Thursday, December 13, 2007

Becky Interviews Eliza Graham and Doesn't Mess Up

Of course all the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit books are worth reading. But some are REALLY EXCITING, dear reader, and this is one.
Doesn't it look great? It's English, and of course that makes my blood run faster. It's World War II era and that guarantees my enthrallment. This book is haunting and richly evocative and it's called PLAYING WITH THE MOON, which has been nominated as a World Book Day Hidden Gem!!! (And if you want, you can go vote for it right now!)
What's it about? I thought you would never ask:
Shattered by a recent bereavement, Minna and her husband Tom retreat to an isolated village on the Dorset coast, seeking the solitude that will allow them to cope with their loss and rebuild their foundering marriage. Walking on the beach one day, they unearth a human skeleton. It is a discovery which will plunge Minna into a mystery which will consume her for months to come.

The remains are soon identified as those of Private Lew Campbell, a black American GI who, it seems, drowned during a wartime exercise in the area half a century before. Growing increasingly preoccupied with the dead soldier's fate, Minna befriends a melancholy elderly woman, Felix, who lived in the village during the war. As Minna coaxes Felix's story from her, it becomes clear that the old woman knows more about the dead GI than she initially let on.
And now while I get the refreshments ready, you can read some of the great reviews this book has received:
The (London) Times
A chance visit to a depopulated Dorset village was the inspiration for Playing With The Moon, the first novel by a former Towers Perrin staffer turned freelance. Eliza Graham, who has worked for the actuaries for 13 years, spent the past five of these trying to find a publisher for the novel, which is about a 1940s inter-racial love affair and the eventual murder of a black GI. The village is Tyneham on the Isle of Purbeck, emptied in 1943 to be used in the preparations for the D-Day landings. "It was poignant, walking around the village," Graham tells me. "It was as if they just stepped out for a day or two – 60 years ago."

The Oxford Times
She seems to have hit on a winning formula, interweaving an evocative historical tale with a modern story of relationships.

I loved this book. It had me completely hooked before I'd read the first page and I didn't put it down until I'd read the last. The characters are compelling.
Okay, dear reader, of course I am a big anglophile, what else? And I've invited Eliza to stop by today. I'm a little nervous, but I have tea ready.
She'll like that, don't you think?
And I have cake too. Who doesn't like cake?
Okay, so maybe you're right. What about crumpets? She's bound to like those.
I'll offer both. Mmmm, a little butter too. Okay, here goes.
B: Hi, Eliza. What gave you the idea for the book?
E: Well, Becky, some years ago I visited an abandoned village on the south coast of England. It had been evacuated for D-Day landings practice and the villagers were told they could go home at the end of the war. In fact they never returned. You can walk round the semi-ruined cottages and see the children's work in the schoolhouse. It's a very poignant place and you can almost feel the ghosts of those who lived. It's also very beautiful. I came away longing to write about it. Then, years later, I read an article about black American GIs in England during WW2 and how they got along with English civilians (often very well). I had the two strands I needed for the novel.

B: That's good. What is your favorite junk food?

E: Chocolate. But it's not junk food really, Becky. It's extremely good for you--honest.

B: Oh, don't I know it. Try some of this cake. People seem endlessly fascinated by WWII. Do you have a theory about this? There's crumpets here too.
E: Why, thank you. I think that, unlike our muddled times and somewhat ambiguous conflicts, WW2 appears clear-cut. Hitler was evil and it was the right thing to fight him. Of course, if you look at it in detail there are gray areas. Like the way the Allies effectively gave Stalin free rein in eastern Europe at the end of the war. Or the heavy bombing of Germany. But for many people in Britain and the US taking part in WW2 was something that they could feel justifiably proud of. And that feeling has passed down the generations. In Britain it was a socially very cohesive time as well, with people really feeling bound together against a common enemy. And that war is still within living memory.

B: When you are writing, do you eat or drink? What or which? [dear reader, am I seeming obsessed with food? Like a simpleton?]

E: Erm, both. Unfortunately. I drink lots of instant coffee and occasionally go into the kitchen just to make sure everything's OK in the cookie tin.

B: [god, she is so nice] What is next for you? When can we read it?

E: RESTITUTION, my novel about falling in love at the wrong time and with the wrong person just as the Red Army moves into Germany in 1945, comes out in September 2007. [geez, I've done that wrong time/wrong person thing, but I don't think I'll bring that up]

B: What do you think is the biggest fashion mistake ever? [Hey. This question is not about food, okay? I'm not going to ask about the National Health program, for god's sake]

E: Bared midriffs on women who aren't slim. [she's right about that, dear reader.]
While Eliza and I chat (and I am so going to crack out something better than tea), you're free to zip over to her blog
A bientot


At 2:45 PM , Blogger Mark said...

Great interview. Personally, I think the questions about food and fashion are very important and make for great cover lines: Elizabeth Graham on caffeine vices and bared midriffs. Looking forward to novel #2.

At 9:04 PM , Blogger becky motew said...

Me too, Mark.

It will be terrific.



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