You know, I love being a blogger, because I get to interview all kinds of wonderful people and I’m delighted to welcome Karen Aldous to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about her writing and her latest book One Moment at Sunrise. One Moment at Sunrise was published by Carina in e-book and is available for purchase here.
One Moment at Sunrise
Nothing will ever be the same again…
Evie Grant has spent two years hidden away in a quiet French village, longing to escape her beautiful villa with its blue-shuttered windows. Maybe this summer, the father of her child will keep his broken promises and return to whisk her away to another life. One way or another, Evie’s determined to stop feeling like his dirty little secret…
Yet when a mysterious stranger almost knocks Evie off her bicycle early one morning, her world begins to change in ways she never expected. Embarking on a painful journey of self-discovery, Evie begins to face her darkest fears and rebuild her fragile dreams. But can she ever truly break free from her gilded cage and learn to love again?
An Interview with Karen Aldous
Hi Karen. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing
Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi Linda, it’s a pleasure, thank you so much for featuring me on your lovely blog. I am tucked away in a village in Kent with hubby and most of my family and friends close-by. When I’m not writing, much of my time is spent with them; I’m so lucky to have four gorgeous grandchildren who I adore, along with my rather large yellow Labrador who loves taking me for walks. My other passion is travel, Europe being a particular favourite.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
It finally dawned on me when I was in my late teens. I’d always had a penchant for pens, pads, typewriters and stationery, writing poetry and regularly writing letters to pen friends. I was also one to take myself off to the library after school when I was a junior, but reading novels on my commute to work each day created the biggest itch and I began writing short stories, even attempted a novel (an outline and four chapters), but I never had the confidence to send anything out.
(I think an awful lot of bloggers are addicted to notebooks and stationery too!)
How much did joining the Romantic Novelist New Writers Scheme affect your writing?
When my mum was terminally ill, it made me realise how limited time really was. I made up my mind that I was going to write the novel I’d always promised myself and try to get it published. From subscribing to writing magazines, I’d learned of the scheme and after completing the first chapters of my novel, I applied to the scheme and was successful. I had eight months to complete it. The following day I also enrolled in a local creative writing class and discovered many like-minded writers, some of whom were also on the scheme. It was as though the classes were made for me and when I received an encouraging report from the RNA NWS, I immediately began editing my first three chapters and entered them into a Writing Festival competition. Although I didn’t win, it led me to a meeting with an editor who liked it, and asked for more. That’s how I received my publishing contract. I believe joining both of these organisations were instrumental in their help and support; drumming up my own belief whilst giving publishers and agents the signal you are seriously committed to your writing.
To what extent do you think studying psychology has impacted on your writing?
First and foremost, studying for the degree really boosted my confidence. Graduating with a BSc Honours was a huge achievement for me. Because my parents were not great believers in further education, I was expected to find a job at sixteen which I did, then married at nineteen, children at twenty-two. As my children grew, I began exploring my own path. The course I chose tied in with my fascination for people and understanding behaviour differences, the why’s and what lies beneath. It gave me a deeper insight into individuals’ psychological make-up. I would say it has created quite an impact on my writing particularly when creating my characters and understanding their motivations as well as providing confidence within myself as a writer.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
I’d like to think either photography or being a musician. I enjoy taking photographs and invested in a brilliant camera a few years back which I’m still learning to use effectively. Predictably, I love to capture beautiful scenery such as lakes surrounded by mountains like those of Lake Leman in Switzerland or Lake Como in Italy but I also love to capture faces or profiles close-up, particularly my grandchildren. There’s something magical about catching expressions. And music. I used to play in a band and I love the lift you get from playing ensemble and in harmony. Although I’m a crap singer, I often sing to the grandchildren and they love it, (well they laugh and join in) but such fun!
France features quite heavily in your novels. Why have you chosen this particular location?
Put simply, France provides me with so much inspiration. Particularly the south of France. The beauty of much of its landscape, the language and culture, the food and wine, and of course, the ambience. From tiny scenic villages to thriving cosmopolitan towns, it has everything I could want as a writer and I could feed off it for years. I would love a base there and have easy access to Italy, Switzerland and Greece, my other favourites. I find these destinations relaxing whilst enticing in so many ways. Wherever you stay in Europe, there is so much history, people and places to visit you could never be short of material for novels.
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
Naturally, I visit a location to experience it for myself before I write or it has inspired me to go there. Sometimes, I might discover something which is a real surprise. For example, my latest book, One Moment at Sunrise, was inspired when visiting the Canal-du-Midi. However, as soon as I began researching more about the canal, visiting sites and museums etc., once home, I found an un-notable mention about Pyrenean mountain woman being involved with its construction. I just had to dig out more. I discovered an academic work which provided so much relevant evidence and material to suggest that Paul-Pierre Riquet, the visionary responsible for its success, had employed peasant woman for their numerous methods of channelling water in the mountain regions but, from this research discovered these women’s names had been taken off the payroll and have never been credited for their significant input.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
The aspect I find easiest is ideas. The hardest is in the execution and how those ideas are going to be portrayed and written. As my writing has progressed I’ve found that I’m fascinated by women in history and what they’ve achieved and I find I want to include them. I also find myself reading so many beautiful writers that I want to improve my writing too and all the time I find I’m challenging myself to expand my knowledge on all fronts.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I prefer to write in the mornings and evenings where possible. I think the mornings is when my mind is freshest but evenings when I can escape to my study and find the quiet to get into the zone.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
My favourite books usually have a strong setting and historical elements such as Victoria Hislop’s The Island, Rosanna’s Ley’s The Villa, Leah Flemming’s The Girl Under the Olive Tree, Dinah Jeffries’ The Tea Planter’s Wife, Erica James’ The Dandelion Years, Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. I also enjoy dual time lines like Iona Grey’s Letters to the Lost, Kath McGurl’s The Pearl Locket and, psychological fiction such as Lisa Hall’s Between You and Me.
(Oh! Fabulous books there Karen. I’ve read all your choices or got them on my TBR.)
The covers of your books have exactly the kind of image that attracts me as a reader. How much involvement have you had in their creation?
Aww thank you, the cover designers are amazing but I have little input apart from the story itself. I leave it to the experts.
The title of your latest novel, One Moment at Sunrise, suggests that life can be affected in an instance. How far do you believe this to be true?
An interesting question, Linda and I would say I think there are moments in our lives which ignite something within us. As stated earlier, when at the hospital with my mother; that moment I had when reality hit that life is actually rather short and we are all volatile, and if I was going to get my novel published I would have to change some things. It was a catalyst to change. Also, when I discovered I was having twins at twenty weeks during my second pregnancy, I remember the moment even now. I had been worried sick about how we were going to manage financially having a ten-month old son already, so I was forced to think differently and creatively to manage. Having experienced such moments, I must be confident that we can be affected in an instance.
(I can empathise with that entirely, Karen. In the last ten months my husband has had cancer, my father has suffered a massive stroke and my great niece, Emma Faith, was still born at full term so I accept entirely that we need to make the most of our chances.)
If you could choose to be a character from one of your novels, who would you be and why?
Oh don’t do this, it’s like choosing one of your children! Ok, I’ve come back to this because I think Evie in One Moment at Sunrise has much more potential as a person and as a writer, developing film scripts. I would love to see where she heads next. It would certainly be a dream for me to see something I wrote on the big screen.
If One Moment at Sunrise became a film, who would you like to play Evie and why would you choose them?
Either a younger Reese Witherspoon or a blonde Gemma Arterton. They are both stunning but they have a vulnerability about them like Evie. And those mischievous eyes, I’m thinking humour and seduction. Evie is also very bright albeit a little naïve in that she likes to please. I think both these actresses could pull off that quality.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that One Moment at Sunrise should be their next read, what would you say?
Evie has everything; successful man, a house, beautiful daughter, so why is she so unhappy?
(Good question – we’ll all have to read One Moment at Sunrise to find out.)
Thank you so much, Karen, for your time in answering my questions.
My pleasure, Linda. Thank you.
About Karen Aldous
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!
You can find all Karen’s wonderful books here.