The Books for Older Readers BFOR Facebook group and website were established in October 2017 to promote books (mainly fiction) with older protagonists or themes such as ‘second chances’, which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond.
I am delighted to be included in the BFOR BLOG BLITZ and bring to you an interview with Isabella Muir.
Thank you Isabella for joining me today. Isabella is not only a fellow Chindi author but also a member of BFOR. Isabella is here to talk about her writing including her latest novel, The Forgotten children.
How long have you been writing?
Believe it or not, I won a school writing competition when I was at junior school and I have been writing in one form or another ever since. I messed around with short stories and poetry as a teenager and then started writing longer works of fiction in earnest once I was in my thirties.
Do you have a special routine for your writing?
I write my first draft by hand, with a pencil in a notebook. I prefer afternoons to write and I need quiet and solitude – not even background music. Then when I transfer the first draft to the computer (using Scrivener) I do a bit of a first edit. After that I’ll send the manuscript off to my two amazing writing buddies, who will give me invaluable feedback about content and structure. Then it’s all about a million more hours editing until the final draft is ready to upload!
Which point of view do you prefer to write in and why?
I enjoy both and I think much depends on the storyline. The narrator in The Forgotten Children is Emily, the protagonist. It is an emotional story to tell and it felt right to allow Emily to tell it in her own words.
Do you have a favourite character?
That’s a tricky one to answer. I have favourite authors and favourite books, but I’m not sure I have a favourite character. If I had to choose one, then perhaps Jane Eyre – she is so full of courage in spite of the heart-breaking start she had to her life.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
It’s been fascinating for me to see how my novels emerge. I’m not a great planner, although I am constantly striving to be better! I have the rough idea of the plot in my head and usually know the ending, but I find that once I am seated with my notebook and pencil in hand the characters tell me what I need to know. If I try to shoehorn them into scenarios that don’t suit them then I can sense their discontent.
When I was working on my Sussex Crime series it was vital that I was familiar with the ongoing timelines. I learned to keep a tight rein on character traits and timelines by using Scrivener, which is a wonderful resource for writers.
You can purchase the Sussex Crime Mysteries here.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Enjoy exploring and discovering your own unique voice. Try to write at least a few words every day and don’t give up! A writing friend of mine always reminds me that the writing process is more like a marathon than a sprint – we need to keep going and hopefully we keep improving.
What is it about your books that draws in the older reader?
My books are set in the sixties, an era that older readers will remember. It seems incredible that just sixty years ago very few people had televisions or home telephones and now many of us walk around with a gadget that allows us to speak to people and watch films – while on the move! My books give older readers a chance to immerse themselves in that iconic era – and escape our fast-changing world – just for a while.
Would you like to share the first 500 words from your latest novel ?
This is the opening to The Forgotten Children, a story inspired by true events.
Mark is a casualty of a war I’ve been having since December 1967. A war with more than one enemy and only one true ally, my beautiful Irish friend, Geraldine. In truth, if it were not for Geraldine, I would have spent most of the last twenty years unattached and free from the emotional demands that inevitably come from any relationship. But Geraldine, Gee to her friends, can’t bear to see me single. So I ditch one bloke, only to be introduced to another. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.
Mark is the latest. We’ve been together just short of two years. He’s funny, uncomplicated and a great dancer. All attributes that score him ten out of ten in Gee’s books, and leaves me wondering why she didn’t go out with him herself.
I can’t imagine a time when Mark and I would ever be as synchronised as Gee and Alan, who have been together so long they even finish each other’s sentences. Nevertheless, life with Mark is easy enough. We party late at weekends and usually crawl out of bed at midday, nursing muzzy heads.
But since a visit to the doctor confirmed the reason I had lost my appetite, I’ve been trying to pluck up the courage to tell him our partying days are over. We will have to leave our little house, with its terraced garden higher than the roof and find a place with a flat patch of grass and a few leafy trees.
Now, as I lay in bed with Mark beside me, I close my eyes tightly and picture our new garden, with a seat under an apple tree where I could sit and watch our child play. And that is the moment I recognise the betrayal. I’m dreaming of a new life while my first born is out there somewhere, maybe living, maybe dead.
The bleeding started earlier in the day and as I turn onto my side, it gets heavier. It’s a suitable punishment for a crime I took part in, albeit unwillingly. I try not to move for a few moments, foolishly hoping I can stop this from happening.
Mark shifts beside me in bed. I peer at the luminescent numbers on the purple alarm clock that sits inches from my face. The numbers flick silently as a minute passes, then another. It is 3.30am precisely when I use one elbow to nudge him.
‘I think I’m having a miscarriage,’ I say, keeping any emotion from my voice.
I feel him swing his legs out of bed. He turns the bedside light on. I am scared to move and with my back to him I can’t see his face, but I can sense him trying to move himself from a deep slumber to waking.
‘You need to ring for an ambulance. I’m bleeding.’
He walks around the bed and kneels, then runs his hand over my forehead. As he pulls the sheets and blankets away from me, I hear him gasp. I look down to see the worst of it. The blood has pooled below me, seeping across the bedsheet, like ink on blotting paper.
‘Oh God, Em. I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me.’
‘It doesn’t matter now, just get me to the hospital.’
If you’re hooked on that taster take yourself over to here where you can purchase a copy of The Forgotten Children in Kindle, audio, and paperback versions.
Thank you Isabella for joining me today and talking about your writing and giving readers a taste of The Forgotten Children.
If you have any questions for Isabella about her writing then leave a question at the end of this blog or contact her on one of her links below.
Isabella Muir is the author of a popular crime series – the Sussex Crime Mysteries. The stories are set in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.
Her latest novel – The Forgotten Children – takes her writing into another genre. Still focusing on events in the 1960s, The Forgotten Children tells the story of the injustices experienced by thousands as a result of the British child migrant policy.
Isabella has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for more than twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.
Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex.
Find out more about the whole range of titles from Isabella Muir: