Monday, March 21, 2011

Talking Inspiration with Gillian Phillip

Well my friends, today you are in for quite the treat! Gillian Phillips, a.k.a Gabriella Poole, is stopping by to share some inspiration with us.

If you haven't yet put her newest book, The Opposite of Amber, on your reading list you need to go now. It's truly amazing and I was happy to give it a glowing recommendation. You can see my review if you'd like!

I'll stop rambling now though. Gillian has the floor.

Favourite Places for Inspiration 

This is a topic close to my heart. For me, landscape has a huge effect on my writing, but that’s something I didn’t realise for a long time – twelve years, in fact.

Back in 1990 (not that I’ll admit to how old I was then), my husband had to go abroad to work, to Barbados. It sounds idyllic, and in many ways it was, but the one hitch was that I couldn’t get a work permit, and so I pretty much lived a life of idleness.

And that sounds idyllic too... especially for someone who had ambitions to be a writer. We even travelled out there on a ship called the MV Author, which should have counted as a sign from the gods. I had long lazy days, no kids for years, and, eventually, an electric typewriter. There was nothing to hold me back.

Except... I couldn’t. I did try. I wrote and rewrote three genre romances, none of which cut the mustard with Mills & Boon. I did write a lot of short stories, and sent them to magazines back in the UK which published them, but that wasn’t what I wanted to write. I wanted to immerse myself in a novel. And I had no excuses; I could have at least tried to write a nice fat saga in all that time.

Come to think of it, I did write a nice fat saga. It was so terrible I didn’t even send it anywhere.

It wasn’t until I had my twins in 2001 and we came home to Scotland that a couple of things clicked. One was the crucial matter of what I wanted to write: spending lots of time in the children’s department of bookshops introduced me to teen and YA novels, and I just loved them. I bought them, I devoured them, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to write them. I’d been barking up the wrong tree for years.

And secondly, the landscape of home just shouted stories at me. Not just the beautiful countryside where we came to live, and not just the wild Highlands of Scotland: it was everything. The cities, the small towns, the desolate coastlines and the dirty alleys. I found characters everywhere I looked, and the characters brought me their stories. Some were fantasies, some historical, some contemporary, some dystopian, but they were all vivid in my head and raring to be written.

There’s a valley right below our isolated house where I hid the murdered body of a bishop. There’s a street in Glasgow where I realised what had become of my vanished serial killer. Not far from me there’s a pretty seaside town, bleak in winter, where I found hidden secrets and lies that I wove into The Opposite of Amber. Having written Bad Faith, a murder mystery with a mostly rural setting, I wanted a change of scene, and so I went to visit my mother in Aberdeen city and walked the streets for hours – and that’s where the characters for Crossing The Line took shape in my head. I love walking, as so many writers do, because it seems to shake loose the stories that want to be told. Maybe the trouble is that I was too hot to walk in the tropics.

But maybe I was simply back in the right place. I loved Barbados, but it wasn’t where I belonged. It wasn’t where my stories were. Right now I’m looking out of my window at the snow falling in the valley. It’s cold here, but I don’t miss the sun, not really. I’m wondering if those flakes are covering another body, another mystery. Another story.

Thanks so much Gillian for stopping by! As I mentioned all, if you haven't already added The Opposite of Amber to your reading list you really should! I'll even make it easy for you. Enjoy!


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