Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Another Fabulous Review for TORN

"I loved it!" says J Wilkins. "At last, a romance with some meat on its bones, and a set of teeth.

It’s a love story for grown-ups and it’s slightly unconventional themes and considerations bring it right into the here and now. This story of divided love and commitment with its gorgeous rural setting, was right up my street/field!

Jessica the ex-city trader has escaped a violent relationship and takes her small son to a country village, hoping to find some peace and stability. She meets two men; both at opposite ends of the social scale as well as in every other way. As she becomes involved in the lives of Daniel and James, she questions everything she stands for, hopes for and believes in.

Gilli Allan does not hold back in the sex department either. She delivers the goods with the same clarity and honesty as the rest of the narrative, but then it just wouldn’t work any other way. She writes with understanding and insight. Rich in character and visual enjoyment, it is very much a feast of contemporary county life with a good dose of reality.

The plot was clever, with all it’s emotional twists and turns, and the conclusion was just perfect, albeit a little bitter sweet...and yet all perfectly plausible. Find this review on Good Reads or on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inspiration or Perspiration

... Or maybe a bit of both?

I am definitely NOT one of those ‘bubbling geyser’ type writers, whose brains are full of stories just waiting to get out. Inspiration, if it happens, is very welcome. In its absence, the process of finding a new story to write can be slow and tortuous. I’ve described it as like carving a lump of granite with a teaspoon.

The seed that began my book, TORN, was a momentary impression which imprinted itself like a snapshot in my mind's eye. On a car journey to Somerset I was the passenger. I had just a split second to register a turning on the left and a lane sloping steeply down to the huddled centre of a village. It was apparent that the road we were on had been developed into the main road to by-pass this tiny village. At that instant, the random thought which went through my head was: ‘I bet those villagers were pleased.’ But it was swiftly followed by: ‘I doubt the people who lived here were so delighted!’ I went on to reflect that life is rarely black and white. There are always two or more sides to every question.

That was the light bulb moment, but other real experiences from my own life then fed into the developing story - an altercation on Streatham High Road; a party I went to, and its aftermath; an incident recounted to me by a friend who had taken her young child walking on a local hillside. Nothing ever remains exactly as it happened, but these re-imagined episodes begin to form a skeleton in my mind’s eye, around which I can begin to weave a story.

LIFE CLASS was a title waiting for a story. I had attended a life class for many years - so that was the research dealt with - and the name was just too good not to use as a book title. But I had no story.

So I began to think about the people I know. I lighted upon a good friend of mine who did a very interesting and sometimes amusing job. This was the crucial seed which set off the chain reaction and turned on the ‘what if’ part of my brain. If I gave the heroine of my story a job like my friend’s, she would be coming into contact with people - maybe people she knew - at very vulnerable, embarrassing and possibly life-changing moments. More than that, she might make perfectly reasonable assumptions about those people, assumptions which might colour her view of them and give her an ethical dilemma.

Life Class grew from those two elements - the job and the weekly class. Of course, from then on, other remembered incidents and experiences from my own life were absorbed into the story which, once I’d begun it, mixed into the cocktail, along with a generous helping of imagination.

But still it didn’t come easily. The only book which came really easily was the first complete novel I ever wrote - Just Before Dawn. That experience was one I have never repeated. It was as if I had a hotline to the fiction fairy. All I needed to do was open the channel and the story down fed onto the page from goodness knows where.

I wish I could find the route to the fiction fairy every time I write a book!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Write A Rainbow

When I write a book, the setting is almost as important to me as the characters. Although I use a ‘type’ of landscape I am familiar with, I will always reinvent it. I design hills and rivers, roads and settlements. And when it is finished I can see it, as if it is a film. I know its different moods; what it looks like in winter, in summer, when the sun rises, and when the sun sets.

Colour, atmosphere, texture are very important elements of the picture I have created. I love that honey light you get sometimes, particularly in the autumn, as if viewing the scene through amber sunglasses. I love the washed out colours of winter, those cool, pale greys, ice blues and sage greens. And, when I come to inhabit my landscape with my cast of characters, I need to know the colour of their eyes, their complexions, their hair colour and the colours and styles of the clothes they wear, before I can even begin.

But unless you are a literary writer, description has to be handled with caution - a little here and a little there. It is often said that ‘research’ should be like an iceberg. You do it, you know it, but not a lot should show above the surface. If you pile too much onto the reader, it becomes top-heavy and tedious. I feel the same about description. You can trust the reader to fill in what they have not been told. I recently read all the books in a series of UK based crime novels. I am not going to mention the author, he is very successful and I wouldn’t have read the books one after another like that, if I hadn’t enjoyed them, but.... It’s not that I don’t want to have a mental image of the important characters in the novel I am reading, I do, but there’s description and description! The author detailed the clothes of every individual - whether a significant player or a walk-on part. And more than once. I wanted to tell him: ‘Enough! I don’t need to know this. Just give me a hint!’

The other way to use colour is to think of it as a metaphorical concept. Every book needs changes in pace, light and dark, ups and downs, passion and serenity, anger and indifference, loss and success. Unless you alter the mood, your story will be ‘all one note’ and will leave the reader bored or unsatisfied. You could think of it almost like a symphony. The whole has to have a unity, but the lyrical passage has to be counterpointed against a dramatic movement, which is then counterpointed against a reprise or a rondo - the symphony coming, at last, to a satisfying crescendo. I am talking about every genre here - after all, the interplay of human relationships can have plenty of ‘colour’, with or without the added ingredients of adventure, murder, or an invasions by space aliens!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joining up the Dots (or avoiding the boring bits)

The notion that I could write the book I wanted to read first dawned on me when I was ten. It was my fifteen year old sister who inspired the idea when she decided to write her own Georgette Heyer style Regency romance. Just a few pages long, my story was non-specifically set in the ‘olden days’. I no longer have it but retain a very clear memory. Three women, one a teenage girl, went by boat to visit a lighthouse - the type set on a rocky crag, surrounded by sea. Don’t ask me why, they just did.

The lighthouse was manned by three men, one a youth of sixteen. No sooner had the visitors arrived than the weather deteriorated, trapping them there. During the storm the youth went outside to secure the wave-tossed boat which had brought the women. He fell on the rocks, injuring himself. From then on he had to recline on a sofa while my young heroine tended to his not very serious wounds.

At this point my imagination gave out. I had a sense of the romance of the situation, but had no idea how to convey it. And anyway, there was an awful lot of boring domestic stuff to be waded through about the preparation of meals, walking from one room to another, going to bed, getting up, combing hair and brushing teeth. I continued to write ‘novels’ throughout my school days. Many were started, none finished. They all foundered on the same obstacle. Though by this time I thoroughly enjoyed writing the juicy bits - the smouldering glances, the smoochy dances, the kisses and embraces - I soon ran out of steam writing the connecting passages. And yet I felt guilty, as if it was cheating not to detail the passing of time by giving every dot and comma of my heroine’s life - her journeys back and forth on the bus, her visits to her mother, her shopping trips, her excursions to the launderette. I believed a ‘real’ writer was somehow duty bound not only to describe his character’s adventures, but to describe the minutiae of everyday life as well.

It wasn’t until much later that it really came home to me that these descriptions of the mundane are rarely needed. If it bores you to write a passage, it’s a fair guess that it will bore your reader. Of course you need to set the scene. You need to convey the passing of time. You need to evoke smell, taste, touch and to create a believable world in which to set your story. But unless a minor domestic detail is crucial to the plot - in which case it is cheating not to let the reader know it - then it’s unnecessary to follow your characters’ every move from waking in the morning to pulling the duvets up to their chins at night. You can trust your reader to fill in the blanks. Yet it’s surprising how many established authors still allow themselves to get bogged down in the trivial.

Last year I bought Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. For the most part I enjoyed it. It was a good yarn, but.... In ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ I became mightily fed up with descriptions of the hero - Mikael Blomkvist - getting up in the morning, looking out of the window, having a shower, drying himself, getting dressed, walking into the kitchen to make coffee, opening the door, going outside, sitting on the veranda, drinking the coffee... ‘I get the picture!’ I wanted to shout at my Kindle.

I admit I may be exaggerating a little to make the point, and I apologise posthumously to Stieg’s memory, but you know what I’m saying. And the point remains valid. You don’t need to join every dot.

More Blog Apearances

I'm grateful to have been invited to visit the following blogs over the last few days. Thanks guys, for your kindness and your support.




Friday, May 4, 2012

Today I am interviewed on Kim the Bookworm Nash's blog.

Thank you for having my Kim.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Five Star Review!

Sue Livingstone posted this on Smashwords & on the Famous Five Plus blogspot.

"Gilli Allan has put together a very intriguing tale. I found it difficult to put my Kindle down once I picked it up. I even found myself picking it up in the middle of the night when I was supposed to be sleeping because I couldn't stop thinking about the characters. Given Jessica's choice, I'm not sure I could make it, although in the end, it's the choice I probably would have made. I would like to see a follow up story to this to see how it all goes for Jessica.

Very well written Gilli. Fantastic read!! Go buy the book now! Go, go....scoot!"

Thank you Sue.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Today is Launch Day for Life Class!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007XWFURQ or http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/156989

Hooray! It's been a rough road to get here and I am aware there is work still to do in promoting my book, but just for the moment, I feel I can relax ... just a little bit.

Today I have been delighted and honoured to have so much support from other writers. You can find me answering questions, or just generally wittering on, on the following blogspots.






http:/ britishromancefiction.blogspot.com/



Thank you guys. I am very grateful for your help.