Buried treasure, wouldn’t we all like to find some? Today just might be the day you do because, Gilli Allan is sitting round my pool talking about… Buried Treasure! So please help yourself to a glass of bubbly and make yourself comfortable and let’s see what we can find…
I hate writing. No, I’m exaggerating. What I hate is starting a new book. But so far, I’ve always been won over and begun to love it, but only when I reach the precious moment when I cease trying to tell my story where to go, and it begins to tell me.
It had been too long since I wrote something new. There were always other things to do, and anyway, I’m not one of those lucky writers who brim with new plot ideas and can’t wait to commit them to paper (or the screen). I have often said that for me beginning a new book is like carving a lump of granite with a teaspoon. The urge to create, however, is quite another thing. This becomes increasingly demanding even when I don’t know what I want to create. And so it was, last year, when I eventually began BURIED TREASURE.
Of course, I didn’t have a title. (Until very late on I just called it ‘New Book’.) Neither did I have characters, a basic plot nor even a location! But I trusted in the fact that once I actually began, the scenario would come into focus, the characters spring to life and the plot would gradually unknot and spool out in front of me.
There are always personal elements in the stories I write – something I’ve experienced, or events I’ve been told about or seen. In order to come up with a background theme I began by reflecting on subjects I already had an interest in, or an understanding of. And I already knew that I had a few building blocks to play with.ocks.
I’ve always had an interest in archaeology, probably stemming from the fact that my great uncle Sydney Ford uncovered a hoard of silver Roman table-ware on his Suffolk farm. Known as the Mildenhall Treasure it is now one of the most famous discoveries housed in the British Museum.
And I have been involved for more than a decade in the organisation of biannual conferences held at Queens’ College, Cambridge.
So …. if I made my hero an academic archaeologist, and my heroine an events & conference planner, and the back drop for a proportion of the story a university college in Cambridge, I could use my own experience to flesh out the detail and then trust, once set loose in this world I’d created, my imagination would do the rest. After all, I had an academic archaeologist and historian I could call on to advise on the plausibility of my plot, and to check I’d made no howling errors - my son, Thomas Williams, author of ‘Viking Britain’ and ‘Viking London’. What could go wrong? This book was going to be easy-peasy.
In reality, BURIED TREASURE was probably the most difficult book I have ever attempted. I won’t go into the whys and where-fores, it would take too long and bore you to death. But it was a total joy when I realised how to navigate the maze, iron out the wrinkles, and unravel the knots. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors!)
I am sure you will agree that when something has been struggle you love it even more. For those of us who have given birth – need I say more? And it is a proud and thrilling moment, but also sad, to release your book into the world and wave it goodbye. All you can do is wish it well.
Educating Rita meets Time Team. Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.
LIFE CLASS: http://myBook.to/LifeClass
TORN: MyBook.to/gilliallansTORN Trailer: http://youtu.be/u2eIP16ERcI
BURIED TREASURE https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SN5NWJ2