Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Author Spotlight: India Grey

The Minxes have been looking forward to this day for aaaggggeesss! Why? Because we have serious Minx-Love for India Grey!!! Her books go straight to the Keeper Shelves of all the Minxes and we are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to welcome her here today. Ahem. Okay, before we scare her off with our manic heroine-worship, here's India...

Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Five years ago I had no writing career, and didn’t really imagine that I ever would have one! The previous year (September 2004) I’d seen in our local paper that a new writer’s group was being set up in the town where I live. Deep down I very much wanted to go, but thanks to three small children and a part-time job - which often involved evenings - I told myself I had neither the time nor the energy. Of course, what I really didn’t have was the confidence, and when I finally admitted that I had to spend ages going through our recycling bin to find the newspaper and get the number of the person running it. Who turned out to be Penny Jordan.

In January 2005 she encouraged me to have a go at writing the opening chapter of a Mills&Boon Modern/Presents (just like New Voices!) which I did, and emailed off to her. Unbeknownst to me, she then sent it straight to her editor at Richmond, whose feedback was astonishingly positive. The editor asked me to keep going and let her have three chapters and a synopsis as soon as I could. It was an enormous thrill, but also a complete shock, and the start of eighteen months of hard work as I negotiated several dead ends and wrong turnings, and tried to get my head around the fact that something that for years had been nothing but wishful thinking was finally looking like a possibility.

Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

Ah, that’s easy because Emily’s Innocence is part of the Balfour Legacy continuity series, which means an outline of the story was given to me by the editorial team. However, although the idea was easy to come by, actually bringing it to life and making it mine was quite a challenge.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Gosh, usually looking ahead to the end of the week is a bit overwhelming for me, so thinking ahead five whole years feels terrifying. I’m the kind of person who is deeply intimidated by change, so I hope things are still pretty much the same.

Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

I recently re-read E.M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, which I adore and admire in equal measure. E.M Delafield was the original Bridget Jones – only older, provincial (the clue to that is in the title) and married, which gives me loads more in common with her than urban singleton Bridget. Although the book is set 80 years ago, in an era that has vanished forever, the humour is still utterly sparkling. I really wish I’d written it (preferably with a fountain pen, with tea in a rose-patterned china cup on the walnut writing desk beside me.) I also think that, were she alive today, Delafield would make a world-class blogger.

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

The first romance book that I ever read was Imogen by Jilly Cooper when I was ten, and from the moment I turned the first page I felt like I’d stumbled into a world where I belonged. From then on I devoured all her books, and if I couldn’t be a slender blonde show-jumping prodigy or a wickedly sexy journalist, I decided the next best thing was to be the person that created the vivid, racy, romantic world they lived in.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

At risk of sounding a bit weird, I actually find writing them really intense. They’re always the scenes where the emotional threads are pulled tightest and where each character’s conflict is at its most heightened. If a love scene is difficult to write it often means that the relationship between the characters isn’t really working and some back-tracking is required to fix what’s wrong, so it’s a bit of a testing point in the writing process. And since it’s also where past and present, body and mind, internal and external conflict collide, there’s so much to think about that there’s no time to giggle or cringe. I do often feel in need of a glass of wine and a cigarette when I get to the end though. (And I’m a confirmed non-smoker!)

What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

*blushes* I would get into SERIOUS trouble if I broadcast that on the internet…

What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

Hmmm… that’s a difficult one, since I didn’t really have any expectations (only profound gratitude!) I suppose I wish I’d known that creativity is only a small part of the job, and administrative organization, time-management and iron self-discipline are also vital. I would have worked harder to acquire those skills earlier on in life, before I became a completely hopeless case.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Write something. And then submit it. (That came from Penny Jordan and without having it spelt out to me I’d still be failing to work the till properly and giving the wrong change in Laura Ashley)

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is the third book in the Balfour Legacy series, which is about the eight daughters of wealthy, powerful Oscar Balfour. My heroine is Emily, the adored baby of the family, who has lived a charmed and sheltered life and dedicated herself to becoming a prima ballerina. She’s serious, focused, determined and she applies the same rigorous expectations she has of herself to those around her, which means louche, idle playboy Luis Cordoba is top of the list of people she disapproves of.

I love those kind of ‘opposites attract’ stories. It’s enormously satisfying to take two characters who, on the surface, seem to be the antithesis of each other, and gradually unpick this and show how they actually complement each other perfectly. I find that kind of psychology in romance fascinating, and creating characters that fit together, psychologically, is one of the most interesting parts of the job for me.

What’s next for you?

The book I’m working on at the moment is a bit different (and a lot exciting) in that it’s part of a duo which features the same hero and heroine in both books. I’m loving writing it as it’s giving me scope to develop the characters and the world of the book a little more deeply than usual – and as people who read my blog might know, I always go waaaaay over the maximum word count in my books, so I’m liking the freedom of a longer story. However, it also means there’s more chance to take a wrong turning. As I’m discovering…

You can keep in touch with India by visiting http://www.indiagrey.blogspot.com/ or
http://www.indiagrey.com/

Buy Emily's Innocence

It's been a blast having you here today, India. Many, many thanks :)

13 comments:

Romy said...

Thanks so much for visiting here today India. I'll put up my hand to being one of your biggest Minxy fans. I also loved Michelle Reid's Balfour Legacy book, so I just know that I'll love Emily's Innocence!

And thanks too for mentioning opposites attract stories. It just made something click in my head about the current story I'm battling with.

Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Dear India,

did your mother know you were snaffling Jilly Coopers when you were ten?

Rushing off to bury lots of Mills and Boons right now!

Lots of love,

Rach.
XX

Sally Clements said...

Hi India! Yup, I'm an Indiaholic too. With no intention of joining 'IA' India anonymous! Great interview, and how lovely of Penny to send your chapter in to her editor!
Even if she hadn't it would have been a sure thing anyway, I'm betting, you're such a lovely writer - and lovely guest too! thanks for being here with us Minxes today!

Maya said...

I'm still dying to know what your most romantic moment was, but I'll be a good minx and curb my curiosity! I've ordered Emily's Innocence and can't wait to read it! Thanks again for being here today :)

Lorraine said...

Thanks for visiting the blog India. You comment about love scenes being "where past and present, body and mind, internal and external conflict collide" really struck me, what a great way to put it!

India said...

Thanks Minxes (you don't scare me with all your very lovely kindness!) Romy, I'm really glad that the opposites attract idea has sparked something - don't you just love it when that happens? (it usually happens to me in the bath, which is less than ideal)

Rach, my mother didn't know as I was on holiday with my stepmother at the time and the JC belonged to her! My brother found it first - in the glove compartment of the car, and brought it to me in great, furtive triumph saying 'I'm going to read this - look, it says 'virgin' on the front,' and sniggering in that 13 year old boy way. Anyway, he soon got bored of it and passed it on to me. My poor mother. She'd packed me off with a suitcase full of pony stories.

Hey Sally - I'm loving the concept of 'Indiaholic'! I like to think it involves indulging in chocolate and hard liquor as well as romance. I was enormously lucky to have that initial boost from Penny, but in the end the process ended up being the same as if I'd been picked up from the slush pile. The greatest debt I owe to Penny (and the one for which I never stop thanking her) is really encouraging me to write that chapter in the first place. Without her telling me - almost challenging me, in fact - to do it, I'm not sure I would have had the confidence or self-belief. That's why when I do any kind of workshop or talk I always encourage people to have a go, keep trying, and keep believing that it the dream can become reality.

Maya, hope you enjoy Emily's Innocence! And curb that imagination, you minx!

Thanks Lorraine. I must say, I'm dying to know how you minxes approach love scenes, and the answers you'd give to the other questions too. How about a minx spotlight sometime...?

Maisey said...

India, I'm such a huge fan of your books, at the risk of gushing here...do you have any idea how often I hear that you're the reason people came back to Presents?? Very often!

You are one talented lady. Laura Ashley's loss is the world's gain! ;)

Suzanne Jones said...

Hi India

Sorry, arriving late.

Thank you so much for visiting the blog today - love those answers. How fantastic to join a writers' group and find Penny Jordan - your M&B career was obviously meant to be.

Looking forward to reading Emily's Innocence.

India said...

Ooooh Maisey! I'm reading His Virgin Acquisition right now and when I'm not lost in lust for Marco am lost in admiration for your writing - so am v thrilled to hear you say that! (Hmmm. Well, didn't hear you exactly - that's just wishful thinking.) But thanks v much for madly kind words. Am tempted to pass them on to ex-boss lady at Laura Ashley, who despaired of me so profoundly. (Justifiably, I must admit.)

Suzanne - I was pretty late myself, having begged hairdresser to take pity on me and do last-minute dye job before I go to London tomorrow and ergo spent large part of day reading OK! in salon. But you're right about Penny and the group. It wasn't going for long as her writing schedule is really intense and she didn't have the time, so that makes it feel even more serendipitous. (If that's a word?) (And if it is, is it spelled like that?) Thanks for having me here!

joanne pibworth said...

I think I take the shameful latest minx to the party crown! But I'm shoulder to shoulder with the others on the India-Love, we are so just so excited and thrilled to have you visit us.

Penny Jordan huh? It was fate!

So looking forward to getting my hands on our Balfour Book - it's on my wish list already.

Jo
x

Lacey Devlin said...

Wow Penny Jordan what a fabulous way to start off! I'm a big fan too. I love Emily's cover and I can't wait to read it!

Jackie Ashenden said...

India, loved the interiew. And I love your writing! You're pretty much on my auto-buy list. I really enjoy opposites attract stories too so can't wait to get this one!

India said...

Gah! Just wrote long comment and seem to have lost it all. Rushing to get kids ready for school and catch train to London now, but Hi Joanne, Lacey and Jackie, and thanks so much for your kindness. As I put in the Lost Comment, that word 'auto-buy' is one that makes me thrilled beyond any other (even 'chocolate') and I think is the greatest compliment an author can get. Thank you!

Right, packed lunches, packed suitcase, tickets... better go. Thanks for having me Minxes - you're fab hostesses!