Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Gilli Allan

Opening Lines with Gilli Allan: Buried Treasure

This week’s ‘Opening Lines’ comes from friend and fellow author, Gilli Allan.

Buried Treasure is out now!

Blurb

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems. 

First 500 words of Buried Treasure…

Prologue

Why did everyone laugh at her? Even her sister. It was true, and Rachel knew it.  Their great Uncle Alf Sydney HAD found treasure on his farm. And Uncle Bill  –  who should have been at school that day but was on the tractor with him  –  agreed how they’d dug it up, cleaned it as best they could, and kept it in the room they called the parlour.

These days the nearest thing they had to treasure was laid out on the table.  Called ‘the Sydney Collection’, the stones, coins and broken bits of pottery were all a bit dull and boring, to be honest. More exciting were the weird and wonderful things Uncle Bill had brought back from far flung places, when he was soldiering.

But back when Bill was still a boy, the treasure they’d dug out of a muddy field, was kept on the sideboard. Jane imagined it piled up high, lighting up the dark room with beams of glittery light. So much money and necklaces, bracelets and brooches, and long strings of pearls, it would have spilled onto the floor!  She was sure there’d have been crowns too, and gold caskets studded with rubies and emeralds. And even that piece of jewellery that gave her the shivers just to think about it  –  a diamond tiara like the one Cinderella wore to the ball. That was until the police came and snatched it all away.  

It just wasn’t fair, Jane told the girls in her class. But they shook their heads as if they knew she was pretending. No matter how often she said  –  “Honest, it’s true! It’s in a museum in London now” –  they still wouldn’t believe her. If she’d she been able to honestly say she’d seen it herself, would that have made a difference?  But London was a long way away, and expensive to visit. “One day…” she’d been promised.

Everyone was already paired up or in gangs when she arrived at the new school, so to be made to feel stupid, boastful and a fibber, when all she wanted was to make friends…! She kept her mouth shut from then on, and kept to herself old Uncle Alf’s mysterious wink, and the tap to the side of his nose, whenever he talked about the treasure.

Chapter 1

“Fairy tales can come true; it can happen to you…”  The old song evokes nostalgic memories of the farm, of family singsongs around the upright piano; Uncle Alf bashing out the tune, and Bill and Mary, egging him on. Why is it running through her head now, decades later, when both Alf and Bill are long dead, and the farm sold?  Deep down maybe she believes she’s on her way to achieving her own dream? But anyone who thinks that dreams really can come true is as delusional as the child who still believes in Santa  –  or Prince Charming.  A sick jolt runs down her spine.  How stupid had she been?…

***

Buy BURIED TREASURE via mybook.to/BURIEDTREASURE  

Find Gilli’s other books LIFE CLASS, TORN and FLY or FALL at:

https://accentpressbooks.com/collections/gilli-allan

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilli-Allan/e/B004W7GG7I

Find Gilli at:

http://twitter.com/gilliallan   (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.com

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1027644.Gilli_Allan

https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/gilli-allan/ 

***

Bio

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 fiction.

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, 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.

She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

***

Many thanks for visiting today Gilli. Good luck and wishing you many happy sales.

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines: Torn by Gilli Allan

It’s that time again. Is it me, or is Thursday arriving more quickly each week?

Anyway! I have a great set of opening lines for you once again. This week the fabulous Gilli Allan is with me…and she’s a little Torn…

I chose TORN as my ‘Opening 5oo Words’ offering for this feature, as it holds a special place in my heart.  It was the first book I wrote in the second era of my “career” (I use the word loosely) as writer. After having the first ever book I wrote published in the pre-digital age, I thought I was set up for life as “An Author”. My second book was also published a year later, but then the publisher ceased trading.

There are many reasons, even excuses (which I won’t go into now) why there was then a hiatus. Suffice to say that after an interlude that was probably far too long I began an entirely new project.

Up until I began to write this book, I had always used myself as a sounding board when I imagined my heroines. How would I react to this? What would I do if? And supposing I had done this instead of that?

But Jess is as unlike me as it’s possible to get.  The consequence was, when imagining how this woman would negotiate her way through the challenging set of circumstances I gave her, I was far more tested as writer.  The result is TORN.

FIRST 500 WORDS

New Year’s Morning

Jess opened her eyes. Though her brain was crystal clear, her head ached and her mouth was sour and parched. Drunk’s dawn. Brilliant.

For a moment she thought she was alone. What a relief. The man had had the decency to creep away while she slept – she could get up and fetch a glass of water. Then she heard his breathing and the dip of the mattress as he stirred. She froze, revolted by the thought that her skin might come into contact with his. The idea of touching a bony, hairy male leg – or worse – was repellent. And if he was rousing she didn’t want him to know she was awake. He turned over and then turned back again. She remained still, feigning sleep.

It was a long time since she’d done anything so impetuous, so stupid, and had lost some of the brazenness needed to face the stranger in the morning. Especially after she’d thrown her guts up down the loo a few hours earlier. Had he fancied her sufficiently, after she’d vomited, to proceed with what he had every right to believe was on offer before? If there had been any sex she’d been too far gone to remember it now.

She had only the haziest memory of what he actually looked like. More importantly, did he use a condom?

Chapter One

A Few Weeks Earlier

Coloured lights were strung in swags, lamppost to lamppost. Lights delineated the stone gables and studded the fir trees on shop front pediments. She smiled, enjoying the sting of the night air on her cheeks as she paused on the step of the Prince Rupert to shrug on her coat. It had only been a few months, but the fact was undeniable. Already she’d begun to relax, begun to see the future with optimism, begun to feel safe – safer than in a long time.

She must bring Rory into town one evening soon. He had many childhood years ahead of him – plenty of time to make trips back to London for its bizarre cocktail of the gaudy and the glamorous. For now, the simple Christmas decorations in this old market town would seem magical enough to him. His happiness and security were all important. It might just be the two of them from now on, and their pleasures might be simple, but life would be normal and safe; on that she was determined.

Without warning the lights jagged upwards, meteor tails zigzagging through the sky. The ground tipped. A jarring thud reverberated up her spine. At first, she was too stunned by the heavy fall to understand what had happened. Then came the flash of embarrassment and self-blame. Why had she chosen to wear stilt-heeled boots? Who on earth was she expecting to impress in this backwater? Already, in the split second since the world had tilted and smacked her on the bottom, she sensed the damp chill of the stone flags seeping up through her clothes, reaching….

***

Blurb

You can escape your past but can you ever escape yourself?

TORN is a contemporary story, which faces up to the complexities, messiness and absurdities in modern relationships.  Life is not a fairy tale; it can be confusing and difficult. Sex is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. You don’t always fall for Mr Right, even if he falls for you. And realising you’re in love is not always good news. It can make the future look daunting….

Ex-City Trader Jess has made a series of bad choices. Job, relationships and life-style – all have let her down. By escaping the turmoil of her London life, she is putting her role as a mother first. This time she wants to get it right, to devote herself to her son.

But the country does not offer the idealised ‘good life’ idyll she pictured. There are stresses and strains here too. The landscape she looks out on is under threat, new friends have hidden agendas, and two very different men pull her in opposing directions.

In the face of temptation old habits die hard. She is torn between the suitable man and the unsuitable boy.

***

Biography

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. She didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she went to Croydon Art College. Gilli didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or TV. Instead she chose to be a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when the publisher ceased to trade, she went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village.  Still a keen artist, she has recently begun book illustration.

Gilli Allan’s three books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL, are published by Accent Press.

 

Links

Find TORN at:                    MyBook.to/gilliallansTORN

Find all of Gilli’s books at: https://www.accentpress.co.uk/gilli-allan

or                                       http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilli-Allan/e/B004W7GG7I

Connect with Gilli:             https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

https://twitter.com/gilliallan

Gilli’s Blog:                         http://gilliallan.blogspot.co.uk/

***

Many thanks Gilli. Great stuff.

Come back next week for 500 words from Richard Dee.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

My First Time: Gilli Allan

Today I’m beginning a brand new series of interviews on my blog. Every fortnight (novel deadlines willing!) I’ll be asking some of the best writers in the business about their very first time…Their first time getting published that is.

Kicking off this blog series is the fabulous Gilli Allan…

First Time

My First Time

Can you remember writing the first story you actually wanted to write, rather than those you were forced to write at school? What was it about?

I started writing ‘books’ when I was still at primary school. I was copying my older sister. She adored the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer, and decided to write her own.

Gilli & Lod133 - Copy

I don’t recall if I gave it a title, but mine was set in the unspecified olden days. Two women and a girl embark on an excursion to visit a lighthouse set on a rocky outcrop, surrounded by sea. They are trapped there by bad weather. I don’t recall what reason I came up with, if any, to explain their original desire to visit the lighthouse (patently a plot device to isolate them) other than that it was the kind of jaunt I thought well-brought up ladies of the time might engage in to fill their time.

The romance is between the girl of the party, and the son of the lighthouse keeper. I don’t recall the names of my hero and heroine, and to be honest, I don’t think there was much in the way of romance. At this point in my life I had no idea how to convey the journey from attraction to actual cuddling. But even more than the difficulty of visualising a budding love affair, I was put off by the sheer amount of boring stuff I felt I needed to get through, before I could even arrive at my romantic interludes. It remained just a few pages long, and most of the pages were doodles and illustrations.

GA 2

What was your first official publication?

I was a wife and a mother by the time my first completed book – JUST BEFORE DAWN – was published, but I hadn’t spent the intervening years as a frustrated novelist. To all intents and purposes, I stopped writing when I went to Art School. After a few alarms and diversions I worked as an illustrator in advertising, eventually going free-lance. It was only when I was on a career break to look after my baby son that I began to consider what else I could do to earn a living from home. It was theoretically possible to be a free-lance artist from home, but there were big obstacles. This was before the internet – before PCs in fact – I didn’t drive, and we didn’t live near a tube station. The idea of travelling into central London, with a toddler in tow, to pick up and deliver jobs – jobs which were typically wanted first thing the next morning – was very unappealing.

Then I remembered my teenage passion and Gilli Allan, the author, was born.

GA 3 1986

What affect did that have on your life?

I‘d enjoyed my job. And obviously, getting married and having my son was a huge and deeply fulfilling alteration to my life. But beginning to write a novel with the serious intention of getting it published was utterly magical in a completely different way. I was on a continuous high, enthralled and enchanted, as the words poured out of me without interruption. I felt taken over by some guiding spirit. I had no doubt whatsoever that the book would be published. I submitted it direct – the complete manuscript, wrapped up in brown paper and string, plus return postage – to 7 publishers. When it was returned to me, generally with kind and encouraging rejections, I ironed the thumbed pages and sent the same script out again. The eighth immediately entered into negotiations with me. The book was published almost exactly 2 years after I typed “the end” on my final draft.

From then on, my self-esteem went sky high. I became far more confident and assured. I found it easier to make friends. I had ambition. I knew where my life was going. I was proud to be able to say I was now “a writer”.

Does your first published story reflect your current writing style?

Yes and no. When I first started to write seriously, my intention was to write a category romance aimed at Mills & Boon. I did incorporate many of the elements I thought necessary – an alpha hero, plus many a piercing look and rapacious kiss – but the plot took me over. I knew I was heading in an unconventional direction, but my story was far more important to me than ticking all the right boxes. Unsurprisingly M & B rejected my tale of an unmarried girl who, as the book opens, is going through a miscarriage. Fortunately, a new publisher – Love Stories – had just been established. Their aim was to publish un-clichéd romantic fiction, characterized at the time as the “thinking woman’s Mills & Boon”. What I was writing and what they wanted to publish fitted like a hand in a glove.

Love Stories also took my second novel – ‘Desires & Dreams’, an even darker tale. When, a couple of years later they ceased trading, unable to get their books into bookstores, the seal had been set on my own brand of romantic fiction. I like to write novels that have a love story at their heart, but I am uninterested in prettifying or simplifying the downside of love, life and relationships. I once wrote this as the introduction to a blurb and it sums up what I am trying to do.

Life is not a fairy tale; it can be confusing and difficult. Sex is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. You don’t always fall for Mr Right, even if he falls for you. And realising you’re in love is not always good news. It can make the future look daunting….

What are you working on at the moment?

This is a culture clash novel. I have no title but my elevator pitch is Educating Rita meets Time Team. It is about the academic (desk) archaeologist, working in an old university, coming up against the Essex girl (left school at 16) conference organiser. But I am only a third of the way in and – given I’m an into the mist type of writer – everything could change. Watch this space.

I’ve given the link to the paperback of Just Before Dawn. Theoretically it should be available – it’s there on Amazon – but to be honest I don’t know if it actually is, if you click buy.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-before-Dawn-Gilli-Allan/dp/1898030456/

 GA P1010802 - Copy (2) - Copy

Bio

Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. LIFE CLASS is the third book to be published in the three book deal.

Links

To connect with Gilli:

http://twitter.com/gilliallan (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.co.uk/

GA Life Class - new

LIFE CLASS: http://myBook.to/LifeClass

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Class-Gilli-Allan/dp/1783752548/

 G Allen Torn

TORN: MyBook.to/gilliallansTORN (universal) or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Gilli-Allan-ebook/dp/B00R1FQ1QE

Cover FOF

FLY OR FALL: myBook.to/GilliAllan (universal)

***

Many thanks Gilli- fantastic interview.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

Guest Post from Gilli Allan: Drawing a Naked Male Model can be Challenging

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Gilli Allan back to my blog today. As well as being an engaging, entertaining, astute and erudite writer, Gilli is an excellent artist, and (as I had the good fortune to discover at a recent conference), one of nicest people you could ever wish to meet.

Over to you Gilli,

All my books have grown out of the “What if…?” question. LIFE CLASS is no exception. Initially I had the title but no story, so I began to reflect on the accumulated experience of attending life drawing lessons over many years, and there was one incident that cried out to be revisited.

Before I arrived at art school, aged sixteen, I knew no boys, apart from my cousins. For me – a shy, gauche and inexperienced kid – becoming an art student was a very big deal. I’m sure it was a big deal for all of us in First Year Foundation. Within days, however, we’d relaxed with one another enough to become noisy and brash, and to show off. Then we had our first life class.

GA Life Class - new

We all knew this weekly lesson was a part of the curriculum, so at least we weren’t taken by surprise. But knowing that something is going to happen does not necessarily make it easier to deal with. Imagine us, not yet entirely comfortable with one another, suddenly confronted by a very ample naked woman who we were expected to draw. The lesson passed in a stunned silence from the mixed class of very young students. The teacher made up for our unusual hush by raising his voice, as if suspecting we’d all turned deaf as well as mute.

“Observe the landmarks of her body and how they relate to one another,” he boomed. “Her crotch … her belly … her navel … her nipples!”

In retrospect, it was funny. At the time it was more agonising than amusing. I found it a challenge to even look at her without blushing, let alone to closely study those parts of her body I was too bashful to say out loud!

Despite the initial embarrassment I swiftly became used to studying a naked stranger. In fact, the life class rapidly became my favourite part of the week. I was captivated by the challenge of trying to interpret the human body in a drawing. When I left college I was unable to find a job in the art world, and for the next few years I was a depressed sales assistant in various London department stores. The aspect of art I missed the most was the life drawing, and I signed up for an evening class at the London School of Printing. I continued with this for a year, but slogging over to the Elephant and Castle on public transport after a day’s work, became a bind and I gave it up.

Although, at the time it felt like my life was trickling away, it wasn’t so long before I managed to secure my dream job as an illustrator in an advertising design studio. For a while I was very happy earning my living doing what I’d always wanted to do, but, as I became more accomplished, the work became more demanding and stressful. The workload was always erratic, and when a new commission did come in, it was typically wanted first thing the next morning. So when I had my son, I was content to take a break from commercial art. Now at home full-time, I revisited my teenage hobby of writing, and I also signed up for another life drawing class. Baby-sitting responsibility was my husband’s for one night a week, enabling me to do something just for me.

On that first evening I set out, feeling excited and tense. I had the directions and, as I drove over to the school in Wandsworth, I rehearsed in my mind what faced me. I knew that my life drawing skills would be rusty, I’d not employed them for years, but there was something else on my mind.   ‘Life’ models are predominantly female. The male model is a far rarer species, although not unknown. At college, over a decade earlier, we’d occasionally had a male model but, maybe to spare the blushes of the very young class, they’d always worn boxers or posing pouches. (One old fellow always wore his black beret, as well!) Surely these days, in an adult class, a male model would be stark naked, I reasoned. My tension about the evening ahead ratcheted up a few more notches when I couldn’t find the school. I must have been ten or fifteen minutes late when I eventually burst into the studio.

Everyone turned to look at me. The teacher was male. All the students were male. And – lying stretched out sideways on a mattress, his head on his hand – the entirely naked model was male. Wanting to disrupt proceedings as little as possible, I grabbed the first empty spot I saw. I didn’t think about the position I’d chosen until I’d sat down on the donkey (a wooden bench with an adjustable front flap), unwrapped my drawing pad, and raised my head. Everyone else had arranged themselves in a semi-circle behind or to the sides of the model. I was the only one with a totally full-frontal view. I looked at him, and he looked at me……….

You will find a fairly accurate account of what happened next at the start of Chapter Three of LIFE CLASS. I have given the experience to my heroine, Dory, who is a novice artist attending her first life drawing class. She is no shrinking violet but she finds it an unsettling experience. It unsettled me at the time, but I didn’t allow the incident to put me off.

I attended this particular class for a couple of years and we never had the same model again. Then I changed to another, a daytime class with a crèche. And throughout the years since, I’ve continued to attend life classes wherever I’ve lived. I don’t do life drawing because it’s easy. Sometimes it is, but often it’s hard. It can feel almost impossible – particularly if there’s a weirdo model! But, thankfully, they’re the exception not the rule. Despite the failures and the frustrations of the discipline, I am drawn back , again and again, trying to capture the mass, the angles, the points of balance, the fall of light and shade on that most intriguing of all subjects – the human body.

Here’s the blurb to Life Class-

Four people hide secrets from the world and from themselves. Dory is disillusioned by men and relationships, having seen the damage sex can do. Her sister, Fran, deals with her mid-life crisis by pursuing an on-line flirtation which turns threatening. Dominic is a lost boy, trapped in a life heading for self-destruction. Stefan feels a failure. He searches for validation through his art alone.

They meet regularly at a life-drawing class, led by sculptor Stefan. All want a life that is different from the one they have, but all have made mistakes they know they cannot escape. They must uncover the past – and the truths that come with it – before they can make sense of the present and navigate a new path into the future.

***

LINKS

LIFE CLASS

http://myBook.to/LifeClass

https://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/13659/Life-Class

Connect to Gilli

http://twitter.com/gilliallan (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1027644.Gilli_Allan

G Allen TornCover FOF

(If you want them, I’m including the links to TORN & FLY OR FALL)

TORN: http://mybook.togilliallansTORN

FLY OR FALL: http://mybook.to/GilliAllan

 

***

 

 

 

GA P1010802 - Copy (2) - Copy

Biography

Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. LIFE CLASS is the third book to be published in the three book deal.

***

Many thanks Gilli- another brilliant blog!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx 

 

 

Guest Post with Gilli Allan: Fly or Fall- An Interview with Nell Hardcastle

I’m delighted to be able to welcome a fellow Accent Press author to my site today. The lovely Gilli Allan is shining the spotlight on the lead character in her latest novel, Fly or Fall!

Over to you Gilli- and Nell Hardcastle…

Nell, the heroine of FLY OR FALL, is an honourable woman. And yet, as the story unfolds, her values and principles are gradually undermined. The interview takes her back through her early life, before the story opens, to discover what made her the woman she is, and how and why she arrives at the point where she slips. But you’ll have to read the book to discover what actually happens, and how Nell copes with the fall-out.

Cover FOF

Interview with Nell Hardcastle

Interviewer: Looking at your history, Nell, it seems you were a bit of a wild child. You must have started a physical relationship with Trevor Hardcastle when you were still very young.

Nell: No! Not wild. ….I was an only child and quite insecure. I already felt isolated and excluded from my parent’s relationship. And when my Dad died my Mum lost her soul mate. She was so overwhelmed by her own grief she failed to recognise mine. Trevor was the son of one of my dad’s TUC friends. He was starting his economics degree in London. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement that he lodge with us. It’s not surprising that both of us – my mother and I – leant on him.

Interviewer: How old was he?

Nell: He was already in his twenties.

Interviewer: And you were?

Nell: Thirteen … but you’re making it sound very tacky. Trevor may be many things but he’s not a paedophile. We didn’t start sleeping together until…

Interviewer: You were still underage, Nell! (A pause.) OK, let’s get on. You completed your A levels but never went to university?

Nell: No, Trevor was in his first teaching job by then and the twins were babies. Then my mum’s health began to deteriorate.

Interviewer: You stayed on in your family home?

Nell: Why move? My mother increasingly relied on us being there.

Interviewer: Even though the mortgage was paid off by your father’s insurance, you were still pretty hard up. And your husband was out a lot in the evenings. Did you never question why?

Nell: He told me he was working late at school, or going to local party political meetings. I trusted him.

Interviewer: (Clears throat.) And when the offer to buy your house dropped on your door mat, what did you think then?

Nell: The whole episode was surreal. My mum had just died and the house wasn’t even on the market. And the price…! It seemed vastly inflated! I was scared.

Interviewer: Most people would be delighted.

Nell: Normal people you mean? Trevor was so thrilled. Out of the blue we’d been handed the chance to move house, live in the country…

Interviewer: But?

Nell: I didn’t want my life to change. I had a kind of presentiment that having that kind of money would undermine us. It would lead to disaster.

Interviewer: In what way?

Nell: Hard to explain. And because I couldn’t convince Trevor I gave in. I just let it happen.

Interviewer: But you soon made friends in Downland.

Nell: I think I was depressed for a while. I was still grieving and felt cast adrift … away from everything I knew. We moved in the autumn and there was more work to do on the house than I’d realised. It felt a bit like we were living in a perpetual building site. And the people we got in to do the first jobs weren’t the most reliable. But by the early spring of the next year I’d met Fliss and Kate … but….

Interviewer: But what?

Nell: They weren’t the kind of women I’d normally choose as friends. They were very materialistic, self-centred, and childishly obsessed with who fancied who. But it was Fliss who recommended a more reliable building firm of builders. We laughed about the business card – ‘Bill Lynch. Man for all reasons’.

Interviewer: And one of the new builders, Patrick, had a reputation as a womaniser

Nell: I didn’t know that. It was only after we’d engaged the firm that the nudges and winks from Fliss and Kate started. So I was relieved that he never made a pass at me.

Interviewer: Really?

Nell: Of course! I don’t know how to flirt.

Interviewer: That’s an odd comment. What do you mean?

Nell: Some women take that sort of thing so lightly. To them it’s inconsequential.

Interviewer: But not you?

Nell: Perhaps I take things too seriously. I … I believe what I’m told.

Interviewer: So why did you take the job as a barmaid at the sports club? Seems an odd choice of job for a serious minded woman, who doesn’t know how to flirt?

Nell: Trevor was so down on the idea, as if I’d personally offended him….

Interviewer: You took the job because your husband was against it?

Nell: I know it sounds ridiculous, but… yes, kind of. Trevor seemed to be changing before my eyes. His opinions were becoming ever more right-wing and stuffy. He even changed the twins’ school, badgering me into agreeing to send them to the fee-paying high school, something he’d always disapproved of and argued against. His attitude about ‘his wife doing a bar job’ provoked me.

Interviewer: And there you met the man you knew as Angel.

Nell: I’d met him briefly before then, but he didn’t remember me. In fact he seemed fairly indifferent to me until…

Interviewer: Until what?

Nell: You have to realise that none of this was apparent to me at the time. I only saw it in retrospect. It was after Patrick and I had become friends….

Interviewer: Patrick? I thought you were suspicious of him. Keeping him at arm’s length.

Nell: Friends I said, nothing more. But it was only when Angel noticed Patrick treating me with a kind of … um … casual affection, his attitude to me changed. He began to pursue me.

Interviewer: And you?

Nell: I’d been infected by the whole atmosphere there … and by Kate and Fliss. Their attitude to infidelity was so casual – as if love affairs were every woman’s right – an added seasoning to give spice to their lives. And Angel was so gorgeous. I had such a crush on him…..

Interviewer: Not every one of your women friends had this ‘all’s fair in love and war’ attitude?

Nell: No. Not Elizabeth. She was very much in love with her husband – ‘OH’ as she called him. Because I felt closest to Elizabeth, I’d planned to confide in her. I felt so triumphant, so pleased with myself, until….

Interviewer: Until what?

Nell: (A pause. She swallows.) It … it was a total and profound shock, but…. I was still trying to hang on to my life, to the world as I knew it. Fat chance! Like a domino derby, the shocks kept going, one falling after another. Everyone around me – my friends, my husband, even the twins – had been pretending. They’d all constructed facades. They’d all been keeping their own secrets.

Interviewer: And so had you.

Nell: Believe me, I don’t absolve myself. I can hardly believe I did what I did. I was as guilty as the rest of them. Worst of all I’d been deceiving myself… And it wasn’t the best time to suddenly realise I’d fallen in love.

***

Blurb

Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined and she’s tempted. Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar?

But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone – even her nearest and dearest – has been lying. She’s even deceived herself. The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed. And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she believes it is doomed.

The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself?

***

Buy Links:

FLY OR FALL- myBook.to/GilliAllan (universal)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fly-Fall-Gilli-Allan-ebook/dp/B00XXZJ43S/

Gilli Allan

Bio

Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. FLY OR FALL is the second book to be published in the three book deal.

Connect to Gilli:

http://twitter.com/gilliallan (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.co.uk/

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Many thanks Gilli (and Nell)- wonderful blog!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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