I’m delighted to have author, Luccia Gray, on my blog today. I ‘met’ Luccia through Twitter and instantly fell in love with her supportive nature and delicious book covers! So, I was thrilled when she agreed to pop over for a quick chat about her dream of being a stage actress, and writing historical romance. Over to Luccia…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I was born and brought up in London, but I moved to the south of Spain when I married my Spanish husband a long time ago.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a stage actress, to give life to all the characters I read about. One of my favourite plays is Candida by Bernard Shaw. I was 19 when I saw Deborah Kerr play the lead role. I’m the same age she was then right now. I still dream of playing the part…
List three words to describe yourself.
Creative, Sociable and Cheerful.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
She’s one of my favourite actresses. I love the way she can play different types of women from complex to superficial. Nobody is one person, we are all multifaceted and I think she’d bring that across very well.
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
I don’t usually eat while I’m writing. I drink tea, coffee, orange juice or water, depending on my mood and the weather.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
The last time I was asked this question by author Georgia Rose, I said I’d like to have the power to read at the speed of lightning.
If I had to add another, I’d say empathy. I’d like to be able to literally get inside someone’s body and experience the person’s feelings and emotions first-hand, for a short while.
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I’m an English teacher. I love the English language. I love reading the language, studying the language and teaching the language to schoolchildren, adults, undergraduates, and postgraduates.
Writing was a natural development of my passion for English language and literature. I took my enthusiasm and admiration a step further and embraced it by writing. I’d love to be part of the history of English literature.
Where did the inspiration for the Eyre Hall Trilogy come from?
It was a gradual process. The first time I read Jane Eyre I was about fourteen. I was impressed by Jane’s character and resilience, and I became enthralled by the gothic romance that Charlotte Bronte had woven. However, it wasn’t until about twenty-five years later, when I read the prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys, which is Bertha’s story from her childhood to her suicide, that I was able to reread and reinterpret Jane Eyre.
Years later, when I taught Postcolonial Literature to undergraduates, the combined study of both novels, based on the comparison and contrast of colonial and postcolonial narratives, sparked my creative interest. There is only one prequel to Jane Eyre, and that’s Wide Sargasso Sea. There are many sequels and spin offs of Jane Eyre, but The Eyre Hall Trilogy is the only combined sequel of both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.
Both narratives merged in my mind and I realized that Jane Eyre’s story was unfinished, because Bertha needed to be reinstated, Rochester exposed, and I wanted to show Jane’s potential as a mature woman (she was only 19 when she married Mr. Rochester).
What do you like most about writing historical romance?
I love Victorian fiction. I love immersing myself in another time and space and recreating Victorian narratives.
My literary and reading persona grew up with Dickens, the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Mark Twain (a sort of American Victorian!). My novels are dedicated to Sister Catherine, a teacher who used to read Victorian literature to us at school. I was about thirteen at the time.
I read all types of literature from Old English poetry to contemporary crime fiction, but Victorian literature will always be my preferred genre to read and write.
Midsummer at Eyre Hall is the final book in your trilogy. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, was the most challenging because I was trying very hard to prove to myself that I could write a good novel in the Victorian style. I was also learning all about writing and the self-publishing world, so it was a daunting task.
When I wrote Book 2, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, I felt free. I’d broken the ice, so I could just write to my heart’s content, and that’s what I did.
Book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, put back the pressure, as I had to end the trilogy, tying up loose ends, and once again, I felt the challenge of living up to expectations. Would readers like the ending? Would it do justice to the series? And of course, it was sad to say goodbye to the characters I’d been living with for over three years. Writing Midsummer at Eyre Hall was a demanding and melancholic experience, but I also feel satisfaction at having achieved my first literary goal: to complete The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
What process do you have for researching the Victorian era?
I already knew a great deal when I started, as I had read so much Victorian literature, I literally felt I knew the Victorians. However, when I started writing, I realized I needed to know a lot more to become totally absorbed and recreate Victorian characters and lifestyle.
My greatest help was reading letters and diaries of famous, and not so famous, people of the time. Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte’s letters were invaluable to understand what they ate, did, thought, and said outside their literary lives.
I also red first-hand accounts such as journals and diaries about specific aspects I was interested in, like Lady Nugent’s Journal of Her Residence in Jamaica in the early 1800s and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey, which is an autobiographical account about his laudanum addiction and its effect on his life.
Contemporary reference books such as What Jane Austen read and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, and The Arsenic Century by James Whorton were a great help.
And finally Google and Wikipedia helped me find old maps of London, Victorian newspapers and articles, product photos, and answers to practical questions such as how many miles a horse and carriage could travel, how much a passage from Southampton to New York cost, etc.
I loved every minute of this research!
Can you give us a brief excerpt from Midsummer at Eyre Hall?
The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a family saga with a great deal of passion. Feelings of love, hate, loyalty, and jealousy are powerful and turbulent, and there are many twists and turns. This short excerpt expresses how easily and unreasonably, love can turn to hate.
“You’ll never understand it, John, until it happens to you. It would be like cutting a rose from its stem. She’ll wither and die without him.”
He pressed his fingers into my arm. “I’d rather have a dead mother than a disgraceful one.”
His words were like a hammer pounding inside my head. “John, you can’t mean it.”
“But I do, sister.”
He walked out of the room and slammed the door.
Pins and needles prickled at the back of my eyes and within seconds, tears were flooding again. I asked myself how love could generate such extreme hate.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve started two books; one is another Victorian gothic romance, and the other is a contemporary romantic suspense. I’m not sure right now which one I’ll finish first! I’m sure whatever I write will always include an element of romance, mystery and suspense.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I love ‘meeting’ and interacting with my readers and of course other authors. I never imagined interacting with authors and fans would be such an important part of being a writer, and I’m thrilled at the wonderful people I’ve met on Facebook, Twitter, and through my blog, Rereading Jane Eyre.
Please follow me or contact me on:
My blog, Rereading Jane Eyre
Thank you so much, Shelley for this ‘fun and sensible’ interview, and the chance to get to know your readers. My pleasure, Luccia 🙂
Luccia Gray was born in London and now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and at the Spanish Distance University.