Forced by Allegra to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles. Still haunted by Angharad and her unfinished story, hurt by what she sees as Verity’s acquiescence to their mother’s selfishness, Meredith drifts into a world of her own. And Verity isn’t sure she will be able to save her…
About the author
Carol Lovekin was born in Warwickshire. She has Irish blood and a Welsh heart, and has lived in mid Wales for 36 years. She has worked as a cleaner, a freelance journalist, a counsellor, a legal secretary and a shop assistant. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties, has published short stories, reviews and is a prolific letter writer. She has been blogging for over nine years. Ghostbird is her first traditionally published novel.