Please welcome the lovely, the talented Elin Gregory to the StudioBlog. Elin has two books to share with you all today, so double the enjoyment, whoo hoo! We shall begin immediately, because we can’t wait any longer to get cracking!

Studioenp: Silence or noise when writing?

Elin: Oh, silence, please! And I get it so rarely. The other half has retired and doesn’t like it quiet, so the radio and telly are usually on. If I want peace I have to get up early and try to fit in a bit of writing before he wakes up. Editing isn’t so bad. I can drown out the TV by wearing headphones and listening to those YouTube tracks of Epic music. Two Steps from Hell are my favourites.

 

Studioenp: Yay for silence! Working with background noise is so distracting, Em finds. What’s your latest release?

Elin: I had two short stories published in February and one in November, two historical and one paranormal. Calon Lân is set during the Great War and tells the story of a gay romance seen from the point of view of the sister of one of the lovers.

 

Studioenp: Oooh, how unusual. Sounds great! How did the plot come about for it?

Elin: I’ve never been a fan of hugely angsty stories, and it’s easy to slip into that mode when for so much of our history homosexuality was illegal. So I tend to choose periods when either there was no ban—4th century BC Athens—or it was hand-waved—17th and 18th century matelotage amongst pirates and buccaneers. But even in other periods, it was possible to have a relationship if you were careful. Yes, there was persecution, but people managed as best they could, and I am certain that there were many happy couples that carried on with the connivance of loving family members. I wanted to write something with that air of hope about it. The tension in this story derives from Bethan, the point of view character, being completely unaware that such relationships could exist and having to change her world view to accommodate it.

 

Studioenp: Brilliant! Some soul-searching, we imagine, and having to adjust to a new way of thinking. Really love the idea of it being from the sister’s POV. How long did it take you to write it?

Elin: I’m a slow writer, both due to circumstances and due to me liking to play around with a story to find where/how it starts. As far as I can make out from the discarded versions, I started writing the book in November 2014—so OMG, three years! And it’s only 21k words. On a Lee Shore, which is over 110k words, only took eighteen months, but that was before my husband retired and I could put in more hours.

 

Studioenp: Laughing at your shock of discovering it was three years. What’s next on your writing list?

Elin: I’m partway through a sequel to Eleventh Hour, a spy story set in 1920s London with anarchist plots and cross-dressing and I’m planning the next in a series of contemporary romances set on the Herefordshire/Wales border. I’m hoping I can finish them a little more quickly.

 

Studioenp: Ooh, sounds fabulous! Are you a plotter or panster?

Elin: Plotter. I like to work to an outline, but it’s not set in stone. If I figure out something that can link/divide two characters, or make the plot more dramatic/plausible/entertaining, there’s no way I’m going to discard the idea just because it’s not in my outline. It’s a bit like a car journey where you intended to go straight from A to B but notice a sign for an open day at a garden or a church bakery sale or a castle or just stop to admire the view. I might have to do some re-writing, but that’s okay if the story is stronger for it. I’ve tried pantsing, but my poor characters just drift around bantering miserably until I lose interest in them or until I go back to pen and paper and work out what they need to do.

 

Studioenp: Loving the way you described it as a journey. What is your go-to form of procrastination?

Elin: Stopping the fire from going out. Our central heating, such as it is, is wood-powered, and during the cold months the fire needs more logs every half hour or so. This means I never properly concentrate on what I’m doing. What I’ve written between October and April frequently needs tossing and starting again.

 

Studioenp: Oh, that must drive you nuts! I wonder how many hours you tot up in a week doing that? Talking of hours… How many hours per week do you write?

Elin: A week! Some weeks I don’t write at all. During the summer, if I get up early enough, I manage a few hours before work as well as a couple at weekends, so maybe ten or twelve. Winter it’s too cold at five a.m., so about four hours a week if I’m lucky.

 

Studioenp: That’s a great amount. However many hours still puts extra words on the page, doesn’t it. What’s one genre you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t—and will you ever write it?

Elin: A Western. Rawhide was my favourite TV programme when I was two. I’ve made a start on two different stories. One involving the opening up of the US banking system in the 1880s, and the other just post-Civil War involving a trail drive. Maybe one day if we move into a house with gas central heating?

 

Studioenp: Hahahah! Yes, then there would be no distractions. What’s the best book you’ve written?

Elin: The book that has had by far the best sales has been Eleventh Hour, partly I think because I was lucky in that an author with a good following read it and enjoyed it enough to mention it. But there are things in it that I really enjoyed writing. For instance, expressing gender roles and reactions via a man who is having to live as a woman and accept the difference in treatment. Also, there’s a car chase across the Essex marshes where the top speed is about 45mph! Over the course of the book I developed a lot of affection for the characters and am enjoying planning new adventures for them. The 1930s was such a period of change, and so many amazing things were happening that it’s difficult to choose what to include.

 

Studioenp: It sounds like your head is full of many stories, so we wish you well in getting them written despite having to put logs on the fire! Thank you so much for being here with us today and sharing your work. Come back soon!

Dear readers, today’s yummies are banoffee cookies and some rather delicious chocolates—you know, the kind with all the posh swirls on top. So grab yourself a mini feast while you relax and read excerpts from Elin’s books. Have fun!

About Elin Gregory:

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job.

Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots.  She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.

 

   

 

Blurb for Eleventh Hour:

Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale – a field agent returning to 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot – Miles Siward moves into a ‘couples only’ boarding house, posing as Allerdale’s ‘wife’. Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.

 

Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, Water Board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction to each other.

 

Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?

The clock is ticking.

Excerpt for Eleventh Hour:

Miles tilted his head and studied his reflection. He – she – Millie looked good. Smart. Miles adjusted one of his spit curls and let out a long calming breath. He deliberately lowered his shoulders and felt the first easing of tension as he began to relax into the role. The excitement would come later. “How is that cut?”

 

Throckmorton – who had been in the flickers before the Great War spoiled his looks – pursed his lips and lifted the hem away from Miles’s calf. “Fine,” he said. “The styptic pencil stopped the bleeding. Tonight, when there’s time, do your thighs and the rest of your chest. You can’t be too careful. And for pity’s sake, buy a safety razor. That sabre of yours is only fit for cutting throats.”

 

“It cuts closer than anything else,” Miles said, “and then I don’t have to wear so much slap.”

 

“All I can say is, thank God you’re blond.” Throckmorton grunted and grabbed Miles’s chin, turning his face towards the light. “Shall I do your eyebrows?” he asked.

 

Miles groaned. “All right. But not too thin. I’m supposed to be a not-too-bright, provincial lass, not Theda Bara.”

 

Throckmorton grunted again. As well he might, because Miles had to admit he looked nothing like Theda Bara. Elissa Landi, perhaps. Millie would be a handsome girl if not conventionally pretty. He closed his eyes and tried not to wince as Throckmorton plied the tweezers.

 

“How much do you know about this Allerdale chap?” he asked after a few moments. Resources got all the best gossip but could be relied upon to pass on only what one really needed to know.

 

“Not much,” Throckmorton replied. “And what I do know is classified as ‘most secret’. But I can tell you he’s sound. You’ll be fine. All you’ll have to do is watch and keep notes. Allerdale will do any of the active stuff. You’ll come to no harm.”

 

“That wasn’t exactly what I meant,” Miles snapped.

 

Throckmorton clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, I don’t want you to come to any harm. You’re the only person who fits that set of clothing and it cost a pretty penny. Take care of it. You’ll need these too.” He offered Miles a leatherbound case, and Miles snapped it open and nodded glumly. Adam’s apples were inconvenient things but a pearl choker would camouflage it in the evening. By day, a scarf would do.

 

“If you’re serious about this, you should have your ears pierced.” Throckmorton flicked one of the accompanying pearl drops with a fingertip. “Clip-ons give one the most frightful headache.”

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Blurb for Calon Lân:

On the day of Joe’s arrival, Alwyn helped her to change his sheets. They pulled the fresh linen taut, tucked the blankets in then covered all in his freshly laundered quilt. Squares and stars of soft blues and greys. Bethan could remember many of the worn-out garments that made up its fabric; here a frock and there a shirt, and the nights she and Ma had spent snipping and stitching. Made with love and all the warmer for that.

 

“You should sleep snug enough.” Bethan smoothed the quilt over the pillows. “Are you sure Joe won’t mind?”

 

“He won’t mind.” She could hear Alwyn’s smile. “We slept close often enough in the trenches. At least here there’s no mud. Or rats.”

 

“Alwyn Beynon! The cheek of it. As if I’d allow rats in your bedroom.” When Alwyn didn’t reply she asked, “Will you walk to meet him or take the trap?”

 

“Nye said I could take Polly.” Alwyn, who had overseen the birth, growth and training of Polly years before either of them had set eyes on Nye Harrhy, didn’t seem to mind Nye’s unnecessary permissions. “Joe’s not coming for just a few days. He’ll most probably bring all his things.”

 

There was a note of hope in his voice that made Bethan all the more eager to welcome his friend to their home. In fact, now she came to think of it, Alwyn seemed better. Standing taller, speaking more often in a stronger voice. He had even smiled when she got him to help her fluff up the eiderdown by tossing it high.

Excerpt for Calon Lân:

As war rages in France, battles are also being fought on the Home Front.

Bethan Harrhy, farmer’s wife, does her best to keep her family happy as prices rise and the weather worsens. Nye, her husband, is angry and worried. Alwyn, her brother, is injured and shaken by his experiences in the trenches. Her baby is teething and there’s another on the way. Surely having her brother’s best friend to stay, another face, another voice, another pair of hands, can only be a good thing? But when Joe arrives, Bethan is forced to confront ideas she had never even guessed at and makes a terrible mistake.

With conflict at home and abroad, can there be a happy ending for any of them?

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