Good morning and welcome to another exciting author interview here at Always Trust In Books. Today I am lucky enough to have Laura Purcell answering a few questions about her upcoming Gothic tale The Silent Companions, published by Bloomsbury. I am really excited to read this as I do love a brilliant ghost story, especially when they are shocking to the core :D. I am hopefully going to go and meet Laura at Waterstones in Norwich in October; it is always a great experience meeting authors (had a brilliant time with Matt Haig). I hope you all enjoy the interview and get a chance to pick up a copy of The Silent Companions for yourselves. A few details about Laura and her novel, then onto the Q&A!
About Laura Purcell
Laura Purcell writes biographical fiction about the Georgian Queens and ‘spooky’ Victorian novels. She lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Laura is represented by Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens Literary Agency.
THE SILENT COMPANIONS will be published by Bloomsbury in October 2017 (US Penguin, March 2018).
QUEEN OF BEDLAM (2014) and MISTRESS OF THE COURT (2015) were published by Myrmidon and are available from all book retailers.
Author Website: www.laurapurcell.com/
Official Synopsis for The Silent Companions
Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…
Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.
With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…
The Q&A Section
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your exciting upcoming release The Silent Companions. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a full-time writer now, but I’ve had several other jobs including selling books in Waterstones. My main interests in life are books, history and animals. I currently own three of the cutest guinea pigs in the world.
Could you give us your own personal overview of The Silent Companions and what we can expect?
The Silent Companions is a Gothic treat full of chills. Told from the view point of Elsie Bainbridge, a notorious patient in a Victorian asylum, it recounts the strange happenings that took place at a country estate called The Bridge. Locked doors, forgotten diaries, noises in the night … all the classic haunted house tropes are there. But the real stars of the story are a group of unsettling wooden figures, the silent companions. Are they a whimsical household decoration, figments of an overactive imagination, or something altogether more sinister? While the book isn’t genre horror, it has been accused of causing nightmares!
What was the original inspiration for the novel?
Everything grew from discovering the existence of the wooden dummy boards or silent companions, which can still be found in ancient stately homes throughout the country. I thought they were hideously creepy and wanted to use them in a story. I had never tried to write anything ghostly before, but I thought they were worth making the effort for.
How long did it take to finish from draft to finished novel?
It’s hard to say, there were so many drafts … I know I started writing the first chapter in September 2014, at a festival for romantic fiction of all places. I think I signed off the final proof pages from Bloomsbury in June 2017 … So yes, a long time!
I got really excited when I heard the words ‘Gothic Ghost Story’, what attracted you to this style of writing?
Looking back, I suppose I have always been drawn towards Gothic stories. During my teenage years I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera and Wuthering Heights. But it wasn’t really something I planned on writing. I thought I was more suited to historical romance or biographical fiction. With The Silent Companions, it was more that I had the story idea and adapted my writing to fit it.
I can imagine writing a ghost story was fun, did anything creepy happen during your time writing the novel?
No, I’m afraid not. Most of it was written in a very modern, cluttered office space inside my house with nothing spooky around. It’s actually a very difficult and intense experience to write something that slowly unsettles a person, especially on bright sunny days. However, I do remember a few times that I wrote scenes with so much tension that I wore myself out and had to go to bed early!
What do you do to wind down from your work/writing?
I don’t think I really do wind down! I love to read and watch costume dramas, but even while doing so I’m weighing up what works in the story lines and gathering inspiration. Having said that, my husband and I recently started playing board games with some close friends. That’s turned into a bit of a hobby and certainly helps to take your mind off other things.
How does it feel to publish a book with Raven Books (Bloomsbury)?
Amazing! It would have been fantastic just to be published by Bloomsbury, but being one of the first books in a new imprint is something really special. There’s a great sense of excitement and enthusiasm. Also, you can’t get much more Gothic than a raven, right?
What did you do to celebrate finishing The Silent Companions?
To be honest, there were so many drafts that I never really knew when I was finished. I’ve also been writing for a while, so completing the first draft of a manuscript is kind of a common, although still satisfying, experience. I don’t think I did anything more exciting than get McDonald’s drive thru for dinner.
I know it is a bit soon, but do you have any other upcoming projects we should know about yet?
It’s never too soon! I’m already working on edits for my next book, THE CORSET, which will be published by Raven in 2018. It tells the story of Ruth, a troubled teenage seamstress who possesses the power to injure people with the clothes she makes. But as she stands trial for murder, charitable prison visitor Dorothea begins to suspect there is something darker than the supernatural at work in Ruth’s life. Something terrible enough to change the course of Dorothea’s own future …
Have you read a book/article recently that you would recommend to the readers of this Q&A?
I recently finished The Binding Song by Elodie Harper, which I really enjoyed. It’s a claustrophobic thriller set inside a prison. The new psychologist, Janet, must discover what has caused a bout of inmate suicides. But as Janet gets closer to the truth, someone, or something, begins to follow her … I’ve also been lucky enough to secure an advanced copy of C J Tudor’s The Chalk Man. I haven’t finished it yet, but already it has wonderful touches of Stephen King.
Thank you all as always for stopping by to check out another brilliant release for 2017. This has been a superb year for books and The Silent Companions is another exciting addition to our bookshelves. I will have my review out very soon so keep an eye out for that. Please show your appreciation for Laura’s work in the comments. I am grateful to Laura for taking the time to answer my questions so thank you for that! Pick up a copy of The Silent Companions early October, you won’t regret it!