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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Guest review and author interview - The Summer Escape - Lily Graham

I'm delighted to welcome Sarah back to The Haphazardous Hippo again today with another great review and author interview. Sarah, it's over to you.

Well I’m back again for a special blog to recommend a summer read for you all.
This time I’ve got a copy of The Summer Escape by Lily Graham which was published on the 26th of May, perfect timing for people to take away with them on their summer holidays to read lazing around the pool or lying on a beach towel somewhere warm.
However, if like me you aren’t travelling anywhere sunny or exotic this book is so descriptive it will give you a sense of sun, sea and something extra special.

Amazon describes it as….
“After losing the love of her life, Ria’s life has been on hold. So when her boss becomes completely unbearable she makes the snap decision to run away to the Greek island of Crete, armed only with her passport.

When Ria finds herself working for eccentric novelist Caroline, she meets handsome vineyard owner Tom. He’s charming, mysterious and Ria starts to wonder if it’s not just the beautiful Greek island that she’s falling for.”

My thoughts in addition….
I was drawn to this book, the bright bold colours of the cover, the sunshine and summery feel while I was hoping for some sunshine outside my own window and not getting any satisfaction, this was a pick me up read to brighten an otherwise dull day.

From the moment I started reading this I was hit by the truly magical descriptive style of writing Lily Graham has, the people and places brought to life in a way I wouldn’t have dreamt possible in a simple summer holiday read that most would pre-judge this as being.
I loved Ria’s character and admired her for not so much running away from life’s struggles but taking hold of her destiny and changing it for the better. When she begins working on Caroline’s memoirs its lovely to see another character come to life and unfold. What surprised me was the added mystery element of this book which worked well with the romance yet two different genres I hadn’t expected together. The story was both heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures. It certainly made me wish I had a passport and the time and money to visit Crete and see for myself to soak up the scenery and taste the wonderful sounding food and drink.

Note: Previously published as 'An Invincible Summer.' This is a new extended version.

Let me leave you with a little extra insight into the author…..

Hi Lily, You say in your Amazon bio you've always been telling stories but how did you start out writing?

I’ve always written some form of a story since I was young. At age nine I decided I’d become a writer, when it dawned on me that people could make things up for a living. So when it came time to choose a career I chose journalism – while we couldn’t make things up there, there certainly was a large element of learning how to write. I spent the last ten years as a journalist, working on some form of a book in my spare time since I was twenty-one, but it was only around two years ago that I finally finished one, after my best-friend put her foot down (she read all my half-assed drafts, so she had the right) and set me a challenge to finish one of them… that was The Summer Escape! So thank goodness for her, or I’d still be trying to write a perfect book (doesn’t exist) instead of trying for a finished book (much healthier goal, can become better, like wine with time, grin).

I have read both the novella version of The Postcard (currently being changed to a full length novel) and The Summer Escape (a re-branding of An Invincible Summer) do you have a preference for short stories or full length novels?

That’s wonderful – thanks for reading them! I like both; I honestly believe a story is as long as it needs to be. I wrote The Summer Escape first, then I heard about novellas and decided to try my hand at one when I hit upon the right story, it was a blast. I think I’d like to do both, there’s something freeing about writing and accomplishing a story in a shorter length of time (the novella took much shorter to write).

I loved the descriptive style of writing you used in The Summer Escape was your knowledge of Crete from personal experience of the area?
Thank you so much! I love trying to capture a pulse to a place, to really make someone feel that they are in the story, so I tried very hard to get it all right, from the scents to the sights, and the feel of the place. I spent some time there a few years ago, and it was truly magical, so I wanted to do it justice. I filled in some of the gaps by watching videos, reading lots of guides etc to make sure my experience was similar to others – that immersion is one of my favourite parts of the writing process.

You started out self published but you've recently been taken on by Bookouture, how has this altered your writing career?

It’s completely enhanced it really. As a self-published author I was, in many ways, taking a bit of a stab in the dark. While I was proud of what I achieved, it just didn’t come close to what my publishers do – they really know their stuff.

I think you’ve got to be a really determined, savvy marketer to get it right as a self-publisher, and I’ll be honest it just wasn’t my strong suit. I’m not ruling it out for future works but they’ve really added much more focus and direction – now I have fixed deadlines, and an incredibly supportive team behind me who take care of all the rest of it and let me just get on with the writing – which is amazing, I feel truly blessed.

I know your current project is a lengthening and re-branding of your novella The Postcard, how is this going? Has it been hard to add to an already written story?

Oh my goodness – so hard. It’s a bit like building on to an existing house. A grade II listed house! I had to try and tell the story without making any of it feel ‘filled in’, as that would just be horrible, it had to feel like a cohesive whole. Part of the trouble is that The Postcard was my best-received self-published novel – so I’ve been apprehensive that I tamper with something that people seem to like. But honestly, I feel that the story is richer for what has been added, it feels more like a novel now – I hope that readers of the novella will enjoy this new extended version.

Are there any plans for new books after Bookouture have republished your current books? Do you have any news of future plans?

Yes definitely! The Postcard will be republished later this year, then next year, a completely new story will be out at around early April – I’m excited for that one, I’m busy with it now.

If you could send a message to your readers what would it be?

My message to my readers would be a giant, big thank you for reading my books and their incredible support! I’m so awed by the kindness of readers in leaving reviews, popping over on social media to say ‘Hi’ or sending me emails – it’s an incredible feeling having someone read your words and enjoy the story you create, so all I can say really is thank you so much!

Thank you again for allowing me the chance to ask questions, can’t wait to re read longer version of The Postcard

It’s such a pleasure! Thanks for the chat. Yay, hope you enjoy it! 

Thanks to both Sarah and Lily Graham for stopping by today. It's been a pleasure ladies!

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