Today I’m pleased to welcome Emma Burstall to the blog. Emma is the author of Gym and Slimline, Never Close Your Eyes and The Darling Girl and her latest novel, Tremarnock, was published by Head of Zeus on 7 April 2016.
Emma kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Tremarnock.
My book is set in a remote and very beautiful Cornish seaside village and tells the story of Liz and her young daughter, Rosie, who move from London to start a new life after Liz’s break up with Rosie’s cheating father. Despite her sadness and the fact that she has to work very hard at two jobs to earn a living, Liz learns to love the place and the warm, welcoming folk who live there. Soon, however, a shocking turn of events turns her world upside down and threatens to wreck her hopes of romance and happiness.
2. What inspired the book?
My main inspiration was trips to Cornwall on family holidays as a child, and then again when I landed my first job as a reporter on a local newspaper covering the South West. I was based in Plymouth, Devon, and from there it was only a short hop across the Tamar River into Cornwall. I’d often spend weekends walking along the magnificent cliffs and exploring the gorgeous little fishing villages, usually ending up in an old, oak-beamed, out-of-the way pub with a roaring fire. Bliss!
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
I do plan, but not down to the very last letter. Normally I’ll do a three or four page synopsis, including the main characters and events as well as sub-plots. I’ll know the beginning, middle and end, but I won’t flesh anything out until I start writing, so there’s plenty of scope for flights of imagination as I go along. For me, that’s an important part of the fun. I often find that after a while, the characters start telling me what’s going to happen rather than the other way around and they usually spring a few surprises along the way! It takes me about a year to write a novel, including thinking time, research, planning and then writing. I start off in quite a leisurely fashion and the pace quickens as my deadline looms.
4. Tremarnock is your fourth novel. What has surprised you about the creative process behind writing and publishing a novel? What do you wish you had known before you first started? Did you career in journalism help in any way?
I didn’t realise before I set out just how important social media was going to be. I’m a bit of a technophobe and I’m afraid that Twitter and Facebook don’t come all that naturally to me. My husband once had the cheek to say that my tweets were boring and I nearly deleted my account until a friend pointed out that as I write women’s contemporary fiction, he’s not my target audience anyway!
I’m glad that I had a career in journalism first, as it taught me to write fast and not to be too precious about making changes. Everyone’s work will benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes on it and I’m lucky enough to have a superb editor.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I walk, run in the local park with my friends and I love yoga and Pilates. I also adore foreign travel, watching good films with my family and going to the theatre.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Can I have Shakespeare’s complete works, or is that cheating? I think his plays and sonnets would keep me occupied to the very end. They’re so full of wisdom and I’m always discovering fresh ideas in them that I hadn’t noticed before.
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Please may I turn your Tremarnock series into a Hollywood blockbuster? Your choice of actors and director.
The answer is yes. I live in hope!
About the book:
“A beautiful Cornish village, a shocking turn of events…
Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses painted in yellow, pink and white, cluster around the harbour, where fishermen still unload their daily catch. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant, whitewashed, with bright blue shutters.
Here, Liz has found sanctuary for herself and young daughter, Rosie – far away from Rosie’s cheating father. From early in the morning with her job as a cleaner, till late at night waitressing in the restaurant, Liz works hard to provide for them both.
But trouble is waiting just around the corner. As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets – and ambitions.”
Head of Zeus currently have a competition to win a framed artwork of the cover or a signed copy of the novel. Find out more on their website.