Welcome to Jean Gill, a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.
That’s a good question for me as I’m a photographer as well as a writer and I usually picture a character and scene from the novel-to-be, which stays in my mind until I write the whole story. J K Rowling said she ‘saw’ Harry Potter on a train and it’s like that for me except that it’s all in my mind’s eye. Also, it might be a minor character and I don’t know how the scene fits into the whole until I write the novel. These are some of my focal points: a teenage tomboy leaping by a pond, surrounded by baby frogs (‘San Fairy Anne’); a medieval troubadour in a ditch with a Pyrenean mountain dog (‘Song at Dawn’); a schoolgirl with her left hand tied behind her back at tea-time so she could understand how left-handers have been discriminated against (‘On the Other Hand’). I write partly to find out who these imaginary people are.
is a full collection of shorts, inspired by all kinds of experience, both my own and imagined: by the title ‘Going to the Dogs’, by a visit to the gynaecologist(!), by a memory of my baby sister. I was chatting with other writers about publishing a short story and suddenly I decided to break all the rules about keeping to one genre. My writer friends were encouraging (always dangerous), my editor was enthusiastic and the work began.One Sixth of a Gill
Reviews suggest that the format of ‘five-minute reads’ suits busy people; it allows for the book to be picked up, put down and enjoyed in between. Some of the pieces pack a punch and I’ve been told that the book evokes ‘emotions I didn’t know I had’. I like that feedback very much. And of course dog lovers like it because there are a few canine stories, fictional and true.
Two of my novels had real starting points. I’ve never talked about it but I witnessed a real tragedy and described it in ‘Snake on Saturdays’. I felt that I owed it somehow to the victim to make that event part of a story. The characters themselves are completely invented but people often assume autobiographical details where there aren’t any. I enjoyed the rumour that I’d had a passionate affair with my vet and it’s true that we met in the pub to talk about cow diseases...
At one time I tried to get into writing for television and I won the opportunity to work with a BBC script-editor, one to one. She tore my drama script and me to shreds, and I came out of the interview in tears.
Dragonetz, the troubadour, in a bedchamber, where we could discuss 12th C politics :) Maybe this is why my husband suggested it was time I killed off Dragonetz :) but, instead, there will be at least one more book after this one, before the grand finale. That means I will be spending more time with my dark knight.