On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
I'm delighted to welcome Lin Le Versha to Sunday Brunch
Welcome, Lin. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
I will bring smoked salmon with scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. Please may I also bring Bertie, my Labrador? He gets on well with cats and is great friends with my cat, Trollope.
Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?
A large pot of coffee please so we can sip and chat for ages. We may even need some more sourdough toast to munch with a pot of homemade marmalade—so I’ll bring that too.
Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?
Outside on the patio enjoying the view. I love eating breakfast outside, even if it means wearing my dog walking coat and a blanket, with Bertie beside me desperate for any leftovers.
Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?
Music, please. If we fancy classical, we could listen to Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major – the second movement with its pizzicato strings – it’s so bouncy and always makes me feel happy or if we feel more laid back, then a Van Morrison collection featuring ‘Moondance’, of course.
Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?
Thomas Middleton, the Jacobean playwright wrote believable dialogue for real women who could walk out of his plays and live on the streets of London. He would get on well with Colm Toibin, with his authentic characters and amazing range of subjects from re-telling Greek tragedies, to family sagas, a fictional study of Henry James, to life in small town Ireland – he’s probably best known for Brooklyn. While Val McDermid would add some spice, with her sense of humour, sharp intellect and understanding of human nature evident in the plotting of her crime novels.
Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?
If it’s allowed, I would like to bring two books, TS Eliot’s The Four Quartets and Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. Each time I turn to Eliot, I’m struck by something new in his fragmentary images that reflect my experience and I never tire of reading it. Ripley was Highsmith’s greatest creation and I find it fascinating how she manipulates me so that I am on the side of this cold blooded, psychopath as he murders his way through a beautifully drawn 1950s Italy.
When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
I read every day and once I find a new writer, I must read everything s/he has written. I read crime fiction every night in bed, even when having been out late – although the next night I do have to go back a few pages! I have day books too, which are not crime or thrillers. Recently a friend gave me Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple, published in 1953 by Persephone books, which has re-published popular novels from the mid twentieth century. Her creation of an amoral, reptilian character who destroys an archetypal middle class English family is so convincing and, although rooted in a world of very different social conventions, strips away the outer layers to reveal the emotional turmoil recognisable today. I would now like to read her other novels to see if they are as good as this, her last.
Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
Having moved to the Suffolk coast, I find walking by the sea allows ideas to breed. My three novels are set in a fictitious Suffolk market town, Oakwood, with regular trips to Southwold to walk Derek the dog, who is much better behaved than Bertie!
So far, each one has begun with an image of a character involved in an activity and I write out from there. I am fascinated by the need we have to appear ’normal’ to outsiders but when the front door is closed, a family is being torn apart by secrets, lies and unspoken desires. The crime novels I write are domestic and explore what happens when people find themselves in situations they cannot control.
Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?
I have a brand-new writing hut in the garden with no phone or internet so now I have no excuse! It replaced an old summer house, which looked quaint but was freezing in winter and invaded by lots of creepy-crawlies looking for a home via the rotting wood. Now I can go in without clearing the cobwebs and write in the warm. I write all year but find January a time when I seem to get blocked on the novel I’m writing, so I turn to short stories to keep writing.
When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?
Deadlines are essential for me to work towards. My hut has the most magnificent view across a marsh, and I do get distracted watching birds, especially in the spring, as they feed on silver birches, or in the autumn when they feast on the rose hips. Then of course, there’s Bertie, who comes in to crunch a bone or ask for a dog biscuit or two.
If I’m stuck, I get back in by writing a scene between the characters, which has nothing to do with the situation I’ve left in the novel – perhaps a discussion over a meal. I start by noting what the characters can see and hear and smell, then move on to write the scene. I find I learn more about them and can use this deeper understanding when I go back to the story.
Give us four essential items that a writer needs?
A computer – I found that keeping copies on Dropbox makes me feel secure and avoids the nightmare of losing the whole thing.
Scrivener – it took me ages to learn how to use it, but now I have it’s magic and makes research, character development, structure and editing so much easier.
Critical friends – five friends read the whole novel, when I feel strong enough to let it out, and tell me what does and doesn’t work. Publishers of Hobeck Books, Rebecca Collins and Adrian Hobart, have been so generous believing in my writing and are my number one critical friends.
Confidence – we are our own toughest critic and too often lose confidence in what we are writing. The delete button is essential but so is self-belief.
What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?
My second novel, Blood Lines, out on 10th May, tells the story of a family torn apart by county lines and the desire of one member to stand up against it. Darcy, adopted and of mixed race, is convinced he doesn’t fit in with his peers but, despite his self-doubt, is a highly talented artist and has a glittering future. Tragedy rocks his life when a drugs gang forces its way into his life and the lives of the all the people he cares for. Once again, Steph Grant, ex-police officer, now college receptionist, unravels the mystery with the help of her former boss DI Hale, as she becomes intimately involved in a family trying to survive the threats of the drugs gangs.
More about Lin
Lin Le Versha has drawn on her experience in London and Surrey schools and colleges as the inspiration for the Steph Grant crime series which now includes two books and a novella.
Lin has written and directed over twenty plays exploring the issues faced by secondary school and sixth form students. Commissioned to work with Anne Fine on The Granny Project, she created the English and drama lesson activities for students aged 11 to 14.
While at a sixth form college, she became the major author for Teaching at Post 16, a handbook for trainee and newly qualified teachers. In her role as a Local Authority Consultant, she became a School Improvement Partner, working alongside secondary headteachers, which she continued after moving to the Suffolk coast. She is the Director of the Southwold Arts Festival, comprising over thirty events in an eight-day celebration of the Arts.
Creative writing courses at the Arvon Foundation and Ways with Words in Italy, encouraged her to enrol at the UEA MA in Creative Writing and her debut novel, Blood Notes, was based on her final assessment piece, for which she has received a Chill With a Book Premier Readers award. Blood Lines will be published in May 2022, and she is now working on the third title in the series.
Lin, where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.
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