My guest on the blog today is Celia Moore, whose debut novel, Fox Halt Farm, was published in November last year.
Celia has decided on a rather novel approach to answering my questions, so read on for a slightly different post!
Welcome to the blog, Celia. First question to you: What inspired Fox Halt Farm?
Sharon, this is a great question because I can answer it straight away, CHARACTERS!
I am wholly fascinated by people and particularly what they try to hide from others; even bury inside themselves, sometimes. I love listening to people’s stories and how they have ended up where they are but I also watch carefully, and I see the little changes in the way they hold their bodies as they talk; the tiny gestures they make, like scratching the back of their hand or running a slow finger along their bottom lip. I pick up on the changes in their tone or the speed of their words. These tiny movements make we want to know more, find out their secrets; the times they were betrayed and their moments of pure elation. It’s feelings and motives that enthral me; how a character is moulded by their experiences and encounters. It’s not the places and their relationships that matter but instead, how different people behave at that moment, the lessons they take from it, or the habits they have formed which make them react in the same way over and over again, without realising what they are doing. Yes, the story is important but it’s the way the characters move that makes me decide whether I like a book or I love it. I want to feel the emotions; not simply walk in another person’s footsteps. I want to walk in their minds.
What’s your favourite first line from a book?
My one hundred percent, favourite. Top of the world first line is one that I believe everyone with even the smallest knowledge of Charles Dickens knows, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ this opening of The Tale of Two Cities had me hooked in twelve words. I needed to know more and as I scurried into the rest of the first sentence, I was lost in the pictures it evoked and the questions it asked, questions as relevant today as they were when Dickens first penned his wonderful opening…
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’
Anyone who knows me, knows I hate being told what to do. I don’t like rules and will only follow them if I agree they are right or, if I don’t comply, then I will be forced to face unpleasant consequences. Dickens is my hero, he breaks all the rules of good writing with such a long sentence, and doing so right at the start of his novel, to me, displays his self-confidence in what he has to say. I love the repetition, the precise phrasing and each word is vital to what the brilliant author wants me to understand. I read this one paragraph and I know I am in the hands of an expert, who will captivate me with an important story that I have to read. It’s the way it is told, not the story that has gripped me.
I hope you don’t mind Sharon, if we leave it at this for now, I am going to find it hard to continue in anything like the same vein as Dickens, and I don’t like long posts. In this world, where we are overwhelmed with things designed for immediate gratification, I am a victim too; my attention span is short on the computer and I am all too ready to move onto something else. In a way, this internet-age is the best of times and the worst of times too; far too many interesting things to do and discover- all at once. But when I want something considered and captivating, then that’s a book. My first novel is crammed with characters and told in a way I was confident with. I have discovered so much from it and I am writing the sequel now. I have learnt about me and my character, and also found out some of things I have hidden from myself. At the same time, I learnt many rules of writing from all my mistakes and wrong paths with Fox Halt Farm. The rules I am applying now, are ones I believe are right. Just like the first line, my goal is simple; to captivate my readers.
Fox Halt Farm is on Amazon as an e-book and a paperback.
Celia Moore was born in Devon, England, and grew up on a farm. Celia left the farm to have a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor working in the City district of London.
In 2000, she left the office life behind to start a new adventure of becoming an outdoor instructor and taught rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing and even skiing, archery, rifle shooting and mountain biking. She managed an outdoor residential centre until she met her husband and now she is concentrating on gardening for a few lovely customers, running and writing.
Born fifty years ago this year, Celia has been creative ever since – from explaining why there are no chocolate biscuits left when visitors arrive, to writing glowing particulars for ugly properties; from encouraging people to have a go at a scary abseil, oil painting and writing. Celia loves it all but especially the gardening, running and the writing!
Buy Fox Halt Farm here.