|Gilli Allan - Author|
Gilli: Thank you very much for having me. It’s great to be here to share my new cover for BURIED TREASURE.
Hello Gilli – It’s lovely to have you as a guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat and I’m so pleased to be given a chance to unearth some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your book Buried Treasure, (with a fabulous NEW cover design), here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: Are there any organisations, writing, or reader groups, you belong to? And, how do they support or help you in creating such wonderful, inspirational novels?
Gilli: The only writers’ organisation I’ve ever belonged to is the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I can’t recall precisely when I joined but it had to be around 1990. At the time I was published, but my publisher had gone out of business. I had also recently moved to a part of the country I’d never even visited before house-hunting, and my mother had died – a concatenation of circumstances which had made me feel both isolated and dislocated (in both its literal and metaphorical sense).
A woman doing market research turned up at my door and I asked her in for a cup of tea. (I must have been desperate!) When she began to go through the questions with me, the first was about my employment status and earnings. I laughed and told her I was writer. It turned out she was a writer too! I’m afraid I no longer recall her name, but she was a member of the RNA (specifically its New Writers Scheme) and urged me to join. Needless to say, although I did complete the Market Research questionnaire, the majority of our conversation was about writing and the difficulties of doing so in a bubble, having no one who really understood and with whom to share the highs and lows.
I joined the RNA almost immediately. I was never able to benefit from the New Writers Scheme of course, and intermittently over the years, I campaigned - not very seriously - for a ‘Published Writers Currently Lost in the Wilderness Scheme’. In the RNA I found friendship, support and an interface between writers and the business end of publishing. And, perhaps more importantly, the sense of being serious and professional about my craft, rather than engaging in a weird pastime that only brought me angst and frustration. Sadly, I lost touch with the woman who had steered me towards the RNA, and I only saw her once or twice thereafter at RNA gatherings.
Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Gilli: I do the majority of ‘pleasure’ reading in bed. I feel oddly guilty reading for enjoyment during the day! It has to be a very special and gripping read to become a ‘downstairs’ book. If I can justify it to myself because the weather is good, I will also read in the garden (and on holiday of course). Even in the shade I have never found it comfortable to use a computer of any kind outside when the sun is out, and I have experimented with boxes etc. but it just doesn’t work for me. Luckily, I have the earliest incarnation of the Kindle which has the paper-white screen. Reading for research can happen anywhere and at any time
Arabella: In your latest release, Buried Treasure, who is your favourite character and why?
Gilli: That is such a hard question to answer. I could say I am equally fond of both my principal characters in BURIED TREASURE. At the beginning of the story, neither are depicted in their best light. Reviewers have called Jane Smith spiky and Theo Tyler remote. It’s true. Neither of them is easy-going and relaxed. Neither are inclined to let down their guard. But by the end, a light has been shone on the past experiences which have forced both of them to construct barriers against the world, and I very much hope my readers are rooting for them both.
If I have to choose, I suppose I can identify more easily with Jane. She is insecure and never feels good enough, which makes her a perfectionist and obsessed with getting anything she is engaged in ‘right’.
Arabella: When writing a novel, how do you work? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Gilli: I have a love hate relationship with writing. I never have a plot battering at my brain desperate to get out. My stories are hard won. They do not emerge - and even then, not immediately - until I force myself into the study and switch off social media. Anything else is more attractive. Who’d have thought I’d rush so merrily to my attic room to do the ironing? Or decide to polish all the shoes?
But there is always a moment when the story ignites, when it begins to have its own life. Much re-evaluation, rewriting, and rejigging has to begin at this point as I discover what I am writing about, and who these stick people really are – a process that goes on - to a greater or lesser extent - right up until I write THE END. But I don’t mind, because once the magic happens and the obsession kicks in, the part of my life that needs discipline is keeping myself and the house clean, and food on the table!
Arabella: Which would you prefer to do: 1) spend a morning vigorously working out at the gym, 2) be pampered from head to toe at the spa and beauty salon, 3) indulge and pile on the pounds with a romantic dinner for two?
Gilli: Definitely the last. Not that I don’t need the exercise or the beautifying. The first is a necessary evil which I am very inclined to skip. As for the second….? Now and then it’s blissful to be totally self-indulgent, to completely relax and put yourself in others’ hands as a problem to be solved. But if it wasn’t a rare treat it would become boring and a chore. I would far rather throw caution to the wind about the calories and go out for a wonderful meal in a gorgeous location, with my hero of a husband.
Arabella: Which of the following would you rather wear?
1) beach shorts and top
2) a long evening skirt and blouse
3) pyjamas and slippers?
Gilli: I love to be able to put on my shorts and vest because it’s so hot and I don’t want to tan in annoying patches. But I am past the age where the sight of me ‘uncovered’ is a delightful prospect for anyone else! I love to go to the kind of occasion where I can dress up, but the effort required to do so increases as the years past. I have to confess I don’t actually own pyjamas, but I must plump for the last option, if I may substitute jog bottoms and a baggy tunic top to wear with my trusty slippers?
Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must read for you this season?
Gilli:. I write relationship fiction, but my favourite reading for pleasure is crime fiction. And my ‘must read’ this summer is the latest book by Gillian McAllister – ‘How to Disappear’- out in July. As for the book I have always meant to read but never found the time for…? This is a hard one, and I’m scratching my head. If I want to read something, I read it! To nominate a book I should have read, and have vague plans to do so one day, I have to go back to the Classics I missed. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?
Gilli: I am still in the fairly early stages of my new book, and haven’t quite yet made the transition from chore to obsession. I still don’t know what happens next! I am currently in a period of hiatus, which has been exacerbated by my current relaunch. Getting BURIED TRESASURE into paperback and the redesign of its cover has proved a welcome diversion from the battle with the WIP - still called ‘New Book’. I am a long way from being able to give an overview of the story, but the background themes are costume design, needle-craft and textile art, as well as acting and musical theatre. Watch this space.
Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Gilli. You’ve been an amazing guest and I look forward to seeing your new cover for BURIED TREASURE splashed all over social media during the next few days.
Wishing you lots more romantic writing…
About Gilli Allen
|Gilli Allan - Author|
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the imaginary kind.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as an illustrator in advertising and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
All of her recent books TORN, LIFE CLASS, FLY or FALL and BURIED TREASURE have gained ‘Chill with a Book’ awards.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is now also a writer.
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Book Blurb: BURIED TREASURE
Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.
Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.
Find Gilli’s other books: TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL at