Mary T Bradford is the author of To Live with a Stranger which was published on 27 October 2021.
Mary kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about To Live with a Stranger.
It is a novel about standing up for your true self and being confident to live your life by being the real you. The main characters, Cathy and Mark, both struggle with issues that prevent them being honest with themselves. Cathy is bullied by an older sibling, her self-worth is at an all-time low and Mark was off-loaded by his parents to his Grandmother, which leads him to concealing the real man he is to others. When they are thrown together at Cregane Court, their actions have a knock-on influence on those around them. A feel-good book, where if change is needed in your life, it is possible but it must start with you.
2. What inspired the book?
My inspiration for this novel comes from my grandmother’s house. Her cottage which is still in my family, holds many memories for us. I love the peace that is there, surrounded by a grove of trees and rolling countryside. I think it would make an ideal artist’s retreat. My Nana was the only grandparent I knew and she played a big part in our family life. She was a woman before her time, wise and understanding. I wanted her home to be remembered in some way and what better way than to base a book there.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Oh I am very much a sit down and see where the page takes me. I never know who the characters’ are or what they will get up to when I start writing. I may have a character’s name or a first line that has been rolling around in my head for a few days. Then when I get tired of carrying the name or line with me everywhere, I start to write. It is kinda saying, ‘Okay, you win, what is it you want me to write’. I honestly do not think I could plan a story. It wouldn’t flow naturally for me if I were to know too much in advance. I like being surprised as I write. Plus seeing how the characters actually connect themselves as the story progresses is exciting. Family, friendships, relationships are what I write about, there is always something to explore in this area.
4. Having been through the publishing process a few times, is there anything about publishing a book that still surprises you?
Each time you hold another completed novel in your hands, the buzz of achievement and wonder is always present. Whether it is your first or your fourth (as in my case) you get those ripples of excitement and pleasure when you first see the cover. I think when the cover is revealed, for me that is still amazing, it makes the manuscript real.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I love crochet, knitting, crafting really. I usually go to my mother’s in the evenings and along with my sister, Catherine, the three of us sit and crochet/knit while chatting. Then once I’m home, I read for a bit in bed.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Oh, gosh, what a question! I’ve no idea! I am not a person to re-read a book. I enjoy so many authors that I would not know where to start choosing from. Sorry! At present I am reading, Elizabeth Strout. I love her work. Olive Kitteridge is a wonderful character as is Lucy Barton.
7. 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 have never been asked, ‘Could I give up my writing?’
My writing is only one part of me as a person. I have often pondered on the above question and I think I might survive not writing more novels, but I could not give up writing short stories. I love short stories and I am blessed in having my work published in many newspapers, magazines and anthologies. I think this is why my next two projects are collections of short stories. I did my Master’s in Creative Writing in 2019/2020 and I have work produced during that year I want to share with others. So, could I give up writing? Not really, as a writer has characters and scenarios always rumbling around inside them and the torment of not releasing them in written form is bothersome.
About the Book
Two strangers, Cathy Reed & Mark Daniels inherit the same country cottage, Cregane Court. Yet someone else wants the cottage and is determined to have it. But who and why?
Cathy and Mark have a fight on their hands to keep their new home. Luke and Sno, people they’ve only just met rally to support them. During the struggle to save the cottage, the friends discover more about each other and how the cottage has impacted their lives.
Cregane Court is a place that captures your heart and has you willing Cathy and Mark on as they fight for its survival. Can these two strangers thrown together save their home or will sinister elements within the community work against them and deprive them of Cregane Court?