Guest Author Interview – Mary Grand

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Title: Catching the Light: Four Women, Four Compelling Short Stories

Genre: Fiction/Short Stories

Synopsis: Four Short Stories-

The New Arrival
Rachel has moved to the Isle of Wight determined to become invisible. Hiding a shameful secret, she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ However, unexpectedly, into her life comes a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie the cocker spaniel. Everything is about to change.
Language of love
Megan works in a Theatre for the Deaf. She is Deaf. Her language is British Sign Language. One evening she meets John, who is hearing, and two worlds collide. This is the story of the struggles, joys and tears of their remarkable relationship.
Catching the Light
Erin thinks she has found her fairytale prince. However, the honeymoon in a remote cottage in Wales shatters the dream. For the first time in her life Erin discovers the mystical world of fairies.
The Outing
This was to be the most important day of Kay’s life. However her mission to be free from years of guilt reveals so much more than she could possibly imagine.

Mary Grand, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is International Author, Mary Grand. Mary writes women’s fiction and the main character is usually a woman at a decisive point in her life. Welcome to my blog, Mary.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

MG: Four women at a crisis point in their lives; four compelling short stories.

CH: Since this is a book of short stories, how did you decide which stories would blend and complement each other to be included in this book?

MG: Each story stands alone, but in each a woman is at a decisive point in their lives. The title of the book, Catching the Light, captures the theme of all the stories, that the light of love, of belief in yourself can conquer darkness, guilt and past hurt.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

MG: The exciting thing about short stories is the freedom to explore a range of story types. In Catching the Light, a modern fairy tale sits next to a story about a woman trying to escape her past. I tend to start with a character in a particular dilemma and the stories grow from there.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

MG: The issues I write about tend to be those that I have experienced or I care deeply about. They say that when taking on a new character as an actor you start with the shoes. Well in writing I take an aspect of the issue that I can relate to and build on that by talking to people, researching the subject matter extensively and then creating a character and setting in which to explore that subject matter.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

MG: When I started writing I wanted to see if it was possible to write about difficult issues within the context of a story that had other elements of mystery and romance. Although not unique, I do think it is a slightly unusual way to write.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

MG: Kay in The Outing was a difficult character to write because she is a character trapped in her past. She is far more complex than she initially appears and it took me a lot of writing and re-writing to really get to know her.

CH:  Which character was your favorite to write?

MG: I loved the character Rachel in The New Arrival. She is not a particularly glamorous person; in fact, she has gone out of her way not to be noticed. She has escaped to the Isle of Wight and hiding a shameful secret, she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ I love the way her life is turned about by a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie, the cocker spaniel. I have a dog named Pepper and through this story and particularly through Rachel, I was able to write about the wonderful things he has brought to my life.

CH: Since you received great reviews for Free to Be Tegan, how has this molded your publishing journey?

MG: Free to Be Tegan is the story of a woman recovering from her upbringing in a psychologically abusive cult was my debut novel. It was partly based on my experience being raised in a strict religious sect.

To be honest, when I wrote Free to Be Tegan, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read it!  Well, fortunately they did and I have got to know so many people since. I feel very fortunate to be a writer in the age of self publishing, and have learned so much through the process. In particular, I have had the opportunity to get to know a number of my readers and other writers on social media, an extraordinarily generous and supportive group of people.

CH: Which short story in this book was hardest to write?

MG: I think that would be Catching the Light. I am fascinated by the stories around the Welsh fairies, the Twyleth Teg, who are not the Tinkerbelle image of a fairy, but something a lot more complex and sometimes sinister.  I wanted to write a kind of modern fairy tale using them and this developed into a story about domestic violence. While a difficult story to write, I think it probably is the darkest of the stories and became very important to me.

CH: Which short story was your favorite to write?

 MG: This would be Belonging. Before writing full-time I was a teacher of Deaf children. There are many difficult and complex issues facing the Deaf community and in my novel Hidden Chapters, I had the space to explore them more widely. In this short story, I focus on the meeting of two worlds through the relationship between a Deaf woman, Megan, and a hearing man, John. The real crisis point in their relationship comes when Megan is pregnant, and their expectations of whether their baby will be hearing or Deaf.  I found the story very emotional to write and it is probably the one I have had the most feedback on.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

MG: I think for me, some of the most profound lessons can be learned through nature: there is a circle of life, there is suffering and there is growth.  Life can be very hard, and my characters go through a lot of heartache and stress. However, ultimately, the stories resolve and bring hope. They aim to show that we can all find the courage within ourselves to heal in some way from our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from your readers for this book?

MG: I am fortunate through social media, as well as family and friends, to have a lot of support and positive feedback. On Amazon, I have received a lot of reviews, most of them enthusiastic. I read all the comments, appreciate the time people take to leave them and always try to take something constructive from them.

CH: Do you have any author that you consider to be your mentor and if so, why?

MG: I love the work of Joanna Trollope, Maeve Binchy, Adele Parks, Jodi Picoult. They have a way of showing that life and people are complex, funny, sad, make mistakes, and are capable of making good and bad choices. I also love Agatha Christie, which I think is the reason I always have elements of mystery in my stories.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MG: I came to writing late and only started seriously about six years ago. After attending a writing course, I started to write daily. Initially, I was very nervous and worried about what people would think. It was finding something I was passionate about that was the turning point. I wanted to write a novel that explored the effects of psychological abuse on children.

I published my first novel, Free to Be Tegan, on Amazon in March 2015.  It has been a very steep learning curve, but I was fortunate to have great support from family, friends and a whole community of readers and writers.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

MG: I am very excited that Catching the Light has just been released as an audiobook, professionally narrated by Petrina Kingham.

I am just completing the final draft of my next novel. The working title is ‘The Image of You.’ The central character is Lowri, who has been badly scarred in an accident, and moves to the Isle of Wight with her husband to start a new life. The village superficially seems idyllic, but she soon finds that appearances can be deceptive and things are far from what they seem.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

MG: Amazon, Amazon.UK, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, and Audiobook.

CH: How to Find Mary Grand:

CH: Any closing remarks?

MG: Thank you very much for the opportunity to share these thoughts about my writing, Cheryl. I wish you and all of your readers well.

CH: Thank you so much, Mary Grand, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Mary Grand and Cheryl Holloway.

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2 thoughts on “Guest Author Interview – Mary Grand

  1. Hi Thank you so much for asking me to be a Guest Author. The questions really made me think! Questions such as the hardest character of hardest story to write were particularly thought-provoking.

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