Friday, 4 November 2016

Getting To Know... Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

Today on Getting To Know... I am delighted to have the wonderful Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, author of The Broken Road.

Your novels are contemporary fiction, is there anything that draws you to this particular genre?

I’m interested in present-day psychological dilemmas and modern relationships. I like to put characters into difficult situations and see how they react. Some of the questions posed by my books are: what happens when your ex-husband gets in touch and you find you still love him? How do you react when the death of a parent reveals a thirty-five year old secret? How should you deal with the conflict between personal ambition and family demands? These tend to be the dilemmas of the contemporary world, which is what draws me to this genre.

Your most recent novel, The Broken Road, is set in London, Plymouth and Venice, was there any reason you chose these particulars places?

I like to set my books in places I know and love. Apart from anything else, it gives me a good excuse to go back and do research!

I was born and brought up in London, and the city has featured as one of the settings in all my novels so far. In ‘The Broken Road’, the flat where the main character, Ollie, lives with his wife and daughter is actually on the site of my old school, which I know has been turned into apartments. My daughter lives in Plymouth and I visit there a lot. I love the area around the Hoe, looking out to Plymouth Sound. It’s the most glorious view, and I wanted to set the hotel, which features in the novel, looking out onto the Hoe. And I’ve wanted to use Venice as a setting for a while. I love the city and have visited every year for a number of years now. Last September, I spent four weeks there, which was wonderful, and allowed me to immerse myself in the atmosphere, while I made last-minute revisions to the manuscript.

You wanted to become a ballerina when you were younger but it wasn't to be, do you still dance for enjoyment now?

Well, my ballet days are long gone! In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get that place at the Royal Ballet School. My life would have been very different and not necessarily better. But I still enjoy dancing – not in any formal way, but if there’s some lively music at a social occasion and others are dancing, I feel my feet tapping. And I enjoy watching ballet. I try to see Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Hippodrome several times a year.

You write both novels and short stories, do you have a preference over which you write?

I probably lean towards novels as I enjoy getting stuck into plotting and creating complex characters. I like the layers you can add into a novel. But tackling a novel is a huge challenge, and sometimes the short story form is more appropriate. It’s not necessarily easier – every word must pull its weight in a short story – but writing a short story doesn’t take over your life in the same way a novel does.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

Not surprisingly, I enjoy reading, and have done since I was a child. I think that’s what fuelled my desire to write. I like going to the theatre, especially Shakespeare. And I enjoy walking. I love the sea and the mountains, and despite growing up in London, I enjoy spending time near the sea and/or the hills.

Do you have a set routine when you're writing or anywhere that you have to be?

I’m lucky in that I have a converted loft at the top of the house where I write. It’s tucked away and peaceful which suits me, as I like to have quiet when I’m writing. I find it difficult to write if there are other people in the house. I certainly wouldn’t be able to concentrate in a cafe, as some writers do. I treat my writing as a job and turn up to the computer even on days when I don’t feel like it.

Do you have a favourite author?

That’s a question I’m frequently asked, and it’s hard to single out one author. When I was younger I read all the classics and loved people such as Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, the Brontes, and I enjoyed writers such as Virginia Woolf, Rosamund Lehmann and Graham Greene. Now, I read mainly modern novels. I like Helen Dunmore, Rose Tremain, Anne Tyler, Anne Enright, William Trevor, Sebastian Barry and Jon McGregor. I could go on, but that’s probably enough for the moment!

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

That’s a difficult question. It’s a bit like being asked which is your favourite child! I like them all for different reasons. I like Vanessa in my first novel ‘Unravelling’, partly because she’s vulnerable and flawed. Ollie in ‘The Broken Road’ is also flawed, and I feel very protective towards my flawed characters. Some readers didn’t like Gerald in ‘Unravelling’ or Rick in ‘The Piano Player’s Son’ because they are difficult characters, but I feel I understand why they are the way they are and have a lot of empathy with them. I create them like that, but then I worry about them!

If you could give younger you any advice about your writing journey, what would it be?

Write, write, write as much as you can.

What can we look forward to from you next?

I’ve got a character in my head, Marsha, who has been waiting for her novel for several years now. She’s a young Ethiopian woman who was ‘rescued’ from Ethiopia by a white middle-class English journalist when she was eight, and brought up as a member of his family in rural England. The novel will deal with issues of identity, belonging and alienation. I haven’t written very much this year, but I don’t think Marsha will wait for much longer. I’m hoping to start on her novel in the autumn.

Thank you so much to Lindsay for answering my questions, such a pleasure to have her on my blog today.

To contact Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

The Broken Road 

What do you do when the past returns to haunt you? 
When no one around you tells the truth? 

Ollie’s life is in crisis. Estranged from his father when he refuses to take over the family hotel, his artistic career is floundering, and his marriage is under strain. His wife, Jess, blames him, but is she as innocent as she appears? 
Louise, Ollie’s sister, takes on the hotel in his absence, testing her emotional fragility to the limit. She knows her father considers her to be second best, and her husband is hostile to her new role. 
As the action moves between London, Plymouth and Venice, the family implodes under the weight of past betrayals, leading to a nail-biting, fast-paced climax. 
In another emotionally compelling novel from the award-winning Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, the complex ties that both bind us to family and drive us apart are laid bare. Can Ollie heal the fault-lines before it’s too late? Above all, can he salvage his relationship with his young daughter, Flo, before tragedy strikes? 

1 comment:

  1. Oh I just happened to be popping over to check out Helen's blog and much caught my eye in this interview! Lots resonating here e.g. Devon connections (I live about 20 minutes or so from Plymouth) and I love Helen Dunmore and Jon McGregor. I love reading (and writing) books about human relationships and psychological dilemmas