‘Other Stuff’

TALKS AND APPEARANCES/WORKSHOPS 2016

 

OCTOBER 20th  2pm JOHN MACKINTOSH HALL, GIBRALTAR

Delighted to announce that I have been included in this year’s line-up of speakers at the wonderful

Gibraltar International Literary Festival.

where I’ll be speaking about the inspiration and thinking behind my latest novel DEAR DAD. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the other great speakers who’ll be there this year, too.

 

NOVEMBER 14th   7.30pm SUNLIGHT CENTRE GILLINGHAM

LOCAL WRITERS TAKE NOTE – I’ll be running a (free) writer’s workshop for the MEDWAY MERMAIDS local writing group. Check out their facebook page nearer the date. Topic is ‘Themes.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interview with Giselle by Gibraltar Insight Magazine:

Giselle Green Takes Kindle By Storm – in-depth interview

Giselle Green

Following on from the article by Elena Scialtiel we’ve published on page 51 of the print version of the April edition Insight Gibraltar magazine, here’s a more in-depth interview with Giselle Green. 

 A Sister’s Gift rocketed to number one bestseller on Amazon Kindle over the Christmas holidays, after just few days in the top 100. Falling For You reached the third top spot on the overall UK Kindle bestsellers list in January. The novel is now available in paperback too.

Giselle was born in Chiswick, UK, in Oct 1960.  The family moved to Gibraltar when she was seven years old, as they had quite an extended family here, so all of her school years (bar the first two) were spent on the Rock.  Giselle went to St Joseph’s Primary school and then on to the Girl’s Comprehensive where she took A’ levels in English Literature, Biology and took Chemistry with the late and much-loved Dr Lesley Zammit.  Giselle was awarded the Gibraltar Scholarship in 1979.

The border was closed all the time she lived in Gibraltar but she can’t say it personally affected her. Gibraltar felt a very safe place to grow up.  Giselle recalls, “We had no car, so we’d walk around everywhere we wanted to get to, or take the bus.  I loved the beaches and the sea! The first time I went into the water I was caught up by a big wave that sent me rolling and crashing back to the shore. Later that summer I have a vivid memory of nearly drowning when a friend of my aunt’s took me out too far and we got caught in a current. The lifeguards rescued us but the memory has stayed with me. I adore the sea but I am very respectful of it. I quickly learned to swim, but I’m fascinated by the whole ‘learning to swim’ thing. In ‘A Sister’s Gift’, Hollie can’t swim and is afraid of the water. Obviously Gibraltarians have the advantage of growing up by the sea, but some people can’t do it. It’s such an act of faith.  Me, my younger brother Stuart and my cousins used to dare each other to jump off the high rocks at Sandy Bay … another little vignette that made its way into my first book ‘Pandora’s Box,’ when Shelley and her brother do the same thing.”

Giselle met her husband Eliott, at Sandy Bay when she was fourteen and they have been together ever since. They were married in August 1979, “Before my A level results were out, in fact. It seems extraordinary to us now that we have older children ourselves, but at the time it seemed perfectly logical. That was when I moved back to the UK, to take my degree in Biology at King’s College London.  I then took an MSc in Information science at the City University. I worked for BT and then a few years at Unilever technical information services,” she explains. When Giselle gave up work to start a family she started doing freelance writing in various places.  “Eliott and I have six children – all boys, ranging from 24-15 years old – and the last two are identical twins. When the twins were six months old I began a course of study in Astrology  –  a lifelong interest of mine – and qualified in that, in 1999. We now live in Medway, Kent, very close to the historic city of Rochester where A Sister’s Gift is set,” she explains. The family go out to Gibraltar once or twice a year to visit relatives and Giselle was also on the Rock recently for her mother’s 80th birthday celebrations in January.

“Writing IS my day job. I write mainly in the mornings, and I’m usually done by lunchtime. I don’t have a set word-count and I don’t have rigid timetables when I have to be at my desk. With a large family, you learn to be flexible. Mornings are better for me creatively, but if you get a day that’s flooded with interruptions from unexpected sources, then so be it. You can’t fret. Sometimes I go off to a quiet secluded spot that I know, for a few days and then I have the luxury of being able to write without having to worry about anything else. When writing to contract – one book a year – the whole thing can get very stressful; you know you have to have a certain word count by a certain date – it’s not the same as doing it for a hobby, and you have to be professional.”

So, what was writing like for her at the beginning? “Honestly – I have always been writing, ever since I could hold a pen. I sent my first ‘ms’ off to a publisher – a children’s story, obviously – when I was eleven. They wrote back saying it wasn’t for them but they looked forward to seeing me in print one day! I wrote another at thirteen and another at seventeen and then another when I was at Uni. Reading them now, they were all pretty terrible, in my opinion. I had no clue how to write a book. I thought you just started writing and kept on going wherever the story wanted to meander to until one day you ground to a stop. Wrong! I had to learn my craft. So I read books on ‘writing the novel’, over the years I attended courses and met other writers and all the while, I kept on writing. I think the way it works is, the more you write, the better you get at it. It’s like using a muscle. You also start to get a feel of what it is you want to say”.

What is the ‘Writer’s Voice’? “People talk about the writer’s voice and at the beginning, you don’t know what that is – I tended to assume it was some characteristic of style or expression, but I wonder these days if it isn’t more a matter of the person behind the writing revealing themselves through what they write. By that I mean; revealing their value-systems and what gives them meaning. The reader gets to perceive the paradigm behind the writer’s world. If the writer knows what they are about, then this will always be consistent, no matter what novel they are writing or which of the many varied characters in their novels are expressing their (different) opinions. I often give characters in my books opposing views about important matters, but my own voice comes through in the way the world of the story holds all these views together. In Little Miracles, for example, a book about ‘Faith’ – a child goes mysteriously missing, and while the mother Julia believes that he is still alive, the father Charlie does not keep faith and refuses to keep looking. They both had good reasons, and who is to say who is right or wrong in such cases? All the while I was writing it, I had in the back of my mind the ‘serenity prayer’ (‘God grant me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference’).”

A Sister's Gift - book cover

How is writing different for you now? “It has changed in the sense that nowadays I feel to a greater extent that I know what I’m doing. I was writing for a long time before something finally ‘clicked’ and I got a sense of what creating a story was really about.  I start off these days with a sense of knowing where I’m headed with the story, what it is I want to say. In my latest offering – Falling For You – I deliberately wanted to slow the action of the story right down. I know that as consumers we are used to TV and books delivering very fast-paced, high-stakes action, and my earlier works, such as Little Miracles, A Sister’s Gift, do just that. But the faster we go, in stories as well as life, the more we miss out on the subtle nuances. We miss out on the chance to experience what we are really feeling, right there, right in the moment. When people fall in love, one of the main sensations is a heady desire to not miss out on a single second, to remain in the ‘now’, to really experience and savour everything thoroughly, not rush through it like you would a take-away meal and gallop onto your next activity. No; when we are in love, we want to stay exactly where we are! So I put two young strangers in an isolated ruin, trapped by the snow, with absolutely NO distractions and them let them fall in love, organically. They don’t get to text each other once! For that reason, it is a much slower book. I intended it to be. Some will appreciate that and others won’t.”

Do you think that kindle is attracting new people to reading who didn’t read before? “I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question. I suspect it might be causing people to buy books that they might not have done before. It brings more books to people’s attention that otherwise would have languished unseen in a bookshop, perhaps? Given that most new books only have an average shelf-life of six weeks in a bookstore before they have to make way for new ones – and bear in mind that a whopping 12,000 books are published in the UK every month, e-publishing offers authors to be out there indefinitely, long after they’ve gone out of print. The big question for most authors is going to be – how do I make mine stand out in an ever-increasing multitude of books? The whole thing can be quite baffling. I don’t think anybody – least of all my publishers – has the first idea why my third novel  ‘A Sister’s Gift’ shot to the top of the Amazon UK kindle chart over Christmas. Given that the world and his wife seemed to get a kindle for Christmas, it really was the time to be in that top slot. Luck must play a part, obviously, which is good news for all authors who don’t get allocated a massive advertising budget, that’s most of us.”

Falling For You - Book Cover

How do you write? “Longhand, mostly, in an A4 exercise book with a Parker pen. I hate it when I haven’t got the right pen! I am lucky enough to have my own study in the house but sometimes I go out to the garden to write or I go into the kitchen or to the bedroom for a change of scene. Early mornings are best. ‘Falling For You’ took 18 months to write – I’d been pretty burned out by the ‘one book a year’ thing while under contract and I wanted to take it a little easier. Other authors might write shorter books or not have quite such a large family, but I found it hard going. Editing takes another few months as you send it back and forth with your editor.”

How were you ‘discovered’? “By a strange quirk of fate, when I was least expecting it! I’d written a small booklet – ‘The Writer’s Guide to the Zodiac’ which took off far more than I ever intended it to. An online writer acquaintance, Penny Jordan, who was one of Mills and Boons top writers for years, loved the book. We became friends and she bought many copies which she gave out regularly at talks. When I finished Pandora’s Box (which won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award in 2008) a year later I casually mentioned it to her, and she asked me if she could read it. She loved it and asked if she could send it to a former editor of hers, Max, who was setting up a new imprint for Harper Collins – Avon. Max  got back to me two weeks later, wanting a meeting and from that came an offer for a three book contract. Penny was a great champion of the undiscovered writer and her death just after Christmas was a great loss to the writing community.”

Where do you think your inspiration comes from? “My inspiration comes first from the theme which I have chosen. There are many elements to each story and inspiration for the particulars can come from all over the place. Take A Sister’s Gift, for example – I knew the theme was going to be Charity –  the first two books had been about Hope and Faith!  My editor Max suggested I write about surrogacy – what greater act of charity can one woman give another? I knew I was going to have to work really hard to get under the skin of childless Hollie – but once I knew her, I felt I understood her really well. The next piece of the puzzle was where to locate the story?  Then I was invited to attend an art award ceremony at the Rochester Bridge Trust, where they were judging a competition for a picture of Rochester Bridge. Standing at the window of the medieval building that beautiful spring evening, watching the river flow by, I learned that the Trust is in fact the largest charity in Britain. I knew straight away that I had my location. I also incorporated the bridge and the bridge picture into the story – straight from life! That’s as far as it goes, though. I never write about emotional themes particular to my own life – I’m not writing autobiography, I’m writing fiction.  I guess I should qualify when I say I’m writing intelligent women’s fiction, I mainly mean emotionally intelligent.  Plenty of people have degrees these days, but academic intelligence doesn’t necessarily imply any understanding of the issues of the human heart.”

Is there a common thread in you novels? “I’d say it was the redemptive power of love. I like to put my characters in emotionally charged, morally demanding situations where they feel themselves between a rock and a hard place. It’s a place from where they will be forced to make really tough decisions, and then take responsibility for the choices they make. I deliberately make my characters flawed because nobody in real life is perfect. They have to have room to grow.”

Giselle she spends a lot of time with her characters, thinking about them, wondering about their back-stories and how they came to be the people they are now. They have to seem real to her or she couldn’t convince anyone else, she says.

I asked Giselle how her family life is affected by her writing. “I don’t think it does, other than to say I think the family are lucky I work from home… I’m always available this way, for dentist trips, postal deliveries, phone calls and just general mum –stuff. My life hasn’t changed much since my work became popular. Other than I am more busy and there always seems to be something I need to do, books-wise. Nobody has ever recognised me in the street and I am mightily glad of that – when I’m out going about my everyday business then I’m just like everyone else, after all, and everyone likes their privacy. I’ve done a lot of local work around Kent promoting the books, radio and a few television interviews and a load of library/writers group talks.”

A Sister’s Gift rocketed to number one bestseller on Amazon Kindle over the Christmas holidays, after just few days in the top 100. Falling For You reached the third top spot on the overall UK Kindle bestsellers list in January. The novel is now available in paperback too.