Love’s Portrait – A Walking Tour

Love's PortraitAt the beginning of February, before a virus changed our world, my good friend and beta reader, Kay, conceived a Love’s Portrait walking tour*. Her aim was to seek out the real-life locations in the historic city of Leicester that inspired the fictional settings and scenes of Love’s Portrait. We had a wonderful day, absorbed in those moments where reality and fiction blur, and I am excited to share highlights of our tour with you here.  So put on your virtual walking shoes and follow us, as we take a tour of the landscape of my imagination.

*Map at the end of the blog

  1. The Belmont HotelCIMG5471

We began at the historic Belmont Hotel, where the fictional Georgina Wright bravely confronts her estranged mother, Lydia Wright. Lydia has been sitting in the conservatory (to the right of the building) hoping that her daughter might just meet with her, if only for the sake of Georgina’s new love, Molly.

An extract from chapter thirty-two…

The lights from the Belmont Hotel’s conservatory illuminated the promenade in blocks of gaudy yellow light that cast the moon in eerie contrast, stark and haunting, white-grey in the dark winter sky. The Belmont Hotel had a faded Victorian grandeur to it which lent a mood of formality tempered by the soft easing of age.

Georgina climbed the short run of steps shaded at their top by a small stone portico. She hesitated at the door, holding it just open. The warm air from the hotel’s reception blew perfumed against her cheeks.

 

  1. The fictional ‘City Museum’CIMG5457

We then strolled along the Regency walkway, New Walk. We called in at the New Walk Museum, the inspiration for Molly Goode’s workplace, the City Museum. The City Museum, along with George Wright’s home (below), provides the setting for many of the key moments in Love’s Portrait. It is where Molly first meets Georgina, and where they discover together the intriguing inscription hidden away in Josephine Brancaster’s portrait ‘All my love always, Edith.’ It is this inscription that sparks the beginning of a narrative fuelled with unexpected and poignant revelations.

An extract from chapter eight…

Georgina looked past Molly to the sweep of the stairs that curved away above their heads. “It’s a grand building, isn’t it?”

“Yes, definitely. It’s early Victorian in origin, built in 1836, so it also has that late Regency neoclassical feel to it which I love. The entrance porch is just amazing, isn’t it, with those imposing columns. Fran reliably informed me on my first day that the porch is a pedimented portico.”

“Impressive.”

“Yep. The architect was that chap Hansom, who was of course responsible for the Hansom cab.”

Georgina fell into step beside Molly. “Yes, I think my father mentioned something about that once.”

Molly followed Georgina’s gaze as she stared up to the ceiling with its ornate gold leaf mouldings framing the features of the arched glass roof. Molly paused halfway up the stairs. “It started its life as a school, would you believe, and became a museum in 1849. It is without question a public building built to inspire an obedient awe.”

 

  1. Museum SquareIMG_20200202_130017_resized_20200420_085606756

Our next stop, nestled next to the museum, was the beautiful Museum Square, inspiration for the ‘Museum Square’ in Love’s Portrait.

It is this square that Georgina Wright looks out onto from the long windows of her father’s home and first sees Molly, sitting on her favourite bench. Georgina could not have imagined that she was in fact looking at the person who would be the love of her life.

An extract from chapter two…

Leaving the frustrations of her meeting behind, she [Molly] headed to her sanctuary, a small public garden next to the museum. Aptly named Museum Square, the simply designed patch of civic ground was bordered on two sides by parked cars. A collection of benches placed around the inside edge of the square separated the grass from wide borders. A diagonal path, broken up by tree roots, stretched across, splitting halfway along to encircle a large horse chestnut tree. This tree marked the seasons, signalling the changing patterns of the year. In winter, bare and stark against white skies, the tree seemed to shrink, huddled with those brave or crazy enough to stop awhile and sit. In spring, tentative buds relaxed in the welcome return of the first rays of sunshine. In summer, students rested against its weathered waist reading their books, cool in the shade of branches laden with the soft flutter of green leaves. And in autumn, the debris of crushed conkers bashed free from its branches, littering the ground with evidence of battles won and lost and of time passing as the empty husks curled and browned.

 

  1. The fictional ‘George Wright’s House’CIMG5452

The fictional Regency period home of George Wright was inspired by the Regency era buildings along New Walk, built in the 1820’s. In 1840, Love’s Portrait’s William Wright purchases the home that would remain in the Wright family for generations and become the cherished setting for the blossoming love of Molly and Georgina.

An extract from chapter two…

Molly stepped inside, utterly overwhelmed by the building she had admired from afar. “Wow.” She had always wondered what lay beyond its formal black door. She had daydreamed of Regency grandeur, imagining a long tiled hallway with corniced ceilings and ornate plaster mouldings. Perhaps a heavy hall mirror would hang on a brass chain against the wall, casting the light and one’s gaze along the hallway to the bottom of the stairs, to the fine spindles and curl of the banister. And in one captivated glance, Molly realized that her imagination had been outdone by the imposing beauty of George Wright’s home. The octagon pattern of black and white tiles made Molly want to skip from one to the other. The tall ceilings made her dizzy, and the elegant staircase with its low wide steps begged her to dance up and down them.

The history of the house rushed at Molly to greet her. Was this how Josephine would have felt every time she walked through the door? Did her heart skip a beat? Did she dance on the steps with Edith, perhaps? Or had Josephine’s marriage changed everything, and they’d simply moved on from each other as time ceaselessly moved on with the future its only destination.

 

  1. Mr Brown’sIMG_20200202_124254_resized_20200420_085607165

We could not miss out this next stop. For there is only one place to go for a breakfast hangover cure in the fictional world of Love’s Portrait and that is Mr Brown’s café, inspired by the real-life Mr Brown’s.

An extract from chapter sixteen…

Molly held up a defensive hand. “Don’t judge me. When I have a hangover, the only thing that seems to help is a full monty breakfast roll from Mr. Brown’s around the corner. It literally has everything. I figured if I needed one, then you probably did too. Oh, I made an executive decision and went brown sauce and runny yolk. Good morning.”

“Thank God for you.” Georgina meant every word. “I’ll make you a strong coffee to go with it. I’ve already had two. I frankly feel like death warmed up.”

Molly beamed a smile in reply. She took off her hat and her hair fell loose at her shoulders and back. “Yep. I get that. I’m dosed up on paracetamol.” Molly gingerly lowered her sunglasses. “And still everything’s a bit too bright and a bit too loud.”

 

  1. Church of St Mary de Castro, Castle ViewIMG_20200202_135109_resized_20200420_090044031

The mood became contemplative when we arrived at our next port of call the graveyard of St Mary de Castro.

Love’s Portrait was conceived from an earlier writing project ‘Women’s Writing in the Midlands 1750-1850’, which explored the work of brave female Abolitionists Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts. The significant contribution of women to the Abolitionist movement has been largely overshadowed by a patriarchal history. I began to ask myself what happens if your life’s achievements went unrecorded. And then imagine if your love went unacknowledged too, hidden from history. What then? The tragic character of Edith Hewitt was my answer to these questions.

In Love’s Portrait, I described Edith’s gravestone as marking just her name and dates of birth and death, leaving out the meaningful details of her existence. Susanna Watts is buried in St Mary de Castro. I had not at the point of writing seen the grave of Susanna Watts, and there was a sober, chilling sensation as we realised standing in front of Susanna’s grave that it was exactly as I had described Edith’s. A reminder, that the most powerful part of fiction is its truth.

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An extract from chapter twenty-one…

Georgina turned to Molly and said with a quiet disbelief, “She was only twenty-six. She died so young.”

Molly looked at her with a face shadowed with sadness, the smile that always greeted Georgina and that lit her heart with joy now heartbreakingly absent.

“Yes,” Molly said. “And the inscription on her gravestone is so cruelly brief, isn’t it? I mean, there’s no mention that Edith was a campaigner. No words of affection from her family or any loved one. Nothing. With such omissions and such silence they condemned her to be lost forever.”

Georgina moved to Molly and slipped her hand in hers and said, “She’s found now. You’ve found her.”

They stood silently looking at the grave with their unspoken thoughts, cast against the background rustle of the wind in the surrounding trees, blending in uneasy harmony with the sound of the city.

 

  1. The fictional chambers of Brancaster & Lane, New StreetIMG_20200202_140833_resized_20200420_090042911

We cheered ourselves up with a silly walk along New Street, retracing the steps of those real-life solicitors and barristers who had no doubt ‘silly-walked’ there before us.

We spotted a doorway which evoked the entrance to Charles Brancaster’s chambers, and sparked the memory of the scene of Edith rushing to a door just like this one, to tell her love Josephine of the passing of the Abolition Act. Beyond that door excitement was replaced by heartbreak as Edith stumbled upon Josephine’s engagement to William Wright. Just like in real-life the door is a silent witness to the dramas that unfold behind it.

IMG_20200202_140148_resized_20200420_090043303

An extract from chapter thirteen…

28th August 1833

“Yes! Yes!” Edith ran with all her might through the city streets, dodging market stall holders’ baskets, skipping over stagnant puddles, narrowly avoiding the wheels of carts and the hoofs of horses. The church bells of St. Martin’s rang out in celebration, their peel of notes carried on the wind up and over rooftops and out beyond the city to the workers in the fields. Edith would not stop running. She lifted her skirt up from the floor with her right hand and she held a copy of the Leicester Chronicle tightly in the other. Her legs had all but given way, and her chest burned as she reached the steps of Brancaster and Lane. Edith leaned her back against the door with exhaustion and knocked at it with the heel of her shoe. She felt a gust of warm air at her legs and the pungent smell of ink as the door opened. With a last gasp of breath, she said, “Good morning, Mr. Brancaster. I have just heard the news!”

Charles beamed at Edith and held the door open for her to enter. “Good morning, Edith. Yes, truly a day to remember indeed.”

When Edith found her breath once more she said in one hurried string of questions, “And has Jo heard? Does she know? What has she said? I have already composed what our response should be. I think we shall not boast. No. Our words will be modest, as the facts will speak in proud ever-increasing volume for themselves. So has she? Heard? Mr. Brancaster?”

 

  1. St Martin’s Church, now Leicester CathedralIMG_20200202_141120_resized_20200420_090042647

One of my favourite scenes in Love’s Portrait takes place in our next stop St Martin’s Church. The scene describes the moment Josephine marries William. Everything about it should have been joyful and the beginning of the future, yet everything about it is shaded in sadness and the sense of ending.

Cathedrals are the perfect setting for rites of passage and the perfect place to reveal the often stark contrast between formal public obligations and duty with personal sacrifice and private pain.

An extract from chapter thirty-one…

The congregation stood and the organist began to play. William turned and glanced behind him with the glint in his eyes of emotion caught in the candlelight. Josephine lifted her head as one who bravely faces that which they fear most. “I am ready.”

It was Charles who found his feet reluctant to move forward. He wanted to say, I am not, but he would not default in his duty and walked Josephine slowly towards the altar, each step a peculiar anguish towards his daughter’s fate.

Releasing Josephine’s hand into William’s, he quickly looked away knowing that William would now see the tears beneath the veil and feel her sadness at his side.

He felt some relief to hear William whisper, “I love you,” and Josephine solemnly reply “I know.”

 

  1. Cank Street, the fictional lodgings of Edith HewittIMG_20200202_142026_resized_20200420_090041857

Our penultimate stop was to seek out the street sign that marked the fictional location of Edith’s lodgings.

I chose Cank Street because not only was it likely by geography in history to be a possible setting but also because of its starkness. It seemed to be infused with the rhymes of ‘rank’, ‘blank’ and ‘sank’ mirroring Edith’s bleak past and her heartbroken desolate future. In fiction, a name is always much more than a name.

An extract from chapter thirteen…

Edith ran with all her might, stumbling through the puddles, catching her legs and ripping her skirt on the baskets of the market holders, all but deaf to the cries of the drivers of the carriages brought to a halt to avoid her. With no breath, just adrenaline, to carry her up the steep flight of stairs to her room.

She collapsed onto her bed and lay there staring at the ceiling. For how long she could not tell. When the world returned to her, she could not feel her limbs, and all she could taste was the iron of blood in her mouth from the raw dryness in her throat. Nausea gripped her when she attempted to sit up, but lying down seemed worse. She felt the most awful bone-aching chill.

With legs that trembled, she made it to the fireplace. It took several goes to light the kindling in the grate. Numbly she lifted wood from a basket into the fire and stood, swaying slightly, and watched the edges of the wood char and begin to glow. The heat stung at her eyes and cheeks, forcing her to turn away with her palm against her face. As she stood back her ankle caught at the table, causing a canvas stretcher that rested on top of it to wobble. She reached out to steady it. Josephine stared back at her from the canvas that stretched across the wooden frame. How many months she’d spent working on the painting, discarding canvas after canvas, beginning again and again, struggling to quite finish it. For how could she truly ever capture the depth of their love?

 

  1. Pizza Express, New Walk

It only seemed fitting to end our tour with a glass of wine or two at Molly and Georgina’s local Pizza Express. I half-expected them to walk in, laughing together, as they order spaghetti bolognese, their cheeks glowing with love and red wine.

pizzaexpressnewwalk
Copyright goleicestershire.com

 

So if you fancy following our Love’s Portrait tour then here’s a map marked up with our stopping points. Enjoy!

Leiester Map

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Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner Foreword INDIES Book Of The Year Finalist

 

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Review of Love’s Portrait by Omnivore Bibliosaur

“It’s a bit depressing how facts seem to hide more than they reveal.” – Molly Goode, museum curator Less than a year on the job, Molly finds herself tasked with at a make-or-break crossroads with Evelyn Fox, the frosty and exacting Director. In order to carry out the final bequest of their longtime benefactor, George […]

via Review: Love’s Portrait — Omnivore Bibliosaur

Best Lesfic Reviews – Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner

Molly Goode draws you into the book and into her from the first dialogue. Committed, passionate, idealistic, open, funny, giving…she is completely adorable. The other MC, Georgina Wright, starts off tilting towards being an Ice Queen, but is mercifully, as open to Molly as Molly truly deserves.

Brief synopsis: Molly is a newly appointed art curator of a museum. Wright Foundation is one of the main benefactors of the said museum. Georgina’s father willed a fairish number of artifacts to the museum, and now Georgina has to hand over the bequest. She seems to be dragging her feet and Molly is assigned the task to get Georgina going on it. However, the first time the two MCs meet, Georgina has come to the museum to find the provenance of one particular painting of one of her ancestors’, Josephine. At that point Molly doesn’t know who Georgina is. The painting captures Molly’s imagination and the story unfolds on two levels: the growing relationship between Molly and Georgina and the relationship between Josephine and Edith (the painter of the portrait) two hundred years back.

This was a complex story to cultivate but has been excellently executed. While all the characters are beautifully developed but the tortured Josephine and completely lovable Molly really burrow into your heart. The relationship between the two MCs grabs you and the chemistry is oh, so there.

Definitely recommended.

4-and-a-half-stars

Review by Best Lesfic Reviews

From Bella to Ylva – Review of Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner

This book pulled me in so amazingly fast I’m pretty sure I got reading whiplash. It was awesome (except for Evelyn, I would like to flatten her nose a couple of times in rapid succession, although, I think that that was the purpose of the character).

It’s the story of Molly and Georgina. Molly is an art curator who is passionate about her job and about diversifying the museum where she works for’s collection.

And when Georgina’s father dies she is put in charge of a foundation that sometimes supports the museum. Also, she has to pack up her father’s house, which is near the museum. She comes to a painting that is neither going to the museum with her father’s other art, or willed to her, and so she enlist’s Molly’s help (through the entirely unpleasant director of the museum, Evelyn) to find out who painted the portrait of Georgina’s ancestor and why.

Needless to say, they get closer as they work together to solve the painting’s mystery, but, they both have issues (of different sorts) and so the question is, can they overcome their pasts to enjoy their present and future?

What was most impressive about this novel was the emotion throughout the book, the whole novel seemed to vibrate with all sorts of different emotions. Especially the stuff that was set in the 1800s, which I loved.

It was an amazing book, complex and compelling.

I received this book via Netgalley thanks to Bold Strokes Books.

Review by From Bella To Ylva

 

Anna Larner – Author of Highland FlingHooper Street and Love’s Portrait.

Finalist in the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of The Year, 2019 Rainbow Awards and 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards.

Featured in women.com, DIVA magazine, Gscene magazine, AfterEllen (Top Ten Summer Reads of 2017) and Publishers Weekly.

Looking for something to read this Easter? The Lesbian Talk Show with Anna Larner – Author Reading

Looking for something to read over the Easter holidays – maybe in a beer garden with a pint or in the bath with a large glass of wine or flat out on the sofa with a cadbury creme egg?

Have a listen to me read from my new novel Love’s Portrait and see if it might be the book for you this Easter.

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The Lesbian Talk Show is podcast channel for women about women. 

Listen here 

 

Here’s what some lovely people have had to say so far…

Sparks fly between Molly, an art curator, and Georgina, her museum’s aloof benefactor, as they research the portrait of a 19th-century lesbian social activist and try to convince the museum’s board to display it. – Publishers Weekly

What an interesting book this has been! There is a passion that flows throughout the whole story and that surrounds you completely…it is really interesting and very, very recommendable. – Netgalley

I loved it, it’s got a bit of class and a gentle pace that curls around you. – Clare Lydon

It’s the perfect mixture of love, romance and belonging. – Kitty Kat’s Review Blog

It’s not too much of a leap to say that, if Jane Austen was writing lesbian romance fiction today, she might have come up with something akin to ‘Love’s Portrait’! – Goodreads

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© 2016 All rights reserved.

The Lesbian Book Club with Anna Larner – Author Interview

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Click here to listen to me chatting with Clare Lydon about the inspiration behind my new novel Love’s Portrait.

Here’s what Clare Lydon had to say about Love’s Portrait…I loved it, it’s got a bit of class and a gentle pace that curls around you.

 

Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner (April 16th 2019, ISBN 978-1-63555-057-3). Sparks fly between Molly, an art curator, and Georgina, her museum’s aloof benefactor, as they research the portrait of a 19th-century lesbian social activist and try to convince the museum’s board to display it. (Publishers Weekly Spring 2019 Announcements.)

Clare Lydon is a London-based writer of contemporary lesbian romance and host of “Lesbian Book Club with Clare Lydon” with interviews and insights from other lesbian fiction authors around the world.  

My Lesbian Radio is an audio stream focusing on new LGBT podcasts happening in the U.S. and the U.K. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© 2016 All rights reserved.

States of Independence – A book festival in a day.

Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

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Come say hello and maybe buy a book. Hot off the press copies of Love’s Portrait will be available before general release! *£10.00*

If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a copy of Love’s Portrait please contact me direct (postage and packing will apply).

[I will also bring with me a few copies of Highland Fling and Girls Next Door.]


The tenth States of Independence takes place on Saturday 23 March 2019 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester. 10.30am – 4.30pm. Free entry!

Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches

Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers

Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Plays | Artist books | Magazines | Journals


 

 

Love’s Portrait – 4 weeks until publication (April 2019)

Love's Portrait - Anna Larner 2018

Publishers Weekly Spring 2019 Announcements: Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner (April 2019, ISBN 978-1-63555-057-3). Sparks fly between Molly, an art curator, and Georgina, her museum’s aloof benefactor, as they research the portrait of a 19th-century lesbian social activist and try to convince the museum’s board to display it.

Context of extract:

Museum Curator Molly Goode (central character) has just attended a museum funding meeting with her boss Evelyn Fox and the Chairman of the Trustees Mark Drew. Her suggestions that the museum should focus on more diversity and community based projects are rebuffed in favour of securing the ongoing patronage of the Wright family, headed by Georgina Wright (central character).

Molly returns to her desk defeated and dispirited.

Molly returned to her office, dropped her notes back into the bin where they belonged, and slumped onto Fran’s desk with a heavy sigh.

“You’re sitting on my sandwich.” Fran pushed at Molly’s hip, encouraging her to stand.

“I’ve sat on your lunch? Oh my God, could this day get any worse?” Molly held Fran’s baguette, squishy in her hands. It was now less buoyant baguette and more flatbread and pretty much summed up her morning.

Fran stood with a groan. “Want anything from the cafe?”

Molly looked down, crestfallen, and shook her head.

“I take it the meeting wasn’t exactly a great success.” Fran rested a motherly hand on Molly’s shoulder.

She couldn’t bring herself to mention the annex let alone that she had prompted the idea of a dedicated exhibition in the first place. “Honestly it was chilling to hear them. Everything’s about money or status to them. I thought museums were for and about the people.”

“You’re sounding more like a social historian every day,” Fran said, with an approving nod. “Although isn’t the art world, your world, all about that—status?”

“Not for me.”

“Good for you.” Fran placed her hands on her hips. “I think we need cake.”

“Have lunch in the square with me?”

“Sorry, no can do, I’ve a shopping list longer than David Attenborough’s career. But I’ll see you later. So what will it be—Victoria Sponge or, better still, eclairs?”

Molly mustered a smile. “How about both?”

“Good choice.” Fran turned back at the door. “Do you remember what I said to you when you first started at the museum? That you will always feel disheartened if your approach is to work against them?”

Molly nodded.

“The trick, if there is a trick”—Fran frowned slightly—“is somehow to find a way to achieve what you believe is right but that still delivers for the powers that be.”

“So is this how you handle Evelyn?”

“On my good days, yes. On my bad days, lots of rude words shouted at the top of my lungs in the privacy of the ladies’ loo.”

Molly giggled. “Right. Noted.”

The instant Fran closed the door, Molly was engulfed by images of the chairman with his expression of vacuous power, his mane-like hair swept back, his tie tight against his collar moving with his throat as he spoke. He was confident in a bullish way that suggested at his heart he was insecure. His insecurity made him dangerous, and if she was not mistaken, that was likely the source of his power and influence—not his knowledge, not his experience, but the fragility of his ego, charming when stroked, ferociously defensive when challenged.

Evelyn seemed to be a master at managing him, stroking to calm and cajole. She appealed to his competitive nature by presenting the museum as a place of excellence. A leading institution, indeed. She was the consummate manager of people.

Molly closed her eyes at the image of Evelyn with her pen raised to silence her. Her temper rose. She needed to find a place to shout rude words.

Leaving the frustrations of her meeting behind, she headed to her sanctuary, a small public garden next to the museum. Aptly named Museum Square, the simply designed square patch of civic ground was bordered on two sides by parked cars. A collection of benches placed around the inside edge of the square separated the grass from wide borders. A diagonal path, broken up by tree roots, stretched across, splitting halfway along to encircle a large horse chestnut tree. This tree marked the seasons, signalling the changing patterns of the year. In winter, bare and stark against white skies, the tree seemed to shrink, huddled with those brave or crazy enough to stop awhile and sit. In spring, tentative buds relaxed in the welcome return of the first rays of sunshine. In summer, students rested against its weathered waist reading their books, cool in the shade of branches laden with the soft flutter of green leaves. And in autumn, the debris of crushed conkers bashed free from its branches, littering the ground with evidence of battles won and lost and of time passing as the empty husks curled and browned.

She cherished those moments spent sitting on her favourite bench eating her sandwiches, with her lunchbox at her side and with the sprawling horse chestnut her faithful companion.

Basking in the calm stillness of the beautiful September day, she took off her shoes and let the grass brush against the soles of her feet. She lifted her chin to the cloudless sky. The air was changing from the dry sandy notes of summer to the sweet musk of autumn. The leaves above her were fading, and their greens had softened to mossy shades from vibrant lime. Even the midday light beaming through the canopy seemed weaker now, less luminous, its strongest rays falling on another person sitting on another bench, in another square, in another land.

 

*Now available to buy at the Bold Strokes Books webstore*

*Now available to pre-order at Amazon*

ISBN-13  978-1-63555-058-0 ebook

ISBN-13 978-1-63555-057-3 paperback


© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Interview With ELLCon (European Lesfic Literary Conference)

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We spoke to Anna Larner about her books and her writing plans for the future.

(A) TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR LAST PUBLISHED BOOK. 

My debut lesbian romance Highland Fling had the working title How Does The Sun Know How To Shine?

Without giving too much of the plot away, early on in the book, Moira Burns (one of the main characters) is worried about her lack of sexual experience and she seeks reassurance from her first love. Her lover responds by saying “How does the sun know how to shine, Moira?” “How does the wind know how to blow?” “How does the rain know how to fall?” helping Moira to understand that her sexuality is as natural as nature itself and is something to be cherished and enjoyed.

It is one of the key messages that I hope readers will take from Highland Fling, along with living your life for today, looking forward, free from regret.

(B) WHAT GOT YOU INTO WRITING? 

I attended the ‘States of Independence’ Book Festival held in Leicester’s De Montfort University, back in 2012. Bold Strokes Books hosted a panel on that day, encouraging people to consider writing for an LGBT press. It was a proper lightbulb moment for someone like me with an overactive imagination and a passion for all things LGBT.

(C)  CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WRITING STYLE? HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON PLOTS AND CHARACTERS? ARE YOU A PLANNER OR A PANTSER?

I’m a writer with a lyrical, descriptive style who cares about the detail of things. Bringing to life a setting is important to me, evoking a sense of place and the particular mood of the moment. I’m also keen to portray the uniqueness of each character, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, and sharing this with the reader.

I’m not sure I decide upon plot and character, it’s more that a place, a person or an event sparks a creative response from which a story begins to form. For example, the idea for my latest work Love’s Portrait came from a creative writing workshop focusing on forgotten female abolitionists. Their passion and courage in the face of opposition was so inspiring that I began to wonder ‘what if’…and how to weave that ‘what if’ into a contemporary love story.

As to whether I’m a planner or a panster…I’m a bit of both. I work to an outline which gives me direction but ultimately the details, the heart of the story emerges from the act of writing, which for me is where the magic lies.

(D) IF YOU HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? 

No, I wouldn’t change a thing. Going back and seeking to change the path of your life feels a bit like flattening out the mountains – with the breathtaking ride of the highs and lows lost in favour of a more plain and certain view.

(E) WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT?

I’m currently working on my second novel Love’s Portrait, a contemporary romance infused with a tragic love story from the past. At the heart of the plot is the mystery of a watercolour of a beautiful woman painted in the 1830’s.

Again not trying to give too much of the plot away, it is a love story between Molly Goode (a sweet, quirky, and passionate museum curator) and Georgina Wright (a confident, stylish, but somewhat closed off investment banker) who has inherited the painting through the death of her father.

The theme of the book is about the strength, compassion, and ballsy-ness of women whether it be during the fight for the abolition of slavery or in the fight for LGBT voices to be heard in mainstream society.


Why not check out the ELLCon website for more interviews with authors who are attending the conference. Also you can sign up to their newsletter for book giveaways and get all the latest conference news.

Not long to go now…

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 All rights reserved.