Today I’m welcoming Lily Graham on my blog. She published her debut novella The Postcard in Dezember 2014. I had the pleasure to read it shortly after the pub date. You want to know how much I loved The Postcard? Then read my 4.5 star review here.
Hello Lily, I’m delighted to welcome you on Dreaming With Open Eyes. For the readers who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?
Thank you so much for welcoming me on Dreaming with Open Eyes, it’s lovely to be here. A bit about me? I have been a journalist for over ten years working for national newspapers and women’s glossies. I studied English literature at varsity, and spent years wishing that I could be a professional reader for a publishing house so that I could be paid to read (preferably in bed) as opposed to finding a proper job that involved cubicle farming but when that didn’t work out I got allotted a cubicle of my own I decided to commit fiction and have been writing my stories late at night ever since. Though by late at night I mean 7pm really. My first novella The Postcard, a magical ghost story set in Cornwall was released in December last year.
It’s really a story about a mothers love for her child, and asks the question : when someone that we loved passes away is that really the end? For Ivy Everton, a children’s book illustrator who moves to Cornwall to start a new life with her aspiring creative gardener of husband Stuart, it’s a question she begins to ask herself when she finds a curiously blank postcard addressed to her in her mother’s hand. As odd things begin to happen, items go missing in her studio, only to reappear magically transformed, Ivy begins to realise that the postcard was never really blank; it was only waiting for her to find it.
As a lifelong lover of fiction, books and me have been linked in sentences for as long as I can remember and so I suppose along the way I figured I’d try writing myself. I dabbled with this in school, though it was only in varsity that I began to take it a bit more seriously and attempted writing actual novels. After studying literature then publishing (which I didn’t enjoy as it was more about the business side of things rather than finding and nurturing writers which is what I believed I’d be doing) I got a job as a junior reporter for a local weekly paper which was a complete crash course into writing. There I learnt to write concisely (ahem, it didn’t stick) to use the active voice, to choose verbs instead of adverbs, and to try never to use the same word twice. It was good advice and throughout the years as I moved up and became a senior reporter then features journalist I’m constantly learning and revising. Though I’m grateful that I began writing fiction before I began my training as a journalist because I got into the habit of getting the story down and of losing myself in the flow without interfering critical inner voices (like shouting editors and sub-editors) because the magic, for me at least, lies in that creative flow when your fingers can’t keep up with the wisps of story in your brain.
I was actually meant to write a different book when I thought about The Postcard. Very uncharacteristically for me I’d written an outline that was over 3000 words long, a story where I’d figured out the beginning middle and end, then found when it came down to actually writing it I couldn’t, my enthusiasm had run out. I was driving to work and the idea of a postcard from beyond the grave from a mother to her daughter, popped into my head. That was all I had. Nothing more. But it was enough. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ve always loved fantasy – my mother is in some ways the inspiration behind Alice, Ivy’s mother, who has an affinity for the unexpected, so I grew up loving those types of stories. From there it evolved and with Christmas around the corner it felt like a nice setting for the Story.
I suppose like the book itself, there was a degree of magic to it, in the actual writing of it. I’m not quite sure what happened to me but for the first time in my writing career I just let go. I’ve never really been a planner, preferring to work quite freeform than with a plot as I find it can (for me at least) be very restricting and sometimes curtail the creativity, as I like to surprise myself. So I had no plan or outline, but as soon as I started writing it, it just enfolded, whole chapters came out and like a puzzle within a few weeks I had the story told. I wrote everyday, sometimes for up to ten hours a day. It was heady and exciting. Whole weekends were chewed up as I lost myself in magical Cornwall.
Funny and nerve-wrecking! I did a very slow soft launch. I’d heard so many horror stories of books not formatting correctly or sudden unseen problems. So I released it and didn’t tell anyone except my best-friend and husband. It was more of a very scared whisper, ‘I hit publish. I hit publish, oh god why did I hit publish?!’ Then my Internet went down so I didn’t even know it was up. My husband and I had to drive to a restaurant with Wi-Fi so we could see it! Once I was happy that no unforeseen issues had sprung up I told all my friends and family and we celebrated – I had lots of wine and chocolate! Since then it’s been the most amazing time, and every day I wake up excited especially when someone has left me a note to tell me they enjoyed it or I’ve seen that I’ve now gotten a new sale. It’s an incredible feeling, though it still doesn’t feel real.
What type of books do you like to read and who are your favorite authors?
Do you have your own writing space? Tell us a little about where you like to write?
I have the most beautiful writing room. It’s lined with books, painted a dove grey and has a lovely Queen Anne chair and a French inspired dining table that overlooks the garden. Though I very seldom write there which causes me endless guilt as I prefer to write in bed, often late at night, or stealing an hour or two before work, or snatched during lunch time. I have a dream of becoming a full-time author and getting my own writing garden room … though in reality I’d probably just write wherever we stick the fridge.
Are you working on a new novel at the moment? What’s next for you?
I’m busy revising my second book, a full length novel, called An Invincible Summer, set in Crete about a journalist who discovers a burnt down vineyard and tries to get to the bottom of what really happened, while dealing with her own loss and grief. It should be released sometime early this year. I’m also working on another magical story about a man who receives the heart of a girl after he gets a heart transplant, which I hope to release by the end of the year.
Lastly, tell us 3 reasons why a reader should pick up your novella.
I think if you enjoy a different story with a twist, a bit of romance, drama, and some magic you’ll enjoy The Postcard.
Thank you so much Lily for joining me on Dreaming With Open Eyes! I wish you all the best with your novella!