To celebrate the release of her new book, The Woman Who Kept Everything, we asked author Jane Gilley to let us in on some things she'd like her readers to know about her. Find out what she had to reveal below...
1. I was born in Nottingham and wrote my first poem at seven. My secondary school English teacher said I ought to become a journalist. But after school and secretarial college, travel and adventure beckoned, so I put all thoughts of writing on hold. However, despite limited success writing freelance articles for newspapers here in Jersey, an article about Hobie Cats for Boat Mart International, as well as an article about Alphonse Le Gastelois, the self-proclaimed King of the Ecrehous, I knew I preferred fiction. Yet when I settled and married, my second love – interiors – meant that I became an interior designer for 10 years, following on from TV programs like Changing Rooms. My niche market was showing customers how, armed with a little flair, I could change their interiors without vast expense and, following that, I now run a kitchen and bedroom showroom with my husband, dealing with our advertising/marketing as well as being the bookkeeper. I have recently started writing adult fiction.
2. Unfortunately, we have no children but I have a cute lop-earred bunny called Percy and an adorable, naughty little Senegal parrot called Solly – naughty, because she’s jealous of my cuddles with Percy and occasionally tries to nip him!
3. I self-published six children’s books in 2008 and had a book signing in Waterstones, Jersey with one of those books, Maisie’s Dream. During that year I was invited into two of the primary schools to read to the children and another school invited me for world book day. A few years later I was standing in a queue, waiting to disembark one of the ferries to St Malo, when a young girl came up to me and said: “You came to our school and read from Maisie’s Dream. I got your book. It’s good!” Yet my hair was cut and coloured differently then, so how she recognised me, I’ve no idea! My website, containing my other books is: www.janegilley.com.
4. My siblings and I were never allowed sweets as children. My preference for anything sweet came later and mainly in the form of mid-1960s sweets like refreshers, liquorice, love hearts, sherbet or jelly and ice cream. I also rather like bars of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. Yet despite crunching on things like traffic light lollies, whilst concentrating on writing, I only have two small fillings in my teeth.
5. I love learning new things and last year went on two separate weekend writers’ courses at West Dene College of Art near Chichester before I applied to Avon for publication, just in case there was something I could learn to enhance my writing. The other students were a wonderful group of people from all walks of life and who loved writing too. The tutors were successful authors themselves and I was surprised how wonderfully down-to-earth and approachable they were; Elly Griffiths and Lesley Thomson on the Crime Writing course and Isabel Ashdown on the Fiction, Character and Perspective course.
6. I also tried jewellery making at West Dene and learned how difficult it is to make a hand-made ring! But I have a very nice pendant and silver ring for my troubles. Haha.
7. My only nephew Ben is 22 and an Easyjet airline pilot and my only niece Charlotte 21 is a beautician – brother and sister. I’m very proud of them.
8. I’ve travelled the world but my favourite place is the island of Herm in the Channel Islands, where in the summer you can stroke fat bumblebees, occasionally see dolphins, walk steep cliff paths and swim in the refreshing Belvoir bay. It’s also where I based one of my children’s books – The Phantom Puma – because of a charred branch of a tree which looks like a big black cat with its paw hanging down. The tree is still there with its charred branch, a decade later.
9. My favourite colour is blue; various hues but especially the clear blue of the sky on a hot summer day.
10. Things I love: I love music – classical as well as commercial and especially pop from the 70s. I love to watch Artist of the Year on TV but I prefer to draw with black pen and fill in with blending colour pencils, as per my illustrations for my children’s books. It’s what I do in my downtime, as well as walks by the sea or around our reservoirs. As an animal lover, I hate cruelty to animals. There’s NO excuse for it.
Jane Gilley's debut novel, The Woman Who Kept Everything, is available now.
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