Thursday 24 July 2014

Author Interview ~ Liz Fenwick.

Today I'm welcoming the lovely Liz Fenwick to my blog, chatting about her latest book A Cornish Stranger. Liz is also kindly offering a signed copy of A Cornish Stranger in a giveaway, which you'll find at the end of this post.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.

I was born in Boston and moved to the UK in 1989 where I met my husband. He took me to Cornwall in June just after we met. That weekend began a love affair with the Duchy that hasn’t ended, but has awoken the sleeping writer in me who had been lost thanks to jobs, kids and moving around the world. Cornwall is at the heart of all my novels, which tell the stories of woman reaching points in the their lives when they need to confront who they are, what they need or what they are prepared to do. Oh and hopefully finding love along the way.

Your books so far all have a Cornish theme – why is Cornwall a big inspiration behind your books?

I think the answer has to be the landscape. There is just something about it that triggers my ‘muse’ or maybe Cornwall is my muse.

What can you tell us about your latest release, A Cornish Stranger?

It is a tale wrapped in secrets set on Frenchman’s Creek. Save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy…is an old Cornish saying and is what sparked the story idea. Jaunty a reclusive 92 year old artist is coming to the end of her days and she is compelled to tell the truth to her granddaughter Gabrielle but only wants her read it after she is dead. Gabe has secrets of her own and is running away from the world. Here in this cabin above the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek all is going well with Gabe looking after her grandmother until Gabe saves a stranger in the midst of a storm and things begin to change.

Are the characters in A Cornish Stranger inspired by people you know, or purely fictional?

I think all my characters draw on people I know to some extent. As a writer I am a magpie storing bits of character, appearance and experience. In my head they mingle and come out as a totally unique person. Except in The Cornish House the character of Old Tom was drawn entirely from my brief experience chatting with my husband’s old headmaster.

But confession…I use actors I fancy as the physical models for my heroes….

The covers for The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair and A Cornish Stranger are all stunning – do you have a favourite?

That’s hard…a bit like choosing a favourite child! What I do love is that they are different from each other yet have the same feel and do say ‘Cornwall’. How’s that for avoiding an answer!

Describe your writing process…

Chaotic! As I mentioned above there is usually a spark that triggers the main story idea. In the case of A Cornish Stranger it was the old saying. I saw instant conflict in it and knew immediately where I wanted to set it. Saying that I need to know the setting very early in the process. In the past before I was published I would begin with a title, a setting, an idea of my main character and the ending I wanted. I would then write and rewrite until I came to the end. Now with deadline and a fabulous editor it’s different. I still start with a setting, a conflict, a rough idea of my character and the ending, but now I brainstorm with my editor who is brilliant at seeing plot holes before they are written. In the past I happily write my self into them and have to cut and dig my way out. Now writing a book a year I don’t have that luxury! (Not saying I don’t still do this a bit!!!).

Once the first draft is the done the hard work really begins because it’s only then that I really know my characters and themes. It’s a bit like a sculptor with a huge piece of marble. She can suddenly see the shape. It’s like that with the first draft. I can see what the story is truly meant to be and I dive in and carve out the book.

What are you working on at the moment? Can you tell us a bit about it?

I am working on another book set in Cornwall. This time set on the north side of Helford River. Two women who have never met but are connected by one man…husband/father…one ancestral house, a death, a will…

What have you found the most rewarding aspect of being an author? The most challenging?

The most rewarding is when my books really touch a reader. I have been honoured and humbled by this experience. The most challenging is the desire to keep improving and growing as a writer while under deadline!

How did your publication deal come about? Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?

I began writing fiction again in 2004 and signed with an agent and publisher in 2011. So my advice is that it doesn’t happen overnight, take time to learn – about writing and the business of publishing…and finally don’t expect to earn much money from it!

How important is reader feedback to you?

Vital. I read every review…the good and the bad. The bad stings, but sometimes there are key things to take from that if several reviews say the same thing. I love hearing from readers on social media. Many have become friends and have become a huge support network when I’m feeling that I can’t write the damn book!

Do you prefer print books or ebooks?

I prefer print but I read both. I travel so much that ebooks are essential. I just love the experience of a book in my hands and the smell, touch and weight of a paper book.

Who are some of your favourite authors to read at the moment? Any books to recommend?

I have only recently discovered Kate Atkinson and love her. Life After Life was superb. She breaks every writing rule and makes it works (total jealousy from the writer in me). My top books of last year were Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (I hesitated at the start because of the format…emails, texts… but it is brilliant) and Julie Cohen’s Dear Thing. I love Julie’s writing and was terrified with her move to more serious fiction she would have lost that humour and lightness of touch but no. Can’t wait for her new one…Where Love Lies. I just wish I had more time to read. My TBR pile is massive and I read slowly because as a dyslexic I read every word.

You have to leave your house now and salvage three books you’ve yet to read – which books would you take with you?

Half of the books in this house haven’t yet been read…it’s so hard. Instead I’ll say the ones I’m reading at the moment…Nancy Mitford’s Love in A Cold Climate, Mandy James’ Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Houses and Gardens of Cornwall by Helen McCabe.

Writer, expat expert, wife, mother of three, dreamer turned doer….

Liz was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves now lives in Dubai with her husband and two mad cats. She made her first trip to Cornwall in 1989, bought her home there seven years later and, although she lives in Dubai, her heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.

Her debut novel THE CORNISH HOUSE is published by Orion and is out now. It is also available in in German (Sterne Uber Cornwall), Dutch (Sterren Boven Cornwall) Portuguese (A Casa Dos Sonhos) and Norwegian. Soon to be coming out in Estonia and Turkish.

Her second book A CORNISH AFFAIR is out in paperback. The Dutch edition Een Affaire in Cornwall and the Portuguese edition Um Amor en Cornualha is out now and a German is being prepared.

A CORNISH STRANGER is out now from Orion and available from all good booksellers.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great giveaway and thanks for letting me know about it! I would love to read this book!

  2. Super fab giveaway!! Lovely blog 😱

  3. I'll RT lavender's Tweet. It's not wanting to work correctly for me. Not just yours lately anytime I'm on an app like this it fails me 😭

  4. Another great giveaway!

  5. I've never read anything by Liz Fenwick, but this seems like a perfect time to start.

  6. Fab giveaway from what I believe to be a very talented author. Would the opportunity to read Liz Fenwick's latest book

  7. Anonymous26/7/14 21:01

    Thank you Sophie for a great blog and for giving us the chance to win this book. Liz sounds a great author😘 xx

  8. Thanks for a great giveaway x

  9. Thanks for the great interview and giveaway! :)

  10. Thanks for the giveaway

  11. What a great sounding book and a giveaway too.


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