Guest Post: Writing Space of Lucinda Riley, author of Girl on the Cliff

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley, author of The Orchid House, will be released later this month by Atria Books.  Grania Ryan, the protagonist, returns to Ireland following a devastating heartbreak in New York.  She meets the young Aurora Lisle on the cliff edge, and little does she know that she’ll change Ryan’s life.  Her mother warns her to be careful of the Lisle family, but it is not until she finds a trove of family letters dating back to 1914 that she realizes how entwined the families have been.

Check out Lucinda Riley’s writing space:

I have a strange aversion to ‘offices’, mainly because it makes me feel as though I’m actually working. And writing for me isn’t a job, it’s a way of life. The nearest to an inside office space I have is my drawing-room at home in the winter, but the minute the sun shines I hop through a window and sit on the bench outside. Because I record the first draft of the story into a dictaphone, which basically means talking to myself for four months, it makes me ‘portable’ and able to work anywhere. And being outside in the fresh air is my preferred location. So, my three ‘outside offices’ are the gardens at our Hall in Norfolk, the terrace of our house in Thailand and the balcony of our house in the South of France. The kids are used to seeing Mummy wandering around in a bikini with a microphone strapped to the top of it. I’m sure this method is unusual, but again, a bikini signals a ‘holiday’, rather than ‘work’ and this takes the pressure off psychologically and helps the words flow. However, being permanently ‘strapped up’, I must always remember to switch off and remove the tape recorder before I go for a swim or, er, other activities …! The method I use works for me fantastically well, except for the fact that when I’ve been dictating into the tape for long periods of time, it has been known for me to ask the children; ‘hello comma darling comma how are you question mark space new line’! When the first draft is finished I begin editing with a red pen onto the typed-up manuscript.

At present, as it’s October and becoming colder here in England, I’m in my winter ‘office’. Our 300 year old Hall is far too large to heat during the day. And if I sneakily turn the switch to ‘on’, my husband always finds me out! So, I wrap up in layers and sit by a roaring log-fire working on editing the new book. I have an ancient, threadbare chair, a stash of red pens and a pot of tea on the table beside me.

And now … I will confess that I have a perfectly lovely ‘office’ here at home, where my PA works happily. But to this day, I can honestly say I’ve never written a single word in it. And guess what? I’m sitting writing this in the kitchen.

Thanks, Lucinda, for sharing your writing space with us.

Mailbox Monday #195

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is BookNAround.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond from Ashland Creek Press for review.

2.  Everyday Writing by Midge Raymond from Ashland Creek Press for review.

How to be a writer even when you can’t write every day…

Writers are often told that in order to succeed, they must write every day–yet this isn’t realistic or feasible for writers with families, day jobs, and other responsibilities that preclude a daily writing practice.

Everyday Writing is about how to be a writer every day, even if you’re unable to sit down to write every day.

This book provides dozens of tips for busy writers, including how to create your ideal writing space, how to develop habits that work for you, and how to keep your projects moving forward even when you’re short on time. Everyday Writing also offers more than 150 prompts to fit into any writer’s life, from five-minute prompts you can do in a grocery store line to lengthy prompts that are perfect for a writing retreat. Whether you’d like to generate new material, free yourself from writer’s block, or start a revision, these writing exercises provide a way to engage immediately with your work.

3.  The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro from Algonquin unexpectedly.

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting—the one that had been hanging for one hundred years at the Gardner—is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

4.  Comet’s Tale by Steven D. Wolf and Lynette Padwa from Algonquin unexpectedly.

Forced into early retirement by a spinal condition, Steven Wolf reluctantly left his family and moved to Arizona for its warm winter climate. A lifelong dog lover, the former hard-driving attorney is drawn to a local group that rescues retired racing greyhounds. When Comet, a once-abused cinnamon-striped racer, chooses to “adopt” Wolf, he has no idea that a life-altering relationship has begun—for both of them.

Racers, cruelly treated and exposed only to the track and cage, have no inkling of the most basic skills—walking on tile floors, climbing stairs, even playing with toys or children—so Wolf must show the mistrustful greyhound how to thrive in the real world. Gradually, a confident but mysterious spirit emerges from the stunning animal. And when Wolf’s health starts to worsen, the tables turn and Comet must now help Wolf with the most basic skills.

5. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley, which I received from Simon and Schuster for review in October.

To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.

Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.

Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

6. When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald, which I purchased at Novel Places.

When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time, but just weren’t facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be.

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life—revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

7. House Inspections by Carsten René Nielsen, translated by David Keplinger, which I purchased at Novel Places after hearing the poet and translator at a recent reading.

With a dozen poems previously published in The Paris Review, Carsten René Nielsen is already a familiar name to US poetry readers. These dark prose poems—reminiscent of Charles Simic—map out a uniquely European territory with chilling, cinematic clarity.

Award-winning Danish poet Carsten René Nielsen is the author of nine books of poetry, including his US debut The World Cut Out with Crooked Scissors (2007). His poems appear in The Paris Review, Agni, Circumference, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Aarhus, Denmark.

David Keplinger’s poetry awards include the Colorado Book Award, T.S. Eliot Prize, an NEA fellowship, and grants from the Danish Arts Council. He directs the MFA program at American University in Washington, DC.

What did you receive?