Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"I used to be a serial sleepwalker" - Author @RebeccahGiltrow

What is your name?
Rebeccah Giltrow

Tell us about you.

I'm a writer by trade, with skills of varying degrees in knitting, baking, EFL teaching, performing, photography, dog-walking, sleeping, painting, and procrastinating.
I've been a writer since I can remember, but after graduation from University of Essex in 2005 with B.A. (hons) English Language & Literature, and again in 2008 with M.A. Literature: Creative Writing, I decided to take the craft more seriously and became an avid follower of the Oulipo.
Since graduating from university, I have written a collection of 26 lipogrammatic short stories, 'Betwixt The Cup and The Lip', a collection of 12 Christmas stories, 'Twelve Days of Krista May Rose', and a full length novel, 'Lexa Wright's Dating Sights'. I'm currently writing my second novel, 'Here We Find Ray', as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge.
As well as writing, I regularly performs at the New Words, Fresh Voices open mic night at The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, where I read my poetry and short stories.
In September 2012 I set up a writing group for teen writers (aged between 11 and 17) at Lowestoft Library.
When she's not writing, I enjoy producing visual art, and occasionally take photos, paint pictures, and make collages. My work has been shown at The Halesworth Gallery, The Ferini Gallery, and Lowestoft Arts Centre.

Tell us about your book.

Alexana (Lexa) Wright is 30 years old, unemployed, single, and lives in her deceased, paternal grandmother’s bungalow, with her shi-tzu, Beryl.  She is a self-confessed procrastinator and that isn’t a particularly positive trait to possess, especially when she is trying to write her first novel, which she intends to be a semi-fictional account of her own life.
Unhappily single, Lexa hopes to eventually meet the man of her dreams by chance, like people do in films.  Because of this, she has ignored her best friend Louise’s suggestions to join the online dating site, MatesDates.  One day, Lexa turns on her computer to start writing her novel, but procrastination takes over and she spring cleans her e-mail inbox instead.  She opens an e-mail from Louise, inviting her to try the dating site.  Curious, Lexa joins and starts to fill in her profile.
After a bad date, Louise visits Lexa and stays the night.  Unable to sleep, Louise finishes Lexa’s MatesDates profile, unbeknownst to her friend, and sends out messages to men on her behalf.  Lexa chats to one of these men online, Gregory, and arranges to meet him for a date.  With her parents, Karen and Tom, dogsitting Beryl, Lexa meets Gregory at a local pub, with Louise and her colleague, Safa, sitting nearby for moral support.  Cutting the date short to help his sister out of trouble, Gregory arranges another date with Lexa.  The next day, Lexa collects Beryl from her parents’ house and takes her for a walk through the park on the way home.  Beryl runs off, pulling her extending lead to its full length and tangles it around a man’s legs.  Lexa offers to buy the man a coffee as an apology.  The man introduces himself as William and asks her out on a date, and Lexa accepts.
Lexa, not used to dating one man, has no idea what to do with two, but as everything seems casual, she continues to date both of them.  Unable to choose between the two, she carries on seeing them both.  She knows she has to choose one of them, but she can't make her mind up between them.
During her down time, she sits at her computer in order to write a book, but being a procrastinator she finds herself organising her kitchen cupboards, cleaning out her bathroom, and attacking her jungle-like garden with an uncooperative lawnmower.  During her cleaning sprees she finds letters, photos, and a diary, which all lead to Lexa discovering some interesting an unexpected information about her grandmother's youth.  She uses this as inspiration for her novel.

What can readers expect when they open your book?

They can expect to find out more about me.  The character and life of Lexa is based on my own character and life, with a few tweaks here and there.  I won't tell you which bits are fact and which bits are fiction though.  You can read the book and try to work that out for yourselves!

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

So far, writing my first complete novel, 'Lexa Wright's Dating Sights'.  I've always wanted to write a novel, and I've started many a time.  But after a few pages or a few chapters I've given up.  Then one day I decided to sit down and write, and 37 days later I had 120,000 words staring back at me from the computer screen.  It took a few weeks to edit my manuscript, but I had a complete novel in my hands.  I'd done something that I'd never thought I could do.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I can't say I have a favourite author, but an author that I've loved since I was a child is Roald Dahl.  I love his characters and the way that the baddies always get their comeuppance in his children's stories.  And his 'Tales of the Unexpected' are so sinister but so wonderful.  Roald Dahl had such a fascinating imagination, and he certainly left his mark on the world of literature.

Do you have any suggestions for writers just starting out?

Don't think that just because you want to write, you can write.  Writing is a craft, and it must be studied.  And with any craft, there are tools.  A writer needs to read and read and read and learn and read some more.  A writer needs to know how to use grammar and punctuation correctly.  A writer needs to be prepared to edit and rewrite and scrap.  You have to remember that you're writing for other people to read, so it has to be done well.  The last thing you write is never the best thing you write.

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

My favourite character from 'Lexa Wright's Dating Sights' is Louise, Lexa's best friend.  But I'm not sure I could handle being her for a day; she's a bit too loud and crazy for me!  So I'd swap lives with Beryl, Lexa's 3 year old shih-tzu.  She spends her time curled up in arms chairs sleeping, or chasing birds around the garden, or eating leftover shepherd's pie.  It's such an easy life!

What does writing mean to you?

Writing is a way of escaping real life, but you create where you want to go.  When you read, you are transported into the world of that particular author.  But when you write, you have complete freedom to go where you want, and to do and say what you want.

Anything else you want to share with us?

If you weren't a writer, what would you like to be?
I love baking, so I'd have to be a pastry chef.  Or I'd own a little cake shop, and serve tea and cake all day.

Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author:

1) When I was little I wanted to be a ballet dancer, but as I got older my second toes on each foot grew abnormally long which would have prevented me dancing on blocks.
2) I have a moustache tatooed on the forefinger of my right hand.  It brings me hours of amusement.
3) My childhood crushes were on Doogie Howser, and Joey from New Kids on the Block
4) I can't be late for anything.  I'd rather be an hour early for something than a minute late.
5) I used to be a serial sleepwalker.

Where to connect online

Twitter: @RebeccahGiltrow
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Rebeccah.Giltrow.Writer
Website:  http://rebeccahgiltrow.blogspot.co.uk/
Blog: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00A9Q3BY2

FEATURED BOOK:  Lexa Wright's Dating Sights
Genre: Chic lit romcom
Buy on Amazon