‘The Hatmaker’s Secret’ is Devon Life Book of the Month!
Thrilled to be book of the month in the July issue of Devon Life! I couldn’t ask for a better review from Annette Shaw who interviewed me for the Bookshelf feature. Top tip – it’s very near the front of the magazine!
Read the article here:
Devon Life Bookshelf July 2017
Bookclub discusses ‘The Hatmaker’s Secret’
I received this account of a Tetbury, Gloucestershire Bookclub’s discussion of The Hatmaker’s Secret:
“We discussed The Hatmaker’s Secret on Tuesday – 10 of us. Some people loved it – and used that phrase. Others grew to like it as it progressed. Just one person had not got into the book.
We had a rich discussion about whether people ‘liked’ Thea (mostly not), but could understand how she became as she was, and found Dadser a lovely character. People told stories of colour appearing in families. We discussed Lily’s diary – the different voice these entries bring and how they say some wonderful things… and much, much more.
We also discussed writing style, and got into more detail, like balancing show and tell and whether just occasionally there is a bit more ‘tell’ than some people needed. People really liked the form, with different voices giving movement and keeping the reading exciting. One member thought the dialogue good, having experimented herself at a Freefall workshop and found how hard it is. One person had wanted to skip the conversations between Kate and Daniel, thinking them a bit dull, but other people thought they portrayed the relationship well.”
This was a discussion of the first edition of the novel. I’m glad to say that I cut out a lot of excess “tell” when editing for the second edition. It was good to recognise that I’ve become a better writer! The new version is crisper and leaner.
This group were evidently not confused by the number of family members and generations, but as this has been an issue for some readers in the past, I have addressed this in the new edition by including a list of key people at the front. – Jill
World Book Night
The sun shone on the World Book Night event hosted by Stoke Lodge Hotel in Stoke Fleming on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th April.
On Friday a glass of prosecco helped to loosen inhibitions as a buzzy group of readers and writers described their favourite books in a game of ‘Just a Minute‘ meets ‘Desert Island Discs‘, the invention of organiser Annette Shaw. Amid much laughter, all the rules of no hesitation, deviation or repetition were thoroughly broken – along with any ice.
On Saturday morning, best-selling author, Jane Corry spoke of her process of research and writing for her thriller My Husband’s Wife. This was followed by yours truly doing a double act with Victoria Suter of NHS Southwest Leadership Academy. Victoria talked about the work of the Reading Agency, the benefits of reading and bibliotherapy, or books on prescription. I spoke of why I read and why I write and how closely these are linked.
After a delicious lunch, well-known local author Kate Furnival talked of her research, and writing her novel The Liberation set in postwar Italy.
There followed a news and networking session where several local writers told their story, including debut author Julie Archer of Cocktails, Rock Tales and Betrayals fame, who also played a vital role, managing the admin for the whole event.
World Book Night
Next week I’ll be at the Stoke Lodge Hotel in Stoke Fleming to celebrate World Book Night on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th April.
We’ll launch the bookfest on Friday evening with prosecco and canapes, followed by a few rounds of Desert Island Discs meets Just a Minute – which should be good for a laugh.
Victoria Suter of the NHS South West Leadership Academy will talk about the work of the Reading Agency and the health benefits of reading and I will join her to speak about journaling and why I write.
There will be a book exchange, news sharing, networking and lots of chat about – guess what? Books!
Spring is springing!
I’m excited to have approved the final proofs for ‘The Hatmaker’s Secret‘ second edition, due out on 21st March, the first day of spring. A clearer, tighter, slimmer version of the original with a fresh new cover from SilverWood books.
Meanwhile I’ve been having fun learning something of Bajan, the Barbadian dialect, for my current work in progress. It means grappling with the question of how much to include in order to give a flavour, to honour the language and to avoid baffling or annoying the reader. Fortunately I’ve found an excellent native speaker to help with these judgements. I’m aiming at a first draft by Easter, and as Easter is obligingly late this year, I hope to make it.
Spring is springing all around which all helps with the creative process!
A new novella for SilverWood SBooks
In December I spent some challenging hours recording Becoming Fran for a family member. I’d recently lost my voice, which tired easily, there were problems with a faulty cable and I discovered I can’t do accents. Scottish Morag sounded like she came from the Welsh valleys. I’m glad I did it and it’s been much appreciated but – never again! Definitely a job for professionals.
Christmas and New Year brought festive visits from family and less festive seasonal viruses, followed by a January detox that lasted very nearly two weeks!
Work got delayed and so January sees me still finishing yet another edit of a new edition of The Hatmaker’s Secret which is due out in March on my late mother’s birthday. Another couple of days should see that complete.
And I can’t wait – because I’m raring to go on a new project for SilverWood S Books – a novella, where the challenge will be to keep to the 40K word limit! No title yet, but it’s going to involve the story of my great-grandmother. Watch this space…’
At last the fog in my head has cleared from a winter lergy enough to remember that I attended an excellent day in Bristol at SilverWood Books at the end of October. The event was hosted by Helen Hart and the SilverWood team and held in a venue on the picturesque waterside. My room looked through autumn leaves onto boats busy on the water. I pick out the ‘Elevator Pitch’ session as the most useful, run by publishing assistant, Rowena Ball and author Alison Morton. We all had to come up with a 30 second pitch to describe our novel. So beware being stuck in a lift with me! I now have 30 seconds worth on all my books – including forthcoming ones. No danger, I have only used one lift in a twenty mile radius in the last twenty years! But, in the pub, that’s another matter. Of course I forgot to take any pictures!
I have also been very aware of the 60th anniversary of events in Hungary – the uprising on 23rd October, the hopeful days of rebellion and the smashing of those hopes by Russian tanks in Budapest in November. It’s where my forthcoming novel, the story of two sisters, starts – I’m still trucking on with it and it keeps getting interrupted. But one day I will get there.’
Had a great weekend reunion in Bristol meeting up with friends – and Fran was there, although she was lurking in a dark corner where not many people saw her! But I did sell one copy!
Here in Bristol for a reunion which celebrates 50 years (whaat?!) since I graduated in German! Looking forward to meeting old friends and having a thoroughly nostalgic time.
I wonder if Fran will be there? If so who will she come with? Or will her memories of Bristol be too painful?
South Hams Writers
Had a brilliant evening at the South Hams Writers‘ annual dinner at California Cross, judging their novel competition – eating delicious food in excellent and talented company! Here I am with Alison Hunt, who won the cup for first prize with the second volume of her ‘Seekers’ trilogy for Young Adult readers.
World Book Night
Annette Shaw of Devon Life organised an excellent gathering of authors and readers at Stoke Lodge Hotel, Stoke Fleming on 23rd April. It was such a relaxed and friendly occasion and everyone spent the day networking and chatting nineteen to the dozen. The best-selling novelist, Lesley Pearse, was the guest speaker and gave a very entertaining talk. The hotel looked after us brilliantly with a delicious lunch, and even the weather was on best form – so drinks – and photographs – were taken on the terrace with a stunning view across Start Bay.
I was thrilled that Annette Shaw asked for a copy of Becoming Fran and reviewed it in the May edition of Devon Life.
You can read the article here:
Devon Life MAY 2016 BOOKSHELF
Cornish Writing Retreat
In the middle of May I allowed myself a Writing Retreat – which is code for indulgent writer’s treat. This particular five days took place at Bosloe House, a National Trust property in Cornwall, organised by Jane Moss and Kath Morgan of The Writing Retreat. There was a wow factor to every aspect of this week, from the not-bad view from my room, to the helpful one-to-ones with tutors, the company of a cross-section of gifted writers and inspiring warm-up sessions. Plus there was a visit from renowned novelist, Patrick Gale, who was hugely entertaining, and generous with tips, advice and useful discussion. And I haven’t even mentioned the food! So much fun and laughter – and I even got a lot of new writing done!
Dartmouth Library Talk
Rowena Marshall of Dartmouth Library invited me to give a talk on 5th April about Becoming Fran – with Dartmouth Community Bookshop in attendance. A lively group gathered to hear how this third novel, set in the 50s, 60s and 70s, evolved. There was much discussion about how the invention of email and the iPhone impacts on plot, creating problems for the novelist. Sometimes it is important that your characters can’t get hold of each other. The plot of Becoming Fran, as it stands, would not have worked if the characters had been in constant touch regardless of time and place, as people are today.
I also warned writers of the potential – and expensive – pitfalls involved in quoting song lyrics. The message is that, if you want to quote, choose an author who is long dead!
‘Becoming Fran’ book launch in Dittisham
It was standing room only for the launch of ‘Becoming Fran’ in the village pub on Monday evening. In spite of storm Imogen, about forty people – and two spaniels – gathered to the 60s sound of Mr Tambourine Man and other Bob Dylan tracks that were favourites of Fran in her student days in Bristol.
A lively question and answer session followed some brief readings, and discussion continued over refreshments. Meanwhile, I was only too delighted to be kept busy signing books until we had to send an SOS for sandwiches.
The spaniels were very attentive during the reading, but showed a marked preference for sausages…
New novel: ‘Becoming Fran’ has arrived!
Great excitement as my copies of the new novel ‘Becoming Fran‘ arrived today! Just had to take a photo as soon as I tore open the box. It seems they have a beginning and an end and all the right bits in between – so that’s okay. Available to preorder now, as a giveaway on Goodreads and out on Monday week – 8th February 2016.
Exciting news! The publication date for ‘Becoming Fran’ by Jill Treseder is February 8th 2016. So look out on the SilverWood Books website and Amazon, or best of all, support your local bookshop and order from them. It will be on sale in Dartmouth Community Bookshop for sure.
The story follows Fran as she struggles, first with her mother, then with relationships with men and most of all with herself. It’s set in 1960s Bristol, plus a good helping of Dorset and Cornwall in the 70s. Here’s what Mark McCrum had to say about it:
‘What seems to be a lovingly observed tale of growing up in provincial England in the 1960s turns out to be something much more, with a satisfying plot that creeps up on you unawares with an intriguing slow-burn complexity.’