Tuesday 5 May 2020

Blog Tour: Interview with Justine John Author of Gilding The Lilly

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Gilding The Lilly by Justine John. I have an author interview to share with you today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.
Here's what it's all about...

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits' end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Are you ready for that interview?

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing? 

Not really sure, I wrote poetry as a teenager, then later I would take myself off to the CityLit in London to do various creative writing courses. I joined a writer’s group in the ‘90s and just wrote for fun, all the time. I always kept a journal too. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this? 

No – I’ve always had real jobs – need to pay the rent/mortgage etc and have to afford to eat. Could never find a way to do that with writing. I remember once, before word processing became popular, I tried to find a job as a PA to an author, but was so hard. It never happened. I’m still waiting for my big break!

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write? 

The two books that I have written (well, one and a half as the second isn’t quite finished) are both phycological thrillers, but I would ever say I wouldn’t write anything else…

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people? 

Yes, in the Gilding The Lily, most are based on real people, but once I put them on a page, I add a picture that isn’t the real person and then they become their own selves and grow apart from the original person and end up being people in their own right in my head. In Beneath the Ceiba Tree, none of them are based on real people, but in my mind they are. I hope that makes sense!

What was the inspiration behind your book? 

Gilding the Lily is my first book and it’s about a dysfunctional relationship. In 2010, my father passed away suddenly. During the process of his illness and death, I found myself in a set of circumstances that challenged me greatly. Organising a funeral in a foreign country was one, but because I wasn’t expecting it, I felt as though I was in a dream and the things that happened around me were almost fictional. Once I was back in the real world, ideas kept popping into my head of things from that time that would make a great story so I mixed everything up with a whole load of fiction and eventually created the novel.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time? 

No I never seem to plan it and if I do, the plan gets left behind. I do write a bit at a time yes, but it can be all over the place. With Beneath the Ceiba Tree I’ve gone from Chapter 4 to Chapter 20 and then back to Chapter 12. With Gilding The Lily, I started at the end and worked backwards. The Prologue was the almost the last thing I wrote.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

I’m sure in Gilding the Lily quite a lot of me is in the main character Amelia, because of what inspired it. But with Beneath the Ceiba Tree, I don’t see me in any of the characters – but in some of them I see how I’d like to be…

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book? 

Masses. Not only research for the story, but research on how to write a good novel. There is so much information out there, it’s hard to find the right resources. I referred to Writer’s & Artists a lot and they put on some great seminars too which really helped the whole process.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get? 

A whole load. Good reviews will sell my book and make it happen. I will question bad reviews (luckily I don’t have many!). One person said she didn’t like the blaspheming (there is a little bit!) and I wrote to her explaining that the character I had created just did that as part of him expressing himself and without it, he would NOT come alive.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing? 

Yes very.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day? 

Not sure if this question is relevant as the book is already independently published, but I know at the time I felt on top of the world and kept having to pinch myself that this was really happening.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading? 

This can change as soon as I’ve read another good book, which is all the time. I love a good classic (F Scott Fitzgerald, Daphne Du Maurier, Graham Green, The Brontes, Ernest Hemingway). Right now I’m reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell which is gripping, and my last book was The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters which I loved.

Finally...what are you working on right now? 

I’m working on a second novel called ‘Beneath the Ceiba Tree’. Here is the blurb: Back Cover info:

©Beneath the Ceiba Tree by Justine John
Africa 1972. Ed and Charlie, two successful English confectionary company executives, are travelling at night along a dirt track towards Accra, the capital city of Ghana. They have a gun in the car for protection. After a loud and scary tyre blow-out, they are terrifyingly ambushed by a robber desperate for money. Both men are panic struck and in the following seconds a resounding gun shot is heard and the robber suddenly drops down dead. But which of them killed their attacker? They are too shocked to talk about it in the dark together – and as they flee the scene after burying the body under a mystical ceiba tree – they swear to each other to secrecy, forever, both believing they are loyally supporting the other, but are they?
England 1995. Ed and Charlie’s lives have changed dramatically, both with wives, Judy and Michelle respectively, and children. An unexpected, additional death reveals unbelievable facts, leading to the two wives travelling together, to Africa to unearth the unthinkable truth of what lays beneath the ceiba tree.
A tension-packed, phycological thriller, with unexpected twists and turns about love, guilt, honesty and the devastation secrets can bring. A truly fast-paced, page-turner, which will keep you guessing until the end.

About the Author

After thirty years in corporate life in London, half of which was running a successful events company, I decided to take a chance to write the novel that was ‘in me’ since I was a child. Gilding the Lily is the result of this and is a domestic noir story which I hope will keep you on the edge of your chair/sofa/bed/train/plane-seat….

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