Reyna: Thank you very much! Today, we’re very happy to speak with Rebecca Bryn, author of The Silence of the Stones AND Touching the Wire.
Please, give our readers a bit about who you are…your personality.
Rebecca: I live on a small-holding in West Wales with my husband, dog and a flock of sheep. I’m a self-taught artist and love to paint the fabulous Pembrokeshire coast in watercolour. I’ve been writing for about ten years, and love the places it takes me. I hate to be beaten… I’ll keep on at something until I get it right. Having said that, I’m pretty laid back, forgiving and non-judgemental and very forgetful – I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Hate confrontation, avoid publicity… usually… and used to stand at the back of the class and bend my knees at school when someone was needed to sing.
Reyna: Can you tell us something a little more personal? Like…what’s your guilty pleasure?
Rebecca: Dark chocolate and a glass of wine. Make that two glasses of wine. More than that and I go to sleep.
Reyna: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Rebecca: I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Rugged, wild and unspoilt coast and moorland. It would seem ungrateful to want to live anywhere else.
Reyna: Out of all your characters, which one would you take with you?
Rebecca: Oh golly. I suppose it would be Alana from The Silence of the Stones. She’s the person I might have been, had I had more courage and less conscience. Also, she’s an artist and sculptor, and loves Pembrokeshire, so we’d have lots to talk about. I suppose she’s the daughter I never had. I used to carve in wood, and have always fancied having a go at stone.
Reyna: Bear with me, if you could live in the world you created, would you?
Rebecca: My novel, Touching the Wire, is set partly in Auschwitz, so definitely not there: it would be a nightmare I might not survive. The Silence of the Stones is set in Pembrokeshire and I love all the characters I created, even the bad ones, so maybe that would be interesting.
Reyna: I can understand that.
Reyna: When and why did you start on the path to become an author?
Rebecca: I began writing in 2004 after spending a year proof-reading for a friend who’d had a serious accident and had taken up writing during her convalescence. I sat at the computer one day and typed Chapter One, just to see what it felt like. Then I typed ‘Jem frowned and scanned the horizon.’ I had no idea what was going to happen to Jem. Eleven years later I have changed her name to Kiya, she no longer frowns or scans the horizon, and am now completely rewriting her story. The book will be called Where Hope Dares – I’ve written a blog about its progress at www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk Blog: The Birth of a Novel – Proverbs and Destiny. I hope to complete the novel towards the end of 2015. Don’t let anyone tell you writing a novel is quick!
Reyna: I won’t 😉
Reyna: Do you read books that are the same genre as your work?
Rebecca: I read most genres. Sci-fi and fantasy used to be my favourites, but I find my tastes are broadening as I write.
Reyna: Who do you write for? The audience or yourself?
Rebecca: Oh, that isn’t something I’ve given much thought to. I tend to write about subjects that I feel are important. Things I feel driven to research and write about, so I suppose I write for my own and my readers’ enlightenment and hope that my readers enjoy them. It’s a bit like painting. If an artist doesn’t paint something they feel inspired to paint, the results are sub-standard. I write about what inspires me, shocks me, makes me cry. In other words, something that fires my emotions.
Reyna: In Touching the Wire, who is your favorite? How and why did you create them?
Rebecca: That has to be Walt. I built him around my memories of my maternal grandfather. He used to tell stories with his hands and I loved him to bits. Walt had to be based on someone I loved or I couldn’t have written that character sympathetically, in fact, I couldn’t have written him at all. There’s a lot about him that will make readers search their own consciences. He certainly troubled mine.
Reyna: Who would you compare Adam in Touching the Wire with?
Rebecca: This is interesting. Adam and Robin are two sides of the same coin. Adam has the best attributes of my two husbands, (One at a time, not both at once!) kind, considerate, forgiving and caring: Robin has the worst bits of them. We won’t go in to that: no-one is perfect.
Reyna: If Adam were a real person, would you hang out with him?
Rebecca: Oh yum, yes. But my husband might get jealous… being part Robin.
Reyna: Are you totally separated from your characters or is there a bit of you inside?
Rebecca: I think there has to bits of me in all my characters or I wouldn’t understand what makes them tick. Like them, I’m not perfect, either.
Reyna: Can we have a short blurb about The Silence of the Stones?
Rebecca: The Silence of the Stones is set in West Wales. Alana is left a cottage by an aunt she didn’t know existed. When she arrives in the remote village to claim it, the villagers closes ranks against her and she’s drawn into the heart of a conspiracy of silence over a 30 year-old crime. Two children went missing, and villagers perjured themselves to get Nerys, the person they thought guilty, jailed. Now Nerys has been released after evidence was found unsafe, and Rhiannon, her companion, is out to revenge her.
Touching the Wire is set partly in 70s and present day England, and partly in a Nazi death camp in Poland in 1944/45. It’s based on real events and the 1940s story is told via Walt’s memories.
Arriving at Auschwitz, Miriam, a Jewish nurse, steps from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor. Together they fight to save lives of the women in the camp and, as their relationship blossoms, join the camp resistance, carrying explosives used to blow up the crematoria. They keep a secret diary and each promises to make the terrible truth of the camps known if they survive. At liberation, Walt steals damning evidence of war crimes but he and Miriam are separated when Miriam is struck down with scarlet fever. Can he get back to her in time to save her life?
After the war, Walt begins a new life but to protect his family he keeps silent about his experiences in Poland, leaving his promise to Miriam unkept. Seventy years after liberation, it’s his granddaughter, Charlotte, fighting her own demons, who unravels her grandfather’s past in order to understand his nightmares, and it’s she who keeps his promise.
Reyna: What books, movie or play inspired you?
Rebecca: Books: If This is a Man – Truce by Primo Levy. Five Chimneys by Olga Lenghel. Fractured by Ruth Dee. Film: Schindler’s List. There are loads of others but these stick in my mind as being central to my two titles.
Reyna: I still cry at the image of that red dress.
Reyna: What is the hardest part to being an author?
Rebecca: Finding the time needed to write. Marketing takes so much time and so much energy that I begin to realise that agents earn their percentage! It’s also very hard to get reviews. I don’t think readers realise how important it is to authors. We need feedback. No-one creates in a vacuum.
Reyna: What’s your technique? Plan it out or make it up as you go?
Rebecca: I have a rough idea of a beginning and an ending. My characters decide how and if I get there. The route is usually pretty circuitous.
Reyna: What are your thoughts on good & bad reviews? Do you learn from them, take with a grain of salt…or, a little bit of both?
Rebecca: I learn from them. I may not agree with everything a reviewer says, but there is usually a grain of truth in there if you look for it. I strive always to improve my writing, and all criticism is a valuable aid towards that. So far I’ve been very lucky and have had brilliant reviews. Only one has said they didn’t like a book and they gave a reason. Had they read the book blurb they’d have known what to expect.
Reyna: We love your book cover. Who made the design?
Rebecca: I found a terrific image on-line and made the cover myself using Photoshop.
Reyna: Kudos to you!
Reyna: For newbie writers, what advice would you give them?
Rebecca: Most importantly, enjoy it. Write and learn your craft. Don’t bin stuff because it’s not good enough. Rewrite it, hone it, edit it and then do the whole process again, several times. Nothing is perfect first time, or even the fourth. Write from the heart and be proud of what you produce.
Reyna: Your answers are so awesome, we love you! (Too personal? Sorry about that.) Well…you gave a great interview. How can our readers get in touch with you and see what else you have in store?
Reyna: Rebecca, thank you so much for taking the time to come over and talk with us. You have just saved my job and I am eternally grateful.
Reyna: In conclusion: Please check out The Silence of the Stones AND Touching the Wire by Rebecca Bryn and let us know what you think.