Name Gill Web
Age (63 going on 19) !!
Where are you from
Born & bred in Robin Hood Country – Nottingham. In fact I live less than 2 miles from the hospital where not only I was born, but so were my husband, our son and recently our baby grandson too.
I went to the brand new Technical Grammar school, being one of the first intake, at 11 years old, in the 1960’s. Like so many other schools it has now become a comprehensive, but at the time I was there it provided cutting edge education, which I now really appreciate. It was there I discovered my love of reading and great literature – primarily from being introduced to the work of C S Lewis and the amazing Chronicles of Narnia.
Prior to retiring I worked as a trainer at the local NHS Trust. I love training and teaching. It’s a great thrill to see someone leave a room able to do something that they couldn’t do when they came in – all because of your guidance and support. It is so very satisfying.
I have been married for over 40 years and we have one son of whom we are very proud. He now has a lovely wife and their son was born earlier this year, to everyone’s delight.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m loving being a grandma. Seeing the little man develop is so exciting – he’s a real character already. I retired a couple of years ago, so it is wonderful to be able to have free time to see the family, and also to indulge in all of my many hobbies, too.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I always enjoyed writing at school, and although this is my first published work of fiction, in my employment I used to create guidebooks for the topics I delivered as a trainer. I was always the office “wordsmith” – the go-to person for “just the right word”. I think that was a skill I developed when working in the insurance industry after I left school. You had to be so very precise and leave no room for ambivalence. It’s where I developed my love of English language, and in finding the way to say exactly what I meant. I’ve always found it very useful – and English is such a very wonderful language.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw my book listed on Amazon Kindle! The book only took me about 3 months to write, but the editing, and plucking up the courage to publish, took me a few years after that!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It began as a bit of a daydream one day. I used to move around at work through many floors up & down in the lift/elevator. Passing the time in a thoughtful way, I began with a fun “what if…” scenario. That was fine for a while, but I soon began to ask myself – “and what next…”? Continuing that way, I felt as if the book almost wrote itself and started to craft the daydreams into complete story.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I wanted my book to be easy to read, guiding the reader along in a way that engages them into the story line so that they can relate to the events – I hope! I wanted the whole story to be something they could imagine being involved in as it developed.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Oh that was easy – it’s all about the gorgeous, charismatic, powerful but enchanting man my character Mella stumbles across – “Maestro”
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
“It could happen to you…” – maybe?
Be prepared for something totally unexpected to knock your world apart and reshape the pieces into something entirely different.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Pretty much all of it. There is one slightly mysterious aspect, which could have been difficult to resolve or explain – so I like to leave the reader to figure that out in their own way – everyone will think in a different direction on that….
Apart from that, I researched anything I was not sure about to be as accurate and credible and plausible as possible
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not at all. Just a fantasy, with some locations I’ve visited. As the disclaimer says “Any resemblance to any person…etc…”
Certain aspects could be described as “inspired by…” but are absolutely not meant to represent anyone who is actually a real person.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I think the Chronicles of Narnia gave me my first ideas that there may be more to the world than we can see with our eyes. The escapism of finding whole new worlds was so magical that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read them all. I still have three complete sets of the stories, because I’ve worn out the earlier copies. I loved the C S Lewis simplicity of language – he doesn’t need complicated words to express those wonderful, strange new lands and all that happens there.
I really didn’t have a writing mentor. No-one knew anything about my book until a while after I’d finished it and then I gave it to my sister to read. That was a big leap for me. She is a very well-read lady, so her opinion was very important to me. (She liked it!)
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished “Disclaimer” by Renée Knight. It is a well crafted story, but not what I thought it would be.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m just about to start reading Follow Me by Angela Clarke.
Apart from that my recent reading all seems to have been “established” authors. I enjoy Harlen Coben and have a couple lined up ready to start. I also enjoy Linwood Barclay. Both write action packed mystery stories – which are nothing at all like my own book!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m on the hunt for inspiration for another story – or I may write a non-fiction book I’ve been considering for a long time – all about my various cats. Some of them really were very special and hilarious characters. Watch this space for “Eight Blue Eyes”…..
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I had a handful of close friends who were given the file for my book before I published. I valued their input and comments.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Well, I’m retired now and enjoy fitting in writing at times, but like everyone else, I seem to have less time now than when I was working. I was employed full time from when I was 16 till I was 60, so I value my retirement and don’t really see writing as “work”.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I edited it so many times after the original writing that by the time it was launched on Kindle I felt I was very happy with it.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Even in the infant’s school, I always enjoyed writing lessons, and loved making up stories. I was a very imaginative child. Once I discovered reading fiction for slightly older children – and then what you might call “real” fiction – I got carried away with my own writing. But this is my first full venture, and completing a book is very exciting.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Chapter One – The Elevator Out
The meal at Thursday’s grand dinner had been fine, the speeches not too long, but the bar afterwards was rather bustling and noisy. People pressed in on every side trying to buy their drinks and find somewhere to sit. After the travelling from Cologne, which had followed a couple of days of business bargaining, a hot, crowded room – however classy and tasteful – was the last thing she needed. Looking to get a break from the noise and the crowd, Mella made a vague gesture to her husband, Martin, who was busily engrossed sitting at the bar on a high stool, in a conversation with some chap he’d met while buying their latest round of drinks. Seems they had a lot in common and their drinks and talk had taken over his evening, leaving Mella to sit people-watching alone at the small, squashed but stylish table a few yards away.
By now, all the chairs around her had gradually been removed by pleasant people asking politely if this seat was taken, but instead of joining her, they took the chair to their own groups nearby.
It was unusual for Martin to have a glass too many, but he seemed to be relaxed and enjoying himself, so Mella really didn’t mind him letting his hair down for once. They had had a hard year trying to increase his business and when Mella had been put out of work by her employer closing their UK offices, Martin had felt extra pressure to keep things together. He’d had a hectic and stressful trip, so it was only fair that tonight he could relax and enjoy himself, taking a break from thoughts of his business, before a fresh start tomorrow.
Despite the mirrors, chandeliers and gold leaf decoration around the elegant rooms, there was a limit to how long Mella could find an interest in sitting here alone, studying the décor. As she gestured towards Martin, she assumed he had understood that she meant she was returning to their room and was OK with her going up for some reason he probably hadn’t worked out. Martin nodded cheerily to her. He was really engrossed in the jolly conversation and hardly gave a thought to the departure of his wife from the busy lounge bar, because he was having fun listening to his engaging companion.
Mella had decided to pack her bag for her side excursion tomorrow. From their trip to Belgium she had chosen to make the visit as a solo detour on their return home. The supplier she was to visit would be able to accommodate her requirements to fit with the business plan she was forming. Martin, on the other hand, was happy to go straight home and leave her to complete her own negotiations. Their semi-independence sometimes fooled outsiders into thinking they were not a close and loving couple, which was far from the truth. They allowed each other space and that gave them a chance to have some personal time, making them even closer when they teamed up again. Tonight she could slip away without any fuss and get herself sorted for the early start in the morning, anticipating a return home with lots to talk about, late tomorrow.
She edged her way across the lounge through the noisy crush of chattering people, squeezing between chairs, careful not to knock any drinks over. As she reached the space beyond the seating, fortunately free of people, she fumbled in her crammed little evening bag to find the card key to their room, taking care not to tip any contents onto the floor. Just before reaching the lift doors, she turned to give a little smile back at her husband, who didn’t see her as he was laughing heartily with his new companion, apparently a rather entertaining guy. That turn was fateful, for in the seconds that followed, Mella’s whole world would suddenly be changed forever, in a way she could never have foreseen or imagined. …
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Oh yes – remembering to put down all the details that are in my head – enough, at least, for the reader to see what I am seeing and be right there with me all the way.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have several favourites. I love the pace of Dan Brown and how he packs so much detail and action into a story over about 24 hours. I also love Isaac Asimov visions of the future – so well thought out that they still stand up so many years after they were written.
For light entertainment I enjoy Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s. The combination of history with time travel (not supposed to call it that you know…) written in her wonderfully funny style, is always a joy. As soon as I finish one I want to read another.
And I couldn’t leave out Ray Bradbury and “Fahrenheit 451” – I constantly change my mind over which book I would “be”, but I would definitely have to be one of the Books at the end.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, because my settings were places I have already visited and enjoyed.
Venice is one of my favourite places, so it was lovely to be able to incorporate scenes set there into my book.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did that myself. Painting is another of my hobbies so it made sense to me that I create my own. I pictured the scene and tried to recreate the image to show this idea of passion and music combined.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Deciding on how it would all end. Once I had that it was much easier to keep writing. But I was over half way through before I resolved that problem. I didn’t find it easy writing the love scenes. I found it hard to put down what was in my head – just enough the express the passion without turning the story into a sex manual!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Get the ideas down on paper (OK – the laptop) before they drifted away – then you can improve on them later. Add bits as they come to you and fit them into the shape as it evolves. But ask a lot of “what if” and “what next” questions along the way.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep notes about your characters, their chronology, personality and background so that you build rounded and not one dimensional people.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Pour a glass of wine, have chocolates to hand, and throw yourself into the story….
I hope everyone finds my book to be an enjoyable read.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
After Winnie the Pooh it was definitely “The Horse and His Boy” (C S Lewis).
I was daydreaming in English class as the teacher read from it and I wasn’t taking much notice – until I heard her read … “I wish I knew. How can I know? I bet this horse knows, if only he could tell me.
The Horse had lifted its head. Shasta stroked its smooth-as-satin nose and said, ‘I wish you could talk, old fellow’.
And then for a second he thought he was dreaming, for quite distinctly, though in a low voice, the Horse said, ‘But I can.’ ”
Those last three words made me sit bolt upright. I used my pocket money and bought the book the following Saturday – it cost me 3 shillings and sixpence at the time (and I’m holding that very book in my hand) and I read it for myself from cover to cover – something I’d never done before. I was eleven and I’ve never stopped reading since.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at the antics of my gorgeous grandson. He’s a real delight.
I love clever, witty people – like Stephen Fry. His humour is incredible.
Jodi Taylor’s books make me laugh out loud as I read them.
A guaranteed tear-jerker for me is Mike & The Mechanic’s song “In the Living Years”. There is a verse in that song that resonates every time, because my Dad died suddenly just before I got pregnant and he never saw my son. I always cry because it feels as if they wrote it just for me, when the lyrics say
I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
My Dad, because I’d love to show him my son and grandson – he would love them so much and they are both a lot like him, too. And I hope he’d be proud of me for writing my book too.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“I wasn’t ready to go – there’s still so much I want to do…”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love watercolour painting, drawing and many crafts especially crochet and paper-crafts like card-making. If I send a shop bought card instead of a hand-crafted one, people think I don’t like them!
I also enjoy photography and with digital cameras there are few limitations these days.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love “Castle” – light-hearted entertainment. But I also enjoy most crime-based fiction series and the factual ones too.
My favourite film of all time is Some Like It Hot – I never tire of watching it. Second favourite is The Lake House – but I still haven’t managed to clearly explain the film’s timeline to my husband!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Most kinds of fish-in-batter are irresistible. I developed a craving when I was pregnant and it’s never gone away!
As an artist I love all colours and it would be very hard to choose, but I think that shade a of African-violet would have to just slightly come out on top.
Music? Too many genres to list. For classical it would be Vivaldi, for pop music would be all things 80’s (it’s an age-thing!)
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Probably, I’d be a teacher – but these days I’m glad I’m not!
It would be nice to make a living from art, but I’m nowhere near good enough for that. I’m still trying to be as good at painting as my Dad was….
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Not at present although I have an artwork page on Facebook, where some of my paintings are on view, including my book cover.
The Kindle link on Amazon for “Maestro”
Maestro – ebook