Monday, 31 January 2011
A Chat with Lesley Pearse
No longer mistress of her own fate, Belle is blown across the globe to sensuous New Orleans where she comes of age and learns to enjoy life as a courtesan. Yet thoughts of home – and the knowledge her status as golden girl cannot last – compel her to break out of her gilded cage. But Belle finds escaping tougher than she imagined, for her life is threatened by desperate men who crave her beauty and attention.
Armed only with resourcefulness and spirit, she has a long and dangerous journey ahead of her. Will courage be enough to sustain her? Can she make it back to her family and friends and find her chance at true happiness? Number One bestseller Lesley Pearse has created in Belle a heroine for our times: a strong woman who stands up for right in a world turned bad.
Hi Lesley and welcome to High Heels and Book Deals. Tell me about your journey to publication.
My writing career started when I was about 34, with a funny letter to a magazine about the contents, (or lack of edible stuff) in my fridge. They paid me £25 and I thought Wow I can do this. Letters turned to short stories, then 3 books before ‘Georgia’. Even though my agent loved it, it took 6 years to sell to a publisher.
What did you do before you were published and did it help/hinder or make you more determined to be an author?
I was a nursery nurse, worked in promotions, Bunny Girl, typist, even cinema usherette. And I ran my own card and gift shop just prior to being published. It gave me a wealth of knowledge about people and other stuff, so it helped.
Your previous novel, Stolen, sold over 250,000 copies last year. Does this make you nervous about releasing your new novel, Belle, or is the excitement/expectation the same with every book?
A. No, I’m not nervous about Belle. I think it is really one of my best books. I don’t really get excited on publication, after 18 previous books I know nothing startling will happen on the day. But because of Stolen’s success I do have expectation’s for Belle I suppose.
I think it’s never been more important to have an agent. An unsolicited book is likely to remain in a huge ‘slush’ pile forever. An agent pushes you forward. He know who to approach and how. He will get you a deal that you could never do alone. I can’t say anything about self publishing as I know nothing about it. But I can’t imagine it’s very successful.
After so long writing novels, what gives you the greatest buzz?
My garden, children and grandchildren. But it is still a huge buzz to see my books in shops and hear from my readers.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you via Twitter and was lucky enough to win a copy of your latest novel, Belle, before its release date this week. The story is amazing and I was sorry when the last page turned and I wouldn’t spend any more time in Belle’s world. How do you research for the characters? Do you research the moment in history or do you have a case study that you then embellish?
I usually get the main character first, and what she is going to do. Belle seemed to fit into the Edwardian era, so then I researched that. Sometimes though when I have a particular interest in a moment of history like the Crimean War or The Gold Rush, I then think what story I can weave into that background. The history itself can be the inspiration.
How do you create such fantastic characters?
Well that’s a lovely thing to say, and fairly unanswerable. They just come into my head. If they turn out to be fantastic, that great.
How long does it take you to plan a book and get the first draft down? And how many drafts do you do afterwards?
I’m not a planner, and I tend to edit as I go along, I consider the finished manuscript I send to my editor the first draft. I will then polish it up a bit more after I hear her views. But the early part when I am self editing can be very slow, working on one chapter for two weeks or so.
What is your best writing tip?
To write about what you know. Also to listen to the characters. Let them have their way.
And your worst writing habit?
Probably not planning. And loving grim. I am never happier than when my characters are in horrible places, facing danger and being treated very badly. I wish I could get the same thrill with writing tender and beautiful scenes.
And finally, what’s your poison, high heels or flat shoes?
At heart I’m a high heels person, and have dozens of gorgeous pairs. But I live in the country so I am mostly in low heels, boots or wellies. I adore these pink and purple shoes, but I must confess they are too high to walk in, so taxi’s only. I bought them in Scotland three years ago. They are sexy because they show toe cleavage!
My Zebra shoes are much admired and are very comfy. They go with loads of things, from jeans to the LBD.
The gold, jewelled sandals are my favourite when my legs and feet are brown.
Thank you so much, Lesley. Belle's publication date is Thursday 3 February but you can buy it now from here. You can find out more about Lesley here . I shall be reviewing Belle here on Friday. And roll on book number twenty...
Thank you Lesley.