I grew up in Swansea, South Wales, not very far from the beautiful Gower Coast. On that coast is a beautiful beach called Rhossili Bay. Above the bay, is a white house on a cliff. That image stayed in my mind for many years until one night I had a dream.
High cliffs tower over the long curving miles of yellow sands next to the Atlantic ocean. A horse-woman gallops across the sands on a black horse. Running along the shore-line are two LAUGHING CHILDREN with copper hair. One small, one tall. Their arms are out- stretched. Above them, a wedge of swans fly. The children's outlines are as blurred as humming birds.
When I adapted the novel into a screenplay, this is the visually exciting scene that opens it. The film is going into production next year, set in London, the Gower Coast, South Wales and Budapest which is very exciting.
2. What is it about and who is it for?
The Day of the Swans is a psychological thriller which explores identity through this intriguing question: if memories give us our identity what happens if someone gives us new ones and makes us believe them?
I wanted to explore identity by creating to two characters whose lives seem to be joined by a silver thread. The novel focuses on the disturbing, intriguing relationship between Stefan, a charismatic artist and stalker and Anna, his beautiful therapist. Stefan paints a painting for Anna called The Day of The Swans. [The image I saw in my dream.] Soon Anna’s stable world is thrown into chaos when Stefan tells her she’s his long-lost sister and he’s been looking for her for 21 years. Gradually she starts to question everything she’s ever believed in. But is he telling her the truth or is she dealing with a highly delusional man?
The novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the blur between truth and fantasy. Think of the self-doubt of Natalie Portman in ‘Black Swan’ to not knowing who’s the main protagonist in Gone Girl’. That gives you a flavour of my psychological thriller.
3. What do you hope the reader will be left with after reading it?
To make them question what is the truth; to highlight how quickly people’s lives can change through accidents; to empathize with the trauma of a teenager being torn from his family and to question whether Stefan is a vulnerable, sensitive man or a dangerous one.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
I believe writers need to work on improving their writing and be tenacious. Many people who want to become authors don’t commit to the self-discipline of writing and revising for hours every day and constantly persevering in spite of obstacles. I have had hundreds of rejections, but in spite of them, I’ve had numerous books, short stories and poems published and six screenplays optioned. I hope to be writing on the day I die as long as I have access to a computer or pen and paper.
5. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I believe Audio books are going to supersede E books; many people seem to have less time to read so having a book to listen to in your car, your home, etc will help authors. And of course, non-fiction books have more sales, than fiction.
6. What challenges did you overcome to write this book?
Deciding how many characters were going to tell the story. I soon realised that four characters were; each chapter is written in their voices. I always try to get inside the minds of each character I write so I look at the world through their eyes.
7. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?
‘The Day of the Swans’ keeps the reader hooked with its many twists and turns, not knowing who is who and what is the truth. It will make you stop and think that could happen to any of us, which adds an extra shudder.
About The Author: Linda M James is a UK author/screenwriter/poet and creative writing tutor who lives in the medieval city of Canterbury, Kent. However, she is a nomad, having moved forty-seven times in the UK and abroad. Before she became a full-time writer, she was a student, a model, a Jazz singer and an English Lecturer. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s either playing the piano, gardening, walking in woods or hanging out with her family and friends. Please also see: www.lindamjames.co.uk
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