Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Versatile writer Jean Gill offers promo on story collection ONE SIXTH OF A GILL

Buy ‘One Sixth of a Gill’ at http://smarturl.it/onesixth
** On Countdown promotion: ebook at 0.99c (instead of 3.99) or 40% off print book from Dec.11-17**

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.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? 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.

What inspired your latest book? One Sixth of a Gill 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.

What do you think readers will like about your book? 
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.


How much fact is in your fiction? 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...

‘Someone to look up to’, written from a  dog’s viewpoint, is based on the many true stories dog owners have told me over the years I’ve worked with top dog trainer Michel Hasbrouck. One particular Pyrenean Mountain Dog, who was abandoned but did indeed keep faith in humans, was the basis for the story of Sirius. It’s my husband’s favourite of my books, perhaps because he recognises the dog characters and incidents. At one point, Sirius steals a hunk of cheese and has it wedged in his mouth, filling his cheeks like a hamster’s, and no-one notices. That was one of our Blanche’s adventures and if you’d seen her expression, you’d have laughed too.

Since writing the book, I’ve adopted two abandoned dogs and the similarities between fiction and fact are uncanny, horribly so in what I’ve seen for myself going on in animal ‘refuges’.

Not every idea is a winner. Written or not, what’s the most ill-conceived story idea you’ve ever had? 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.

Apparently, two women fishing would break laws on representing animal cruelty and was morally unacceptable even if it had been well written... A lot of modern jargon followed. She was fresh from a Media Studies course and I wasn’t (but had published three books). I do have an Eng Lit degree but you know what? It doesn’t help one bit in actually writing – just gives me jargon that’s out of date now.

Now that you’ve reminded me of that awful humiliation, I might take another look at that play. I co-wrote it with a friend and I think it would make a rather good short story. I shall see what she thinks!

What tune/music could be the theme song for your book? I’m working on the third book in the Troubadours series at the moment and each of my 12th C books has a key ‘chanson’ of the period. The lyrics actually shape part of the story. In the one I’m writing now, ‘Plaint for Provence’, the song is Hildegarde von Bingen’s ‘O Ignee Spiritus’ from ‘The Origins of Fire’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbo6zdh9MZY

I think that’s the first time I’ve revealed the title of the new book: ‘Plaint for Provence’ should be out in 2015.

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and where would you meet? 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.

Praise for One Sixth of a Gill:

'A rare treat' - J.G. Harlond, author of 'The Empress Emerald'

'An eclectic mix - quite unputdownable' - B.A. Morton, author of prize-winning crime novel 'Mrs Jones'


Five-minute reads.

Meet people you will never forget: the night photographer, the gynaecologist’s wife, the rescue dog.

Dip into whatever suits your mood, from comedy to murders; from fantastic stories to blog posts, by way of love poetry. 

Fully illustrated by the author; Jean Gill’s original photographs are as thought-provoking as her writing.

An out of body experience for adventurous readers. Or, of course, you can ’Live Safe’.

Not for you
the blind alley on a dark night,
wolf-lope pacing you step for step
as shadows flare on the walls.

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