This week my guest is Rosemary Gemmell, author of Summer of the Eagles. Hailing from a small Scottish village, her location on the west coast of Scotland often influences her writing and that is definitely the case with her latest novel. Summer of the Eagles, tells the story of 13 year old Stephanie (Stevie) who is orphaned and injured in a terrible accident. Sent to live with an aunt on a Scottish island she becomes fascinated by a bird sanctuary and finds herself in the middle of a adventure foiling poachers.
The Rosemary Gemmell Interview
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
I once had a midnight swim in the sea while working in the Isle of Man during the summer as a teenager – something I always wanted to do. The lovely Scottish woman who owned the hotel and her visiting sister brought a towel across the prom to me – my friend just watched from the side!
Are the names of your characters important to you?
Character names are very important to me and I can’t get on with writing a story or novel unless I have names that suit the main characters. I’m not so worried about the minor characters but if the hero and heroine of a novel have the wrong name, then I seem to have more trouble writing the story. I can’t get seem to get inside their heads enough until the names are right.
How did you choose a title for your book?
Summer of the Eagles was one of the easiest titles of any of my books as it describes both the time of year and a significant part of the story – the eagles. As with names, I can spend ages on getting a title just right or the book might never get written and I prefer to know from the beginning if possible!
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Sitting too much, and developing aches and pains in shoulders and wrists. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing outside the house, in a café or on the train where I use pen and paper for a change and I usually have a walk before and after.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
I’ve already been a student nurse (for half way through the three year course); a business travel advisor; a business/education liaison administrator in a school; a direct banking advisor and an Adult Literacy tutor. I used to want to be a librarian and sometimes dream of being a university lecturer (I studied literature and history), but I’m mostly content to be an author, and occasional adjudicator and speaker.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
Unfortunately, statistics and articles seem to suggest that elitism is alive and well, particularly between literary and genre fiction. But why should readability and high sales be inferior to so called literary works that might lie on people’s shelves unread? I suspect that those who talk the loudest probably only read one type of book and criticise others without having read them. Even worse is the fact that many men tend to avoid fiction by women (without giving it a chance) while women read a good book regardless of author gender – and this is also happening with boys and girls.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
The most essential thing is to read, as that is how we absorb the way stories are structured. It doesn’t matter what you write, but never give up if you want to be published. Sending work out to editors and competitions is a good way to hone your craft. The first will hopefully provide feedback, if not publication, and the competitions often provide a theme as well as a deadline.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is all around us if we begin to observe with a writer’s mind. Newspapers, magazines, art, postcards, films, travel, snippets of other people’s conversations – all have the possibility to inspire a story, article or poem. Listening to music also inspires me in a different way. If you are new to writing, your own childhood is a good place to start for a rich source of inspiration.
Do you have any favourite resources you would like to share with our readers?
Because of all my studies with the Open University (to post-graduate MA level), I have a huge amount of reference books, literature and history notes and art prints, all of which are still excellent resources for my fiction and articles. But one of my favourite resources, which was a gift, is the book of letters from Jane Austen to her sister in the illustrated My Dear Cassandra. Not only does it contain a wealth of information about the author and her observations but the illustrations provide an excellent visual resource for that period of history and are invaluable when I’m writing about the Regency period (as Romy Gemmell).
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
I start every day with warm water, freshly squeezed lemon, a fresh piece of ginger and a tiny amount of Manuka honey. Then it’s the first cup of tea with breakfast, while checking social media. Mid-morning, it has to be coffee, whether at home or in a café. If writing during the afternoon, it’s either tea of water.
Are there any habits you wish you didn’t have?
Procrastination – thinking tomorrow will do, which is also partly due to not organising my time effectively and wondering where to start. And working on too many things at once without taking time to finish one at a time – I’m still trying to get that under control! By nature, I’m fairly methodical but seem to get overwhelmed at times and I suspect that is because I like to flit from one genre and subject to another, hence the reason I write under slightly different names. Definitely a habit I need to get under control, if not break all together.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT rosemary and her BOOK?
You can find The Summer of the Eagles in Kindle and Paperback format here:
WHY ‘THE THURSDAY THRONG’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.