Author interview: Laurie Graham

Women24 chats to Laurie Graham about her latest novel, At Sea, her passion for middle-aged people and divine inspiration.

 About the book:
When Lady Enid - an aristocrat in need of a project and a husband - throws her lot in with dashing Bernard Finch, she thinks she's found her perfect life's companion. Handsome and clever, Bernard has come a long way from his small-town American roots.

Now he is a man transformed, more English than the English, the doyen of culture vultures and a celebrated lecturer on Aegean cruises. Which is where his past comes back to bite him, in the shape of his old college chum, Frankie Gleeson. Frankie has made his fortune in corn snacks and to celebrate his success he brings his wife, Nola, to cruise the Greek islands.

Frankie is a simple man but he has the gift of total recall, of every detail of Bernard's early years. While Bernard shuns his cruise companions, Enid finds herself strangely drawn to them.


Author spotlight questions:
You have such empathy for the passions of middle-aged people. Are they more interesting than young people?

Obviously. There are all those accreted layers of love and loss, mistakes made, lessons learned, lessons NOT learned, all those dents in the bodywork. I don’t say that because I’m no longer young myself. I always felt the same way. 

Do you believe that successful personal reinvention is more difficult today in the era of social media and the internet?

I imagine so. A lot of this social networking has passed me by but I can see it must be very difficult to have secrets these days. Very sad.

I’ve known a few shape-shifters and most of them did it for completely innocent, or at least, non-criminal reasons. I guess they just couldn’t decide who they wanted to be.

You say on your website that At Sea’s protagonist Lady Enid’s voice ‘came’ to you. Do you believe in divine inspiration?

Well I certainly believe in the Divine, but I think God has more serious messages for me than providing me with fictional voices. Such as ‘Laurie, stop being such a sneerer.’

When I say a character’s voice ‘comes’ to me it’s really about allowing all the things I already know about my character to ‘speak’.  If I have one strength as a writer it’s that I know an authentic voice when I hear it. But sometimes I have to wait for it patiently.

Would you ever go on a cruise ship on holiday?

Already done it.  Did you think I invented all that stuff?

Where is your favourite place to write?

My dining room. It faces full south and is handy for the kitchen. I have a perfectly good study but since we moved to Ireland I have to share with my husband who thinks out loud. I like to sit in silence and write long-hand, just for a change.

Which fellow author/s would you invite for Sunday brunch?

I don’t hang out much with writers  -  they tend to take themselves too seriously  - so you’ll forgive me if I mix the living with the dead.  I’d like Mark Twain, Fanny Burney, Robert Louis Stephenson (don’t think he’d eat much), Molly Keane, Elmore Leonard and Diana Henry through whose fabulous cookbooks I’m currently eating my way.

What can we expect from your next book?

A bit of a departure. 18th century. An insider’s view of the House of Hanover and my first attempt at a story outside the 20th/21st centuries.

You can read our review of Laurie's latest novel, At Sea, here. You can also visit the author's website here.

- Women24

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