Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-eighth, is of Juliet Greenwood.
Juliet Greenwood lives in a traditional Welsh cottage on a hillside halfway between the romantic Isle of Anglesey and the beautiful mountains and ruined castles of Snowdonia.
After studying English at Lancaster University and King’s College, London, Juliet worked in a variety of jobs, from running a craft stall at Covent Garden Market to teaching English.
She began writing seriously ten years ago, after a severe viral illness sent her from being fit and active to barely able to walk for several years, and left her struggling for even longer with M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was a horrible, frightening experience, but it also made Juliet look with very clear eyes at her life and what she wanted to do with it. When you have only enough physical and mental energy for an hour or so’s activity a day, what you do in that time is very precious – and it doesn’t half focus the mind.
Juliet is now well and back to dog walking and working in her beloved garden. She recently managed to walk to the top of Snowdon again (embarrassingly bursting into tears as she reached the top), and has become the proud owner of a small polytunnel, complete with a cutting from the Hampton Court vine. She lives in hope of grapes. Her dog lives in hope of more home-grown tomatoes. This is under severe discussion.
Juliet’s book ‘Eden’s Garden’ is her first full-length novel, and will be published by Honno Press in March 2012. Under her pen name ‘Heather Pardoe’, she writes stories and serials for magazines.
And I have two of them! (Driftwood Summer and Separate Lives – I’ll go and dig them out and read them… yes, it’s official I’m a nerd; I have an Excel spreadsheet of over 3,000 short stories!… “research” :)) And now from the author herself:
I never set out to write a time-slip.
When I began writing Eden’s Garden I knew there was an overgrown garden with mysterious statues that pointed to a mystery somewhere in the past, but I didn’t see it as anything other than a contemporary story.
I suppose I should have known. I love time-slip books, like Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden and I have always had a passion for Victorian novelists, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. In fact, when I first began writing seriously, it was as a historical novelist. I’ve got several family sagas set in Victorian and Edwardian times stashed away in a bottom drawer. Amongst my first publications were six ‘pocket novels’ – almost all of them rip-roaring historical adventures with crinolined heroines sailing away in hot air balloons or meeting dastardly spy-masters on the top of Snowdon for pistols at dawn.
But my most successful fiction had always been my magazine stories, which are almost always set in the present day, dealing with contemporary dilemmas and family crises. I really enjoyed writing my first published book, a short contemporary novel called Elissa’s Castle, and that seemed to settle it: Juliet Greenwood, contemporary novelist.
I was so convinced, that at first the voice from the past buzzing in my ears as I wrote Eden’s Garden was one I ignored. I was not writing a historical. After all, I reasoned, Eden’s Garden was my first ‘serious’ book and my days of crinolined daring-do were over. This Victorian woman, the rich, spoilt beauty standing destitute, at the turning point of choosing life or death on Westminster Bridge, was not the story I was writing. Yes, it was the story Carys, my contemporary heroine, was following to the coast of Cornwall in a journey of her own self-discovery. But it was not the story I was telling.
It was only when Honno said they were interested in the book, but it needed quite a bit of work, that the breakthrough came. When I met with my Editor, the wonderful Janet Thomas, she suggested that maybe that part of the story might be better told as it happens. The old ‘show, not tell’ scenario. It was like a light going on, big time. It was as if the wall of my resistance had been broken down – a wall I have to confess I’d put there myself to still the treacherous little voice that had been telling me that writing two intertwining stories of two young women, set a hundred years apart, was quite beyond me.
At that moment, Ann’s voice was finally freed from my cowardly inability to listen. I can still remember the extraordinary way in which her story fell into place as I drove home. Almost every scene appeared with utter clarity in my mind, and the next few months were spent in a total frenzy of writing them down.
And that was where all my experience with the historical novels and my magazine stories met, and became the time-slip that is Eden’s Garden. I’d always been told that nothing you ever write is wasted – even the bottom-of-the-drawer-forever stuff. Until Eden’s Garden, I’d never quite believed this was true. I believe it now.
Reviews for Juliet’s writing:
‘Eden’s Garden’ follows the intertwined stories of the Meredith family of Plas Eden, a dilapidated mansion with a collection of mysterious statues in its overgrown garden, and the servants who once served there. If you love ‘Downton Abbey’ and the novels of Kate Morton, this is the book for you!
‘It’s a great romantic read and also a very atmospheric, ingenious mystery.’ Margaret James, Writing Magazine
‘This powerful and moving story… held me gripped.’ Trisha Ashley
‘Beautiful writing and a charming, intriguing story.’ Sue Moorcroft
‘Juliet’s characters are so believable and richly drawn the reader really cares what happens to them…’ Anne Bennett
Eden’s Garden on Amazon (ebook edition will also be available from March 15th)
Juliet’s new website can be found soon at: http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk
You can find out more about Juliet and Eden’s Garden at her blog: http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com
You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
I bought Downton Abbey Series 1 only yesterday!
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with multi-genre author Sandra Yuen MacKay – the two hundred and eighty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (novels to follow on Amazon).