Today, I have Liz Harris, author of Cochin Fall as my guest. I’ve known Liz for many years now, but I am always fascinated that I often learn something new about my blog guests. Liz is going to tell us why she writes. Over to Liz …
I should imagine that everyone writing a novel would give exactly the same reason for why they write as everyone else – they write because it gives them pleasure.
It’s inconceivable that anyone would isolate themselves from the world, day after day, for the many months it takes to write a novel, unless the pleasure they ultimately derived outweighed any pain that the process engendered.
And, indeed, there are times which could be likened to pain. For example, you can be plunged into the depths of despair when, halfway through the novel, you wonder if anyone will ever bother to read that far, or if perhaps you’ve wasted all the money you spent on books for research, and possible travel for purposes of research, and all the hours of writing that you’ve already devoted to the book.
How we define the pleasure we gain, though, will vary from author to author. For me, the number one joy is that I absolutely love creating a fictional world, and the fictional characters who inhabit that world. As the novel develops, my characters become real people to me, who walk side by side with me throughout the day, sharing their elation and their distress, their hopes and their fears.
As I draw close to the end of the novel, their voices become louder in my head as they clamour for a resolution to their stories. I must be unbearable in my final two weeks of the novel as, like my characters, I’m impatient of anything that delays my journey to the end.
After I’d completed the three books in the Linford Series, available individually and as a box set, each of which focuses on one of the members of the Linford family, and I was giving birth to a new fictional world, with new characters, I wrote an article for ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association), entitled ‘It’s a wrench!’. And it was, indeed, a real wrench to leave the characters with whom I’d lived for more than two years, and move on.
My other great source of pleasure when writing a novel, and one which will definitely go some way towards answering the question of why I write, is that it’s a way of learning interesting things. Perhaps this comes from being an ex-secondary school teacher, but whenever I read a novel, I hope to have learnt at least one new thing by the end of it, and when I write a novel, I feel exactly the same.
The Linford series is a saga set between the wars. The Dark Horizon takes the reader from London to the Cotswolds and to New York. The Flame Within is set in Waterfoot, a small mill town in Lancashire, and then in London, and The Lengthening Shadow takes the reader from London to a small town in Germany.
To write the novels, therefore, I had to familiarise myself with the political events in the 1920s and 1930s, with the changing décor in the homes, and with the clothes worn during those years. Also, I needed to know about the development of housing as the Linfords ran a hugely successful construction company, and the growth of the car industry, and I needed to know about life in a small mill town in the North.
The research for The Lengthening Shadow was fascinating, and I was able to chart the various stages of the insidious encroachment of Nazism in the life of a small German town in which, before Hitler’s rise to power, Jews and Christians had lived harmoniously together. What had seemed so innocent at the outset, had gradually assumed an altogether different appearance.
After the Linfords, I moved on to Asia, to Darjeeling Inheritance, Cochin Fall and Hanoi Spring, and I found myself learning about life at the time of the British Raj, and about the production of tea.
I hadn’t known, for example, that between the moment of the plucking of two leaves and a bud, to those same leaves, having been withered, dried, rolled, fermented and put in foil-lined crates, being on a train taking them to an auction house, it was twenty-four hours only!
Therefore, to sum up, I write because I enjoy the process of writing – that’s a given – and because I derive great pleasure from creating a fictional world that hadn’t existed before I put finger to keyboard, while at the same time, I’m learning more about the past and the present of the real world in which I live.
Many thanks, Morton, for allowing me to talk to you today.
I am always intrigued by what my blog guests will write and today is no exception. Thank you, Liz. Mx
About Liz Harris
Born in London, Liz Harris graduated from university with a Law degree, and then moved to California, where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.
Six years later, she returned to London and completed a degree in English, after which she taught secondary school pupils, first in Berkshire, and then in Cheshire.
In addition to the fourteen novels she’s had published, she’s had several short stories in anthologies and magazines.
Liz now lives in Oxfordshire. An active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society, her interests are travel, the theatre, reading and cryptic crosswords. To find out more about Liz, visit her website at: http://www.lizharrisauthor.com
Social Media links
Twitter : @lizharrisauthor
Instagram : liz.harris.52206
Facebook: Liz Harris https://www.facebook.com/lizharrisauthor/
About Cochin Fall
British Cochin, 1934
Returning to her home among the palm trees that line the coast of Cochin, South India, after six years at school in England, Clara Saunders is thrilled to learn that the future mapped out for her by her trader father is the one she would have chosen herself.
It’s a future that will unite her with her childhood sweetheart, George Goddard, the son of a neighbouring trader. It will also cement her friendship with George’s vivacious sister, Lizzie, and bring even closer together the two successful trading companies.
Trader Lewis Mackenzie, an employee of Clara’s father, is both ruthless and ambitious. Keen on seeing an expansion of Saunders & Co, and frustrated by the complacency shown by Henry Saunders, he determines to take matters into his own hands.
One simple misunderstanding gives rise to further misunderstandings, and in the face of potential disaster, the happiness of several people hangs in the balance.
Book buying links for Cochin Fall