You know, some authors feel like old friends even when I haven’t met them in real life and lovely Mary Grand is one such author. I’m delighted to welcome her back to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about one of her books. Previously Mary told me all about a sense of place in a smashing guest blog here.
If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.
Staying in with Mary Grand
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Mary. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thanks, it’s lovely to have a chat with you Linda.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I have brought my new novel Behind the Smile because it is set in one of my favourite places, Mottistone Down here on the Isle of Wight. It is a place of stunning beauty and it is here I created the fictitious village of Elmstone (no planning permission needed for a writer!).
On the actual downs are some wonderful features that I used in the story including the Longstone, the Tudor manor hidden down among the woods, the mysterious isolated cottage and sprawling Compton bay that you can see in the distance. Pepper, my cocker spaniel and I are up on the downs in rain, snow, fog and yes, even sunshine; no two days are the same.
(Thanks so much for bringing these photos too Mary. I’ve travelled all over the world but I’ve never been to the Isle of Wight and it’s on my wish list. I think a visit to your fictitious Elmstone would be a very good place to start.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Behind The Smile?
Our evening with Behind the Smile will be quite an emotional one. Behind the Smile is a dark family drama; it explores what people are hiding behind a mask of fake smiles.
(Oh great! I just love an emotional read. Tell me more.)
Lowri is the person we will spend most of the time with and her journey is not easy.
At the beginning of the novel we find her pregnant, facially scarred from a car accident, abandoned by her lover. She decides to reunite with her husband and move to the idyllic village of Elmstone on the Isle of Wight. She is deeply unhappy but hides her feelings. Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. Both appear to Lowri to have perfect lives. However she slowly discovers that Heather and Carina are also both living a lie, that behind their smiles lie secrets, addictions and an obsession that threatens to destroy her.
(Behind the Smile sounds brilliant and just my kind of read.)
You can see why we are in for an emotional evening! However I hope we will end our evening with a sense of hope and find that not all smiles are fake, it is possible to have a smile on our face that reflects genuine happiness inside.
(Interesting concept Mary. You’ve really got me intrigued.)
As well as a smile, what else have you brought along and why?
I have brought along my cocker spaniel Pepper – I promise that if I give him a dog biscuit he will settle down and sleep for the evening!
(Oh my goodness. Isn’t he just gorgeous? It’s probably just as well that I no longer have four cats though…)
He has spent many hours with me on the downs and also rested on my feet as I wrote Behind the Smile. I always have a cocker spaniel in my stories as Pepper is an integral part of my life now (My children complain that I have more pictures of him on my phone than them).
(My family claim cats were my children – I didn’t have any real ones – so I understand the bond completely!)
While researching the book Pepper and I we went up to the Longstone on the Downs in the dark. My husband accompanied us as Pepper is more likely to chase a rabbit than protect me if anything untoward happened. It was incredible; we heard owls and foxes. There was more light than I expected but the Longstone seemed a bigger and more threatening .The isolated house which looks idyllic in the day looked lonely and abandoned. It was all very atmospheric until my husband stepped in a cow pat which rather ruined the mood but was very funny.
(I’m not sure I’d have gone on my own with or without Pepper so I think, cow pats aside, it’s a jolly good thing your other half was with you Mary!)
Thank you so much for staying in with me to tell me about Behind the Smile Mary. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about it and not only do I want to read it as soon as I can, I want to get to the Isle of Wight too!
Thank you so much for a lovely evening Linda, Pepper and I have had a great time.
Behind the Smile
Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone.
Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village?
Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile?
Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?
Behind the Smile is available for purchase here.
About Mary Grand
Mary Grand was born in Cardiff UK and has retained a deep love for her Welsh roots. She worked as a nursery teacher in London and later taught deaf children in Croydon and Hastings. Mary now lives on the beautiful Isle of Wight with her husband, where she walks her cocker spaniel Pepper and writes. She has two grown up children.