Today I’m delighted to introduce author Mary Grand. I’ve known Mary since I reviewed her second book Hidden Chapters (you can read my review in the book link). Mary writes with heart, about family dramas, problems and relationships, and this post serves as a reminder to me, to catch up with her other books (which like so many, are sitting here waiting to be read). Hopefully you’ll be encouraged to take a look at her books and be a bit quicker about reading them, than I’ve been.
I was born in Cardiff and retain a deep love for my Welsh roots. After teaching Deaf children I moved to the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I now write full time. I have two grown up children.
My novels can be described as dark family dramas. My aim is also to write accessible, gripping stories, so there are strong elements of mystery and secrets to be uncovered. I do extensive research for my novels as within the novels I explore difficult subjects such as addiction and abusive relationships
‘Free to Be Tegan’ was my debut novel and was inspired by my experiences growing up in a religious sect. The second novel ‘Hidden Chapters’ is about motherhood adoption and family secrets. I set my third novel on Mottistone Down here on the Isle of Wight, and the title of that is ‘Behind the Smile’. I have also published two books of short stories ‘Catching the Light’ and ‘Making Changes’. ‘Catching the Light’ is also available as an audiobook. I am working on novel number four, again set here on the Isle of Wight. To date I am a self-published, Indie author.
So over to Mary:-
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why.
At Seventeen by Janis Ian. Janis Ian said this song was terrifying write; she was completely honest and spoke from her heart. I am so grateful she found the courage to write it. This song puts into words the insecurities I experienced in my teens and made me feel I wasn’t alone.
Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. I went to college having had a very sheltered upbringing in a religious sect. I had never been to a disco and so dancing on a Friday night to Stayin’ Alive had to be one of my highlights…of course with all the John Travolta moves!
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves sung by Annie Lennox. In my late twenties and early thirties, I slowly grew in confidence. Dancing to this in my bedsit was just the best.
Thank You For The Days by Kirsty MacColl. I am sixty years this year, it sounds a lot older than I feel. My children are now in their twenties and I treasure every memory of them growing up. I feel very grateful that we all get on well, and still enjoy being together.
Look What They’ve Done To My Song by Melanie. There is a line in this song about longing to find a good book to live in. I didn’t come to writing until my fifties but the fact this song and this line in particular has been with me since my early teens, may explain why, now I am writing, I finally feel like I have come home.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Pepper, my cocker spaniel. Working days start with a walk together, breakfast, and then he sits next to me while I write. When he thinks it’s time for a break, he puts his head on my laptop (I have learned to save my work frequently!).
Walks on Mottistone downs. Whatever the weather, most mornings I am lucky enough to walk up there with Pepper. I am usually thinking about writing or what I shall eat for lunch.
Coffee. Many cups a day.
Reading. I read different books depending on my mood. Recently I have been reading a lot of very good and gripping psychological dramas but felt in need of a brief change. So, at the moment, I am reading a very funny book by James Acaster which I kept embarrassingly laughing out loud to on the plane.
Television. I enjoy crime series like Vera and Happy Valley, also psychological dramas like Doctor Foster and Killing Eve. I also love to laugh and enjoy programmes like Veep, Modern Family, and Outnumbered.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
No one has the right to bully and frighten you.
Being chatty, laughing loudly and having opinions is fine.
It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok not be the best.
Stop worrying all the time about how you look.
Learn to say no.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Cardiff Castle (my uncle was a gatekeeper) and I used to play hide and seek in the gold room on rainy days.
When I taught in London, I lived in a council flat that was broken in to. The council put up a thin wooden plank for a door which stayed there for weeks, oh the things you don’t tell you parents in your early twenties!
I taught Deaf children and have passed my initial exams in British Sign Language.
I saw a therapist for help with my anxiety and hypervigilance.
My father had tea with Agatha Christie. I owned about thirty of her books, gave them away and have now replaced them.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
Go on a tutored writing retreat.
Go to a small but exclusive hotel in France for Christmas.
Go to New Zealand.
Thanks so much for joining us today Mary, it was lovely to find out more about you. Pepper looks adorable and walking on the downs sounds idyllic. I’m envious of your connection to Cardiff Castle, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit because of its William Burges interiors I’m sure it’s got a fabulous history too, but that decor – wow. I suspect your Agatha Christie story is hard to beat as well. I really hope you get to achieve some (if not all of your bucket list) but with luck you’ll never need the self-defence.
Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone.
Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village?
Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?
Hidden Chapters (my review here)
Catrin survives by denying her past. Her marriage is in crisis. She has devoted herself for eighteen years to bringing up her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. She is unaware that her life is about to be shattered by the appearance of the woman she has been told is dead, Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth. Catrin is devastated. How will Bethan react? Why has Elizabeth hidden away all these years?
Slowly and painfully, Catrin is forced to examine the web of lies and secrets from her past, the unexplained death of her ‘golden brother’, the truths about her alcoholic mother and the relationships she has now with her father and husband.
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives.
Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and from the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.
Guilt and shadows from her past haunt her in flashbacks, panic attacks and a fear of the dark. However she also finds a world full of colour, love and happiness she has never known before. The wild beauty of the hills, the people she meets and the secrets slowly revealed by the cottage all provide an intriguing backdrop to Tegan’s drama.
This is the uplifting story of her journey from life in a cult to find herself and flourish in a world she has been taught to fear and abhor.
Four stories, four women making changes that will alter their lives for ever.
Give and Take
Days before her wedding, hairdresser Lisa has a huge row with her fiancé. He tells her she is over-reacting, so why does Lisa feel devastated? As Lisa listens to the two sides of a couple’s marital problems in the salon, she begins to find answers.
Looking at the remains of the fire in her beautiful new kitchen, Ruth is very frightened and confused. Since moving with her new husband to Worthing nothing in her life makes sense. What is happening to her?
The Right Shoes
After a devastating family tragedy, Emma moved with her minister husband and daughter to the run down seaside resort of Ruxton. She refuses to talk to anyone about it: no-one will understand. Can a new friendship and a new puppy help Emma and her family heal and make a fresh start?
Holly’s Perfect Christmas?
Holly plans her dream Christmas at an idyllic cottage in Snowdonia. However her partner’s difficult teenage daughter, ex-wife and new husband join them and then the spiteful anonymous texts start to arrive. Can Holly still have her perfect Christmas?
Catching the Light
Four women, four compelling short stories.
The New Arrival
Rachel has moved to the Isle of Wight determined to become invisible. Hiding a shameful secret she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ However, unexpectedly, into her life comes a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie the cocker spaniel. Everything is about to change.
Catching the Light
Erin thinks she has found her fairytale prince. However, the honeymoon in a remote cottage in Wales shatters the dream. For the first time in her life Erin discovers the mystical world of fairies.
Megan works in a Theatre for the Deaf. She is Deaf. Her language is British Sign Language. One evening she meets John, who is hearing, and two worlds collide. This is the story of the struggles, joys and tears of their remarkable relationship.
This was to be the most important day of Kay’s life. However her mission to be free from years of guilt reveals so much more than she could possibly imagine.
Also included is an excerpt from the author’s full length novel ‘Free to Be Tegan’.
Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.
You can keep in touch with Mary via social media and her website.