It’s with great pleasure that I can announce that October’s Author of the Month is Eloise Williams. I first fell in love with Eloise’s writing when I read Gaslight last year. If you haven’t read it yet, where have you been? It is a historic thriller set in the gloomy backstage of a Victorian theatre, which has gone on the win acclaim and many awards.
I then had the please of meeting Eloise when she came into school to lead a workshop for our oldest children. Her enthusiasm for writing on the day was truly infectious. Every single child in the class caught the writing bug that day. The true success of the day was clear months later, when the children were still using Eloise’s techniques in their writing.
Fast forward a year and Eloise is back with her new book Seaglass – check out the preview below.
I had the pleasure of having a sneak preview last year and having counting down the days until publication since. That moment came last month and the wait was definitely worth it. It is another triumph. Look out for my review over the coming days. However, to whet your appetite, I caught up with Eloise (around our busy schedules). Read what she has to say about Seaglass, her writing and living in West Wales.
1. Your third book, Seaglass, is now on the shelves. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet, what is it all about?
It’s a windswept ghost story set on the coast of west Wales where I live. Lark needs a break. Her mother is ill, her little sister has stopped speaking and she’s fallen out with her best friend. When they go on holiday for autumn half term the sisters rush off to explore. But this freedom soon gets frightening. Is there a figure in the fog? What happened at the ruined house in the woods? Why does her sister keep drawing a girl in a green dress? As the storms get wilder and events get stranger, Lark must face a long-buried secret to save her family.
It’s creepy and mysterious and I can’t tell you any more or I’ll give the plot away!
2. I love a good ghost story and Seaglass is a perfect ghost story for children just entering the genre. What do you think makes the perfect ghost story?
Suspense! I think the feeling of knowing that something is going to happen, but not knowing when, or what, is one of the best elements of a ghost story. The unknown. As with every story, it needs to throw unanswered questions up into the air to get the reader wanting to know more, but the perfect ghost story also brings a sense of lingering creepiness with it. When you put the book down you should still be thinking about it and the story should still be spooking you!
3. One things that stands out in all of your books is the sense of place. I definitely feel a connection to the settings. Are there real places that inspire your writing?
I’m inspired by lots of real places. Elen’s Island was inspired by Tenby and Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire. Gaslight was inspired by Cardiff. My next book is inspired by the town I grew up in. I like real places. but I also like to give them my own twist by adding things which aren’t really there, reimagining the landscape and renaming lots of it.
I’m very lucky to live by the sea in west Wales and I find it endlessly inspiring. Senses are the author’s friend, so I like to walk along the beach with my dog, Watson Jones, every day and really take time to notice details. As well as observing things with my eyes I like to find out what a place smells like, discover what sounds I can hear, taste the air, test out how things feel on my fingertips. It helps me with creating atmosphere. The sea is ever-changing and its effect on the landscape is different daily. The sand is a clean sheet once the tide has turned. It’s like a brand-new page. I love that feeling of possibility.
4. Any eagle eyed readers will know that seaglass pops up in all of your books, It’s mentioned in Elen’s Island, Nansi finds some in Gaslight and now you have a book called Seaglass. What’s the fascination?
I moved to live by the sea about seven years ago. Before that time I’d never heard of sea glass. The fascination lies in appreciating how something once considered to be rubbish has gradually been transformed into something beautiful. Sea glass also links us to our history. I can’t help but wonder who threw the pieces into the water in the first place. How long ago it was. What sort of life they had. What their story was.
5. Gaslight has been a huge success and is now (I think) on its fourth print run. For me, it is one of the best books of last year. What other children’s books have stood out for you recently that readers should look out for?
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it! There are so many brilliant books out there I honestly don’t know where to begin! We have so many fantastic writers for young people. Can I have a top one hundred books which have stood out recently?
6. And finally, what advice would you give to any children who read mrdaviesreads?
Follow your heart. Read lots of books. Always be kind. Imagine things. Daydreaming is good. Don’t spend too much time on screens! Go outside lots. Be amazed.