Today I welcome author Phyllis Burton to my blog to discuss her latest book, Fifteen Brushes with Love.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, and thank you for giving me this opportunity to tell you about my writing. I lead an extremely busy life. I love water-colour painting, and singing (I am a trained soprano) and sing regularly with a local Choral Society. I have three grown-up children who have given my husband Jim and me seven wonderful grandchildren, ranging from 2 years to 14 years of age. I love working in our formal garden and walking in our bluebell woodland.
After attending creative writing classes many years ago, I started writing small articles and short stories that would appeal to my children. From there I progressed towards more grown-up stories. To date, I have published two full-length romantic novels PAPER DREAMS and A PASSING STORM (print and ebook versions) and one Kindle ebook of fifteen short stories also within the romance genre. I am currently mid-way through writing a third novel. I have also written three one-act plays, two of which were staged and produced by me.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in the town of Beckenham, Kent in the south-east of England. The town is situated about eleven miles from the centre of London. After our marriage, Jim and I moved to the county of Surrey. We now live on the outskirts of the lovely village of Churt among the beautiful Surrey Hills and the view from my study window gives me the inspiration to write.Hi
What or who inspired you to start writing?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to put my thoughts down on paper. I loved the sounds and meanings of words. Even at school, I was always more interested in reading and writing than studying arithmetic, which is important, but the ability to read and write is a basic requirement for gaining knowledge of any kind.
Writing stories yourself is a natural progression of being able to read well. I soon found out how enjoyable it was to be able to create characters, put them into perspective and test them in times of conflict. Indeed conflict makes a story, because without conflict, there is no story.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose I considered myself to be a writer the moment I held my first published book in my hand. Until then, writing was a hobby, or something that I could read to my family. The sheer pleasure of seeing all your hard work there in front of you on the printed page, gave me such a thrill and a feeling of great pride.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
As a writer, you are always being told to write about what you know. I believe that a person cannot write without giving something of themselves away, because life’s experiences make you the person you are. Having said that, I try my utmost to write about my characters’ experiences and not my own, which can be a challenge. My stories have been described as being quintessentially English, although I try to bring my experience in travelling to the United States and my visit to Australia into my stories.
Have you started your next project?
Apart from constantly looking for new short story ideas, I have two current writing projects underway. I am mid-way through writing my third novel – a romantic thriller with the title of ‘THE ICE MELTS’. The main character, Solicitor/Lawyer, Sarah Wenham has to give permission for the machine that is keeping her husband Tom alive, to be switched off. Tom had been in a coma ever since the small aircraft in which he was travelling, crashed into the side of a Swiss mountain. Sarah cannot forget what she has done and spurns the romantic advances of her husband’s replacement in her law company. Eventually the ice melts…
My other project is a future book with the title of LITTLE PIDDLEWICK. Earlier this year I wrote a short story set in a village called Little Piddlewick. The village is peppered with interesting characters and, as an author friend pointed out, their stories could be great fun to write about, and hopefully to read about in the future.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
I just love putting my thoughts on to paper. Once I’ve started writing something, my characters feel very real to me, so I can’t leave them in limbo. For instance in the book I am writing now, my main character Sarah is imprisoned in a farmhouse by a STALKER. Well, I couldn’t leave her there, could I…?
Do you outline your books, or just start writing?
Yes, I do make an outline first. If you don’t give yourself an idea where the story is actually going, you can find yourself going off at a tangent or a dead-end and you can soon lose your readers that way.
Please tell us about your current release?
My current release (May 2013) is FIFTEEN BRUSHES WITH LOVE! The book contains fifteen very different short stories, ranging from a lovelorn concert pianist, a woman who dreams about a beautiful man with long golden hair and then sees him in a portrait…, an elderly woman who sits and waits for her husband to return from the war, and a Christmas Feud between two Christmas dolls on the tree: an old Santa doll and the beautiful Fairy Belle battle for supremacy on the Christmas Tree with disastrous results.
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
I try not to write about people I know. My characters are an amalgam of the very different people I’ve known or perhaps met or seen, in the past.
Which of your characters is your favourite? Do you lislike any of them?
Agnes is my favourite character in THE VILLAGE FETE. Just before the war she fell in love whilst walking around the Village Green. After they married, her fiancé was killed during the II World war. Agnes always expected him to return to her during the annual village Fete. Now elderly and frail, she is still waiting for him and as she dies, she smiles as he walks towards her…
My least favourite character is the old Santa Doll in Christmas Feud, but I really love all my characters.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
Finally, I am a great lover of Jane Austen’s books and would love to meet her. At the same time, I would like to meet Catherine Cookson, a wonderful writer of novels covering the period between the late Victorian era and into the First World War. What wonderful conversations we could have about these times and to see their surprise at the writing and publishing of books and ebooks now in 2014.
Fifteen Brushes with LOVE is a collection of short stories to delight, and gently remind you, of the day you first fell in love. What is love and what does it mean? Love is life itself. Yes, but what does it really mean, because there are so many different kinds of love? We all start (so they say) from the love between Adam and Eve and their forbidden love. People meet, fall in love, get married and have children in the belief that love lasts forever. But does it?
These stories explore the way people fall in love thinking that they will live happily ever after, and that there will be no outside influences to mar their lives together. But is life always as idyllic as this, and what happens when Fate intervenes?
These snippets are just a few insights into the variety of the stories in this book of love, lost love, remembered love and temptation.
“Brush with Love” is set in the year 1801 and young and beautiful, Conchita Gonzales is having her portrait painted by Francisco Gonzales. When her brother Carlos hears a rumour that the artist wishes to start using nude models, he forbids her to go anywhere near him in future. How does Conchita eventually get her own way?
“The Village Fete” delves into the emotions of an old woman who has spent a lifetime mourning the loss of her first and only love. She promised her husband before the Second World war started, that she would wait for him forever…and she does.
In the story “Portrait of a Dream”, Sue has always been fascinated by the ‘man of her dreams’, with some unusual results. An invisible thread seems to be pulling her to an art gallery.
The pianos in Henry Bawdson’s life, are instrumental in breaking his heart, but once he meets Anna, and falls in love again, everything changes, in “All for the Love of Anna”.
There are strange happenings during the night in “The Christmas Feud”! A Santa-doll and the beautiful Fairy Belle fight for supremacy on the Branham family’s Christmas tree, with some unexpected and disastrous results.