I’m pleased to welcome Rebecca Stonehill who is answering the Author in the Spotlight questions today. Rebecca’s debut novel The Poet’s Wife was published by Bookouture in September 2014. You can order a copy here: The Poet’s Wife
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m from London but for the past 3 years have lived in Nairobi with my husband and 3 children. We came here with my husband’s job – he works as a Water & Sanitation engineer in International Development. I am currently editing my second novel and also work with children, running Creative Writing workshops as am passionate about getting kids engaged with books, stories, poetry & writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
I can’t remember a time I haven’t been writing. I know that sounds clichéd, but it’s true! One of my favourite books as a child was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and I used her tactics of sitting in cupboards and up trees, scribbling my observations about people and situations. I was a voracious reader as a child and, reading that amount really inspired me to try writing my own stories and poems.
Tell me about your journey to publication?
It was…lengthy! I was rejected many, many times over a period of years (in fact, I have devoted an entire blog post to this! See http://rebeccastonehill.com/the-poets-wife/thoughts-rejection/) but refused to give up as I believed so strongly in my story. I was over the moon when Bookouture took me on, ten years after I first started penning my novel! This should give hope to aspiring writers to have faced rejections a number of times. If you really believe in what you have written, don’t give up.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
The Poet’s Wife is told through the eyes of three generation of women from one family and set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and the long years of Franco’s dictatorship and is at heart a novel about family bonds and bravery in the face of hardship and war.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I am coming towards the end of the editing process of my second novel (as yet, unnamed). It is set here in Nairobi and is based upon a young English woman who is sent to British East Africa in 1903 to marry a man she has never met. Once there, her life takes an unexpected, passionate but traumatic turn and she is sent back to England in disgrace. Almost fifty years later, she returns to Kenya to face this trauma which has haunted her all those years, only to find the country embroiled in a vicious internal war, which she unwittingly becomes part of.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – this novel blew me away. In an unnamed South American city, a large group of people celebrating a birthday are taken hostage one evening by a group of gun-wielding guerillas, seeking the release from prison of their comrades. What begins as a violent encounter, slowly transforms into the most unexpected exchange of ideas and mutual respect. I loved the intricate workings of relationship that Patchett builds between the characters and the unusual but highly compelling setting.
What are you reading just now? (December 2015)
I currently (as always!) have a few books on the go. I have been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiographical Long Walk to Freedom for some time – it is fascinating but for me, more of a ‘dipping in and out’ book. I am also reading Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier and How to Be Brave by Louise Beech, both of which I’m really enjoying.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I always have a fiction book on a go from both a kindle and a book, plus a non-fiction book, and will read from them all for about an hour in the evening in bed before I go to sleep. My husband gets fed up with all the books that pile up on our bed!
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I am on Facebook – Rebecca Stonehill Books, Twitter – @bexstonehill, Pinterest – bexstonehill and Google + – +RebeccaStonehill
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Although she’s only in her early teens, I loved the character of Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy. She is feisty, brave and curious– and will always put up a fight whenever challenged emotionally, intellectually or physically!