Monday, 7 November 2016

#MondayMusing with Guest Author: G.J. Minett

A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).


I am delighted today to welcome Graham Minett to the blog and want to thank him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. I have recently purchased both of his books as they look like just my kind of thing. Oddly, I know the location settings of both books very well!

ONCE YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T FORGET

Ellen has received a life-changing inheritance. If only she knew who had left it to her . . . 


1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she's invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman's will, she's far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There's just one problem - Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash. 

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .

A powerful and suspenseful tale that has been compared to Val McDermid and Liane Moriarty




A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect... 

Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back - and what's more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called - and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit - not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

Owen's always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems - least of all Owen Hall...

A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott.


My Interview with Graham:

1.      When did you begin writing? Is it something you’ve always done or something you’ve fallen into?

I’ve written since childhood really. My earliest memory is of a piece of homework which our teacher in the top primary class set for us. She asked us to write a short story and gave us two nights to produce it and mine bore a startling and entirely coincidental resemblance to a TV series that was on at the time about a race to reach the summit of some mountain or other. When we came into school after the first night everyone was talking about the fact that I’d done 5 sides (!!!!) until Robert Williams – are you out there Robert? – came strolling in and said he’d done 7 sides. So I promptly went home that night and made sure mine was 11 sides by the time I handed it in and Miss Yabsley was thrilled that I’d put so much time and effort into it. If I ever kid myself about the reasons why I write I only need to remember that. I’m sure there are authors who genuinely feel they write because they have to, because it defines them, because they can’t conceive of doing anything else. You do have to wonder though whether just a small part of their motivation isn’t the desire for approval. I want to marry anyone who gives me a 5* review and suffer huge confidence crises when someone doesn’t like what I’ve written so I don’t think I can fool myself.

I’ve written pretty steadily since then and was nearly published when I was in my 20s – Darley Anderson spent a year trying to place a novel called One Degree Under which was very noble of him under the circumstances because it really wasn’t very good. Then I sort of played at writing for far too long, using family, relationships, work etc as excuses for not really putting myself to the test. It wasn’t until I did the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester that I finally knuckled down and gave it the level of priority it requires.

2.      Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

From characters – they come first and the plot grows out of them rather than the other way round. With my debut novel, The Hidden Legacy, I carried Ellen around with me for months until I knew her inside out. Then it was merely a question of identifying her weakness, coming up with a situation that would most put her to the test and the plot developed from there. I did the same with Owen Hall in Lie In Wait and part of the problem I’ve had with getting to grips with book 3 has been the fact that I came up with a storyline that appealed to me but no real character in mind. I now have the character and as Billy Orr has developed, so the plot has altered slightly to fit in with him. I’m comfortable with it now and know where to go from here.

3.      What is the strangest thing you have ever researched for your writing?

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had to do a great deal of research for either The Hidden Legacy or Lie In Wait. I knew the locations of both well as I was brought up in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds and have spent the past 40 years or so in the Chichester/Bognor area so all I really needed to do was look into things such as how young offenders were treated by the media in the 60s and 70s and also check out minor details like the role of the Appropriate Adult when dealing with a vulnerable suspect.

It’s different for book 3 though because I’ll be dealing with two areas I’ve visited and researched rather than lived in. One is East Sussex around the Rye, Winchelsea and Camber Sands area. The other is a fantastic place called Peak’s Island, a 15 minute ferry ride off the coast of Portland, Maine. Not saying anything more than that for now.

4.      Which writers do you admire or would recommend?

My favourite author of all time would be William Faulkner but I’m not sure I’d recommend him as he’s far from an easy read. I just think he was a genius though at bringing characters to life and Benjy in The Sound And The Fury brings tears to my eyes every time I read it (every 4 years or so!)

Nowadays though I worship at the feet of Maggie O’Farrell and Kate Atkinson. Fortunately I have enough self-awareness about me to avoid the trap of trying to imitate them because I wouldn’t come near but the absolute dream has for some time been to sit down with the pair of them and talk about writing . . . or anything really. They set the bar very high indeed and, if you haven’t yet read any of their novels, I envy you because you have such a wonderful time ahead of you. Start with The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and A God In Ruins. Absolute quality!

5.      What can we expect from you next?

Planning for Book 3 is underway at last. It’s a couple of months behind schedule to be honest, not just because I still have a job that takes up a lot of my time at certain points of the year but also because I’ve been taken by surprise – mugged really – by the demands that having a new novel out can place on you as a writer. Social media, blogs, personal appearances, promotional work – they all gang up on you and deny you the opportunity to identify blocks of time which can be used for writing. I’ll catch up though. The first draft is due to reach my editor in April and I imagine that means it will come out in the autumn of next year although nothing is set in stone as yet.

The working title is What She Does but that means very little, as I’ve discovered with books one and two which both had their provisional titles altered once the sales/publicity people started to really get moving. It’s about a pile of clothes found on the beach, the presumed suicide of a young woman which may be nothing of the sort and Billy Orr’s desperate need to find a version of the past that he can live with. Bit of a tease but I can’t say anything more than that without giving too much away.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer these questions – thoroughly enjoyed it.


Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him contracts not only with Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency but also Twenty7, part of the Bonnier publishing group.

The Hidden Legacy is his first novel and his second, Lie In Wait, was published as an eBook in August 2016 with a paperback version to follow in March 2017. He is at present planning his third and is still working at the Angmering School.

He lives in West Sussex with his wife and children but retains close links with Cheltenham, where the rest of his family live.



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