Article published on June 16, 2016.
After reviewing Love Or Nearest Offer by Adèle Geras we were able to arrange for Sheila A Grant to have a telephone conversation with Adèle and below is what ensued. However, before we get to that, I would just add that I have done a number of events with Adèle and corresponded regularly with her because she is not only one of the nicest authors I have ever met but she is also a passionate reader. And I know this because she is a subscriber to nb and regularly orders some of our Recommended Reads!
PS You will also find a delightful Quirky Q&A with Adèle in nb89, due out in early July.
June 16, 2016
It was wonderful to chat to Adèle and get a flavour of how she wrote such a lovely ‘feel good’ book, that was an absolute joy to read. Adèle was friendly and chatty and we enjoyed a conversation about books and writing, even swapping ideas on favourite authors.
Sheila Grant I enjoy reading all genres, fiction and non-fiction including intense thrillers but this book is a fairly unique genre, a lovely story with no violence, graphic sex or bad language. Instead it is full of extremely likeable people that I as a reader cared about.
Did you set out to write such a book with an endearing story and people I felt I would like.?
Adèle Geras I am quite fond of them myself especially Iris, the main character in the book. She is such a genuinely nice person who wants things to work out house wise and lifestyle for all her estate agent’s clients.
SG And why estate agents?
AG I like looking at houses, as does my daughter with whom I often discuss property. I suppose you could say I am into property porn. My experiences moving home have always been enjoyable. Houses are like people. You either fall for them and like them or you don’t.
I thought about people in their 60s or 70s who have lived and worked in busy towns or cities and retire to the peace of the country without realising they are also cutting themselves off from their friends and contacts. And that led me on to estate agents and people changing homes,
SG So Iris, the estate agent, was your starting point, character wise.
AG She was indeed. She was the pivot for the story. An estate agent who could make people’s dreams come true. A single woman, whose friends are all married with children, while she is still drifting in an unsatisfactory union. True happiness has so far eluded Iris.
SG Do you think Iris is typical of many single women today? Social occasions for meetings have changed since we went to dance halls etc.
AG Yes I do, the social scene has changed and OK it may be possible to press a button on your phone and a selection of men available for dates will appear on your screen, it is not the ideal solution.
SG I find it difficult to review a book when I totally love it without lapsing into excess superlatives but I cannot over emphasise how much I enjoyed this one. Your characters are varied and recognisable as real people. Are they based on people you know?
AG On the contrary. All are totally made up. I like to include a range of people in age and circumstances as in this case, regarding their housing requirements. If I can include a child as well then that introduces another perspective. The houses however are all real homes albeit with a few slight changes.
SG That does not surprise me as all the properties were similar to those in a housing supplement. I could visualise them – and also desire them! Especially the gardens and the views.
AG I was slightly conscious but not apologetic of the fact that all the characters had disposable income. I do not know enough about finance to write about mortgages and money problems.
SG It would have been a totally different book if you had done and frankly it was so refreshing to read such a lovely story that was totally lacking in misery. An uplifting book is a rare commodity.
It is a well structured book that flows with ease. Was that difficult.
AG Once I had my characters and my houses lined up I found the structure came easily. The story covers a year in the lives of the characters, so I finished the book with Christmas. I was also pleased with the ‘chain’ as the houses move. Plus it is always nice to end a book with a celebration. In my first adult book “Facing the Light’ the focus is on a family getting together in a big house to celebrate the Grannie’s 75th birthday and the book ends with the party.
SG This book had a most satisfactory and pleasing finale. Do you like to include a celebration in all of your books?
AG Not them all but “Made in Heaven’ is the one that most resembles ‘Love or Nearest Offer’ and it also includes a celebration.
SG I look forward to reading that one. Do you work with a planner?
AG Yes I do now but did not with my children’s books. (Adèle has written over 100 books for children and teenagers.) But with my first adult book I did work with a planner. It nearly killed me filling it in, changing things, forming the structure and ensuring the facts all worked together properly and in sequence. But then when I came to write the book it was like following a recipe. I wrote from the planner knowing where my high points were etc. I would not work without one now and cannot understand how writers are able to ‘sit down and write’.
SG Your prose has a poetic sound to it. Do you write poetry?
AG I once had a book of poetry published years ago, long out of print. I do however include poetry in some of my children’s books.
Sheila’s conclusion? It was a treat to speak to Adèle and discuss her books and the writers that she enjoys, some of which were mutual favourites and known but a great number are now on my ‘must read’ list and some already even winging their way in this direction.
Love or Nearest Offer by Adèle Geras was published in hbk by Quercus on June 2, 2016
POETRY: A Bus Pass Named Desire by Christopher Matthew
SECOND OPINION: This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
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