Morning everyone and happy Wednesday! Mid-week is here!! Today I’ve got a few posts for you, starting with a Q&A with author Patsy Trench on the blog blitz of The Awakening of Claudia Faraday…..
book blurb & info
‘It got better, in time, though to be truthful it always felt more of a duty than a pleasure: a little like homework, satisfying when over, and done well, but never exactly enjoyable. But then nobody had ever suggested it could be otherwise.’
This was the view of Claudia Faraday, 1920s respectable wife and mother of three, on the subject of sex. That is until an unexpected turn of events shakes her out of her torpor and propels her back into the world revitalised and reawakened, where she discovers, as Marie Stopes might have said: Approached in the right way, even homework can be fun.
Published by: Prefab Publications on 16th August 2020
Formats available: Paperback & eBook. Available on Kindle Unlimited
q&A with patsy trench
What do you enjoy most about writing novels?
Creating characters. I used to be a scriptwriter, for television and radio, and before that an actress. Actors have a natural affiliation with dialogue of course, and I think that learning how to play different characters is a natural introduction to learning how to create them. My characters always drive my story.
How much planning do you do beforehand?
Not much. I generally have a rough idea of what I’m trying to convey in a book, and even on occasion where I want to end up, but how I get there I leave up to my characters.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say as a writer you are led entirely by your characters, and obviously that is not the case. The skill lies in managing to create a story that will intrigue the reader while staying true to the characters.
So what was the inspiration behind Claudia?
Inspiration is perhaps too lofty a word. She was a short story originally. I was intrigued by women’s attitudes to sex in times past, particularly in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, when attitudes towards everything from morality to fashion to the role of women generally changed so fast and so radically. And the writer Marie Stopes dared to write about the clitoris, that strange organ that people like Claudia never knew existed. What other purpose does the clitoris have other than to provide pleasure and enjoyment?
Did you find it easy to write about sex?
Yes and no. In Claudia’s case it’s more about the effect that discovering the joys of sex has on her than the sex itself. Her new experience opens her eyes to things she’d never noticed before, from the dust on the curtain pelmets to the fact that her daughter has married a man who is bisexual, and that one of her closest friends is a lesbian, and happy with it.
And anyway sex is more than two people writhing in a bed. In a previous novel I wrote about a young woman who was terrified of it, as you could say many of us were way back in the days of our virginity; and that book brought howls of recognition from readers. Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach is about a relationship that dies a horribly quick death because the newly-married wife thinks she is no good at sex. Sex is complicated, and fascinating, and ruinous and life-affirming. In Claudia’s case, for the first time in her long married life, it is utterly transformative.
What sort of reader is the book aimed at?
Women of course, and mostly older women I suppose. Men too, enlightened men maybe, men who are genuinely interested in women let’s say. Fans of Nancy Mitford in particular.
Why Nancy Mitford?
She wrote light-heartedly about sometimes quite raunchy, and often tragic, subjects. The point is she manages to convey so much without ever being heavy-handed, which is what I try to do.
Do you have a favourite author?
John Steinbeck, for his humanity, and his humour. Christopher Isherwood, for his wonderful depictions of characters. And Nancy Mitford. All writers who are led by characters, again.
Claudia is the first in a series, is that right?
It is. The second book features her stroppy friend Prudence, who forges her own unique way through life without regard to convention or form. And book three is about Prue’s friend Violet, who gets involved with the suffragists and ends up working in the theatre, for the famous actor-manager Herbert Tree. I’m a theatre person ultimately. Perhaps that’s why Noel Coward makes a surprising cameo appearance in my book.
So what’s next?
Well I’m finishing off book three, about Violet the suffragist. And another character has appeared in the book who may well turn out to be the central character of book four. I suspect it may have a theatrical theme. And hopefully another character will emerge in that book that will lead to book five, and so on ad infinitum, who knows?
about the author
Patsy Trench lives a quiet and largely respectable life in north London. Claudia’s story shows a side of her normally shy and reserved nature that is little known, even to her friends and acquaintances. Her previous books, about her family’s history in Australia, are entertaining and informative accounts of that country’s early colonial beginnings. She began writing late, and in a previous life she was an actress, scriptwriter, playscout, founder of The Children’s Musical Theatre of London and lyricist. When not writing books she emerges from her shell to teach theatre and organise theatre trips for overseas students. She is the grateful mother of two clever and grown-up children, and she is addicted to rag rugging and, when current circumstances permit, fossicking on the Thames foreshore for ancient treasure.
Organised by: Rachel’s Random Resources
Thanks to Rachel for inviting me on to the tour, and to Patsy for her brilliant interview.
Any questions to Patsy, then be sure to get in touch.
Back soon my lovelies
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