Today I welcome Chill With a Book Award winner Joan Fallon to the blog …
Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Award! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
Good morning. My name is Joan Fallon. I’m a Scottish writer who currently lives in Spain.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
As I mentioned, I live in the south of Spain, close to the beautiful Moorish cities of Córdoba and Granada. Some years ago I visited the ruins of an old Moorish city, just outside Córdoba. It’s called Madinat al-Zahra. I was fascinated by the place and when I started to read about it I became interested in what it must have been like to live there in its hey-day. This led me to research more and more about 10th century Moorish Spain and I decided to write a trilogy about the period. In those days the country was called al-Andalus and that became the name of my trilogy. The Shining City is the first book in the series.
What does the award mean to you?
It’s always good to know that someone appreciates your work and by receiving the award it tells others too that my book has merit. I’m delighted with it.
What other titles have you published? Tell us a little about them …
I have published Book Two in the al-Andalus series; it’s called The Eye of the Falcon and deals with the period when the caliphate was inherited by an 11 year-old boy. As you can imagine that led to a period of great instability and intrigue. As in my other historical novels, the background is well researched. This is the surprising story of a slave girl who rose to become the most important woman in the land and mother of the Caliph.
Book Three, Ring of Flames, is due to be published later this summer. It follows the same family and characters that appear in the previous books and deals with the destruction of Córdoba and the fall of the caliphate.
I have written three other books of historical fiction:
The Only Blue Door, the moving story of three young children sent to Australia during WWII as child migrants, wrongly labelled as orphans.
Spanish Lavender, a love story set in Málaga during the Spanish Civil War. An English woman gets caught up in a mass exodus from the war-torn city and in her attempt to escape meets the man she falls in love with.
The House on the Beach, set in post-Civil War Spain, is the story of two young girls growing up in a country ruled by a dictator and with their every move scrutinised by either the Catholic Church or the State.
I also write contemporary fiction.
Palette of Secrets is a novel about an old woman who is a successful artist. She is persuaded to write her memoirs but bringing up the past is painful for her. There are secrets buried there that could bring devastation to her and her family if they are revealed.
The Thread That Binds Us, is the story of a woman who discovers that her parents had lied to her all her life, and that she has a half-brother. She becomes obsessed with finding him.
Santiago Tales is the story of a woman whose life is falling apart: she has a serious illness, her job is going nowhere and her husband has left her for another woman. She decides she has to get away from everyone and everything, so she goes on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain. During the 800 kilometre walk she meets other pilgrims: an injured soldier, a woman who has lost her son, a nun, and others. Everyone has a story to tell. By the time she reaches her destination she finds she has changed in ways she never expected.
Loving Harry is a novel about two women, each in love with the same man. His wife, Barbara has to learn how to cope when she is left with two children to support and Carla, his mistress and then new wife, soon realises that Harry is not what he seemed.
I have also written one non-fiction book, called Daughters of Spain. This is a series of interviews with Spanish women of all ages about what their lives were like growing up in Spain under a dictatorship.
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
I am planning to write a book in the autumn about a Spanish woman, who has lived in exile since the end of the Civil War. She returns to Spain to try to find the graves of her family.
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
I used to play a lot of golf but I find it takes up too much time these days, when I could be writing. I have two dogs and walk them by the beach twice a day and I read a lot.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to only three authors. Over the years many authors have been an inspiration to me; they range from Tolstoy to Hilary Mantel and more recently Andrew Grieg.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
I have always been interested in history. I’m a history graduate and find social history particularly interesting, so naturally when we moved to Spain I wanted to find out as much as I could about Spain’s past.
But I also write about women. Whether it is in a historical context or the present day, it’s women and the challenges they face that are the pivot of my books.
Which other genre would you chose if you had to change?
I would like to write a crime novel.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Marmite – yes or no? Yes
Early riser or sleep in? early riser
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing? normal clothes
Planner or pantster? planner
Book or kindle? book
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no? Yuk, no.
And finally, … What is your favourite book of all time?
Again, that’s an impossible one to answer. It’s usually the one I’ve just read.
One of my favourites recently is Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
Thank you for joining me today Joan and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
You can keep up to date with Joan and her writing by following the links below.
If you’re an indie author click here to find out more about the Chill With a Book Award.
This is the story of a city, a city that is now in ruins: Madinat al Zahra. The year is 947 AD, a time when southern Spain is under the rule of the Moors. The ruler, Caliph al Rahman III is rich, powerful and cultured. His lands are, at long last, at peace and the capital, Córdoba, is considered to be not only the most beautiful city in the civilised world but also the seat of learning and culture. Against this background we meet the artisan Qasim – he and his family have moved to Madinat al Zahra to make their fortune as potters.
Qasim is a good husband and father. He works hard, says his prayers and keeps out of trouble. But Qasim has a secret; his past is not what it seems. When a stranger arrives asking questions about him, he is worried that his secret will be discovered and everything he has worked for will be destroyed. He has to take action.