Book Title: Kilingiri
Author: Janna Gray
Release Date: May 21st 2013
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Saga, Saga
Publisher: GMTA Publishing, LLC
Presented by: As You Wish Tours
MY INTERVIEW WITH JANNA GRAY
TH: Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?
JG: I was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and educated at convent schools in Kodaikanal, South India and Matlock Derbyshire before training to become a teacher in London. My husband and I have lived and worked in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand and are currently in Dubai, UAE. I’ve always loved writing – I had to really, as at boarding school I was expected to write home every week (the letters were edited for whinges about the nuns and the food!) and as I grew older, before the advent of email and Skype, I continued to keep in touch with family and friends via letters. I kept diaries and wrote short stories to entertain my younger sisters so progressing to writing a book seemed like a pretty good idea!
TH: What is the genre in which you write?
JG: I write romantic sagas. Kilingiri covers two continents and thirty years.
TH: Have you published or written any other works?
JG: When in I lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, I wrote articles on pretty much anything and everything for newspapers and magazines. In addition, I was the Year Book editor for NIST, a wonderful IB school in Bangkok, Thailand where I worked for many years.
TH: Name your top three favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.
JG: Nina, Cassie and Midge are my favourite characters. When we first meet Nina from ‘Kilingiri’ in the 60s, she is young, pregnant and unmarried and naïve, facing the consequences of some pretty bad errors of judgement. But she has the resilience of youth; she is great company, intelligent and loving and refuses to accept the obstacles that stand in the way of finding and keeping love. When troubles strike she goes under for a while, as we all do, but then she pulls herself up and gets on with life. She is feisty and can be bloody-minded, she is loyal, a devoted single mum and a loving daughter and friend. She learns to accept there are things she cannot change so she works around them. She also understands the healing power of forgiveness and importance of letting go of the negative aspects of life to make room for the positive.
Cassie from ‘Taprobane’ lives an idyllic life in Ceylon but learns that her paradise contains snakes. She rises above the horrendous effect of spousal abuse and just when we think she has found love and happiness it is snatched away from her. Cassie goes on to raise her daughter alone and takes on the responsibility of another child who has been abandoned by her mother. She is a good, strong woman but like so many of us she is not perfect and she too understands the healing power of forgiveness without becoming a doormat. I hope readers will meet Cassie soon.
Midge and I are getting to know each other through the pages of ‘The Scarlet Thread’, but as her character is still developing in my mind, I can’t say too much about her other than she is barely sixteen at the start of the story, has no relationship with her step mother but is loved dearly by the servants at her family’s home in Hong Kong. I like her already. Despite her learning difficulties, she is strong, adventurous, has a sense of humour and rolls with the punches. Without giving too much away, her life and the relationships she forges impact greatly on the lives of others.
TH: What projects are you currently working on?
JG: Taprobane is in the capable hands of four lovely pre-readers and a wonderful editor with an eagle eye. This has given me time to get on with planning and researching facts for ‘The Scarlet Thread’ which is based in Hong Kong between 1978 and the handover to China in 1999. I’ve knocked out three chapters in Midge’s voice … a new approach for me so I have to focus! I hope it works as I have become rather fond of her!
TH: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
JG: I’ve had two potentially soul-destroying criticisms. One I ignored as it was plain nasty … along the lines of don’t throw this on the rubbish heap yet, there are some salvageable sections. The other was to go back to the manuscript and cut out all the extraneous crap. I was hugely taken aback as I loved every word I’d written (!) but I did what the tough-as-old-boots editor suggested and the result is Kilingiri as she is today, a much better read! And with the blessed gift of hindsight, the extraneous stuff really was crap!
Choosing the best compliment is not easy as I’ve been lucky to have some fabulous reviews but this one ticks pretty much all the boxes! ‘Janna Gray’s Kilingiri was a phenomenal read that tantalizes you with the scenery but really comes through with the characters and the story. You won’t want to miss this book, but be ready to want to travel to the far corners of the world that Janna describes so eloquently.’
TH: What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
JG: Prepare, research, and write from the heart. You don’t have to restrict your writing to what you know about as I’m sure no author is best buddies with a gang of vampires, but nevertheless inhabit the world you’ve created until it becomes second nature to you and thus a believable realm for your readers.
Edit, edit edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, and edit again.
And don’t give up.
TH: What’s a cool fact about you that you’ll share with us?
JG: I once sailed an Enterprise dinghy up a ramp and in to the bar of a yacht club in Ceylon. My good friend Richard who was with me in the dinghy was horrified. But not as horrified as our fathers who were faced with a rather large bill for the repair of a part of the bar, several bar stools and the dinghy. Although Richard mentioned that episode and a couple of others at my wedding, we are still great friends.
1968, Srinagar, Kashmir and Nina is devastated by the death of her new-born baby girl. Sister Angela and Father Michael at the mission hospital step in to nurse Nina back to health but when the friendship between Nina and Father Michael turns to love, Michael makes a decision which will resonate through the years.
It is 1981 and in Kinsale, Ireland, Nina, devoted to her son Joshua, lives a loveless existence, but a chance encounter changes everything. Michael is back in her life, he leaves the priesthood and happiness is within their grasp.
But when past and present collide, their whole world is turned upside down.
Only by facing the consequences of what has gone before, can Nina and Michael embrace the future.
Janna Gray guides us masterfully through this poignant story of love, loss, betrayal and hope.
Janna Gray grew up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was educated at boarding schools in Kodaikanal, South India and Derbyshire, England. She trained to be a teacher in London where she met and married her husband Simon. His job took them to Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand where she raised two sons, worked at British and International schools and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines.
Currently living in the UAE, Janna was the Senior Mistress (a title which caused much merriment among her colleagues!) and Head of Pastoral Care at Repton School before trading her marking pens and report cards for the world of writing novels. She enjoys travelling and sailing and had a love-hate relationship with exercise until she discovered the joy of Zumba where the trainers turn a blind eye to her inability to remember dance sequences. She sings in the shower and with choirs, has an allergy to golf and recently discovered the allure of oils and acrylics – a delightfully messy way to express her inner artist.
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