Last year Paula was nice enough to take the time to answer some questions about 'Book of Shadows'. Now a year later her second book, 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey', is out and of course I couldn't resist inviting Paula back to answer some questions about this captivating new book.
Enjoy getting to know the author and please make sure you add her books to your wish list! I can only highly recommend them!
Amber - It is so nice to have you on the blog again! Can you start things off by telling my readers a little about your new book 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'?
Paula - The story is set in modern day and thirteenth century rural Wales. Laura is an artist who, with her husband, moves from London in the hope a more natural existence will help her conceive a longed-for child. She is an painter (Lamp Black is an artist's colour), and the landscape inspires some of her best work. The historical tale involves a young servant girl called Megan, and her relationship with the seer, Merlin. The two stories become connected in what I hope is a surpirsing and convincing way!
Amber - How did you come up with the idea for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?
Paula - At the time I was living in an ancient Welsh longhouse in the Brecon Beacons, and that is where I set the story. The house was built in the thirteenth century, and had no telephone or electiricty, so felt almost unchanged by the centuries. I always had the sense that there were echos of past lives contained in the smooth stone walls of the place, as well as in the hills and woodlands surrounding it. Both my parents are painters, and I've always had an interest in the legend of Merlin. He is thought to have started his life not far from here, so it seemed feasible that he could have spent a summer here.
Amber - What kind of research did you have to do for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'? Anything interesting or is the research boring?
Paula - I only write about things which interest me, so I'd never find the research boring. I grew up with oil paint everywhere and learned a good deal about art from my parents, so that was sort of stored up knowledge. Megan is a gifted healer of horses. I used to keep horses and work with them and often used ancient natural remedies, so again, this was familiar ground to me. I guess most of my research centered on gettting the historical details right. I found it quite hard to get information about such a long time ago. It was a very different experience from researching, say, the Victorian section in 'Book of Shadows' for this reason.
Amber - How do you pick your characters names? Are they names you like or from people you know?
Paula - Quite the opposite, in fact! I spend ages avoiding names of people I know. I researched the sorts of Welsh names that would have been used at the time. I was aware of the fact that non-Welsh speakers would find some of them tricky to read or pronounce, so that influenced my choices a little.
Amber - How much say do you have in the book publishing process? Eg. Do you get to pick the cover?
Paula - Snowbooks are renowned for producing fabulous covers, so I wouldn't dream of telling them their job. That said, they are always open to some author input. I think the cover for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey' is gorgeous - really atmospheric.
Amber - What are the good times and bad times of being an author?
Paula - I'm not one of those tortured writers for whom writing is agony - I love the process of creating stories and getting them on the page and manipulating words to produce atmosphere and emotion. I'm always nervous that my work will fall short of my expectations, of course, and everyone is sensititive to crisitcism. You develop a pretty thick skin. And you have to be prepared to keep at it. I had written five complete novels before I got one published - over a period of nearly nine years!
Amber - What is next? Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?
Paula - Well, the American edition of 'Book of Shadows' is coming out this winter, so I've been working quite a bit on revising that for the new publishers, St Martin's. I also lecture in creative writing part time at the University of Wales, Newport, so that keeps me busy. Last month I was selected by the BBC for their New Welsh Writers scheme and whisked off for a four-day residential workshop, which was fantastic. Not sure what will come out of that yet. I'm currently working on a screenplay.
Amber - There are alot of online sites taking up peoples time lately. Are you on Facebook or any other sites? Do you think the sites are useful or do they just take up too much of your time?
Paula - I avoid them all. I just know I would lose too many valuable writing hours into them. I do think they help people feel connected, which is good when we live such separate and sometimes isolated lives these days. There are only so many hours in the day - you have to choose. I'd rather play with my children, take the dog for a walk, or do stuff to the garden.
Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?
Paula - I've always got at least three books on the go at any one time. One will be a novel (currently it's 'Skippy Dies' by Paul Murray - hilarious), and two books connected with writing projects (screenplay heroes and villains just now) or teaching (texts on gothic fiction -really enjoying that).
I listen to music in the car (I drive over a hundred miles to teach every Friday) - always stuff connected to a creative project. I find it very helpful to see scenes in my head if they are set to music, whether I'm writing a novel or a screenplay.
I don't watch much TV these days - I like stand up comedy at the weekend, or a really good movie, but I'm often disappointed.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Paul a- Heavens! Would have to be a werewolf. I've just completed a comedy-horror screenplay about a village full of Welsh werewolves, and some of them were lovely. And just think, you wouldn't have to bother waxing ever again!
Amber - Thanks for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog again!
Paula - My pleasure - thanks for inviting me!
Paula has very kindly said she will send one lucky Amberkatze's Book Blog reader a copy of her new book, 'Black Lamp, Wolf Grey'.
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