Friday, 5 April 2013

The PINK SOFA Welcomes Paul Emanuelli

Paul Emanuelli

Paul Emanuelli is one of that lovely group of writers I've had the great good fortune to meet via Twitter. Paul is the author of Avon Street - a historical novel set in Bath in the 1850's. The PINK SOFA is happy to say it has read the book, and recommends it highly! In honour of Paul's visit, and in an effort to be snack symmetric, there is a Victoria Sponge cake on the coffee table. Awaiting the outcome of its own historical novel, set in the 1860's, the PINK SOFA questioned Paul about being a historical writer, and why the Victorian period particularly appealed to him. This is what he replied:

'' A big Thank You to Carol for inviting me to sit on her PINK SOFA for a while and for asking me some questions that really made me think. I should begin by telling you a little bit about myself. II was born in Stoke-on-Trent, of Welsh parents and Italian grandparents. Most of  the jobs I've ever done have involved writing, but mainly reports, studies and factual documents. For far too long I thought of creative writing as something other people did. It seemed a big step to say, 'I want to be a writer,' let alone, 'I am a writer.'  Though I'd always told myself that one day I would write a novel, reality always seemed to intervene, and it wasn't until later in life that I started night-classes in creative writing and began writing short stories. My first novel, Avon Street grew out of one of them.

I've always loved history, but until Carol asked, 'why?' I'd always taken it for granted. Many people think of history as being about kings and queens, great events, battles and empires. And of course, endless lists of dates. But what I love about history is the lives of 'ordinary' people and trying to imagine what it would have been like to have lived in another time. People as far back as the Neolithic age drew pictures on cave walls, carved animals from bones - they made art, communicated, left signs that they had been here for a moment in time. They had no writing, but you're left wondering - were they really very different to us? Maybe their emotions and feelings, hopes and fears were much like ours.

An author owes a lot to their readers. Reading novels takes time, and a writer has to earn that time by creating characters that readers will care about, and devising a plot that will make them want to turn the page. But the historical novel also asks the reader to ignore everything around them and to imagine that they are living in another time. For a writer, that's where the research comes in. A writer has to understand what life was like in another time - fashions, transport, medicine, work, education, politics, crime and a host of other things. But as a novelist they also have to ensure that they include just the right amount of historical detail in the novel - too little and it doesn't feel real, too much and it becomes a history lecture.

The Victorian era particularly appeals to me because we know so much about it and because perhaps more that any other era it mirrors our modern world. It was an era of great change and the first age of consumerism. The Industrial Revolution was in some ways the forerunner of our own Technological Revolution. New discoveries and inventions revolutionized manufacturing processes. Railways and steamships made travel faster and cheaper, rapidly shrinking the world. And it was the age of popular novels, which allow us, perhaps for the first time a real glimpse into the lives of 'ordinary ' people.
Avon Street

Avon Street is set in Bath in 1850. It's a city whose image is defined even today by the novels of Jane Austen. But when writing it, I wanted to explore the darker side of the city that Jane Austen only ever hinted at - to go behind the Georgian facades, to show the streets of a city, where wealth and elegance were never far from poverty and squalor.

I won't tell you too much about the book, in the hope you might read it, but it revolves around a wealthy man who loses everything and has to do battle with a ruthless criminal gang who run the poorer quarters of the city. It's about the search for trust among the people who offer to help him (an actress, a sailor a thief and a priest) each of whom has their own secrets. And most importantly, it's about the choices people make and how those decisions shape who they become. Much of the book is based on real events, locations and people, but with a few fictional twists that I hope will keep the reader turning the pages and guessing to the end.''

Avon Street (highly recommended by THE PINK SOFA) can be found at:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Avon-Street-Mystery-Press-Paul -
Emanuelli/dp/0752465546/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Avon-Street-Victorian-Mystery-ebook/dp/B006VOJ3LG/ref=tmm kin.title 0

Contact Paul via his blog: http://unpublishedwriterblog.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter: @UnpubWrites

Paul is going to stay around to answer your questions, so while he pours the tea and arranges the Victoria Sponge decorously on the cake stand, why not take a seat and have a chat.....


32 comments:

  1. Paul, I can relate to that idea that novels and creative writing are what other people do! I'm impressed that you chose to write historical fiction to start with, though. It requires so much research before you even begin being creative. I love the history of ordinary people too, so this is going on my wish list. Good luck with it and I'll look forward to reading it soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very pleased to read this. The lives of ordinary people in the past are fascinating and obviously tend to be less well-documented than those of the higher echelons of society; enough here to whet the reader's appetite for this book. Thank you to both.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Val. When I read out that short story at my writing class a couple of people asked "what happens next?" So I began planning the outline of a novel and working out exactly when and where it would be set. The research took ages, but I really enjoyed it, and the more research I did, the more it came to influence the plot and characters. I wanted to write about a criminal gang that terrorised the city. Research led me to a real gang that operated at that time. I also came across other characters and true stories of the era which I drew into the plot. I hope they all add authenticity and give a real taste of life in another age. If you do get around to reading my book - I hope you enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Val. When I read out that short story at my writing class a couple of people asked "what happens next?" So I began planning the outline of a novel and working out exactly when and where it would be set. The research took ages, but I really enjoyed it, and the more research I did, the more it came to influence the plot and characters. I wanted to write about a criminal gang that terrorised the city. Research led me to a real gang that operated at that time. I also came across other characters and true stories of the era which I drew into the plot. I hope they all add authenticity and give a real taste of life in another age. If you do get around to reading my book - I hope you enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The book sounds great, and I love the cover. Congrats to Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a brilliant interview! Paul is so right, it's a fine balance when writing an historical novel as it is about a reader being fascinated with another era, but also about the intrigue of the story. Nicely put!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linn. I lost count of the number of edits I did, just to get the balance right. But in the end the only one who can judge is the reader.

      Delete
  7. I think that's part of the attraction of the Victorian era, Christina. The lives of ordinary people were documented, perhaps for the first time, in studies like Mayhew's "London Labour and the London Poor." And authors like Dickens showed that ordinary people had their own stories to tell and were far from "ordinary."

    ReplyDelete
  8. The cover is based on a painting of Pulteney Bridge in Bath that was painted around 1850. Glad you like it, Kelly.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely interview. How nice to get an insight into how the book developed and grew from a short story. Fascinating how parts of the book were influenced by your discovery of historical events and characters that you came across whilst researching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Amanda. The strangest thing was the story that opens the book. It's a true incident I picked up from "The Times" historical archive, and very sad. I was going to use it as an anecdote in a conversation between characters, but the more I thought about it, the more important this story became.

      Delete
  10. It's lovely to read about your process and research. It sounds like a great novel and I agree with the early comment about the cover. It looks tantalising. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Evie. I hope it's tempting enough to read - and that if you do read it I hope you enjoy it and tell your friends.
      Paul

      Delete
  11. Excellent interview. (That pink sofa really knows how to ask a question. Wonder where Carol got it from!) I agree about history. It's not the Kings and Queens who are the interesting ones but sadly social events of the past were less well documented at least until the late 1800s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Rosalind. I think the sofa is probably a ventriloquist's dummy though it seems to have a life of its own.
      Paul

      Delete
  12. Is anybody feeding the fish? oh - some more cake has arrived. Tuck in...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fed them some crumbs I found down the back of the sofa. They seem to like stale coffee cake.
      Paul

      Delete
    2. They eat anything. Don't put your fingers anywhere near them! Not if you want to write another novel.

      Delete
  13. Lovely to meet you Paul.Your book sounds interesting it's been a while since I've read a historical book. That pink sofa has too much to say for it's self I think...a sofa that speaks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like the sound of "Avon Street", Anne. Hope it tempts you to read.
      Think that sofa also exerts some sort of strange psychic power. Manufacturer's label says, "Area 51" - "Do NOT feed cake."

      Delete
  14. I love the cover of "Avon Street" somthing very different, really glad you visited the "Pink Sofa" I was begining to worry Carol was having to many adventures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ian. I'm sure that Carol is off having even more adventures as we speak. Only the sofa knows and it remains strangely silent.

      If anyone wants to read the opening of "Avon Street" it's available on my publisher's website:-

      http://thehistorypressuk.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/avon-street-a-tale-of-murder-in-victorian-bath/

      Paul

      Delete
    2. As THE PINK SOFA said, and it reiterates it, this is a very good book!!

      Delete
  15. Very interesting interview. I hope that more people become interested in history because it isn't taught in schools the way it used to be so people need to look toward other sources for information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Deanie. I think if history is taught well it teaches us how to enquire and enjoy all the "hi-stories" that brought us to today and helped make us who we are. It takes in so many other subjects and helps us question events in the light of what has gone before, rather than just accept them.
      Paul

      Delete
  16. Sounds as though you enjoy what you do, Paul. Writing is a bit of an addiction, isn't it? Your comments about readers having to invest so much time and effort when they choose to read a novel is very true. You've certainly done your bit, though! I wish you every success and I will be having a look at the free chapters on Amazon shortly.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks, Bev. I never realised until later in life how important writing was to me, though looking back I can see that I eventually managed to turn most of the jobs I ever had into writing jobs. And though I wish I had started exploring writing fiction earlier, I'm glad I started when I did. I hope you enjoy the free chapters and that they tempt you to read more of the lives of my characters and to take a look at Bath from a different historical perspective.
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  18. I hope the legs of that cake stand are decently covered?

    What other eras, locations would you like to explore, I wonder, Paul?

    Good foto, BTW, useful to be able to recognise you now, if we bump into each other in Toppings or Mr B's Reading Emporium...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Philip - always enjoy your tweets.

      List of eras and locations I'd like to explore is endless, but many (like World War I and Napoleonic era) have been written about so well by other writers. Perhaps I should revisit my roots and Stoke-on-Trent, but Arnold Bennet did that so well.

      The appeal of Bath was that writers always seem to tend towards the Georgian era. So much so that it has almost come to define a City whose past is so much more complex and many of whose people have been forgotten.

      As Carole said, the photo only shows one of my heads. But it's the one I usually wear.

      paul

      Delete
  19. I enjoy HF and Avon Street sounds good. Fun to learn more about Paul! I find the Victorian era fascinating, too. :)
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you get around to reading it, Jess. And if you do, I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete

So here's your chance! Talk to me. Comments will be visible after moderation.