Tania Crosse: Q&A

1. Describe yourself using three words:

Compassionate, creative, dedicated

2. What inspired you to write your first novel?

I wrote my first novel (about thirty pages as I remember) when I was nine, all about my then passions, horses and ballet. From that time onward, I wanted to be an author, but didn’t have time to take up writing seriously until my youngest child began school. But what became my first published novel, Morwellham’s Child, was inspired by a series of flash visions I had of historical figures at Morwellham Quay in Devon, said in Victorian times to be the greatest copper port in Queen Victoria’s empire and which has been a living history museum since 1970. (If it sounds familiar, it was there that the BBC filmed the TV series, The Edwardian Farm.) Quite what I saw, I shall never know, ghosts (which I do believe exist) or just my vivid imagination working overtime, who knows? But those three figures became central characters in my story which illustrated the port’s history at its most turbulent period. And that was how I was inspired to write Nobody’s Girl as well. My husband and I were visiting Chartwell and Winston Churchill appeared to me in a flash vision in the library. I was a young servant bringing the great man some refreshment, and there somehow seemed to be a connection between them. I later learnt about the tragic loss of Winston and Clementine’s little daughter, and my creative mind got to work. I read up all about family life at Chartwell which gave me further inspiration, but I invented a parallel universe and all my characters are entirely fictitious.

3. What time of day do you like to write?

Not at the crack of dawn because I’m not an early riser, but preferably in the morning when I’m feeling fresh.

4. What is your favourite book and why?

The Juniper Bush by Audrey Howard. It was the first book of hers that I read (I subsequently read every one). I really engaged with the characters, the storyline and the style, and I thought, do you know what? I reckon I could write like that. I learned so much by reading her books.

5. How did you pick the title of your book?

My own title was A Sprinkling of Moondust, but Aria didn’t think it was right for the market and I respected that. We spent ages tossing about ideas before deciding on Nobody’s Girl, but we all liked it and it has relevance to the story.

6. Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No. As explained above, the basic idea for Nobody’s Girl was inspired by the Churchills, but the characters in all my books are entirely fictitious, although in one or two of my previous novels, real-life people have made cameo appearances, but I always explain this in the Author’s Notes.

7. What’s your favourite word?  

Love, because it can cover all types of human relationships. If we all loved each other a bit more, the world would be a far better place.

8. If you were a colour what would it be?

Peach, because it’s gentle and happy, but can really shine in certain circumstances such as at sunrise.  

9. Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I always know exactly where the story is going and what will happen, but I don’t like to plan it scene by scene as some authors do. I like to write intuitively and let events and characters lead the way.

10. Who is your favourite author?  

I read a wide range of authors, but I like serious stories with some sort of historical content. I enjoy writers like Judith Allnatt, Helen Dunmore and Kate Morton, and have recently discovered Kate Furnival. But I think my favourite of all remains Audrey Howard. However, she was born in 1929 and sadly there have been no new novels from her for some years, but I have every one of her books in my attic and I’m sure I will re-read them all at some point.

11. You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Jane Eyre, because I remember seeing the 1956 TV dramatisation when I was very young. It made a deep impression on me, and I think that’s why I wanted to be a historical rather than a contemporary novelist. Mrs de Winter from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca so that I could ask her what her Christian name was.

Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. He experiences every human emotion at such a profound level. I studied French Literature at university and read all 1700 pages in its original language. Mr Polly from HG Wells’ The History of Mr Polly. I loved the book when I was at school. It was gently amusing, and I loved the idea that in his search for peace and tranquillity, fate guided this nondescript soul into questionably heroic acts. Now that I’m of a certain age, I think I appreciate his search for true happiness even more. Really must re-read it sometime!

12. What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished The White Pearl by Kate Furnival. It’s set in Malaya in 1941 and is about a colonial family escaping the advancing Japanese Army. It’s really gripping and brilliantly written.

13. Where in the world is your happy place?

Dartmoor. Its savage beauty has inspired so many of my previous novels. I still like to go there to clear my mind, and when I’m way out on the moor with just myself and my husband, my soul flies free. But you need to know and respect the moor to keep safe.

14. If you had one superpower what would it be?

To cure all cancers.

15. If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?  

That’s a tough one. I’d rather you’d asked me to save a hero or heroine, in which case it would have to be Tess in Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Rufus Dawes in Marcus Clarke’s classic For the Term of his Natural Life. (In the book, the ending is the most tragically beautiful of anything I’ve ever read, but he was given a happy ending in the 1980s TV dramatisation.) But for a villain, I think I’d choose Javert, again from Les Misérables. Valjean and Javert both recognise that they were each dedicated to their own principles and so had something in common.

16. Are you working on a new project?  

Yes, the sequel to Nobody’s Girl entitled A Place to Call Home. It takes the characters through the Second World War, but the main theme is still the same, the relationship between the older woman and the younger girl, and the tragedies that brought them together.

17. Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

Meet the Author/Book signing Event at The BookStop in Tavistock,Devon, Friday 14th July 10.30am-1pm (pre-ordered books only)

 

Purchase your copy of Nobody’s Girl here: Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play
Originally posted on Love Books Group