Q&A with Liz Fenwick, author of The Returning Tide.

In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins - the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever.

Decades later, the effects of one reckless act still echo - but how long will it be until their past returns?

The Returning Tide will sweep you away to the beautiful Cornish coast, full of secrets and mystery, and will be loved by fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

Hello fabulous bookish folk, and welcome back to another wonderful Q&A, this time with much-loved and superbly talented author, Liz Fenwick.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
Hello, I'm Liz Fenwick. Originally I'm from Massachusetts but now I call Cornwall home. I'm lucky enough to be a full-time writer, creating stories with their heart in Cornwall. 5.5.

When is your next book due to be published and what is it called?
My latest book, The Returning Tide, is out on the 23rd of March 2017.

What is it about?
It's about two sisters and one betrayal... that begins in WWII and weaves through to the present day.

How do you hope readers will feel while reading it?
Emotional, engaged, glued to it.

If you were to describe this book in the same way you'd t describe the weather, what would you say?
Because much of the book is set in the final years of WWII, I'd describe it as tumultuous.

When did you begin writing? What was your first book about?
I began writing when I was little. Because I am an only child - books became my constant companions and I have always wanted stories to go on longer... first they did in my mind then I began to write them down. My first story was about a teddy bear I think.

Did you or do you have goals for your writing?
I wanted to be a best seller... it's even mentioned in my high school year book!

Which authors inspire you?
This is always so hard to answer. At the moment Kate Atkinson, Jane Austen, Daphne DuMaurier and Mary Wesley.

If you had to describe your writing style in only three words, which words would they be?
Emotional, evocative and compelling...

What themes do you usually focus on within your writing? Is it different with each book?
Identity and different types of love are always certain to be dealt with in every book. The central theme varies with each one, but I find myself always exploring who we are and what makes us that way and how love plays a crucial role in our lives... not just romantic love.

Once you've an idea firmly in place, what is usually the next step for you?
Each novel has had a different 'seed' idea that pulled others out of the back of my mind to form a story. Once I have these random seeds I plant them in a notebook and play with pen and paper until the story begins to grow in my mind.

Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
Just before I begin to write a new book and it's all shiny with possibility.

Are there any techniques/methods you use when it comes to plotting?
I don't plot that much. Before I was published I didn't plot at all but now time constraints make it necessary. I now need to know if the story has the 'legs' to make a full novel which now means working out the key theme of the book. It usually will have changed by the time the first draft is finished. I write a fast and dirty first draft which helps me discover my characters and theme more fully. Then the real work happens... from that rough block I carve the story.

Have you ever come face to face with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, it means I don't know what will happen next. Sure-fire ways for me are reading a writing craft book and doing an exercise, taking a bath, taking a walk and finally setting an egg-timer for twenty minutes and saying to myself I will write for only that amount of time and it doesn't matter what I write - even if it's a string of words.

Where do you normally find inspiration?
In the landscape of Cornwall, while doing research, watching the world go by and reading newspapers and women's magazines.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
 It's never the same... but a writing day begins after checking emails, FB and Twitter. It involves lots of coffee and never getting out of my PJs. I tend to write in short sharp bursts and then do a bit of housework... then back to the 'puter  then more housework etc.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Editing... I now love it but it wasn't always so. Unlike the first draft where I write into the wind with editing I know every change I make has an impact on the rest of the story. My brain aches with holding the whole book in my head while working through each change.

How do you usually come up with your titles?
I have to have a title to write a book. That title may not survive but it helps me to focus. The Cornish House began life as A Cornish House but A Cornish Affair began life as August Rock which is deadly reef that features in the story. My working title for A Cornish Stranger was Enemy and for Under A Cornish Sky it was the name of the house. The Returning Tide came from my editor after I had sent her a few scenes during the initial brainstorming process. I had written what I thought was going to be the opening scene. That scene hit the cutting room floor in the first round of edits but the title stayed.

When it comes to creating your characters, what is the first step you take?
A name... names are very important to me and I keep playing with them until they work.

Have you ever taken a research trip? If so, where did you go, and for which book?
Many. For The Returning Tide I returned home to Cape Cod (I moved to the UK in 1989) and spent four days walking the area where Lara grew up and her great grandfather lived. There was so much I had forgotten, like the smell of the cedar shingles in the morning when the dew is baked off the heat of the sun. I also spend time on the south coast of England in Weymouth and Portland... experiencing a part of the country I didn't know, and interviewing two Wrens who were stationed in Portland during WWII.

Do you ever set yourself word-count goals?
Yes, sometimes that is what pushes me through the first draft.

What is your definition of 'success'?
A reader loving my book.

What is your definition of 'happiness'?
My family, the sun on my face as I sit in my garden in Cornwall and read...

Which do you find the hardest? The beginning or the end?
The beginning... it sets up the expectation of the whole book and it is so important to get that right. I normally know roughly where I want the book to end but the beginning can be harder to pin down.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Can I give you two... read, read and read some more. Also listen to your work aloud. I have the computer read the book to me... and that separates me from my words and makes editing easier.

Tell us an author who is on your auto-buy list?
Just one... Kate Morton, Jill Mansell, Julie Cohen, Rowan Coleman, Rachel Hore... I could keep going.

If you were to write in a genre entirely new, which would you pick and why?
Fantasy, I think. I am still a child in my head, jumping between time frames and worlds.

What are you working on at the moment?
Book six... deeply dark and a bit spooky at the moment.

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Summer or winter? Winter.
Bath or shower? Bath.
Sweet or savoury? Savoury.
Holiday in the city or in the countryside? City.
Text or call? Text.
Facebook or Twitter? Both.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise... the promise of a new day.
TV programmes or movies? Movies.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Cats or dogs? Cats.
Chinese or Indian food? Chinese.
Pasta or cheese? Cheese.

About the author.

Writer, ex-pat, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer...

Award winning author of The Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger and Under A Cornish Sky. After nine international moves, I'm a bit of a global nomad. It's no wonder my heart remains in Cornwall.

You can find Liz Fenwick on Twitter.
You can find The Returning Tide on Goodreads & Amazon UK &Amazon US.

Post a Comment