Kim Taylor Blakemore
Kim Taylor Blakemore
The Truth in Our Lies (March 2021) | The Lines We Leave Behind | Another Day Gone | The One I Was | The History Room
Tell us about your latest book.
The Truth in Our Lies was published in the summer of 2019 and is the story of a young woman who's lost everything and takes up a job at a 'fake' radio station during the Second World War. She broadcasts what we'd call fake news to the Germans, blending a mixture of very up-to-date and factual information (some of it provided by nearby Bletchley Park) and complete fiction. The operation is a key part of the propaganda war against the Nazis. The radio studio and the teams working to provide it with material really did exist, but under a cloud of secrecy that only lifted comparatively recently. Anna is recovering from the trauma of losing half her beautiful face to burns received in an air-raid that killed her sister. She's also mourning the end of her relationship with a dashing fighter pilot. The people she works with all have their own secrets to contend with. As the lies take on an even more sinister tone, the body of Anna's new lover is found in a local pond.
What's your writing process?
I spend some months researching the historical background and locations of my books, which is a great part of the process, though I am a bit hamstrung by Covid this year! I had been hoping to return to Brittany to finish research on my WIP, but that hasn't been possible. Luckily I took a load of photos last year when we were there. Not as much fun as sitting in a creperie with a jug of local cider and a pancake, though. When I have researched enough to feel reasonably confident, I write a short synopsis, really a road map, which I refine down until I've got the key question, the 'why should I care?' issue. Then I write. I don't set word limits for each day as I can't see the point of producing words for the sake of it, but if I'm in full flow, I will produce about 1,500-2,000 a day. If I'm not producing many words I know there's something wrong with the premise and think again until my imagination is fired. I have thrown away quite a few false starts. I always find writing a mock query for the book helps, even though I am not looking for an agent. It condenses down that 'why should I care?' question so I can see what really matters about the characters.
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
I keep coming back to the question of how a trauma or big family secret percolates down the generations, affecting children and grandchildren. In fact, The Truth in Our Lies is almost the only one of my books that isn't multigenerational.
Do you listen to music while you write?
No, when I'm writing I just write.
What's your favorite genre to read?
I read pretty well everything from literary fiction, through Victorian novels to psychological thrillers and police procedurals.
What are you reading right now?
I'm reading The Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levi, a literary 'family origins' novel, alongside a paranormal thriller by F G Cottam, set on the Isle of Wight. Although the books seem very different, they both explore issues of guilt and preoccupation with the past and previous generations, a sense that we can't completely get away from the people who created us, either genetically or through another kind of influence.
What's the next project and when can we expect it?
My novel You Let Me Go, is set to be published in March 2021 and is about identical twins living in Occupied France who make a terrible sacrifice for the best of reasons on a remote Brittany beach. Yes, once again, there are generational trickle-down issues and questions.
Links to social media
Eliza Graham's novels have been long-listed for the UK's Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day's 'Hidden Gem' competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.
She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she's made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.
It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.
At Oxford University she studied English Literature, which didn't teach her much about writing a modern novel, but expanded her knowledge of the literary canon and how people have used books and words to communicate with one another since Saxon times.
She has worked as a 'Saturday' girl in Marks & Spencer, an entrance-hall cleaner, a trainee banker and as a PR consultant and business writer, covering subjects from long-tail insurance risks to jumbo factory loo rolls.
Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to achieve this, though her dog finds the resultant sounds interesting. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.
Copyright 2023 | Kim Taylor Blakemore