Adele Geras is a prolific author of novels for all ages, but is
perhaps best-known for her young adult books Troy and
Ithaka. A former actress, she has two daughters - one of
whom is the bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah – and
lives in Great Shelford. Her latest, Cover Your Eyes, is her
first adult novel for eight years.
I wish I could say that Cover Your Eyes is my hundredth
book, but it's only 98. 99 is coming out in February and the
mists covering 100 are just beginning to clear and I will
make a start on it soon...
I wanted this novel to be a significant number because it's been the most... I'm not sure what the adjective is, but because I started it in 2008 or so, it's been around for much longer than I think of as normal.
Part of the slowness in reaching publication is down to circumstances. We moved house in 2010 and I lost a whole year... deliberately. I said to myself, "Moving is a huge thing and I’m going to enjoy it and do it wholeheartedly." We were leaving Manchester, where we'd lived very happily for 43 years and coming to Cambridge. This was the right thing to do and I’ve not regretted it for a moment.
A large part of the delay, though, was because the book was proving a bit of a problem. I wrote the first draft quite quickly but the novel wasn't right. It took about four drafts before I was happy enough with it to send it to agent and editor.
So what was the problem? One thing was: I wanted to add a supernatural element to the story. I had to decide how important this was, how Gothic I was going to go, how this would match up with the real-life story and so forth.
Another difficulty was: I had to rein in my natural desire to describe everything. Because one of my heroines, Eva, is a dress designer now retired, I had dresses and fabrics all over the place. I'm teased by family and friends for my love of textiles and have to watch myself when I write. At school, I was just the same and there a wonderful teacher we called Minnie used a red pen to strike out my more purple passages and write ‘irrelevant’ in the margin.
But the book is now being published and I'm delighted. It's a story about a house. It's a story about family relationships. It's about many different varieties of love. It has two heroines. Eva is in her late 70s and she was famous in the 1960s. She arrived in England from Germany before the war, on one of the Kindertransports and her memories of that time are an important part of the narrative. Megan, who is nearly 30, is recovering from a disastrous love affair. Circumstances bring Megan to Eva's beloved Salix House. Events unfold from there, and each woman has something in her past of which she is deeply ashamed.
I won't say more. I hope that even with my stripped-back descriptions, the house and its inhabitants come to life in the minds of every reader and I hope that they grow to like Eva and Megan as much as I do.
`London fashion journalist Megan forbidden love ends suddenly and painfully, just when she thinks it will blossom into something lasting and legitimate. Elsewhere, in the countryside, Eva Conway lives with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters in Salix House – the house that Eva used to call her own when she was a famous fashion designer. Now she feels alone, even in the heart of her family. Not only this but she also faces the loss of the home that means so much to her. As Megan and Eva's paths cross they discover that each of them has a dark guilty secret eating away at them, but then Salix House has secrets too.
For those of you who haven't heard of British author Adele Geras before, you've just come across a treat...' - Read More.
`‘Geras makes a superb comeback with this tale of female friendship set in the fashion world… An intriguing tale.’ - THE LADY
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Photo - Cambridge News
I was very thrilled indeed when I was invited to contribute a story to
QUICK READS 2015. I'd written a Quick Read book before, in 2007,
called LILY: A ghost story and I really enjoy writing at this shorter
length of under twenty thousand words.
Also QUICK READS is an initiative which is dear to my heart. Its
aim is to make those who are for any reason nervous of tackling a
full-length book fearless in the face of a good story. The language of
QUICK READS is simple, and the print is larger than you'd find in a
traditional book but these stories have to have all the emotional
impact of longer works and are intended to show that stories can be
unputdownable. The hope is that everyone who reads them reads
other things after that. The books are read and used in adult literacy
classes and prisons and with new immigrants who may be uncertain
about reading in English for the first time.
I've written a story which I hope will tug at the heartstrings. It's a love story, and a ghost story and also a story about overcoming difficulties.
I hope that ALL my readers, including Young Adult readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
THE DREAM QUILT.
Back in 1990, I wrote a poem called FROM LULLABY TO
LULLABY. It was about a mother sitting by a child's bed,
knitting a blanket to spread over the bed. Into this blanket, she
knitted pictures of all sorts of things: a doll, a rabbit, a bear, a
tiger, and so forth. She's answering the question: what do these
creatures dream about? At the end, the blanket is ready and all
the dreams are gathered together, so to speak.
The book was published by Simon & Schuster in the USA and
did quite well. A couple of verses were used to decorate two
children's wards in a hospital. However, it never found a
publisher in this country. So when I heard that Susan Hill was
going to be publishing children's books in her LONG BARN BOOKS imprint, I sent her a copy of FROM LULLABY TO LULLABY and she liked it and said she'd publish it. I was more thrilled by this decision than I can fully explain....I'd always felt as though this book was like a child of mine which had been unaccountably ignored by everyone and left to stand in the corner. Now it was going to have its chance.
The second thing that pleased me enormously was the fact that Susan Hill chose to publish it in the same kind of small format as her beautiful CAN IT BE TRUE? and chose the same illustrator, Valerie Greeley, as had made her own book so lovely. It's turned out to be a beautiful object and I'm completely delighted with the illlustrations and the way it's been produced.
I had to make some changes, but they were all sensible. The first was: the title had to be different. Apparently (this is what Susan says, and she's generally right!) booksellers don't like the word LULLABY in the title and for a good reason: they say it restricts the age group and readership. Susan has been quite definite that THE DREAM QUILT should be one of those "from 8 to 80" books and has labelled it 'for dreamers of all ages." I think this is a very good decision.
Then, because Valerie is a quilter and has fans in the quilting community, we changed the knitting imagery into sewing imagery. It didn't take much work. The verses of my poem are just the same as they were in FROM LULLABY TO LULLABY and it's only the refrain that changed from 'yarns' to 'silks'. Silver needles changed to a single silver needle and that was that. I rather enjoyed doing this and I feel it works much better now.
I hope very much that THE DREAM QUILT will have a long and happy life in the UK. It would, though I say it myself, make a smashing stocking-filler for Christmas. It's small enough to fit into a stocking, I think, and you really need to see the illustrations to appreciate how beautiful it is. Here's the cover to tempt you:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers.