Tag Archives: anemogram

May Interview – Rebecca Gransden 

For May’s interview I caught up with Rebecca Gransden, author of the fantasmagorically delightful Anemogram. Rebecca has also kindly offered a paperback giveaway of Anemogram to one lucky reader of this interview. All you have to do is retweet this interview on your twitter account to be in with a chance to win. You can read my review of Anemogram here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/anemogram-review/


What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’m from the south coast of England and have what I guess would be classified as a traditional working class background. I received a few encouraging words at school and they confirmed my unsteady assertion that I could write a bit if I put my mind to it. I’ve concentrated mostly on short stories over the years, until I attempted to write my first longer piece in 2014. That resulted in my first, and only release so far, Anemogram. 
You sound a lot like me there! Except I’m yet to finish my novel never mind have it published! What are your ambitions for your writing? 
To always push myself forwards, to strive to improve in the areas I think I need to, and to challenge myself. If I don’t feel I’ve moved forward in some way or another I see no point in releasing anything, especially with regard to novels. My predominant impulse is to not shortchange myself or do a disservice to anyone who might pick up my writing. For this reason I will always take risks. To me, feeling comfortable is a sign that I need to move on, whatever the outcome.

Which writers inspire you? 

I have writers I admire, probably too many to mention here, but I’ll say Paul Auster, Chekov for his short stories, JG Ballard, and Lydia Millet is great stylistically. I’m mostly inspired by fellow indie authors whose work connects with me, such as Leo X. Robertson, Harry Whitewolf and Rupert Dreyfus. It’s important to me to have the immediacy of those currently creating as an energising force. And their stuff is great.

Anemogram has a very unusual premise and theme, where did the idea come from? 

I wish I knew! I had about two weeks to come up with some basic ideas in order to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I knew that I wanted a female protagonist, and to cover some specific themes, and then embarked on a pretty intense month. Anemogram is the result.
It sounds like you work well under pressure in that case! Are you working on anything new at the moment? 
I’m taking a break from writing as intensely this year, but I do plan to fit in a novella at some point. I have a short story collection that I’m in the process of finalising in order to release. Last year I completed the first draft of a science fiction themed novel, and I will return to that to edit, although I have no idea if and when I’ll release it.
You have quite a lot going on then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 
All my writing is now carried out on a laptop, just for convenience. My first few short stories were handwritten and it was valuable to transfer them to the laptop making adjustments and improvements as I went. I am interested in attempting something handwritten again as there is a difference in the process that could be creatively beneficial.

It can’t be denied that handwriting makes your arm hurt a lot more than typing though 🙂 Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 

I’ll try anything in any mixture or permutation. I want to incorporate different areas, to make things interesting and keep pushing myself. Always willing to fall flat on my face if it’s fun! I’ve found it difficult to categorise Anemogram. I worry about genre placement after writing, if at all. I have a whole bunch of horror stories that may be released at some point.

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I like to set aside specific periods of time to immerse myself in what I’m writing. It doesn’t suit me to have multiple projects active at once, as all my energy needs to point one way. I have a generalised minimum daily word count when I’m in a writing phase, though life does get in the way of that sometimes of course, but if that happens I’m mindful to play catchup the next day in order to stay on a self-imposed schedule. When I’m not actively writing I’m either editing, reading, researching, beta-reading, promoting or doing something to ensure I stay engaged.

What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I’m a supporter of self-publishing as my instincts are that as far as possible writers, and anyone who produces a creative commodity, should retain ownership of their work. This puts pressure on those who do self-publish to ensure that what we release is high quality, especially with regard to formatting and presentation. I love the spirit of independent publishing, on whatever scale, and most of the interesting reading I come across originates from that world.
Without a big publishing house behind you though, how do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 
As I have only one release so far my experience of promotion is quite limited. For me, it is important that any promotion I do is an extension of how I make my way through the world, and gives an accurate impression of what I and my writing stands for. I’m aware of what I won’t do—such as pay for reviews—and prefer to look for fun ways for my writing to find those who may be interested in reading it.
If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 
A book that I returned to endlessly as a kid called Encyclopaedia of Legendary Creatures by Tom McGowan. This was full of definitions of supernatural and mythological beings from around the world and each creature was depicted in an accompanying illustration by Victor Ambrus. His drawings are very distinctive and chilling. I think it would’ve been a fascinating project to put together, and exciting for the author to collaborate with such an amazing illustrator.
I might have to check that out as I love myths, legends, etc. What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
Reviews are great to have as they do help give a general impression of what a book is about. There’s no denying that it is helpful for a potential reader to have reviews available in order to gain further information about a book before they decide if it is for them or not. My strategy has been one of seeking out readers and reviewers who may get something out of reading my book. I’ve tried to be quite focused and I’ve had a mostly positive experience, whether my book has been enjoyed or not. My concern is not so much to do with a positive or negative reaction, but if my book has been fairly represented or not. I think discerning readers who are familiar with review sites and with review culture look for indications of whether the book will appeal to them, and can filter out much of the noise. Reviews mean less as they are distrusted more but they are still important at this stage, and there’s no doubt positive reviews have an effect.
Thank you so much for taking part in the interview Rebecca and for agreeing kindly to do a giveaway as well! 
If you’d like to see more from Rebecca you can check out her website, Amazon account and social media pages here: 

Website: https://rebeccagransden.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rlgransden

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rebecca-Gransden-1046981001979898/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14235808.Rebecca_Gransden
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Gransden/e/B014I5D5OU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

A Year in Books. My top 10 from 2016 

Now, I can’t lie. Having read 215 books this year narrowing it down to my 10 favourites has been pretty tough. Pretty much every book I’ve read this year has been amazing but it wouldn’t be a top 10 if I included all 215! 

10. 

Dear Amy is the debut novel from Helen Callaghan. Set in Cambridge, England the main character is schoolteacher Margot Lewis who also runs a ‘Dear Amy’ column in the local paper. When she starts receiving untraceable letters from a teenager who went missing years ago, she becomes more worried when another teenager goes missing. The perfect psychological suspense novel. 
9. 

We go forward in time to the 22nd century in Hargus Montgomery’s The Last Relicun. 12% of the population live in ‘museums’ which are places of living history, anything from 1950s America to 12th century France. Terrifyingly realistic and in some cases dangerous the government want the museums to be banned. Outside of the museums in the ‘real world’ people don’t even touch each other anymore and live mostly in VR. A truly fascinating product of an amazing mind. The main character Alex Kane is a young man stuck with the difficult decision of choosing between going to college or moving into a museum. Extremely interesting and in places heartbreaking this is definitely a book that you NEED to read! 

8. 

The first of Erika Johansen’s novels about The Tearling a dystopian country founded by humans years after an environmental disaster in today’s western world. An untested young princess has to claim her throne, Kelsea Raleigh has been hidden in the woods with the protectors set for her at birth. Taking the throne is a dangerous game when The Tearling is enslaved to a malevolent Queen from nearby Mortmesne. Power, magic and corruption abound in this amazing YA fantasy. 

7.  

The beautiful, bewitching Anemogram by Rebecca Gransden is absolutely mind blowing. There’s no other way to describe it. The Language of the book is rich and deeply detailed but throughout there is a highly disturbing undertone. The child in the book seems otherworldly and the whole thing is so damn confusing that if it wasn’t written so beautifully it would be impossible to like it. But instead it’s become one of my most favoured novels. Recommended for lovers of Peter S Beagle. 

6. 

The tag line itself says enough about this one. ‘Two childhood friends, one became a detective one became a killer.’ The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill is easily the best police crime drama I’ve read this year. Ray Drake is a police detective investigating the murder of a family. The story shifts between present day and the past during Drake’s childhood living in a children’s home. The book leads you down many different exciting and chilling pathways to unexpected places. Just when you think you’ve worked it out something completely new is thrown into the mix to add to the shock factor. Incredibly interesting and thought provoking. 

5. 

Imagine a world where the great library of Alexandria had never been destroyed. A world where the most important thing is to protect the library and it’s knowledge, a world where protecting the books means not letting anybody except the privileged few actually touch them. Nobody can personally own a book, that’s strictly against the law but alchemy can deliver a book instantly. Jess Brightwell is in an awkward position, he appreciates the value of the library and is honoured to score a place in the library’s service but he’s torn because of his background trading and reading illegal books. A truly magical and bewitching historical rewrite. 

4. 
The One is a smart little novel which explores the world of online dating and dating apps in a completely new light. It explores an extraordinary concept. In a world where your DNA can be used to match you with your actual soulmate, what could possibly go wrong? It seems like the perfect world, an end to sexism, racism, homophobia, increased marriage rate and decreased divorce rate. But not everyone is happy; as for every match, 3 other relationships break up. This novel focuses on 5 characters, exploring their very different experiences of match DNA. Exploring the themes of crime, thriller, romance, death, adultery, science and even science fiction. It’s got it all! 

3. 

This novel is another historical rewrite (maybe I’m getting a new favourite genre this year).  This time the modern world exists just as it does now but with one major difference; slavery still exists. Only in the south though, the north is full of free states but racism is far worse than today. There are also ‘free’ people of colour who weren’t born into slavery or managed to form a new identity like the protagonist Jim/Victor. Jim isn’t really free though, his freedom comes at a price as he is forced to work as a tracker of escaped slaves. Ironic when he’s an ex slave himself. This novel really delivers leaving the ending open to interpretation which is an amazing skill in an author. 

2. 

Not only is Nicola a lovely woman (look out for my interview with her, coming up in February 2017), she writes an amazing book too! The Phantom Tree is like Philippa Gregory meets HG Wells. It has time travel combined with the delights of Tudor England. A real page turner, this book follows Alison Banestre an orphan in the 16th century who ends up at Wolf Hall with her distance relations the Seymours. Time travel and magic ensue as she suddenly finds herself trapped in the 21st century. What really won me over with this novel was Nicola’s ability to write something which could have been cliched and ridiculous and made it the complete opposite. That was the true magic of this story. 

1.

Choosing the best book of the year was really difficult. Like, I’m not kidding I started writing this two weeks before posting and only made it for my New Year’s Eve deadline tonight. It was a tough decision but I had to go with both head and heart and look at the book which truly emotionally wrecked me. Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes is an emotional roller coaster of psychological and paranormal suspense. Creepy, weird, fast paced and gripping, in my earlier review I described it as the brain child of Stephen King and Gillian Flynn and I still stand by that. Sarah Pinborough is an amazing story weaver she doesn’t ‘tell’ it or ‘write’ it, she weaves it. I couldn’t put this book down as it threw everything I thought I knew about the plot into complete doubt and turned it on its head. As for the ending it delivered a horrific twist that I seriously never saw coming. A must read for fans of any genre. This one has it all!  

Anemogram Review 

When the author of Anemogram, Rebecca Gransden contacted me a few days ago asking if I would like to review her debut novel I happily agreed and told her I should have read and reviewed it in a couple of days. In reality it took me only three hours. 

This was due to the fact that this was a mind blowingly addictive book which I could not put down. 

The language and writing style is so rich that the only other author I could possibly compare it to is Peter S Beagle. That in itself is the biggest compliment I could possibly give. The type of writing which is sometimes discouraged in this day and age and the type of writing I happen to love. Like someone describing what they see on a cinema screen. It’s incredible. It’s delicious and in the case of this book it’s highly disturbing. 

The underlying currents of horror, sex and perversion reminded me a little of Lolita but without the sexual element at all. I’m not even sure that sentence makes sense but it’s how this little novel made me feel. 

The sense that this child was somehow ‘otherworldy’ was a pervading undertone throughout. The unsuriety of what would happen next. The confusion, the whole damn book is a riddle! 

It was incredible. I can’t help but go back to the language and the writing because it made the book. The obsessive and sometimes disgusting things which went on (I refer you to the picking of the scab). Mixed in with the constant question in the readers mind of WHO IS SHE? 

It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s the stuff of nightmares while not exactly being scary. It’s weird and wonderful and utterly frustrating and it’s the best book I’ve read all year.