Thursday 13 March 2014

The Author in my spotlight is ...Wendy Unsworth

I am delighted to welcome

Wendy Unsworth

Author of 

Berriwood Book 1

What can you tell us about The Palaver Tree that won’t give too much away? 

The Palaver Tree is about four women, each very different from the other, whose lives are drawn together by the schemes and desires of one man. 
Ellie Hathaway has lived her life putting the needs of others before herself and so, when she takes a teaching post in a poor African country, it is as a volunteer and for the good of the children. But once she is settled into the school, Ellie begins to realise that headmaster, Gabriel Cole, is not the guardian angel he professes to be and that she is far from the only one to have been taken in by him. Finally her focus changes, she knows she must do something, but what?
I am always fascinated by ( and in awe of) the real-life tenacity of the human spirit, how much inner strength people can muster when they find themselves in very difficult, even terrible, situations. In my fiction, I like to test my characters and see where they will go when the chips are down!

You have set this book in Cornwall and Africa - how important is location to your story?

Location is key to the story. Ellie's origins are in the sleepy, Cornish village of Berriwood. She is a product of the upbringing that imposed on her a sheltered, even restricted, life of duty, looking after her widowed mother. I wanted to take her completely out of that rural comfort-zone to give her the experience of adventure. Africa is a place of stark contrasts where Ellie's decisions become increasingly vital to the survival of herself and those she holds dear.

The book world is very competitive – how do you get your book noticed?

Getting your book noticed is a huge and constantly evolving task. It's about tenacity because you have to just keep going with it, finding what works for you and what doesn't.  It's also about careful refining of the work balance so that writing time, the very thing that most writers never have enough of, is not compromised. 
Book bloggers are a great help, many willing to try new and self-published authors. It's a case of telling everyone you can think of about your work -which often doesn't come naturally to writers!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

This is probably not sound financial advice but, I would say, forget everything else,( and by that I mean all the marketing razzmatazz), get lost in your creativity and see your book through to the end. Savvy author/marketeers will probably be appalled at that advice but it is what I would give from a very personal viewpoint 
Many authors, like myself, take years to complete their first book. For most of us it is hard in our busy lives to find solitude for writing. So I would say, give that precious time wholly to creating your book. Complete that ambition and when you do, celebrate it before you move on to telling the world! It may be a blinkered view but the writing process is long and complex and, only with the first book, can it be enjoyed by the author in total and blissful isolation! 

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

Quite simply yes. And more than that I have always been a writer, though of things like diaries and short stories, a little poetry, even lists, I am an avid list maker!
When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

Now that I am writing full time I find I have to split the day to keep sane! I write mostly in the morning as I'm just more creative and able to totally focus first thing. Afternoon is for all the non-writing activities in my life but if I'm alone and what I'm doing doesn't involve too much concentration I will think-write at the same time and maybe jot down a few notes.

Early evening is for social media, interviews, marketing  and general contact with the outside world! 
If I'm awake enough later to burn a little midnight oil I may re-read what I have written that day to see how it sounds, otherwise that is the first job the following day.

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?

The second novel in the 'Berriwood' series is due out on 15th June 2014. This is the story of the village postmistress, Beryl Carroll. It's a mystery with a creepy twist. 
Beryl's husband, Gordon, inherits a house on the edge of the village. 'Beneathwood' is one of the oldest houses in the area and has been in his family for several generations. He and Beryl are as delighted as they are surprised to be the new owners. 
But the Carroll's daughter, Olivia, is not at all happy. She hated the old place long before she found Auntie Edith lying in the kitchen... smouldering. She thinks the sensible thing would be to sell Beneathwood and buy one of the new-builds on the prestigious Oak Dene Estate. 
Then an accident happens and the Carroll's move in much sooner than planned! 

I also write for children and have two new books in my 'Come-alive Cottage' series planned for this year so it's all go! 

**** The Palaver Tree is currently on promotion with and 
10th - 31st March ****

Wendy ~ thank you so much for taking part in this author spotlight and for sharing your love of writing with us. Jaffa and I wish you much success and look forward to the continuation of the Berriwood series.


My Thoughts on The Palaver Tree

This beautifully written story looks at the dynamics of relationships both personal and private and explores what happens when the world around us becomes tainted with corruption, greed and betrayal. By opening the story in a cosy Cornish village we are lulled into comfortable domesticity but tragedy is about to strike at the very heart of the community and for Ellie Hathaway life will never be the same again. Ellie’s search for a new start will take her thousands of miles from her home village to the political melting pot of central Africa, where she takes up a teaching post run by the charitable Hope Foundation and the enigmatic Gabriel Cole.

 What then follows is a tense and action packed story which sees the intertwining of lives all touched in some way by Gabriel Cole’s inscrutable power. The author has an impeccable way of drawing together all the different strands of the story, from the warm and comfy cosiness of Cornwall, to the majestic beauty of Africa, time and place is captured perfectly and she succeeds in creating a finely drawn portrayal of what happens when greed and dishonesty are allowed to take centre stage.

I enjoyed it and look forward with interest to the continuation of the Berriwood series.

Recommended read.


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