Jera’s Jamboree is delighted to be the Lap of Honour on Leah Fleming’s blog tour.
I love the cover, just look at that wide expanse of blue sky and the blindingly white buildings.
The sun glaring off white hinders out eyesight so we can’t see properly … secrets! Love the analogy.
Thank you so much for asking me to chat to you about my writing life. It is one of the pleasures of being an author to have the chance to link up with readers so let me answer a few of your questions.
What inspired you to write?
I have always been inspired by the landscapes around me, industrial, rural and overseas.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
“The Girl Under The Olive Tree” was inspired by a true heroine of WWar 2. It tells the story of a British nurse who returns to the island of Crete in 2001 reliving her wartime experiences. Alongside a Jewish nurse she met in Athens, Penny finds herself stranded on Crete during the battles of 1941. Both hide with resistance fighters during the 4 years of occupation to face danger and separation. This emotional return is a holiday journey with a difference for an old woman with a secret past.
It’s been ten years in the making, born out of our very first visit to Crete and discovering its wartime history. Once I found out some of these true stories I was hooked. I have spent many months researching the story on this wonderful island which was no hardship after the cold dark Yorkshire winters.
Being a writer can be lonely. Do you have a support network?
Some novelists are naturally reclusive but I am not and I’ve found support and friendship among the members of the northern chapter of the Romantic Novelist’s Association. We meet about 8 times a year in a Yorkshire pub. I can honestly say those meetings have given me hope and fresh impetus when the going is tough. I’m also part of a trio of northern writers; Trisha Ashley and Elizabeth Gill who email each other daily about our writing efforts .We call ourselves , The 500 club.
Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?
When I started to write all I had were a few library books to guide me but I invested in a 5 day residential course at Lumb Bank with the Arvon Foundation. It was a great experience getting positive criticism and encouragement. I would recommend learning your craft with some help from experts.
What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?
I would suggest to beginning writers that you read work far better than your own, read around your chosen genre but read for fun and guidance and challenge too. The more you read the better you write and then you read with a different more critical eye. It is easy to get lazy and only read what’s needed for your next book.
Without the libraries as a child and even now, I could never have been a writer. I owe so much to the support of librarians and love meeting my readers all over the country. You start by writing for yourself and maybe friends but once you’re hooked into a big story, the urge to share that story with the wider world is a natural progression. Then begins the journey to find an agent and publisher as a new writer heads for take off…
Finally when you achieve publication, it makes sense to give your precious book the best of send offs. Budgets are tight these days so it is up to you to think of ways to promote yourself on line, in the press, among your community. I started with printed cards of the covers, giving talks or making a charity event into a public launch, talking to local radio can be fun too.
What are you working on now?
Now I am busy writing The Postcard, (out next year). It’s the story of four generations of a family who are linked by a mysterious postcard. I love exploring how secrets within families affect how they live out their lives especially when world wars intervene and separate them.
So thank you for inviting me here and good luck with your writing.
Thank you for sharing with us today Leah.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (17 Jan 2013)
May1941 and the island of Crete is invaded by paratroopers from the air. After a lengthy fight, thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers are forced to take to the hills or become escaping PoWs, sheltered by the Cretan villagers. Sixty years later, Lois West and her young son, Alex, invite feisty Great Aunt Pen to a special eighty-fifth birthday celebration on Crete, knowing she has not been back there since the war. Penelope George – formerly Giorgidiou – is reluctant to go but is persuaded by the fact it is the 60th anniversary of the Battle. It is time for her to return and make the journey she never thought she’d dare to. On the outward voyage from Athens, she relives her experiences in the city from her early years as a trainee nurse to those last dark days stranded on the island, the last female foreigner. When word spreads of her visit, and old Cretan friends and family come to greet her, Lois and Alex are caught up in her epic pilgrimage and the journey which leads her to a reunion with the friend she thought she had lost forever – and the truth behind a secret buried deep in the past…
The Girl Under the Olive Tree Blog Tour schedule
9-16 August 2013
Check out Leah’s blog summer tour – and hear about her new book, The Girl Under the Olive Tree, a gripping tale of love, friendship and betrayal in wartime Crete…
Visit these wonderful book blogs for interviews, guest posts and surprises galore! Links take you to the specific posts.
14 August Tales From the Reading Room http://litlove.wordpress.com/
Lap of honour
20 September Jera’s Jamboree
find more about Leah at www.leahfleming.co.uk @Leahlefleming @simonschusterpr