© 2013 Clive Eaton
I live in Devon by my beloved sea and near one of my three children and two grandchildren. I was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result I spent many summers with my Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. My restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. I contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession I’m a psychotherapist but have long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of my mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now the nest is empty there’s more time to write and I picked up my pen in earnest about 7 years ago. My first novel was published in 2012 and a second novel is gestating, but novels take a lot longer than children to be born!
Book title: Dangerous Waters
Brief Synopsis: ‘Oh my God, what’s happening to me? After all this time, please, not again!’
Jeanne Le Page, gripped by fear and panic, struggles to breathe as the ferry arrives in Guernsey – the island she had fled fifteen years before, traumatised by a family tragedy.
Now she has to return after another death. Her beloved grandmother has bequeathed Jeanne her old cottage. She intends to stay just long enough to sell her inheritance. Deeply unhappy after the recent end of a relationship, she has no desire to pick up her old life in her birthplace.
Jeanne is shocked to find that the cottage holds a secret going back to the German Occupation. She becomes drawn into learning more, delaying her planned departure. At the same time, while unveiling the truth of what happened to her family, she puts herself in mortal danger.
Jeanne has to relive the tragedy as the ghosts continue to haunt her. But over time the island works its magic, encouraging her to live and love again . . . .
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I love reading but don’t find I have as much time as I’d like to sit down with a good book. To really switch off I really enjoy watching a good drama or film on TV or at the cinema. I’m very fond of the visual arts and love museums and art galleries too. If the weather’s fine – not that often in the UK! – I’ll go for a walk on the beach and drink up all that lovely ozone.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I’d always enjoyed writing ‘compositions’ at school and when I was studying for my degree with the Open University (many moons later!) I had to write lengthy essays. This rekindled my desire to have a go at writing but it was still a few years before I properly put pen to paper by entering a true-life short story competition. It was organised by Prima, a national women’s magazine, and at first I was reluctant to enter but my mother (bless her!) pushed me into having a go and I won. This really spurred me on and I started to write my novel, Dangerous Waters.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I had just finished two books which, between them, set up the idea behind my book. One was based on a small French island which reminded me of Guernsey and the other centred around an old house sorely in need of renovation. It all started from there.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) The German bunker described in the book actually existed in my garden on the West coast of Guernsey.
2) The plot involves a book within a book
3) Food is a significant ingredient in the story and there are even recipes included at the back.
What research did you need to do for this book?
The references to the Second World War and the Occupation had to be researched and I was lucky enough to talk to people who had lived through that time. I also read a number of books from the local library. I researched mid 19thC French Haute Cuisine and ended up reading a number of Guernsey recipe books. I always felt very hungry afterwardsJ
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
The characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met over the years but no one person had the experiences I describe – it’s entirely fiction, apart from references to the Occupation. My work as a psychotherapist did allow me insight into how people dealt with trauma and, using hypnotherapy, I have helped clients recover ‘lost’ memories.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
Called ‘Finding Mother’, it tells the story of three women. The youngest is Nicole who decides to trace her natural mother when her marriage hits the rocks. She wants to understand herself better and feels that finding her ‘roots’ will help. Her search triggers off change not only for herself but her natural mother and grandmother as secrets are finally brought into the open. The time frame is mainly contemporary but also encompasses the Second World War. Most of the story takes place in Guernsey, but there are excursions to England, Spain and Jersey.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I jotted down a rough story line and wrote up backgrounds for the main characters. Then I split the story into rough chapters to give me a framework. From then on though the story took on a life of its own and I ended up including people and events that I hadn’t originally planned. The first draft took about 6 months to complete but was way too long and I had professional help in order to prune it back.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I need solitude (easy as I now live alone!) and relative quiet. Sometimes I like to listen to music and other times I need silence. I have to force myself to stay off the internet and check emails, twitter etc. I could do with a bigger desk even though my current one replaced an even smaller one! Is there a kind of Parkinson’s Law at work here, do you think? J
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
Simply the fact that I couldn’t get an agent interested in taking me on. After attending loads of workshops, seminars etc. I began to see that, as a complete unknown, it was going to be practically impossible to generate interest from traditional publishers/agents. During the six years from first draft to publishing the self-publishing route became both more acceptable and respectable.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Learning what was essential to the story and what was just padding
2) Writing dialogue for different age groups
3) Constructing a story and ending which were believable
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Depends. A short block might mean literally walking away from it for a few minutes or hours. I might go for a walk or tackle the ironing. A longer block is scary and I had that problem a few months ago with my work in progress. I began to feel that I’d ‘lost the plot’ (sorry about the pun!) It was really depressing but I resolved it by going away for a few days and doing very little of anything. Then the ideas began to flow again – thank goodness!
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
No matter what you want to achieve, be it full-time or part-time writer, just write from your heart. Let the words flow even if they don’t always make sense. It’s the practise that counts – finding your ‘voice’.
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I’ve always enjoyed mysteries of one sort or another and find them even more engrossing if there’s a love element. And vice versa. Love stories need an ‘edge’ to keep me interested.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Joanna Trollope – her ‘aga sagas’ are fascinating with detailed relationship descriptions.
2) Robert Goddard – a master of mystery
3) Mary Higgins Clark – great at creating complex mysteries with a strong female character. There’s usually a man or two around to provide some love interest.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved the Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton and I absolutely wanted to go to boarding school and have lots of adventures like the girls in the books. Didn’t happen, usual primary/secondary school for me!
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
That’s a tough call! I think I’ll go for ‘The Key’ by Simon Toyne. It’s the sequel to ‘Sanctus’ and it’s a conspiracy theory tale which really drew me in.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Probably the above.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
I have a kindle but really love paperbacks. The kindle is great when I’m travelling and I’ve always got loads of books available, but the paperback is easier to follow. I love the constant presence of the cover and blurb and being able to flip back if I need reminding of an event/character.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Emily Blunt for Jeanne – she’s just lovely and the right age.
Jude Law for Marcus – he’s got the looks
Ben Affleck or Jamie Bamber for Nick – they’d both be great, very attractive and masculine
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Whoever wrote ‘Skyfall’!
Drink – Rioja
Meal – Lobster
Holiday destination – African safari
TV programme – Grand Designs
Film – Lawrence of Arabia
Method of travel – Train
Sport – None
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?
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