Review & Interview with Henriette Gyland author of The Elephant Girl

cover image

cover image

Today we’re delighted to welcome Henriette Gyland to the CTG blog. Henriette’s book The Elephant Girl is out now, published by Choc Lit. But before we quiz Henriette, let’s see what guest reader Sally Fallon thought of The Elephant Girl …

What the blurb says: “When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.

Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.

As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …”

This is a clever mix of light thriller and romance.  You are immediately drawn into Helen’s world, and the cataclysmic event that shapes her past. Clearly haunted by the fatal events of that day, she forges a new life for herself until a stranger turns up unexpectedly.  Returning to England she ends up re-connecting with her long lost family and discovering some unpleasant and shocking revelations about their business.

The story is told from different points of view and you find yourself eagerly turning the pages to follow Helen’s story, hoping she will emerge safely from the unfolding dramas that surround her.

Thoroughly recommended.

Henriette Gyland

Henriette Gyland

Sounds fabulous. So now it’s our chance to ask Henriette some questions about The Elephant Girl and her writing process. 
First off, can you tell us where you got your inspiration for writing The Elephant Girl?The book was inspired partly by a real-life horrific murder which involved a child witness, but it’s also a personal journey for me. A good friend of mine suffers from epilepsy and has been very candid about her condition, about how it affects her life and her relationships with other people, as well as occasionally her memory. In the novel the heroine is a young child when the crime takes place, and also suffers an epileptic seizure at the time. This gave me an opportunity to explore the theme of the unreliable witness. How much did she actually see, and can her interpretation be trusted? Can she even trust herself?

We’re big fans of romantic suspense here at crimethrillergirl.com, but tell me, what was it that attracted you to the genre?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Nora Roberts. I love the way her heroines are basically ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, having to overcome inner conflicts while they simultaneously have to deal with dangerous outside conflicts. Although they have to solve their own problems, learning to trust the hero and finding love help them do this. It’s the same story with my own characters – I keep them in the crucible and make them work hard before they can be rewarded with their upbeat ending. You might say I’m cruel to my characters, but you have to be cruel to be kind, as the saying goes!

If The Elephant Girl were made into a movie, which actors would you like to see playing your main characters?

Now we’re definitely entering the territory of big dreams! But dreaming is allowed, I suppose. I would love for Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) to play Helen. She has just the right degree of mettle and vulnerability to fit the character in the novel. Cillian Murphy would be great as Jason, and I’d like Imelda Staunton to play the grandmother.

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you drive right in and see where the story takes you?

I’m very much a plotter. I like to include a few twists and turns in my work, and if I don’t plot carefully, there’s a real danger that the book will end up in a right old mess. When plotting, I tend to write detailed chapter-by-chapter summaries, colour-coding the settings for the various scenes, who’s in it, a few specific words of dialogue, and what will be revealed.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

I write best in the mornings between 10am and 1pm, preferably using pencil and paper because there’s less friction with pencils (better for my wrist). I then type up what I’ve written as soon as I can, usually after I’ve finished a scene, effectively doing my first edit along the way. I like to work in the garden when the weather allows it, but if I can’t, I’ll sit on the sofa, or at the local library, or even in a café. Away from the computer it feels less like “proper work”.

And what’s next for you, are you planning your next novel, or already well into the writing of it?

My next novel, which is already scheduled for publication in 2014, is a complete departure from anything I’ve written so far. It’s a swash-buckling historical tale set in the Georgian period, with highwaymen, a spirited heroine, and a mystery at its core.  But right now, as we speak, I’m working on another romantic thriller.

 

Thank you so much to Henriette Gyland for joining us today. You can follow her on Twitter @henrigyland  

The Elephant Girl is out now in paperback and Kindle versions.

 

[A big thank you to Choc Lit for our copy of The Elephant Girl]

Review: Out of Sight Out of Mind by Evonne Wareham

book cover

book cover

What the blurb says: “Madison Albi is a scientist with a very special talent – for reading minds. When she stumbles across a homeless man with whom she feels an inexplicable connection, she can’t resist the dangerous impulse to use her skills to help him.

J is a non-person – a vagrant who can’t even remember his own name. He’s got no hope, until he meets Madison. Is she the one woman who can restore his past?

Madison agrees to help J recover his memory, but as she delves deeper into his mind, it soon becomes clear that some secrets are better off staying hidden. “

Out of Sight Out of Mind might not be my usual type of read, but I found it really enjoyable.

It doesn’t fit neatly into a sub-genre bracket but, if you wanted to categorise it, I think it would be as romantic suspense with a dash of science fiction.

Told through the point-of-views of Madison, J and the shadowy people at ‘The Organization’, the reader is able to piece together information, alert to the increasing danger that Madison and J are unaware of until much later in the story. This adds an extra level of danger, up-ing the stakes, and keeping the reader on their edge of their seat, hoping that Madison will find out who, or what’s, behind J’s memory loss before it’s too late.

The main suspense in the story comes from the question: who is J? A mysterious (and rather sexy) character, he has no memory of his past, but he can remember how to navigate through London. When Madison tries to help him by reading his mind she encounters a wall that she’s unable to see through. As a research scientist at the top of her game, she throws all she’s got into the challenge of finding out just who J is.

As the relationship between Madison and J develops the reader gets to discover more about Madison’s past, and details about J’s life as he begins to remember things. There’s a lot of sexual tension between the two characters. The ‘will they, won’t they?’ question hangs over them for a large portion of the book as they both resist the attraction they feel for each other. This kept me hooked into the story, but I did, at times, want to scream at Madison to just kiss him and get on with it!

As Madison tries increasingly risky and unproven memory experiments, she manages to get past the wall and discover J’s sinister past. And that’s when the danger really escalates. After a gradual build in tension during the first two-thirds of the book, the final third races along to the action-packed finale.

My verdict: even if science fiction isn’t usually your thing, don’t let it put you off – this is a classy romantic suspense novel that’s definitely worth a read.

[My review copy of this novel was provided by Choc Lit publishers]