The Writing Life of: Mary Grand
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Mary Grand. Mary will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘Behind the Smile‘, which was released on 22nd March 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
I was born in Cardiff and have retained a deep love for my Welsh roots. I worked as a nursery teacher in London and later taught Deaf children in Croydon and Hastings.
I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I walk my cocker spaniel Pepper and write. I have two grown up children.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
I was obsessed with the Ladybird book ‘The Nurse’ as a child, and for years that is what I dreamed of doing. It’s not how life worked out, but it was what I dreamed of as a child.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
I read a lot of Enid Blyton books, including the Secret Seven series. I also loved Heidi by Johanna Spyri.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I only started writing about six years ago. I had been unwell and went on a creative writing course. The teacher was really inspiring, and I discovered a whole new world.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
My working day starts walking my cocker spaniel Pepper. We come home, have breakfast and then work begins. I usually go on social media first thing and then write for the morning until Pepper decides it’s time for a break… usually by putting his head firmly on the keyboard of my laptop. We go for a second walk and then I write some more.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I have written 3 novels and two anthologies of short stories.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot quite extensively, then write. At this point everything seems to change, and I plot again, then I write, then I re-write, re plot, and so it goes on!
Concerning your latest book:
Pages – 384
Release Date – 22nd March 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1980419488
Format – ebook, paperback
An emotionally charged, totally gripping story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night. Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain.
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone. Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village? Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love
amid the confusion and intrigue?
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
My research for Behind the Smile started with my walks with Pepper. We walk up on Mottistone down here on the Isle of Wight, an incredibly beautiful place. Up there you find an ancient Longstone, a solitary house, and an Elizabethan Manor. What more could you want as a setting for your story? The main character Lowri has facial scarring, and I spent a lot of time researching this, as well as online gambling and Venetian Masqued balls (a lot happens in the story!).
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Behind the Smile took about a year to write.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
That took quite some time, but when it did it was like a lightbulb moment. The idea of people hiding behind a smile is something that has always fascinated me and the more I wrote the story the more I knew it was the perfect title for the book.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Lowri, the main character, hides many feelings behind a fake smile. At the beginning of the novel we find her pregnant, facially scarred from a car accident, abandoned by her lover. She decides to reunite with her husband and move to the idyllic village of Elmstone on the Isle of Wight. She has a deep need for the approval; believes that people cannot love the real her. She pretends to be content with her life, settling for a man who does not love her and even creates a fake Facebook profile portraying a perfect life, a kind of virtual fake smile.
There are two main characters who Lowri meets on arrival in the village. One is Heather who appears to have a perfect life. However, she has a secret addiction, and no one knows the enormous financial debt she is getting the family into. Crisis forces the problem into the open, and Heather is faced with difficult choices if she is to find a way to recover.
The other character is Carina, a beautiful Italian woman living in the manor. Lowri slowly discovers Carina’s stunning smile hides darker obsessions.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I am self-published through Amazon. One day I would like to be traditionally published but there are a lot of exciting things about being self-published. I love having complete autonomy over my choice over my publication date, the cover, the layout. Through social media I have got to know many of my readers and a whole community of Indie writers.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I am working hard on the next novel. Like Behind the Smile it is set on the Isle of Wight. It is about Beth whose friend Kathleen dies in a tragic accident. Beth is convinced that this is connected to someone in their close circle of friends, but as she investigates, she uncovers layers of secrets and lies which make her rethink her own life and marriage as well as addressing the fundamental question of who, if anyone, can we trust.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
I think I’d like to be able to transport myself to anywhere I wanted to be. Living on an island is wonderful but it can be frustrating always relying on ferries to get to the ‘mainland’. I would love to be able to transport myself and visit who ever I wanted.
2) Do you have any pets?
I have a Blue Roan Cocker Spaniel named Pepper. He is gentle, loving, stubborn and my writing soul mate.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
‘Free to Be’ My home life as a child was a very happy one, but we belonged to a very strict religious sect. This upbringing is referenced in my first novel Free to Be Tegan. Like many sects and cults fear was used to manipulate and control us. They made the idea of living in the world, thinking for myself, so scary that they hoped I would never want to leave. I am so glad I am no longer part of that world; that I have broken free from their teachings and the constraints it put on me.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
A cameo role? Oh, that’s exciting. I would be an extra at the Masquerade ball, I have never been to one and would love to dress up and dance at the New Year’s Eve ball.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I think Gower in Wales is my favourite holiday destination. My second novel Hidden Chapters is set on Rhossili Bay and the island of Worm’s Head. The whole of Gower is magical, we went there when I was a child and have had wonderful holidays there with my own children and of course Pepper.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
When the duck walks in the room, the first thing he does is ask me a question ‘At what time do ducks wake up?’ Surprised not only that a duck has entered my room but that he can also talk I reply, ‘I have no idea, what time do ducks wake up?’ The duck grins and says, ‘at the quack of dawn.
I would like to say a big thank you to Mary Grand for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.