Have you ever felt taken for granted, or felt invisible? If you answered yes, you might relate to Clare, the protagonist in Gillian Harvey's novel, titled 'Perfect on Paper'. The book was published in May this year. This book is on my 'to be read list'. Gillian says she writes the kind of novels that make you laugh-out-loud, but also leave you with something to think about. Let's find out a bit more about the author.
Tell me about yourself
I’m an author and freelance writer, currently living in Limousin, France with my husband and five children.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pen; and dreaming of becoming an author since the age of 5. I started writing in earnest at 19, but it was 2012 when I left my job as a teacher, moved to France and began freelance writing that my world really opened up.
In 2019, I signed with my agent, and 2020 saw the launch of my first novel ‘Everything is Fine’ (Orion).
Did you have a favourite book as a child?
I loved Enid Blyton books – the Faraway Tree still has me dreaming of the gorgeous honey cookies that ‘Moonface’ made. I also gobbled up The Chronicles of Narnia, and pretty much any other book I could get my hands on.
What do you love about your chosen genre?
I love contemporary, uplit fiction because you can explore anything. You can use humour, pathos and everything in between. It gives you free reign to really explore issues, while telling a great story to boot.
Can you tell me about your latest release titled ‘Perfect on Paper’?
‘Perfect on Paper’ is about Clare, who realises one day that nobody in her life really ‘sees’ her. She resolves to do something about it – and ends up having an extraordinary adventure.
What comes first for you? The plot or the characters?
I think the essence of the character, and a key moment in the plot. For ‘Perfect on Paper’ it was the idea of a mum talking to her children and being completely ignored (no idea where I got the inspiration for THAT from…), and then I build backwards from that pivotal moment.
Can you describe your writing process?
Oh, to have a process! I tend to start with an idea, and try to map it out a little in bullet points. Then I start to write. Often the story evolves as I do so, and I tweak the plan as I go along. I find when I plan too thoroughly, some of my creativity is squeezed out, so I like to leave things open.
What does literary success look like to you?
Finding new readers, having them love your book. And that moment when you read a review and think ‘yes, that person really got what I was trying to say.’ There’s nothing like it.
Plus obviously millions of pounds, film rights and red carpets…
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Probably a cat. They always look so comfortable curled up on a keyboard.
Describe your writing space
As my kids have grown, I’ve been relegated to a small office in an attic room. It’s a nice, light room with a sloping roof, my old wooden desk and the fancy, comfy chair I treated myself to with my last advance. Everything is covered with piles of paper, and it looks nothing like the beautiful writing rooms I see every day on Instagram…
What advice would you give a new author?
Keep going. There are so many setbacks and disappointments in the publication process. You have highs one minute, lows the next. The important thing to remember is that everyone – even some of the big names – have moments of disappointment and self-doubt. It’s important to keep on tapping those keys!
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I spend most of my free time playing with my kids – mostly out of guilt. I’ve also been known to go for a jog, and I love baking when I’m in the right frame of mind. And of course, lots and lots of reading.
Thank you to Gillian for sharing with us. If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below.