Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Writing - the pain and the joy by Gilli Allan

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. 

About Gilli…

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’.

Gilli’s Links

LIFE CLASS:    http://myBook.to/LifeClass

TORN:   MyBook.to/gilliallansTORN   Trailer:  http://youtu.be/u2eIP16ERcI


Gilli Allan said...

Thank you so much for having me, Pauline. In a very rainy old UK it was very nice to get away, sit in the sun with you, dangle my fingers in the pool and sip champagne. Thank you. gx

Ann Victoria Roberts said...

Art & writing - amazing how the two intertwine. And I like the sound of the book - I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young!

Gilli Allan said...

Thank you so much for inviting me to recline beside your pool and chat, Pauline. Given the weather in the UK at the moment it is especially delightful to get away from the damp and the grey skies. It has always been a special pleasure to guest on your blog, we have known one another for a long time and I have always appreciated your amazing energy and your unfailing support. gxx

Jane Risdon Author said...

Really interesting and informative and I agree, writing is difficult - the actual act of doing it is torture to me. I would like to think the words and they appear on the screen, edited and magically ready to go LOL. Love Archaeology too and just find this so fascinating. I'd love to see the treasure. Hope to one day. However, Buried Treasure is going to be fabulous and a huge success.

Gilli Allan said...

I've left a comment twice they're not showing! Very peculiar. Again, may I say thank you to Pauline for inviting me to witter on. She is a true friend, and supporter of writers. As well as being a talented author herself. Thanks pauline. gx

Gilli Allan said...

This is the fourth time I've left a comment. Google had un- synced me or something. Anyway .... Thank you Pauline, friend and indefatigable supporter and cheerleader of other writers as well as being a multi-published author yourself. gxx PS. Please will you let my comment stick this time, Google?

Eileen Schuh: said...

Congrats on your new release, Gilli!

As a child, I played at treasure hunting. As a Grandma, many is the time I've planted coins in the sand and drawn maps with 'x's for the grandchildren. On the tele, I watch adults seek the Oak Island treasure, and scan the ocean bottom for the sunken ones. Obviously, the intrigue of the Buried Treasure never leaves us.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I've pre-ordered my copy. Looking forward to reading this story.