Saturday 6 October 2012

The Pink Sofa welcomes Gilli Allan

Gilli Allan is one of the many lovely writers I have met online. Since starting my blog in May, I have been using Social Media to publicize my books and E-book. Gilli and I are Facebook friends and Tweet to each other. Gilli has recently had a new novel, Torn published. The Pink Sofa wanted to ask her about it, and about her writing experience. 


Firstly, Gilli, what sort of books do you write?
My books are contemporary. They always have a love story at their core, but they're unconventional. I'd like to create a new sub-genre - but what to call it? Maybe romance with the edges left on?

What kick-started your writing care
I suspect I've always been a writer. When I was young, developed long and complex stories in my head, peopled with fairies, princesses and the sons and daughters of red-Indian chieftains. I left school at 16 with just enough exam passes to get me into art college. It was when I stopped work to look after my young son that I started writing seriously.

What were your favourite childhood books?

 I was slow to get the hang of reading. The light bulb moment didn't happen for me until I was around seven. I still remember the feeling of awe and excitement on unwrapping Heidi by Johanna Spyri on my eighth birthday. Other than that, my main reading were fairy stories and stories of myth and magic.We had a Hans Anderson collection as well as aan old and bulky book of the brothers Grimm stories, and I endlessly read stories about Gods and Goddesses, from the Greeks through the Romans to the Norse legends.

Talk about your writing process. 
When I first started writing, I began in January, had reached final draft by the end of the year and started the next book the following January. But then we moved, my publisher shut up shop, and life changed. I felt bereaved and abandoned in a place where I knew no one, and without the comfort blanket of a publisher. The idea of starting a new book became more and more resistable.  What I have to do now is just sit sit down at he computer and start. It's a type of approach aptly described 'as into the mist'. (The Pink Sofa does this, all the time, but calls it 'winging it')

What do you find challenging about the writing process?
I am not one of those writers who are bubbling geysers of plots and new ideas. In fact I've described starting a book as like carving a block of granite with a teaspoon. Fortunately once I have persuaded myself to sit down and START SOMETHING NEW, it will usually come alive for me. That's what makes writing worthwhile - when the story catches fire and races off with you. That's also when you have to be disciplined about the other things in life, like getting dressed, and doing the shopping, the washing, and the ironing.

What was your worst writing experience?
My publisher going bust was pretty horrible! But I think it was the particular morning a thick heavy envelope plopped onto the mat. I picked it up and tore it open. I stared at the top page, unable to make sense of it. It seemed familiar. Suddenly I realised I was looking at my own letter. The rest of the material was the three chapters I'd sent. There was no letter from the agent. Not even a compliments slip. Scrawled across the bottom of my own submission letter were 3 words - unsigned: 'Not for us'.

Oooh, nasty! But now you have a new book, 'Torn' ? Talk about that.
Jessica Avery is a woman in her early thirties with a three year old son, Rory. She has made a series of wrong choices in her life -job, men and life-style. Her choice now is to live a steady, responsible life in a tranquil new environment, putting he son's needs as her number one priority. 

But then her ex partner tracks her down, as an incomer, she is not made welcome by the local mothers and she begins to wonder if leaving London was the right move. The title Torn can be understood as referring to the personal choices which confront Jessica, in life and men and priorities. My one line summary is: You can escape your old life, but can you ever escape yourself?

And the next book? 
Hard question. Except to say that I am drawn to the theme of: Time Team meets Educating Rita. Whether the completed story will be able to be described in this way is another matter!

Thanks Gilli - The Pink Sofa has loved having you as a guest - feel free to hang around. I'm sure there are some more visitors about to arrive:

Gilli's books can be found at: ISBN=9781458003409  B004U36DIG

Contact Gilli:   @gilliallan   


  1. Great post! I like the description of what you write. A love story at the core but unconventional. We might be twins :) x Thanks pink sofa :)

  2. Nice one, Ladies :)

  3. Great interview, Carol and Gilli! 'Carving granite with a teaspoon is a perfect way to describe me too, and not just when I start a new book either!

  4. I love your pink sofa, Carol, and Gilli, Torn sounds like a really good read. I know exactly what it feels like to get a rejection with a few words scrawled across the bottom of my letter. But at least we know we're in the company of the greats who have, apparently, also all received such rejections.

  5. Thanks Mandy, Terry, Paula and Rosalind. Apologies for not replying sooner. I have visitors this weekend! And particular thanks to Carol. I've enjoyed sitting on your pink sofa and talking about myself!
    Just one qualification. TORN is not strictly a new book, it's been out as an e-book for over a year, but it is new in paperback, with a brand new, self-designed cover! xx

  6. Your cover is great Gilli, interesting interview and inspirational the way you picked yourself up after your setbacks - that is the mark of a true writer, having staying power!

  7. Thank you Cara. But what else can you do if you believe in what you write?

  8. Fantastic interview. I fell apart laughing when I read the line: "I've described starting a book as like carving a block of granite with a teaspoon."

    I think most writers can relate to that feeling :)

    New follower here! My blog is

  9. You've had an inspiring journey so far, Gilli. I can just imagine you sitting in front of the computer, teaspoon at the ready ... Congratulations on Torn coming out in paperback!

  10. Really interesting post Carol and Gill. I love to read about how writers work. Sounds like a good read.

  11. Great interview. I love the cover of Torn, too.

  12. Thanks to everyone. And sorry if I've not been as prompt to acknowledge all the comments as I might. I've just waved goodbye to a houseful of visitors, after a four day stay!

    I'm particularly pleased you like the cover Kelly. I designed it myself. And I can't count the number of teaspoons I've been through in my writing career, Juliet, Anne and Nickie! Uri Geller has nothing on me. gx

  13. Has anybody fed the fish recently?


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