Today I’m pleased to welcome Laura Purcell to the blog. Laura is the author of Queen of Bedlam, Mistress of the Court and God Save the King. Her latest novel, The Silent Companions was published by Bloomsbury Raven on 5 October 2017.
Laura kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Silent Companions.
THE SILENT COMPANIONS is a classic Victorian ghost story set in a dilapidated country mansion. Pregnant and recently widowed, our heroine Elsie is dismayed to be marooned with no one but her late husband’s drab cousin for company. But then she discovers an old diary, and an unsettling wooden figure locked in the garret. As objects begin to move and things go bump in the night, Elsie begins to believe she is not alone after all …
2. What inspired the book?
Discovering the existence of real life silent companions. I just thought they were terrifying and deserved their own story. To get myself into the spooky frame of mind, I ploughed through the works of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill, and the ideas grew from there.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
It’s always best to plan, it saves so much work and confusion later on. But I don’t stick rigidly to my plan, if a good idea strikes I am happy to go with it.
4. Is there anything about the process of creating a novel which surprised you?
Not really, I have been writing novels since I was 14 so I am pretty used to it by now! But every novel is different and presents its own challenges.
5. Do you have any writing influences or rituals you have to stick to?
I can write anywhere, at any time – an essential skill I obtained when I wrote my novels around a full time job. I always write best if I am reading an amazing novel at the same time, my favourites are things by Daphne Du Maurier, Sarah Waters, Philippa Gregory, amongst others.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I like to read and watch movies for inspiration. I also enjoy playing board games, computer games and going for long walks.
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. I’d read it multiple times before I studied it for A Level and I still never get sick of it. That’s a very rare thing with a book!
8. I like to end my Q&As 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?
I’ve yet to be asked about my own ghostly experiences. Luckily, I’ve never been haunted (!) but I was followed by the scent of roses in the Georgian apartments at Hampton Court Palace. Those with me couldn’t smell anything. I later discovered that this has happened to other people, and some believe it is the ghost of Queen Caroline, who bathed in those rooms.
About the book
Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.
With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…