Once again it’s my pleasure to join the fabulous Brook Cottage Books. Today we’re celebrating Reflections by Eleanor Smythe. Reflections is a contemporary fiction, whodunnit that was released on 1st December 2015. It is available to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
As well as telling you all about Reflections, I am delighted to bring you an interview with Eleanor Smythe as well as the opportunity to win a £25 (or equivalent) Amazon gift voucher at the bottom of this blog post.
Sally must deal with the grief of losing her father, a man she knew very little about. After the funeral she takes time out to be alone and reflect on her life.
To find out the truth about him, she first has to make amends with her estranged mother and half-sisters, whom she hasn’t spoken to for almost twenty years.
In the meantime, Mr Leriche from Interpol opens a fascinating old case file, about a stolen painting potentially worth millions. Before long Sally finds herself in the middle of a criminal investigation. Having discovered she is the sole beneficiary to her father’s estate, she must decide whether to develop the business or walk away.
Reflections is an emotional journey.
An Interview with Eleanor Smythe
Hi Eleanor. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your book ‘Reflections’.
Thank you Linda for inviting me onto your blog and for your willingness to support my tour.
Firstly, please could you imagine we are on a one minute speed date and tell me a little about yourself?
It’s along time since I was on a date ha! ha! Prior to writing I was an Occupational Therapist mostly working in the community. I raised a family of four sons (don’t think I’d say that if I were speed dating) and have an amazingly supportive husband. Ten years ago we decided to live abroad for a while. For several years we split our life between working in the UK and having fun in Portugal. Something more personal about me, I dislike toothpaste tubes being squeezed in the middle.
(I couldn’t agree more about that toothpaste tube!)
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I think I must have felt the desire too write at an early age, not that I did anything about it. At the age of eleven I told my mother that I intended to write a book one day, needless to say she didn’t take me seriously and the goal drifted into the back ground of my life. Once retired I decided it was time to have another adventure, to be honest retirement didn’t stimulate my mind enough. Thanks to the world of technology suddenly my dream to write a book seemed a possibility. I don’t think I ever truly believed it too be possible for me. Once I’d made the submission to Amazon and physically saw it for sale, that’s when I realised I was going to be writer. I’d actually achieved my goal.
It goes to show that dreams can come true.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
I think I would have taken up painting, not because I have talent in this area but I recognise that I have need for solitude and self expression from within. Although I write words I don’t always feel the need to talk. I can be perfectly happy in silence. I’m quite a deep thinker really.
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
A great deal comes form my runaway imagination. I begin with a character, as I write about that person I imagine I’m there with them or I am in fact them. What would they do or say in that situation? Then I ask a lot of questions of myself and others if need be. Is it possible, is it probable, is that location likely. Then I look at facts. With Reflections I had to find out where Interpol was located and the departments that dealt with art theft and the rate of success when dealing with art crime. Google map was used to follow the route that Mr Leriche would have taken from his home to his work, at the Interpol head quarters; and later the distance and time it took him to get from the shuttle to Herne Bay. If I link areas I try to ensure that the motorways used would be accurate.
I get some facts and history from various other sites, like wikipedia or the good old fashioned library. The back ground to Sally’s mother was researched looking at cases documented and from films I’d seen on the subject matter of unmarried mothers in Ireland, around that time. I also had to check out the realistic sentencing for the crime committed because certain crimes have a standard sentence.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Well, I’m quite young as a writer, only having two books out. I’m sure I will find many pit falls in time to come. So far, for me the most difficult part of the whole process is the marketing and the technical aspects.I make no excuses for repeating myself when I say, if it wasn’t for my technical guru, author Suzy Turner, I doubt I would have gotten this far. She has been and is a diamond in my life, (it’s not all book stuff we are also great friends). The other part of the process that is difficult for me is time. I’m often torn between other activities in my life and the time I need to sit and get on with it. I never realised how much time is needed, not just to write the book but also for the associated activities as mentioned.
(I think many authors find the marketing tricky, Eeanor.)
The part that I love is creating the characters and the world that they live in. Unfolding a story and weaving lives together, I get excited when I can use humorous one-liners… that I think are funny. I can lose myself totally when it comes to dialogue between two or more characters, sometimes I have to stop myself and do a double check, to make sure I’m not waffling on. When I get into dialogue with my male characters I really go for it, they can be insulting and aggressive with each other at times and yet I hope I also bring some tenderness in a manly kind of way.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I wish you could hear me laughing about the routine question. I guess I could answer with one word WEAK. I don’t have a set routine as such. I’m not a get up and get to it person with my writing. Firstly because the whole point of retiring was not to be a slave to work any longer and secondly because I have a husband that fortunately likes to spend time with me. I also love coffee days out with my girly friends. However I do make an effort to write everyday even if it’s only a few lines and I do an awful lot of prep even when I’m not sitting at the computer. My mind is constantly turning things over. If something pops into my head out comes my phone and I make a note. I love to sit on my sofa with my feet up or at the dining table, I have lovely views from there. I’m fortunate to have a lovely room of my own to work from, if my husband is watching TV or being a bit loud. I prefer to work in silence so that I can hear my cogs turning. My very best day to write is when my husband goes fishing, I do encourage him to go at least twice a week then I have a full day at the computer… If I’m not distracted.
(Sounds perfect to me.)
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I hadn’t thought about it much until this question kept popping up. I realised that I had spent many years, with the little spare time I had, mostly reading about work related subjects or subjects relating to whatever alternative therapy course I was on at the time. I also read a lot around various religious subjects and personal development programs… I’ve always been interested in techniques that people use to over come life difficulties. Now I’m much more relaxed about my reading. I tend to read for pleasure more than with a goal in mind. I really enjoy a variety of books. I’ve read some fantasy, Sci-fi, I’m currently reading a thriller, I enjoy something with a bit of mystery and romance. I guess I like to read a good book that captures me and it can be of any genre, although I must say I’m not a great fun of chic-lit.
Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?
Although I like my solitude I would say I’m a people person, I observe people… a part of my previous work was to observe and assess. The world around me and experience is where I find my inspiration. I love going out with friends be it for a meal, dancing or just sitting in a coffee bar. It’s amazing what we learn from other peoples experiences and habits… there are so many ways to eat a donut. If you get my point.
‘Reflections’ has a very striking cover. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
Suzy Turner helped greatly with the technical aspect of the cover (needless to say). We sat all day trying to find an image that would reflect (pardon the pun) the story. We looked for images of grieving women, funerals, art, paintings in fact anything that would relate to the storyline. At one point we even had the scales of justice. Suzy’s husband came home for lunch and said something about picture frames and mirrors, suddenly it all made sense. We found an appropriate image of a brunette women, who looked to be in a reflective mode and popped her into our previously found frame. It can be seen as a mirror, indicating reflection or as a piece of art/painting, which is linked to the storyline and art theft. It took two women all day and a man’s logic during his lunch break.
If you could chose to be a character from ‘ Reflections’, who would you be and why?
I was for over a year all of these characters. When I think of them I want to say I would like to be Sally, because of her determination. However that’s probably because I had previously written a book about her life, which I never published, so I know lots more about her than my readers will. I love Morag for her patience over the years and how she never gave up on her daughters. Aunt Kitty was also a strong women. It’s a difficult one but I guess I’ll stay with Sally. I love the courage she had to get out of a bad marriage and the way she stood by her son, who was rejected by his father for being gay. Sally’s an emotional wreck at times but a person who always gets up and fights on.
If ‘Reflections’ became a film, who would you like to play Sally?
Somehow I knew someone would ask me this question. I’ve given this a lot of thought and come up with Emma Thompson… I know the hair’s all wrong but a good wig would solve that. She plays comedy really well, and having seen her in Love Actually I know she would be fantastic at the emotional scenes; there’s quite a few of them. She’s around the right age group and a strong character actor… Just imagine wouldn’t that be fantastic to see my book as a film. I’ll invite you to the premiere if that ever happens.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that ‘Reflections’ should be their next read, what would you say?
If you enjoy an emotional journey, romance, mystery, criminality and happy endings, it’s for you.
(Ooh. 15 words exactly!)
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.
Thank you Linda for allowing me this time. I’m passionate about Reflections and it’s been great sharing that with you.
About Eleanor Smythe
Eleanor Smythe was born in the east end of London but struggles to call it home as she moved away in her teens, and continued to live in various parts of the UK. After raising four sons, she went on to obtain a degree in Occupational Therapy. Although she took the opportunity to work in various medical settings, her greatest passion was working with clients within the community, where she claims real life takes place.
Now retired and living primarily in Portugal Eleanor has more time to pursue her love of writing. Always intrigued by the way in which individuals cope with life’s challenges and how they overcome the twists and turns of life, her stories embrace inner emotional turmoil that her characters might feel. They are brought to life by showing humour, tragedy, conflict, betrayal and emotions that many of us face daily.
Her debut book, The Other Side of Town continues to receive positive reviews while her second book, Reflections, was recently released.
Eleanor and her husband’s love of travel has led to the recent acquisition of ‘Dolly the Camper Van’. Dolly will enable them to pursue their individual hobbies of fishing and writing in new and exciting environments. Eleanor will be blogging about their adventures as well as inviting others to share their own.
Click here for the chance to enter to win a £25 (or equivalent) Amazon voucher.