Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Elsie G. Beya about her writing and her recently released novel, A Florist Called Daisy, a deliciously readable, entertaining love story that registers poignant emotion as well as profound desire. (Read the review here.)
Finding teaching to be more about paperwork then expanding the minds of young children, and refusing to pay extortionate child care costs, Elsie G Beya started chasing her dreams of being a writer.
Elsie has attended several writing workshops and courses in her home county of Cumbria. She runs a book club in Carlisle, and is a member of two writing critique groups. She also looks good in any and all hats.
Elsie loves writing, reading, shopping, biscuits, tea, gin, and boybands. Like Daisy, she would very much like to love by the sea on the Isle of Cumbrae.
Elsie can be found procrastinating and/or researching on social media.
Also by Elsie G Beya: Staged
What inspired the premise of A Florist Called Daisy?
I had a dream about a member of a friends’ favourite band, and apologised to her for ‘dream stealing’ him from her. Which made me think, what would she do if that were to come true? It wouldn’t on any level, but it got me thinking…
I like the idea of celebrity, but how we as consumers, only see one side to these people we claim to know. There is nearly always a backstory to people, why they are who they are, why they decide to follow their creative dreams. And who drives these people, who has their back once the spotlight fades? They can’t just be surrounded by fellow celebrities all the time!
Also, I know of people who are still as obsessed with celebrities as they were in their teens. I myself still love boybands, but, as fanatical as I was, there’s a distance, an awareness of distance between real life and fantasy. I wanted to explore what would happen if the lines were blurred.
And, I love romances between the rich and famous and the lowly girl-next-door!
A Florist Called Daisy touches on many themes and ideas, both light and heavy. How do you balance the exploration of multiple themes in one story? Do some ideas come about naturally through the writing of other ideas, or did you have to make a plan for it all before you started writing the book?
My creative process is very thorough. I create characters and know everything about them before I start writing. Backstory, family and friendships, previous careers and studying, past trauma and events shape who we are. My characters are no different. Sometimes the heavier themes come about later, to add depth and reason for their actions, which can lead to a full rewrite!
I inject humour into the dialogue and internal thoughts of Daisy (and other characters), and of course there’re lovely lighter moments too, which stop the novel from being too heavy going.
It was a balance in Daisy, as she’s dealing with a lot in her head. But many people are, so it was just a case of making sure she was likeable, and didn’t come across as hard done by or pitiful. I feel people want to read stories with depth to them, but they still want a happy ending and to find pockets of fun and light relief too.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
Chapter 9, when Stewart visits Daisy at the florist is a favourite of mine, and went down well with beta readers too. I think it’s the switch, how Daisy sees Stewart as being vulnerable and honest, and she gives away a few snippets of her past too. Daisy is shown in her natural habitat, surrounded by flowers, and Stewart seems to fit right in, despite the lack of spotlights and music.
I love writing arguments and break ups too. When the characters have everything to lose, yet their hearts and words make them act like they’ve got nothing to lose, so they blurt out anything to cause affect. Daisy and Izzie’s argument is quite intense and it was exciting to put them all in such a compromising position.
Daisy and Stewart’s break up is, as my husband said, “brutal”. I took that to be a compliment!
Are Daisy and Stewart based on any people you know in real life, in whole or in part?
Weirdly, they remind me a lot of my husband and I. Unfortunately, we are neither botanical experts nor musicians, though I have always wanted to be a florist! Their banter and humour is very much like ours: playful and always said with love.
Stewart was originally based on a member of a band, but character-wise he’s taken on his own persona, so he’s now his own person, quite far removed from his inspiration.
Do you have any favorite romance novel tropes? Do you find you lean into writing those tropes or do you do the opposite and shy away from them?
Like I’ve said, the whole celebrity and “normal” person trope is a favourite. I tend to lean towards writing about musicians, not always intentionally.
There’s a great increase in published LGBTQA+ fiction, which is always a joy to read.
To be honest I just love a romance, a happy ending, and two characters who are meant to be, but perhaps they don’t always know it themselves.
What are your favorite books?
My ultimate favourite is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, I read it every year. It’s fantastic. So atmospheric and intense. Anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid is brilliant; I especially loved Daisy Jones and The Six and Malibu Rising. Boy Friends by Michael Pederson is a fascinating read on grief, love and friendship. Beach Read by Emily Henry, Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell are all favourites I re-read often.
Your first novel, Staged, came out a little over a year before the release of A Florist Called Daisy. What did you learn from the process of publishing your first book that affected how you approached the process of publishing your second book?
I loved discovering how publishing and editing works. It was really interesting, and it enabled me to see beyond the words I’d written. The bigger picture of target audience, themes, setting and how to shape the text to become the best book it can be.
The two main things I took away are: there’s so much involved in publishing, and it’s really tough! But so exciting too. And that characters drive a book. Without a captive main character (whether you love or hate them), the story can’t go anywhere, as we as readers need to want to be on the journey with them.
Your bio mentions that you’re a member of writing critique groups. What is the best thing you’ve learned about writing from critiquing other writers’ work?
That writing blindness is a thing! There are things you cannot see in your own writing. You can think you’ve written a flawless scene or chapter, and someone will find a fault, be it a spelling mistake or plot hole. It really helps having others read your work, but it can be terrifying as writing is so personal. Other people don’t now the full plot or plan, they don’t know everything about the story. They can only critique that small snippet, so sometimes as the author, you need to be clearer and set the scene better. It’s opened my mind to a variety of different genres, some which I read (crime, thriller) and some which I don’t (fantasy and sci-fi); they all have their own building blocks and structures linked only to that genre, which is fascinating.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on my Masters degree in Literature, Romanticism, and The Lake District, which is a challenge and something different for my creative brain, yet it’s very interesting. Possibly some outreach work will come from this; exploring how classic texts and poems can be made more accessible to the next generation. It’s something I’m getting excited about, as young people especially seem daunted by the old language and thus miss out on some amazing work.
Writing wise, I’m playing with a sequel to Daisy, but I’m not sure where she’ll take me next!
I’ve just started on the early stages of book three, inspired by the lakes, mountains and islands of the Lake District, with possibly a hint to Wuthering Heights. As yet, there’s no hint of a rock star. But that could change…
Categories: BookView Review Interview
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