I confess, we had a holiday and we had no internet… and I have been reading up a storm. Instead of piles of books waiting to be read, we have piles of books waiting to be reviewed… it’s nice place to be in!!! I thought I would begin with an author interview…
An Evening with Lesley Pearse…
Lesley Pearse was in Cape Town recently and I was lucky enough to attend an interview with her at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square, thanks to Penguin Random House South Africa. What can I say, there is nothing like meeting an author in real life and there is so much more to an author than their website… and I have to say Lesley Pearse has a great website… full of background regarding her childhood and she had a rather extraordinary one. If you are a fan of her books then rush over to her website and read her story. Local author, Gail Gilbride Bohle interviewed her for us, and I have a selection of her questions and answers for you. Each question was answered with a quirky anecdote, you can see why Lesley Pearse is an author, she is a natural storyteller.
- How do you create your characters? I have twisted thing inside of me that I have to put my heroine through. In Dead to Me, Archie is terrifyingly real… out of my imagination. I know no one like him. My library is full of mass murderers. I didn’t intend for him to be that bad.
- Is there a message in your books? Friendship is my family and I really believe that love makes the world go round.
- Tell us about your recurring themes: Love, friendship and betrayal. I could never forgive my best friend who had a relationship with my husband. I stopped by to visit one day and punched her in the nose, the satisfaction of the blood and her shattered nose…
- How much research do you do? For the Crimea and Alaska themed books I did a lot of long winded research. I don’t have the energy for a new country, and the moral threads that make up South Africa are just too complicated. So I don’t think there will be a South African book.
- You love the British landscape? I love the English country side it is very cosy and comfy. I am English through and through and could never live anywhere else. England has such spectacular flowers and I love gardening.
- Is it therapeutic to write? Yes, initially I wrote very close to my heart. It’s a good idea to write about things. It does you good.
- What inspired your writing? The Thorn Birds made me want to write a bestseller. I sat up all night reading without even noticing my own discomfort. And then she wrote and wrote. She told her children, “You will go to bed at 6:30 because mummy must write.” Otherwise, Charles Dickens inspired her, she was born in Rochester and we went to visit his house and all the Dickensian stuff. Her step-mother was an absolute dragon but we saw the same things in the books. She made me read and read… and that laid a foundation that was tucked away. Enid Blyton was the best… I read her under the covers.
- Any top tips?: Persistence. Don’t let anyone stop you. I call myself Persistent Pearse, it took 7 years to publish my first. I wanted to write, I didn’t write for the money. Don’t give it to friends, send it to agents and persist to the end!!!
- When did you start writing? When I was about 35 and now I am 72
- Is your writing from real life, have you done it all? I have a good imagination, I have never done quite a few things that I have written about. But I have a done a lot of them. For instance, I was once at a party and while I was in the bathroom the police raided the venue, and I ended up escaping along a garden wall with a friend. It was mid-February, it was Kensington and it was freezing… Shaking with laughter remembering it!!! Of course, my sister believes every thing I write about is part of my life.
Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse
Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse: I have to say that I haven’t read a Lesley Pearse in ages, so I was pleased to get a copy of Dead to Me, as she writes great holiday reads. In Dead to Me, two gals meet by chance on Hampstead Heath one morning in 1937. The one, Verity, appears to have it all and is looking for a bit of adventure in her otherwise dull life. And Ruby, definitely hasn’t got it all, she is desperately trying to survive, to the point of stealing for food, while not homeless, her home life is so truly awful that when she does find herself on the wrong side of the law and is sent to Devon to a loving foster home, you almost breathe a sigh of relief for her.
The girls very quickly become best of friends each wanting a little of what the other has. It is only when Ruby is sent away that Verity realises how fortunate she is, but you are only a short way into the book at this stage and the tide quickly turns. Time will only reveal what horrific conditions Verity is living under. While Ruby’s mother was totally neglectful, Verity’s dysfunctional family has you wanting to cry out for help. Verity’s mother is incapacitated by her abusive husband… and all is not what it seems when you look beneath the classy exterior. The girl’s lives rise and fall on waves of good fortune and bad… and as the one’s life changes for the better, so the other falters. When Verity rushes to Ruby’s aid in a crisis that results in a harrowing night at her bedside, she is forced to tell Ruby’s foster mother the truth. Ruby declares this unforgivable and the friends part ways.
Meanwhile, Verity’s father keeps turning up at the worst of times, and there is always a “convincing reason” why he need not be reported to the police. He is a hardened criminal with a trail of grief strung out behind him and nobody strong enough to stand up to him, could he possibly stop the friends from ever getting back together again? And so you keep reading, you have to know that these two young gals turn out okay, if they find the love that they have always been looking for, if they even survive the war and all that is thrown at them in their journey through life.
Her new book, The Woman in the Wood has just been released, and to be sure it is on my reading pile.
A copy of Dead to Me and The Woman in the Wood were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.