Today I’m delighted to welcome writer, feminist and flâneuse Carol Lovekin. Carol writes contemporary fiction exploring family relationships & secrets, the whole threaded with myth, fairytale, ghosts, Welsh Gothic mystery & slivers of magic.
Carols first novel, Ghostbird was published in March 2016. The book was chosen as Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops ‘Book Of The Month’ for April 2016. It was longlisted for the Guardian ‘Not the Booker’ prize 2016 and nominated for the Guardian Readers’ Book of the Year 2016.
Snow Sisters, was published on 21 September, 2017 and was selected by Books Council of Wales as their October Book of the Month. Her third and most recent novel, Wild Spinning Girls was selected as Books Council of Wales Book of the Month for March.
Carol is published by Honno, the Welsh Woman’s Press and she’s based in west Wales.
Over to Carol,
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Kate Bush’s music has been the soundtrack to my life since 1978 when I first heard Wuthering Heights. It’s almost impossible to pick one song. Pushed, I would choose Somewhere In Between, from the album, Aerial.
Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere sung by The Sixteen. A transcendent piece of music which never fails to move me.
Welsh singing is the best in the world. Suo Gân sung by James Rainbird is part of the theme music to the film, Empire of the Sun.
Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse. Her talent was enormous. Her legacy unique. Her voice remains sublime.
The Swimming Song by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. I didn’t learn to swim without being terrified until I was in my sixties. I’m not as good as I think I am but I’m ludicrously keen and everything about this song speaks to me.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Writing. Now I’ve got the hang of it, it’s the reason I get up every day.
Reading. Unlike writing, I got the hang of this when I was small and can’t imagine a world without books to read.
The radio. I have one in every room, all tuned to Radio 4.
Now I no longer have a garden, I have house plants which I treat like children.
Swearing. I’m a very sweary woman and rarely apologise for it. It’s all in the delivery.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Listen to yourself more because you know stuff.
Listen to your mum more because she does too.
Do your homework – in every sense.
Look harder and find feminism earlier.
Skip the 80s.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
Since I was published and began answering questions about myself more people know quite a bit about me. I’m no longer anonymous (my preferred state) although three books don’t make me well known. Anyway…
I’m a trained ballet dancer. Revisiting my dormant dancing past to write my third book, Wild Spinning Girls, was interesting.
I can touch my nose with my tongue. I know. Gross.
I don’t do even numbers. It’s a quirk I’ve had since I was a child.
Also, don’t do maths. Can’t add up to 11 without taking off my shoes. I’m so bad at maths I need a government health warning.
I read a random extract from Virginia Woolf’s Writing Diary every morning.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Win a book prize. An unlikely dream, but dreaming is part and parcel of being a writer.
Be someone’s favourite author.
Have one of my books turned into a movie. They’re set in Wales and I think they’d translate well to film.
Revisit Ireland, where my mother was born. I haven’t been back since I was a child.
Smash the patriarchy.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today Carol. I loved listening to Allegri’s Miserere, it’s a beautiful piece of music. Glad to see books on your couldn’t live without list, and delighted as another sweary woman to see that on your list too. Great advice to your younger self, I think we could all benefit from listening to our inner selves at any age. I’m hoping that after reading this week’s Five someone will say you’re their favourite author and we can tick that off the list for you. The other’s I hope will follow. Sadly, smashing the patriarchy seems destined to take a bit longer based on the progress so far.
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Wild Spinning Girls
If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died,
Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.
And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it.
Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left…
It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlady, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida, and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.
Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.
Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations, until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.
Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…
‘Someone needs to be forgiven, someone needs to forgive.’
GHOSTBIRD concerns Cadi Hopkins, a fourteen-year-old girl who lives in a remote village in Wales. Cadi wants answers her emotionally distant mother, Violet refuses to disclose. Lonely and surrounded by ambiguity, she is determined to uncover the mystery surrounding the deaths of her father and her little sister, both of whom died before she was born.
Caught in the middle is Cadi’s aunt, Lili the witch woman.
In a world of hauntings and magic, in a small village where it rains every day throughout the month of August, the secrets and the ghosts are finally waking up, and none of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.
If Lili won’t use her magic to make Violet talk, can Cadi conjure some of her own?