Saturday 6 July 2019

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Fiona Glass

I'm thrilled to welcome author Fiona Glass to The Hippo today. I 'met' Fiona on Twitter a few months ago and after chatting to her I thought it would be great to get to know her a little better so I invited her to hang out with me today.

Let's start by introducing you all to the lovely lady herself.

Photo courtesy of Fiona Glass

When she isn't being a pane in the glass, Fiona writes darkly humorous contemporary and paranormal fiction, almost always with a twist in the tail. As well as a couple of novels, her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, including Mslexia, Paragraph Planet, and The Library of Rejected Beauty. Her paranormal romp 'Got Ghosts?' is available now from Fox Spirit Books.

Fiona lives in a slate cottage within stone-throwing distance (never a good idea in Glass houses...) of England's largest lake with her husband, several pot plants and a vast collection of books. She enjoys history, gardening and photography, and rarely has her nose far from the pages of a book - or a cup of tea.

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What book/books made you cry and why?
All kinds of books make me cry, for lots of different reasons. Some are genuinely sad, like Mary Stewart’s Thornyhold where the heroine has an unhappy childhood and then her beloved father dies. Others are scary or horrifying: the ‘mines of Moria’ scene in Lord of the Rings, for instance, gets me every time. Lastly, some books’ endings make me sniffle because it feels so right for the character(s) and the book. Of course, it helps when the author really involves me with the characters, so I feel as though I’m there with them inside the pages of the book, and going through whatever they’re going through right alongside them.

 I always love it when someone answers this question but it usually means that I have to look at the books mentioned and they inevitably get added to my TBR!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have a confession to make - I already do! Fiona is my real name and I used to use that for all my fiction. But when I got involved with different genres it became harder to keep to a recognisable ‘one size fits all’ brand. So now I publish darker books and stories (crime and noir) under a pen name. It’s a lot of work because I need two of everything (web sites, blogs, social media etc) and they all have to be updated, but it gives me more control and keeps things separate.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
Mostly from my parents, both of whom were avid readers. Dad read a lot of non-fiction (travel books, mountaineering books, nature etc) and Mum loved fiction. She encouraged me to read from an early age, signed me up at the local library, and used to spark my story-telling instincts by starting a bedtime story with a single line and then leaving me to imagine the rest of the tale before I went to sleep. I wrote my first story (about a travelling mouse) when I was five, and have wanted to be a writer ever since. It’s lovely that my dream has come true.

Image found on Quernus Crafts

What did you edit out of your last book?
In my case it’s more a question of editing things in! I specialise in short stories so writing a whole book can be quite a challenge. I find the best approach is to start off with the basic outline and then add more detail as I go along. In the case of ‘Got Ghosts?’, I added Guy, and the vicar, and Emily’s many-times-great-uncle Alfred and the whole plot thread of the missing paintings, after I’d finished the first draft. However, the one thing I did edit out was that Emily started life as Adam. Having the main character male didn’t quite work for the effect I was aiming for, so I changed it round and the sweet but dippy Emily was born.

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
Both are obviously very important, and I usually start with a plot, or at least a ‘what if’ scenario. However, I find my books don’t come to life unless I have the characters alive and kicking in my own mind. Once I invest them with hopes and needs of their own they become ‘real’ to me, and hopefully to my readers as well. I think characters can exist without much of a plot, but a plot isn’t much of anything without the characters. 

Image found on Google

 It really is a case of the chicken or the egg isn't it Fiona?

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
It would have to be Gramps, Emily’s grandfather in ‘Got Ghosts?’. He’s (very) loosely based on my own grandfather, with the same warmth and kindness and the same twinkly humour, although my Grandpa didn’t smoke a pipe – or walk through walls. I’d love to spend time with him in the Greystones Hall library, or, like Emily, take him exploring for priest holes and hidden nooks and crannies in the house on a wet afternoon. And because he’s a ghost, it would be fun to watch him playing mischievous tricks on the guests!

You get a brilliant idea/thought/phrase at an inappropriate moment (eg in the shower or driving) what do you do?
This happens to me all the time and it’s so frustrating. Good ideas often seem to come at the most inappropriate times, and never when I’m sitting at the keyboard. I’ve tried various things including keeping a notebook on me at all times, but that doesn’t work if you’re in the bath! Lately I’ve been getting inspiration just as I’m dropping off to sleep, and have resorted to banging my head on the pillow while repeating the relevant words like a mantra. I have to do it quietly, though, so as not to wake my husband up.

Describe yourself in five words.
Small, quirky, shy, bubbly, fair-minded, pedantic – and bad at maths.

I'm not much good with maths either Fiona, so you're in good company!

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I have a copy of Got Ghosts? on my kindle and I'll be reading it very soon but I'm not going to wait for my review to tell you about it so here's the blurb.

Haunted manor house Greystones Hall is filled to the brim with ghosts. It’s also falling to bits, and artist owner Emily doesn’t have the money to refurbish the place. When the makers of hit tv show ‘Got Ghosts?’ offer to pay for a weekend’s filming there she jumps at the chance, even though she and her ghostly grandfather Gramps have reservations. The reservations seem to be misplaced when the film crew swing into action, and producer Carl turns out to be dark, handsome and very available. But Emily soon starts to have doubts about the methods they use, which Carl won’t discuss. Then the show’s resident medium Stella stirs up a new and malevolent spirit, revealing a dark secret at the heart of the house that has been hidden for centuries. And when Emily’s own safety is threatened, together with that of her ghosts and her beloved Gramps, will it be Carl who comes to the rescue, or someone much more unexpected?

You can find out more about Fiona, her books and connect with her using the links below:


I'd like to say a big thank you to Fiona for taking the time to stop by today. It's been great getting to know you and I can't wait to dive into my copy of Got Ghosts?

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