I suddenly realised I hadn’t done one of these myself, so here’s a few questions and answers that might shed some light on me and my writing process – and my favourite dinosaur…
What comes first, the plot or characters?
Um, the plot? Probably? But then I need characters to drive the plot, and they tend to be suggested by the plot itself and what that needs, so they come along very quickly afterwards.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Over the years I’ve written far more short stories than I have longer works. But I’ve still managed to produce ten books, of varying lengths, split between two different pen names. I write m/m romance as Fiona Glass, and dark crime and noir as Tess Makovesky, and have just merged the two in Tess’s latest comedy noir Embers of Bridges, which has a gay MC.
I like pretty much all my books, but I think my favourite has to be December Roses, a gay paranormal romance set in a once beautiful English garden and featuring an injured soldier and the enigmatic, elusive musician he falls in love with. It was inspired in part by my favourite garden, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, a Victorian gem with areas based on different countries and dripping with jokes, puzzles and quirky bits and pieces, so the book’s setting was a joy to write about. And it’s the only one of my books that still makes me cry at the end every time I read it.
Can you share something about your current book that isn’t in the blurb?
My most recent m/m romance, Ghosts Galore, is set in a haunted English manor house which owes a lot to the wonderful old Harvington Hall in Worcestershire. Harvington Hall was built in the 1300s and redeveloped in the 1500s to include simply masses of priest holes and hiding places, as the family who owned it were Catholics at a time when that religion was banned. It’s a fascinating place to visit, and some of its priest holes, loosely disguised, turn up in the part where MC Adam is searching for his ancestor’s missing paintings.
Can you share a snippet?
Here’s a bit that mentions one of the priest holes:
“They headed up the cellar steps at a run, but before they’d even got to the top Adam could smell tobacco on the air. He stopped. What is it? Delaying the search might be frustrating but Gramps had his finger—or what passed for it these days—on the house’s pulse. If he was worried then it was well worth listening.
But the old man’s voice held no sense of alarm, just of bafflement. Are you sure about the priest hole, Adam? I don’t remember there being anything in there the last time we looked.
He remembered the occasion only too well. It had been about six years ago, on a pouring wet Sunday afternoon, when he and Gramps had read the papers and got fed up with the endless sport on television, and gone off to explore. Gramps had been alive then, of course, and surprisingly agile for an old man, and one by one they’d clambered inside the tiny chamber to tap the walls. Adam had been full of some story he’d discovered in an ancestral journal about a hidden portion of the room that had been sealed for centuries, but although they’d knocked on every inch of wall they hadn’t found a thing. Adam had reluctantly decided the story was a myth, and they’d clambered out again and made toast in front of the fire for tea. Swallowing the sudden lump the memory brought, he led the way upstairs…”
What is the significance of the title?
Ghosts Galore is the name of the fictional TV show that features in the book. A production crew from the show come to Adam’s haunted home, Greystones Hall, to film its paranormal activity over the course of a weekend, only to unleash a new and unpleasant spirit that wreaks havoc. It’s also a reference to the fact that there really are ‛ghosts galore’ at Greystones, since it’s one of the most haunted houses in England, as well as being a wry reference to the fact that the show’s producer Carl doesn’t believe in ghosts.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The main challenge was getting the details of the TV production right – the lighting, the cameras, the direction, the various people who might be involved. I managed to research some of that online, and also picked up hints from paranormal reality shows I’d watched myself. But I was also completely indebted to my friend Angela King (author of historical novel Blood of Kings) for a much greater insight into the way the TV world works.
Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?
Well, I ought to be working on a complete rewrite of Gleams of a Remoter World, my ghost-story novel set in Ireland, in order to turn it into a full-blown m/m romance rather than the bi/m/m it was when it was published. I’ve got a new name, Distant Voices, and a new cover, and had made inroads into the first couple of chapters. And then I got hijacked by an old 1950s-set story I wrote many years ago featuring a fey dreamer of a young man and a gypsy. The characters in that suddenly started yammering at me and I’ve rewritten several pages and added a whole new scene, and am hoping to have it ready some time in the new year. After that, it’ll be back to Ireland… I hope…
How many bookshelves are in your house?
Nowhere near enough. All my family lived in homes that were overflowing with books and I’m the same. My husband and I have several hundred between us and are always looking for new places to stuff them into our small terraced house, with varying degrees of success. To (mis)quote Jaws, “we’re going to need a bigger house”.
What is your favourite dinosaur?
The little chap pictured below (at Boulders Beach in South Africa). He came from the Natural History Museum in London many years ago, and has been all over the world. My husband takes him along whenever he travels for work, and sends back photos of him perched in various places around the local scenery. It always gives me a smile, even while I’m missing both of them!
Where can readers purchase your books?
All of my m/m romance books (including December Roses and Ghosts Galore) are available on Kindle (and free on Kindle Unlimited). You can find a list of them at my UK Amazon page or my US Amazon page, or for a bit more information on all of them, head to my website.
Two of my Tess Makovesky noir books (including Embers of Bridges) are also out on Kindle, while a third is published by All Due Respect. You can find out more at Tess’s website, or her Amazon UK or Amazon US pages.