Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lexa Wright's Dating Sights: An Interview and Giveaway with Author Rebeccah Giltrow

We all want to find 'the one', but what happens when you find 'the two'?

Alexana (Lexa) Wright, a writer and procrastinator, is single. She's 30 years old and lives in her deceased grandmother's bungalow with her 3 year old shih-tzu, Beryl. Ideally, Lexa would like to meet a man by chance, like people do in films, but, unable to find love in real life, she takes the advice of her best friend, Louise, and signs up to an internet dating site.

Gregory, a handsome gym manager, enters her life via her e-mail inbox, and the morning after their first date Lexa meets William, an unemployed artist who, out of the blue, falls head over heels for her. Dating them both simultaneously, she's faced with a tough decision. Who does she choose: The man that she met on the internet, or the man she met by chance, like people do in films?

She distracts herself by cleaning out her bathroom cupboard and mowing her jungle-like lawn. While doing these things she comes across photos, letters, newspaper cuttings, and her grandmother's diary. Upon reading these items, Lexa discovers information about her grandmother's youth that no-one in the family knew about. She uses this as inspiration to write her first novel.


Our special guest author joins us today from England, and we're pleased she chose to share a bit about herself with us. Please join me in welcoming Rebeccah! 

An Interview with Rebeccah Giltrow

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Rebeccah Giltrow, and I live in a small town called Lowestoft, on the east coast of England.  I’ve been a writer for a while, but only started to take the craft seriously after I took a creative writing module at university.  I’d always enjoyed writing as a hobby, but after studying it I realised that I was quite good at it and that other people enjoyed what I wrote.  It also made me recognise that I had so much more to learn about writing.  So since then I’ve been writing and studying and writing some more.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
If you’re a writer, all of your hobbies lead back to writing somehow!  But when I need a break away from staring at my computer screen I like to read (but as a writer, that should be a given), bake, knit, go to the gym, swim, attempt Pilates (more often than not I end up as a heap on the floor), walk my dog down the beach, filling my ears with music, filling my eyes with horror films, and shopping (but I tend to end up buying books, so that’s not really a ‘non-writing pastime’).

If you had to sum up Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights in 30 or fewer words, what would you say?
Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights is a real life rom com, which tackles the question; is it possible to meet the love of your life by chance, like people do in films?

Do you have a favorite character in Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights? Who and why?
Lexa has a dog called Beryl.  Beryl is inspired by my own dog, Lily.  While Lexa is having to deal with various problems in her life, Beryl spends her time sleeping, eating, and playing.  Sometimes I’d love to swap lives with Beryl, so that I don’t have to face the drama of a human’s everyday life!

Without giving it all away, please tell us a little something about how Lexa is going to get through her biggest challenge.
Lexa’s best friend, Louise, is her rock.  Louise can be a bit scatty and a bit annoying (actually, she can be really irritating), but when it comes to Lexa she’s always there to offer advice or support.  They’ve been friends since primary school, and their relationship is extremely strong; they’re like sisters.  So whenever Lexa comes up against a challenge, Louise is always there to help.  I think we could all do with a Louise in our lives.

What is your favorite scene in Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights?
Lexa is a procrastinator, and will do absolutely anything in order to avoid doing what she should be doing.  One day, she looks out into her back garden and realises that it’s turned into a jungle.  She knows she can’t let the grass grow any longer so she hunts around in her garden shed for her lawnmower.  While moving various things, she happens to come across a spider.  Lexa is terrified of spiders (as am I) and she reacts as I would when this spider decides to make home in her hair.  She panics and believes that the spider has crawled into her ear and is laying babies (I remember watching an item on the news when I was a child about a man who had a spider in his ear, and it laid babies.  The doctor took the spider out, and the man kept it in a jar as a reminder).  Lexa behaves like a crazy woman, shaking her head, poking cotton buds into her ear to try and scoop it out, covering her ears to try and suffocate it, and ripping her clothes off only to watch the spider crawl out of her trouser leg and run through a crack in her bathroom wall.  Even as I was writing that scene, I found myself scratching my head and my ear, shuddering at the thought that a spider could be there, somewhere!

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
I don’t like complete silence.  I find it a bit eerie and distracting.  When it’s too quiet, all other sounds are magnified, like the wind blowing outside or a creaky floorboard (I live in quite an old house, so there are a lot of creaky floorboards!).  I do like to be away from people who want to have conversations, so I tend to hide away in a room with my dog and my computer, and then I can focus on the job in hand.  I always have to have music playing.  I can zone out, but like I said earlier I don’t like complete silence.  So I drift off into my ‘writer’ world accompanied by my eclectic soundtrack.

What draws you to a book? Why do you pick it up off the shelf?
I’m afraid I am one of those terrible people who judges a book by its cover.  When I’m in a book shop or library and I see an interesting or unusual cover, I just have to pick it up.  It

Did you have a favorite character or hero as a child?
My favourite childhood character (and one of my favourite all time characters) is Matilda Wormwood, from Roald Dahl’s Matilda.  I grew up in a household of books; my parents put a book in my hand pretty much as soon as I made my entrance into this world.  I couldn’t imagine a house without books everywhere.  And then I read about Matilda, whose parents and brother didn’t read; they just watched television all day.  Even as a child I was shocked by this.  Then Matilda discovers the wonders of the library, and is able to read as many books as she likes.  I’m always going to love a character who loves reading.

What was the last book that made you cry?
I’ve only ever cried while reading one book (I’m not heartless, I promise!), and that was The Book Theif by Markus Zusak.  I won’t say which bit made me cry, but I will say that it is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I would recommend it to anyone.

What was the last book you just couldn’t finish?
I attend a book group at my local library, and we meet once a month.  This month our book is Ancestral Vices by Tom Sharpe.  I don’t know what it is about the book but I just can’t get into it.  I don’t really understand what it’s about, or what’s going on, or who any of the characters are.  There’s no blurb on the back or inside the cover, so I looked it up on the internet, and found reviews from people saying it’s one of the funniest books they’ve ever read.  I must be reading a different book because nothing funny has happened yet, and I’m on page 100 and something!  I’m not going to be able to finish it by our next meeting, and I don’t really want to finish it.  I feel like I’m wasting my life every time I read a page of it!

Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?
I finished writing my book, Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights, I sent excerpts off to literary agencies, but kept on receiving rejection after rejection.  I know that all authors experience being rejected by agents/publishers, and it is a compulsory rite of passage for anyone who wants to be published, but I’m quite an impatient person and wanted my work to be out there in the world.  I found a site (Createspace) that will allow you to put together your book, with a front cover, at no cost.  You basically upload your manuscript and design a cover using their free services.  The site checks everything for formatting, and once that’s all done, you can publish it.  It then gets sold through Amazon, and you have the option of turning it into an e-book for Kindle.  You only have to pay for the final copy of the book (if you want to buy yourself a copy).

As with all self-publishing, there’s no quality control.  It’s up to the author to ensure the text is edited and proofread, as the people at Createspace only check formatting, not content (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.).  And once the book has been published, the author has to do all of the promotion.  Ideally, I would love to be traditionally published, but I’ve found a fairly easy route into the world of (self)publishing, and I intend to carry on this way until I manage to get snapped up by a traditional publishing house!

Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?
I do believe it exists.  I’ve been told by other writers that it doesn’t, but I’ve experienced it, so it must exist, right?  If you’ve never experienced it, I don’t know how to explain it to you.  It does just feel like you’ve run into a barrier that you can’t get over.  I’ve been writing and writing and then the words seem to fall out of my head.  I can’t seem to get my point across, or I just have no idea where the story is going to go next.  It’s almost like I’ve lost my voice or I’m speechless, and all that comes out is “murh”.  Sometimes I just need to take a short break to refresh my mind and body, other times I need to completely step away from my work and leave it to rest for a while before writing again.  And then there have been the times where I have written about writer’s block, and it’s magically disappeared!

What are three things people may not know about you?
-When I was younger, I wanted to be a ballet dancer.  Unfortunately, as I grew up, my toes grew extra long and my dance teacher said that it would be difficult for me to dance in pointe shoes.
-I have a crush on Heston Blumenthal.
-I can write backwards.

Best Christmas present?
When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I got a blue and red indoor tent for Christmas.  It was great; I herded all of my toys inside, as well as my 6ft tall dad, and we’d spend our days drawing or writing or reading.

Favorite author?
Roald Dahl.

Favorite smell?
Fish and chips at the seaside.

Favorite movie?
Labyrinth starring David Bowie.

Favorite dish?
Sushi.

Favorite color?
Purple, or red.

Favorite quote?
“So many books, so little time.” ~ Frank Zappa

Book Giveaway
Rebeccah will be giving away a copy of Lexa Wright's Dating Sights to one lucky commenter. The winner will be drawn on 4/30/13

Meet the Author
Rebeccah is a writer by trade, with skills of varying degrees in knitting, baking, EFL teaching, performing, photography, dog-walking, sleeping, painting, and procrastinating. She always carries a red pen with her, in order to correct punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors that she finds on her travels.

Rebeccah has been a writer since she can remember, but after graduating from University of Essex in 2005 with B.A. (hons) English Language & Literature, and again in 2008 with M.A. Literature: Creative Writing, she decided to take the craft more seriously. She honed her writing skills and became an avid follower of the Oulipo, as she enjoys experimenting with language and the written word.

Since graduating from university, Rebeccah has written and published a collection of twelve Christmas stories, 12 Twelve Days of Krista May Rose, and a full length novel, Lexa Wright's Dating Sights. Excerpts of these can be found on her blog.

As well as writing, she regularly performs at the New Words, Fresh Voices open mic night at The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, where she reads her poetry and short stories.

Rebeccah is an active member of Lowestoft Library Book Group and Lowestoft Library Writing Group. She has been attending these groups since 2009, and in September 2012 she set up a writing group for teen writers (aged between 11 and 17) at Lowestoft Library.

When she's not writing, Rebeccah enjoys producing visual art, and occasionally takes photos, paints pictures, and makes collages. Her work has been shown at The Halesworth Gallery, The Ferini Gallery, and Lowestoft Arts Centre.



Enjoy an Excerpt



The clock on the wall in my study isn’t working.  It’s not that it’s broken; it just needs a new battery but I can’t be bothered to change it.  I’ll do it later.  According to this clock it’s nearly ten past eleven.  I watch the motionless hands as I start up my computer.  The familiar dah-dah-dah-dah tune belts out of my speakers.  I sing along.  The screen flickers and wakes up.  A drowsy eye opens to reveal a full screen desktop background of a photo montage of Beryl, my shih-tzu, at various stages throughout her three human year, twenty-one dog year, life.  The real life Beryl pads her way across the carpet and jumps onto the armchair by the window.  She pushes the cushion off with a shove of a paw and makes herself comfortable.  She knows she’s going to be there a while.  She scratches and claws at the material before pulling the hand-knitted throw from the head rest and wrapping it around her freshly coiffured body.  She stretches, yawns and falls asleep.
I turn back to my computer.  I open the document that I started yesterday, imaginatively entitled book.  It is here that I will write my masterpiece.  It’s going to be a semi-fictional account of my life.  I haven’t done many exciting things in my thirty human year, two-hundred-and-ten dog year life, but I’ve always been told to write what I know, and what do I know better than my own life?  A little bit of exaggeration here and there won’t hurt.  I mean, that’s what autobiographies are anyway, right?  I’ll just omit all the school bullying, adult heartbreak, and general death, destruction and decay, and replace it with, well, something nicer.
The page is blank.  The erect, black curser winks at me, flirtatiously.  ‘Come on, write something, make me … dirty,’ it says.  It licks its lips and winks some more.  I pull my hair back into a ponytail, flex my fingers and hover them over the keyboard. 
I can’t write anything until I’ve chosen the font.  The font is very important when writing a book.  It can’t be too silly but it also can’t be too severe.  I scroll down the list, pondering the swirly, ye olde Englishe, Shakespearian-looking font.  It’s so pretty.  I type my name.  I can’t read it.  I enlarge it.  I still can’t read it, and I know what’s written there.  I reluctantly return to the pre-set font that appears whenever you open a document.  I suppose that will do for now.
Page numbers.  A book isn’t a book without page numbers.  I click the tab to insert page numbers.  Like with the fonts, there is so much choice; too much if you ask me.  Do I want the numbers on the left, in the middle or on the right?  Do I want them as digits or as words?  Do I want them at the top or the bottom of the page?  Bold?  Bracketed?  Underlined?  Under dots?  I settle on a clear Page 1 of 1, at the bottom, in the middle of the page. 
I glance at the clock.  It’s still nearly ten past eleven.  Beryl is quietly snoring.  I open facebase and scroll through the list of banal status updates.  Jenny is bored.  Nicola wants a bacon sandwich.  Chris loves Lisa lots and lots and lots and lots and lots.  Bleurgh.  Marie is off to the dentist this afternoon.  Since when have I ever cared about these things?  Social networking for the anti-social.  I scroll down.  Max dont no wot 2 do wiv myself 2day so board.  Why do I stay friends with these people?  Bastian kommer aldrig att få sin avhandling klar.  I should really learn Swedish.  Torsten braucht einen Urlaub.  And German.  I’ll do that later.
I check my e-mails before I start seriously writing.  I don’t want to be distracted by those later on, when I’m in the zone.  I have one-thousand-one-hundred-and-forty-two unread messages.  It’s not that I’m super popular; it’s that I never read them and I never delete them.  I scroll down the first page of e-mails and quickly scan the subject lines.  It’s your last chance to grab a bargain in various clothes shop sales.  You really should treat yourself to something from your bookshop wishlist; you know you want to.  I do want to but I could spend hours window shopping and I’d never get anything done.  Bank Holiday gig listings in your area.  Hello friend.  I know it’s going to be spam but I click on it anyway.  Considering that I’m a white, English woman, from an ancestral line of white, English people, I apparently have an extremely rich Nigerian relative who has just recently died.  I guess we must be related through marriage.  I am their last living relative and I am set to inherit one million dollars (USD $1,000,000).  That’s right, one million dollars (USD $1,000,000).  My rich Nigerian relative’s lawyer has searched the whole world and has managed to locate me and e-mail me with this tragic but also awesome news.  All I have to do in order to receive the money is send him my name, address, age, date of birth, bank details, shoe size, favourite brand of shampoo and the number of marshmallows I can fit in my mouth at once, and he will transfer the funds into my bank account immediately.  Seems legitimate.  I click the red X in the corner of the e-mail.  It disappears.  One down, one-thousand-one-hundred-and-forty-one to go.
 

6 comments:

  1. Welcome to the blog today Rebeccah!

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  2. This sounds like a delightful book. Thanks for the post and for having the giveaway.

    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  3. Lexa is definitely a bigger procrastinator than I ever thought of being! Enjoyed the interview. Congratulations on releasing "Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights" and for going Indie. I've read some wonderful books by Indie authors.

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  4. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR BOOK AND THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY! SHELLEY S.calicolady60@hotmail.com

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  5. The book sounds really good!! Thank you so much for the giveaway.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

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  6. Just imagine finding - the two, but what a problem to have.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete