Saturday, 16 May 2015

An Interview with Rosanna Ley Author of the Soon to be Released New Book 'The Saffron Trail'.

Rosanna Ley is the best-selling author of novels including ‘The Villa’ and ‘Return to Mandalay’. She does very thorough research in the countries that she features in her novels, visiting Sicily for several months for ‘The Villa’ and Burma for ‘Return to Mandalay’ where her husband has family.  She also spent several months in Morocco to research her latest novel, ‘The Saffron Trail’, due to be published on May 21st. Rosanna writes short stories and  articles for magazines and her work is widely published abroad. She holds an MA in creative writing for personal development and has worked as a creative writing tutor for over twelve years, leading workshops and writers retreats in the UK and abroad in Italy and Spain. She also runs a manuscript appraisal service to appraise and mentor the work of new writers. She is married with children and lives in Dorset. In February 2015 she was shortlisted for the RNA Award for the Epic Romantic Novel.

A very warm welcome to you Rosanna, and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
Thank you for asking me!

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
 I live in delicious West Dorset in the South West of the UK. I fulfilled a long time dream by moving here a few years ago and the things I love about the area are the landscape, the laid back way of life and the tranquility. I live near to the sea which I find very inspiring.

Can I ask what sort of books did you like reading as a child?
As a child I read lots of Enid Blyton especially the Secret Seven books and then progressed to historical fiction as a young teenager – novels such as Jean Plaidy’s. By fifteen though, I had become more literary and I discovered DH Lawrence, Jane Austen, George Orwell and some of the classics...

Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
The Enid Blyton books probably made me fall in love with storytelling. DH Lawrence was my big influence though – I love the way he wrote about landscape and emotions in so much detail and with so much intensity.

Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
Not really. I start off with lots of thinking, planning, dreaming, reading and researching. I travel to the places I’m going to be writing about and I think a lot about my characters. When I start writing, I write mostly longhand to start with because I like the process and it seems to work for me. As I type it up I edit and when I am fairly satisfied I move on to the next scene. I try to write for a good chunk of the day once I get going, but I also like getting out for a walk to mull things over and take a rest from the computer. I’m happy to work long hours – at some point I do get obsessed with the novel and it’s a good thing my husband is around to drag me away from it!

Where do you do your writing best?
In a notebook somewhere within sight and sound of the sea.

What helped you to decide to actually write novels?
I wrote poetry when I was younger then short stories in my twenties. I’ve always had the bug but you can really get your teeth into a novel!

When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are writing about?

Lots of research is the answer to this one. Including visuals (eg films, documentaries and TV) if possible. Imagination plays a big part too.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your books?

I write notes about characters and imagine how they would respond in certain situations. I think about aspects of their lives and give them dreams, ambitions, background and secrets. I give them a creative job – often – which allows them to express themselves and I do some early first person exploratory writing to find their emotions and their inner voices. When they start speaking to me I’m ready to begin!

Did you ever encounter any difficulties in getting books accepted and published?
It’s a difficult although incredibly rewarding business to be in. Most authors have unpublished novels in their bottom drawer and I’m no exception. It’s a long learning curve. It’s a craft and you have to practise it. I have been fortunate in my career to have had books accepted and published by excellent publishers like Quercus. But to those who are trying to get their book published, I would say ‘never give up’. It’s my top tip!

Did you have to undertake any research for your novels?

Masses!!! I travelled to Cornwall and then to Morocco – Marrakech, Essaouira, the Atlas mountains. I visited saffron farms and learnt about how saffron is produced. I explored the history of Bridport during World War 2 when the GIs came to town through personal accounts and local history, I read reference books, biographies, novels about subjects including the history of Morocco, the Vietnam War, the history of Saffron, Moroccan cuisine, Moroccan design, photography, hippie communes in the late 1960s...

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel ‘The Saffron Trail’?
The main characters in the novel are Nell and Amy who meet in one of those perfect and tranquil riads in Marrakech. Nell is learning about Moroccan cuisine and Amy is a photographer. They become friends and the novel follows their journey as they try to untangle their lives and their relationships and as they attempt to uncover the mysteries and strangely connected secrets of their pasts. In order to do this they travel to Essaouira, to a saffron farm in the foothills of the Atlas mountains and then back to Roseland in Cornwall and Lyme Regis in Dorset. At the heart of the mystery and of the story are the threads of red gold which are saffron...
Where did you get the inspiration for this novel? 
From saffron itself – from wanting to find out about how it is grown, how it has been used over the centuries, why it is such a ‘secret spice’ and why it is so much more expensive than gold... For me, every story starts with a seed, which might be a place, a person, a concept, an idea. Or in this case a crocus! That was my beginning for this story.
What is your favourite book and why?
I have so many favourites. But I will pick ‘Women In Love’ by DH Lawrence because he is my hero...

Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

‘Amy Snow’ by Tracy Rees. It’s very good. I wish I had more time for reading because I love it.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?

I walk a lot and I love to travel. I also like swimming and tennis (watching and playing). But reading is my first love.

Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
I am writing a novel set in Cuba and Bristol, working title ‘The Last Rumba’. One of the themes is power in relationships and how it can be used and abused. But it’s also a love story, and I’m loving writing about the vibrancy and musicality of Cuba.

Rosanna, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

It was a pleasure and huge thanks for your interest in my books! I hope that you enjoy ‘The Saffron Trail’.

To be Released Soon:-

The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley will be available for purchase on 21st May (Querucs, £7.99). 

If you would like to find out more about Rosanna and her writing, the link to her website is given below:

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