It’s always an honour to have the opportunity to hear what inspires authors, and today I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Alice May with you. May has written an incredible trilogy of books based on her personal experience of a house that “sat down”!
Hi Alice, can you tell me a little more about yourself?
Hello. I am a mum to four amazing children and live with my husband and our family in the heart of the New Forest. I was a GP Practice Manager, for many years, and juggled work with family life, up until the day my house started to fall down right in front of my eyes. That complete disaster led to a total change in both outlook and lifestyle. I now work part time as a school librarian, which means that my mornings are spent surrounded by books and children – it’s heaven! Then, I often spend my afternoons and the school holidays writing.
In my lovely husband’s opinion, I own far too many books but – clearly – he is mistaken; although, in his defence, I do find it almost impossible to walk past a bookshop without investigating the contents. As well as writing, I love painting, reading and going to my local library too.
Can you explain a little about your writing background?
As a child I always believed that writing a book would be the most amazing thing ever – I was right! However, I never thought that I would actually write one, because, back then, I didn’t have anything I wanted to say.
Things are rather different nowadays because, having started writing, it seems that I am unable to stop. I have no particular experience, apart from the usual school English lessons and experience from writing lengthy reports at work. However the experience I gained from writing The House That Sat Down Trilogy and the subsequent lengthy editing process, taught me a great deal.
What inspired you to put your own experiences into writing?
I simply had to write about the extraordinary events that took place. There was no moment in time when I actively made a decision to write a book, I merely sat down out of the blue one day, turned on an old laptop – one left behind by my daughter when she went to university – and started writing.
Initially I merely documented what had happened, all the crazy events and to remember the sequence in which they happened. I wanted to gain a better understand about how such an impossible set of circumstances could have come about. I could not believe that an ordinary family could suddenly find themselves living in a tent in the garden with nowhere to turn to for help, and yet I had lived through every minute of just such an incredible scenario.
I also examined the consequences of those events and found so many unexpected positives arising from them that I realised I had all the ingredients I needed to tell one hell of a story.
It was tremendous fun, especially once I allowed my sense of humour free rein. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I hope that shows in the books.
Is the work completely autobiographical or semi-autobiographical?
The story is a semi-fictionalised memoir and is told entirely from the mother’s point of view. The reader follows her as she deals with the emotional fallout from having been unable to protect the family from the consequences of their home physically disintegrating.
How long did it take you to write the trilogy?
The first draft of Book 1 ‘Accidental Damage – tales from the house that sat down’ was written in the space of three weeks. Re-writes and edits took another four months of non-stop work.
There was such a good reception to it, and so many people asked me what happened next, that I began Book 2. ‘Restoration – more tales from the house that sat down’ was written over three months, then edited extensively over another three month, and eventually published a year after Book 1.
Fifteen months after that, Book 3 ‘Redemption – moving on from the house that sat down’ was published.
When you started your first book did you plan to write three books in total?
I was half way through the first manuscript before I realised that it was a novel and I had absolutely no thought of writing a trilogy. The entire project has grown organically over the two and a half year period.
What do you find most difficult about the writing process?
I have had to train myself to be able to write anytime, anywhere.
Family life is simply not conducive to spending long periods of time indulging in writing. Complete concentrated focus is impossible.
I have to write in those elusive, snatched interludes between the usual mum-type tasks such as after school chauffeuring duties, homework reminders, producing relatively healthy dinners and attempting to pair up the thousands of socks that seem to lurk in the clean laundry pile.
After plenty of practice, I now find I can switch in and out of writing mode very quickly, which is very useful.
What do you find most satisfying about the writing process?
I love starting a new chapter and finding out what my characters are going to get up to next. They feel very real to me and it is very satisfying watching them interact as the storyline unfolds. I am frequently surprised by developments.
Do you have a favourite spot to write in?
I have a great many favourite spots to write in, but they all involve close proximity to a good supply of coffee. As such, I can frequently be found lurking behind my laptop in the Costa on my local high street.
Who do you think your book will appeal to?
The House That Sat Down Trilogy will appeal to anyone who enjoys contemporary, uplit fiction, especially if they like stories of real family life with a bit of humour thrown in.
What’s next for you?
Having been well and truly bitten by the writing bug, I am now in the middle of writing another brand-new trilogy. The first book in the new series has already been through the first round of editing and I am thoroughly enjoying the whole process.
And finally, has there been a happy outcome from the disaster that struck?
There most definitely has been a most happy and unexpected outcome from the disaster that struck the day that my house sat down. However, you would have to read the whole trilogy to find out what that outcome is.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions Alice! Is there anything else that you would like to tell my readers?
There is a great deal of original artwork mentioned throughout the trilogy because the main character goes on an emotional journey and heals from the tragedy with the help of her artwork. If anyone would like to see some of the paintings from the house that sat down, there are photographs available on my website www.alicemay.weebly.com
Wishing everyone all the best and happy reading!
For more about Alice and her work, please head to her website: www.alicemay.weebly.com
The House That Sat Down Trilogy by Alice May is available from Amazon:
“Inspired by a true story, The House That Sat Down Trilogy is a tale of triumph over tragedy. It is an astonishing account of sudden, first-world homelessness in the heart of the New Forest, and the unexpected consequences. Written entirely from a mother’s point of view, following the collapse of her family’s home, it is an uplifting and positive read in spite of the subject matter, with a thread of wry humour throughout. Follow this ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey of survival and self discovery as she reels from disaster, before picking herself up and coming back stronger and wiser than before.
Packed with humorous observations about what it is like to live in a tent in your garden with your husband and four children after a significant part of your house falls down out of the blue one day, this story takes you from the depths of despair right through to the satisfying heights of success against the odds, with lots of tea and cakes on the way.
Follow this crazy family as they cope with disaster in their own truly unique and rather mad way, and celebrate each small triumph along the way with them.”
About the Author
I am a multi-tasking parent to four not-so-small children, and I am fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. We live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Our house began to fall down out of the blue one day, which resulted in the whole family living in a tent in the back garden for quite some time, while we worked out how to rebuild our home.
A few years afterwards, I decided to write a book and, once I started, I found I couldn’t stop.
Inspired by true-life events ‘Accidental Damage – tales from the house that sat down’ wouldn’t leave me alone until it was written.
Within six months of self-publishing my novel, I was delighted to learn that it had won two ‘Chill with a Book Awards’. This was a massive honour and motivated me to continue writing. Accidental Damage became the first book in a trilogy.
The Omnibus edition of all three books in the House That Sat Down Trilogy is now available via Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.
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Thank you to Alice May for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog book tour.
N.B. I have not received anything in exchange for this post. For more details, take a look at my disclosure page.