Happy publication day to Elizabeth Jenner, her wonderful book The Magical Places is available to buy today!
For dreamer Clare, a chance encounter with old family acquaintance Marcus brings up haunting memories of a childhood holiday, as she and Marcus try to come to terms with the tragedy and the magic that has shaped their lives.
They meet by chance in a department store. But they’ve met before. They last saw each other when Clare was a child, during a summer in Guernsey marred by an accident. He lost his son in inexplicable circumstances. She was his sons friend and the last person to see him alive.
The novel flits backwards and forwards in time, between the present day affair between Marcus and Clare, fuelled by grief and loneliness; and the summer a young boy, Tom, went missing, a summer filled with sunshine and magic, moving inexorably towards tragedy.
The Magic Places is a spellbinding tale of the power of stories and imagination.
My #Q&A with Elizabeth Jenner
Describe yourself using three words?
A quiet, cheerful procrastinator.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
This novel has existed in many forms for the last 15 years or so, as I tried to find the right way to write it, for all my adult life in fact. I think it stems from the fact that I never quite wanted to give up believing in magical childhood inventions – Narnia, fairies, wizards. And there’s still that part of me on a dark night that wants to believe in that mysterious flicker out of the corner of your eye rather that dismiss it as an optical illusion. I think that’s something that a lot of people share and recognise, and I wanted to find a way to capture it in a novel.
What time of day do you like to write?
I am sharpest in the mornings and start every writing day – usually a Sunday – with good intentions. However, I am a procrastinator, and do my best work under deadline pressure, right at the last moment! So the reality is that I will spend all of the day prevaricating with household tasks and then panic and bash out my word count right at the end of the day.
How did you pick the title of your book?
The Places are the other secret ‘main character’ in the book. They are involved in everything that happens but they remain elusive and hidden. I liked the idea of naming the book for them as they are present in everything that happens, even if you can’t see them.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
I imagine I have probably used elements of characters of people I know or have known, but nothing consciously! The only thing I drew from reality was the location. Guernsey is where I spent most of my summers as a child during that time period and I have tried to make the place feel as true to life as possible.
What’s your favourite word?
That’s a tough one! But I am going to admit to a secret love for ‘petrichor’, a beautifully odd word for the smell given off by the earth after rain.
If you were a colour what would it be?
Probably a sort of pale shade of sky blue.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
The story starts to shape itself in my head before I start actually putting down words, so once I begin writing I tend to see where it takes me. Once I reach a ‘critical mass’ point, there’s usually a point where I hit a wall and don’t want to put down any more words, so start doing some chapter plotting and planning (admittedly mostly as a procrastination technique). However, this gives me the necessary scaffolding to keep building and most importantly keep going.
Who is your favourite author?
I’m not sure I can pick just one! I love the work of, among others, Ali Smith, A.S. Byatt, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Sarah Moss, Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper.
Are you working on a new project?
I am. It is still in the formless, wordless stage of reading everything I can about particular subjects, but it is gradually taking some sort of shape. My goal for this summer is to start getting words down on to a page. Maybe even in a morning rather than at midnight!
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
Yes, I will be appearing on a panel of debut authors at Culture Bites festival at Hillingdon libraries on the 30th June. It looks set to be a great event so I hope that some of your readers can make it down.
Win A Copy Of The Magic Places
We have two copies to giveaway, courtesy of @ArcadiaBooks.
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