Q & A WITH AUTHOR GILL FERNANDEZ
Believe it or not, I started my writing career on a machine like the one in this image. That's how old I am!
Thankfully having a lot of years under the belt is an advantage for a writer. At least that is what I tell myself.
Q: Do you only write romance?
A: Mostly, now. Although over the years I have tried most things from children's books to erotica. I actually did adult comic strips at one time, I mean for grown-ups, not that it was ultra sexy! A wonderful way to learn how to get the message over with a minimal number of words.
Q: Would you say your books are character or plot-driven?
A: Both are important but primarily I would say character. A character's behaviour drives the plot. So they are interlinked but I for one believe character comes first.
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Anywhere and everywhere.
Q: Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
A: Sometimes, but usually it is more a crisis of confidence rather than a lack of ideas. There are days when I sit down in front of a section of text and wonder what idiot wrote it! Then, depressingly, I realise it was me.
Q: Have you ever done anything other than writing?
A: Oh, yes. My first career was in the theatre. I acted in school tour productions, weekly and fortnightly repertory, a few pantomimes, and a few other things. Then I finally woke up and realised it really wasn't what I wanted to do. I still love the theatre, though.
Q: What was the first thing you ever had published?
A: A short story for a D.C. Thompson magazine called Red Letter, long since gone. It was a slice of life, semi-romantic story, as far as I can remember.
Q: Why did you settle on romance fiction as your genre?
A: I sort of fell into it. I had fancied doing thrillers and was a great fan of Wilbur Smith among others, but I couldn't get properly started, everything I tried lacked excitement and I think I was a bit scared of killing people. Strangely, that fear doesn't seem to be with me now. In one WIP (work in progress) I do actually have the hero kill someone. Anyway, back to the past and getting into romance writing. It was my father who had seen the Boon brothers from Mills & Boon on the Terry Wogan chat show (that really dates this). Anyway, they were inviting submissions and dad said I should have a go. I had at that stage never read a genre romance although I had read the classic love stories, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, etc. So I headed off to the library and got myself an armful of M&B romances, read them rapidly, repeated the exercise several times more, and then wrote my first genre romance... it wasn't accepted but it did get close and I knew I had found my slot. Although I would never have fitted into the rigid frame of a Mills & Boon - I'm too fond of pushing the barriers and breaking the rules.
Q: Does that mean readers can expect something different from you?
A: I hope so. Don't get me wrong, my books are love stories and so far they've all been HEA (happy ever after endings) but I like to think they have some edge and realism woven into the fairy tale and you never know, I might one day pluck up the courage to not have the HEA.
Q: How do you mean?
A: Let's take the leading man in "Love Is" as an example - without giving you too much of a plot spoiler. Love Is, due to be released in 2022. Has a troubled hero, Owen Kingsley is broken. I know the troubled hero is a well-used trope in romantic fiction, but this hero really is at the end of the line. So many bad things have happened to him he is on the verge of suicide at the beginning of the story, and if anyone reads the prequel, Millie & George, they will know that Owen, although intrinsically good, does not always do the right thing.
Q: So it is a tale of redemption through love?
A: Yes, among other things. It also explores other forms of love. Like love, a father has for his child, the love between friends and siblings - even the twisted emotions of someone incapable of love.
Q: Do you read a lot?
A: Not as much as I would like... I doubt if I will live long enough to read all the books in my Kindle library. I think I've read a bit over thirty books so far this year.
Q: What sort of books do you enjoy?
A: My reading tastes are varied. Normal People by Sally Rooney - brilliant. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks - couldn't put it down. . A couple of years ago I worked my way through all of the titles from Iain Banks. Worked is not the right word, reading Iain Banks is a real pleasure. I've read most of David Nicholls's books. He caused me to shout at the book in frustration and despair when the hero wasn't doing what I wanted. That shows how involved I was with the character. I also enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine by Gail Honeyman. But it doesn't stop there - on average I read about twenty-five books a year. Maybe I'll add a recommended books page to the site at some point.
Q: Do you only read fiction?
A: No way! Non-fiction is essential for lots of reasons, not least research. I have recently started Why Sex Doesn't Matter by Olivia Fane. Before that I read First You Write a Sentence, a deep dive into writing sentences. Very inspirational.
Q: What do you find most difficult about writing?
Apart from the days when my confidence ebbs away, I think the most difficult things are writing the blurb, the escalator line, and the synopsis. Trying to encapsulate seventy thousand words or more into a single sentence or a single page synopsis is a real challenge. The second most difficult thing is deciding on a title. I'm tearing my hair out at the moment over that.
Q: If people have other questions, is there a way for them to ask you?
A: Yes, just send a message through social media - links at the top and bottom of each page or for those who don't like social media you can send me a message from the contact page on this website and I will reply. Though my answer might not be immediate. With five titles being worked on at the moment my time is limited.