I’m delighted to have author, Alli Sinclair, on my blog today for a quick chat about her dream of being the next Indiana Jones (in heels), and writing women’s contemporary fiction. Over to Alli…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I was born in Geelong, in south-eastern Australia. It’s a lovely part of the world that has some amazing beaches for surfing or lying on the beach and reading a book.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I desperately wanted to be an archaeologist (I had grand ideas of becoming an Indiana Jones in heels) but mathematics and science aren’t my strong point so I turned to graphic arts and worked in the travel industry instead.
List three words to describe yourself.
Positive. Encouraging. Loyal.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Most likely Sandra Bullock because I’m the goofy girl-next-door kinda gal.
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
I’m sure health professionals would love to hear me say carrot sticks but in all honesty, it’s whatever I can get my hands on when I’m in the writing zone! I do try to plan ahead and make sure I have healthy snacks in the refrigerator but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. But I do try! I think we can all relate to that, Alli! 😉
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Flying – so I could visit all the places in the world on my bucket list (which keeps growing) and spend as much time as I wanted in each place so I could get to know the people and their culture.
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 Australian born and I’ve been lucky enough to live in places like Argentina, Peru, and Canada. I have worked as a mountain climbing and tour guide throughout Latin America and taught English in Argentina and Peru. I’ve always been a reader (yeah, I was the kid with her head in a book while she walked to school) and I often wrote stories to while away the hours when I was at an Australian Rules football match with my football crazy family (apparently being football crazy is not hereditary). I didn’t consider writing fiction until I was in my early thirties. A radio journalist had interviewed me about my travels and he later said I should write about them. I scoffed at the idea but then I saw a contest for a travel writing magazine and thought I’d enter. To my shock, I won, and I got such a buzz out of seeing my name in print that I enrolled in a creative writing course. That was the beginning of the fiction journey for me and thirteen years later, I now have books released with publishers in Australia/NZ, UK/USA/Canada and soon-to-be translated into other languages.
I’m a mum of two young kids so they pretty much take up my non-writing time as they’re heavily involved in theatre and sport. I do, however, manage to catch up with my friends for movies and coffee and spend some quality time with my real life hero, my hubby. And, of course, I also love to read!
Where did the inspiration for Under the Spanish Stairs come from?
I’ve always been fascinated by the flamenco caves in Granada, southern Spain. I love books that have family sagas, a mystery that spans generations, and a story that has a strong sense of culture and history woven into it so when I decided to set the story in Granada, it all started coming together. Also, I like to write books where the setting is just as important as the characters in the books and Granada is the perfect place with its Moorish architecture and rich history and spectacular natural scenery.
Can you tell us about the research process for this book?
I’ve found that when I’ve approached experts in the field I’m researching, people are so very happy to share their passion and knowledge. For example, I consulted with two amazing flamenco dancers who have travelled the world performing and have both spent a lot of time in Granada. They helped me understand the nuances behind flamenco, including the history and meaning behind each style of flamenco and the steps. Being able to talk to leading experts in flamenco and also Spanish history helped me gain a deep knowledge of what I was writing about and gave my story, and the characters, authenticity which means the reader gets a full experience and is transported to Granada and the world of flamenco.
What excites you about writing women’s contemporary fiction?
I love that this genre doesn’t have any limits and is forever evolving. There are so many fascinating subjects to write about, loads of interesting and complex characters to read about or create, and that the only limit is the writer’s imagination.
Can you give us a brief excerpt of Under the Spanish Stairs?
Professor Fonseca sat behind her desk and turned on the reading light as she studied the painting from various angles. She squinted, widened her eyes, brought it close then moved it away. Clasping her hands in front, Charlotte stood awkwardly, unsure whether to stand or sit on the expensive-looking reading chair.
Placing the glasses on the top of her head, the professor said quietly, “Syeria Mesa Flores Giménez.”
“Pardon?” Charlotte shuffled closer.
“Syeria Mesa Flores Giménez,” Professor Fonseca said louder. “This painting is close to one hundred years old. Look at this.” She pointed at the thick strokes of orange, red, and yellow flames. “See the way the paint curves up instead of laying flat on the canvas? This is her signature style. It truly is unique.” Placing a finger near the bottom corner on the left-hand side, she said, “This small rip, what is the story?”
“I don’t know. The painting has been buried in a trunk under a pile of blankets for decades. My grandmother asked me to retrieve it only a few days ago.”
“It has not been on show?” Professor Fonseca’s eyes widened. “A painting of this historical value should never be hidden.”
“For Abuela, it’s the emotional value that’s important.” A lump formed in Charlotte’s throat as she recalled the last time she’d been with her grandmother. The buzz of the hospital had faded into the distance as they’d held hands in silence, their love for each other warming the cold, sterile room.
Tapping her fingers on her thighs, Charlotte asked, “Any idea why it wasn’t signed?”
“This Syeria, she never put her signature on the paintings because she believed her art was the collaboration between her heart and soul and nature. A team effort, you might say. Many people think they have an original Syeria Mesa Flores Giménez, but it is only a fake. But this”—the professor smiled with appreciation—“this is the real thing. I would bet my career on it.”
“Do you have any idea who the dancer is?”
“No, I do not, but I will say this is linked to La Leyenda del Fuego, the ‘Legend of the Fire’. You know it?”
“I’m afraid I’m not well-versed on my Spanish legends.” Yet another aspect of Spain Abuela could have passed on, but chose not to.
“It is a shame you do not know much about your heritage, but you could be forgiven in this case. The legend is more of the obscure type, known in the region of Granada and commonly heard in gitano, gypsy, circles. See this?” The professor pointed to the woman dancer clad in a deep red dress, her ample cleavage only slightly exposed. With a simple red rose tucked behind her ear, her thick dark hair flowed down her back and her skirt caught the breeze. Her large, brown eyes looked toward the stars twinkling in the inky sky and her arms reached upward, as if giving thanks. The woman’s long legs stretched out as she leapt over the campfire, her red shoes matching the dress.
Charlotte cleared her throat. “Is there additional information you can give me, or steer me toward, to find out more about this artist?”
“There are some important things you must know first.” The professor glanced at the old-fashioned clock, then drew her brows together. “I will need to be fast. I cannot keep my students waiting.”
What can we expect from you in the future?
In July 2017 I have a new book called Under the Parisian Sky that will focus on the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1917. It will also have a contemporary storyline that weaves in with the historical. For people who enjoy Under the Spanish Stars, Midnight Serenade is available now as it was released in July 2016. It’s about tango and Argentina. All these books have dual storylines, a family mystery, and a romantic thread throughout.
I’m developing some new stories as we speak so hopefully they will be available in the not-so-distant future.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Google +: Alli Sinclair
I also have a VIP Club that anyone can join and there are often giveaways and competitions especially for members. You can sign up HERE.
Thank you to Alli for joining me today. Be sure to grab a copy of Under the Spanish Stars and feel free to leave us a comment below. 🙂
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