Guest Author: Eliza Graham

Guest Author: Eliza Graham

Some of you may have noticed that I am having a *leetle* trouble stopping by my own blog these days, and if you haven’t noticed, I am wounded to the quick, let me tell you.

I think that I am, just, you know, down, or maybe the correct word is sad, and mostly I ignore it but for some reason whenever I sit down to blog there it is. And I go away.

Holidays are like sponges. They absorb quite a lot. And then when you come back around the next year and give that holiday a little squeeze, why out comes everything it picked up last year. I guess that is the way it is.

Anyway, FORTUNATELY I am in this wonderful group of authors full of fascinating and scintillating people, and so I can regularly have them on to tell you a little bit more about their fascinating books and selves, while I lurk in the dumps.

TODAY we have an INTERNATIONAL GUEST STAR. Eliza Graham is hopping over the Pond with the most gracious of skips to tell us about her book PLAYING WITH THE MOON, which has been nominated as a World Book Day Hidden Gem!!! (And if you want, you can go vote for it right now!)

Although really probably you should READ IT FIRST because it sounds quite fascinating.

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Here’s the copy:

Shattered by a recent bereavement, Minna and her husband Tom retreat to an isolated village on the Dorset coast, seeking the solitude that will allow them to cope with their loss and rebuild their foundering marriage. Walking on the beach one day, they unearth a human skeleton. It is a discovery which will plunge Minna into a mystery which will consume her for months to come.

The remains are soon identified as those of Private Lew Campbell, a black American GI who, it seems, drowned during a wartime exercise in the area half a century before. Growing increasingly preoccupied with the dead soldier’s fate, Minna befriends a melancholy elderly woman, Felix, who lived in the village during the war. As Minna coaxes Felix’s story from her, it becomes clear that the old woman knows more about the dead GI than she initially let on.

Reviews and press coverage for Playing with the Moon

Historical Novels Review
Eliza Graham tells a powerful tale and her characters are well drawn and believable. I enjoyed this book very much.

World Book Day website
…a penetrating reflection on the historical events that have forged our sense of British cultural identity. It is also skilfully constructed, deeply humane, and full of fascinating, flawed, characters.

The (London) Times
A chance visit to a depopulated Dorset village was the inspiration for Playing With The Moon, the first novel by a former Towers Perrin staffer turned freelance. Eliza Graham, who has worked for the actuaries for 13 years, spent the past five of these trying to find a publisher for the novel, which is about a 1940s inter-racial love affair and the eventual murder of a black GI. The village is Tyneham on the Isle of Purbeck, emptied in 1943 to be used in the preparations for the D-Day landings. “It was poignant, walking around the village,” Graham tells me. “It was as if they just stepped out for a day or two – 60 years ago.”
The Oxford Times
She seems to have hit on a winning formula, interweaving an evocative historical tale with a modern story of relationships.

Bookbag
I loved this book. It had me completely hooked before I’d read the first page and I didn’t put it down until I’d read the last. The characters are compelling.

About the author
Eliza Graham worked in marketing and PR before taking up writing nearly six years ago. She lives near Oxford, England, with her husband, two children and small menagerie. Playing with the Moon is her first novel. In Sept. 2008 Macmillan will publish her second book: Restitution about a German family with conflicting loyalties and a troubled history facing the terror of the Red Army invasion in 1945.

Of course we had to have an interview!

Laura: We have with us today Eliza Graham, whom we will be introducing in Jean-Pierre Jeunet portrait style because that way we can Blame It All on Amélie Poulain.

Eliza: J’aime winter clothes from the British brand Toast, sitting by the fire with friends and wine, and soaking in the bath with a good book.

Laura: Okay, I used to be more of a leather pants person, but the picture on the Toast home page convinces me the brand would work for me, too. So if you could change one thing that you have done in your writing/publishing history, what would it be? Or, another way of thinking about this, if you could warn unpublished authors away from any one error, what would it be?

Eliza: At one time in my career (or non- or pre-career) I stayed for too long with an agent when it really was clear that things weren’t working for either of us. I should have listened to my friends a long time before I did–they told me very strongly to cut ties.

Laura: Isn’t it hard dealing with those kinds of decisions? What about when you need to take a break from writing, clear your head, and get the creative juices flowing again, whether for half an hour in the day or for longer periods, what do you do?

Eliza: A good long walk does it for me. (Laura’s Note: I hope you are imagining Eliza walking in the picture on that Toast website at this moment. That’s what I am doing.) My dogs are getting elderly now and can’t manage lengthly hikes but even just half an hour really does get my juices flowing again. Sometimes even a ten-minute drive to collect a child from somewhere or other helps, too.

Laura: I draw very strongly on my own experiences for my writing, sometimes in large ways (a memoir!), sometimes in ways that are very subtle. What is an experience of yours that fed into this book?

Eliza: Interestingly, I’ve noticed that very little of my own experience has made it into my books. Perhaps because I’ve had a fairly settled kind of life (touch wood) I’ve searched outside for inspiration, finding that I’m drawn to periods of turbulence and upheaval such as war. Although I note that Felix in PLAYING WITH THE MOON is like me in not having enjoyed school and hating hockey!

Laura: See, hockey was really not discussed as a sport where I grew up. But I hated playing dodgeball and kickball, if that counts. I’m dreading when my daughter has to go through grade school ideas of fun recreational activities.

May your life stay settled, Eliza! And thanks for coming on!

1 Comment
  • Oh Laura, I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling sad. I loved your description of Holidays as emotional sponges. I’ve been feeling much the same way myself. This time of year, all my sad thoughts and feelings seem magnified, and I can’t even escape into a good novel fix since I’m buried in grading less-than-stellar student essays:( Take care, have some chocolate, and know that your cyber friends are thinking of you!

    December 12, 2007 at 5:55 pm

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