Today I am over the moon at being part of the Blog tour for Song of Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull. Today I have a chat to Rebecca
Hi Rebecca – Thank you for taking part in this q & a for Natsreadingcloud Would you like to start by introducing yourself to my readers..?
Hello there! I’m a novelist and I’ve also worked in education for many years. I have a daughter and I love talking to her about the world. I also like chocolate and cakes far too much for my own good.
Tell us a bit about Song of the Sea Maid
It’s the story of an orphan girl in the 18th-century who, despite her low circumstances, dreams of being a scientist. Through determination and some good fortune, she travels abroad to study nature and makes a remarkable discovery… She also finds love and war, then is set off on a path she didn’t expect.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
The spark for this book was a question: what if a person with no power or position in society came up with a brilliant scientific idea in times past? Would that idea ever be heard? It occurred to me that the brilliant thinkers of the past – the ones we learn about at school and the ones who have statues built of them – these are often the ones who were in the right place at the right time. What I mean is, if you have no means to have your ideas listened to e.g. if you are poor or in any other way disenfranchised in your society, you could be the most brilliant thinker of your generation, but who on earth would ever get to hear about you? This is particularly true in the far more rigid class structures of the past – such as the lowly position of women in the 18th-century – but it still holds true in many places in the world today.
How did you go about doing the research for this book?
It’s a long process involving quite a bit of work! I always start with a notebook, jotting down random ideas. Then I start reading around the topics I feel I need to know about in order to tell my story. For example, for Sea Maid, I had to learn about 18th-century society, female scientists, travel by sea, the Seven Years’ War etc. I watch documentaries and movies about the period or the topics. I fill research files full of notes. It takes a good year or more. You could go on forever doing this! But at some point, you reach a kind of critical mass of information and then you feel ready to start drafting. That’s how it works for me, anyway. You can see me talking about this process in my study on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE-Hd7EYrag
Who are your favourite Authors? And what genre of books do you enjoy reading?
My favourite author of all time is Charles Dickens, because he makes you laugh and cry, writes brilliant page-turning plots and makes you think. Other than him, I have particular books that are my favourites, rather than authors. For example, some of my favourite novels of all time are Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Blind Assassin, Catcher in the Rye, Cold Mountain, Persuasion. I love all these books but don’t necessarily love all the books by all of these authors. So I’m very particular about the books that are special to me. However, there are some writers that I will go to when a new book comes out that I know I will generally enjoy and in recent times these have included Amy Tan and Isabel Allende. My most recent discovery of beloved books have been the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I can’t recommend them highly enough – completely immersive, addictive family saga across the years surrounding World War II. Just wonderful stuff.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
For me, writing stories mirrors how I think and how I’ve always looked at the world. I’ve always been an observer, watching people and placing them in little dramas in my head. It’s just the way my mind works. So writing novels means I get to satisfy my mind in a very complete way, which is wonderful. And though I like good walks in beautiful places as much as anyone else, I’m also a bit of a home person, so it suits me to have a job where (apart from necessities like doing the school run etc.) I don’t have to leave the house if I don’t want to. I don’t even have to get out of my dressing gown! That suits me very well! I’d have to say the two worst things about being a writer are the self-doubt that seems to go hand-in-hand with being an author and also it’s very difficult to make a living wage from writing alone, so that brings with it attendant stress, unfortunately! However, I wouldn’t swap it for the world and I do love my job.
Do you have a favourite writing place?
Being honest, I would say I love to write in bed but my physio at the hospital would tell me off! I’ve had all sorts of neck and back problems from writing, so I have to sit at my desk with a proper chair and all that. In a perfect world, it would be snowing outside and the central heating will be on. That’s how I would love to write best. But let’s face it, it’s not a perfect world and so one must make the best of the time and space you have. If my cat is around to keep me company, that suits me very well too.
What other hobbies/interests do you have apart from writing?
Reading, surprise surprise! Also, cinema and watching TV drama box sets. Baking cakes (and eating them). Going for walks with my family in lovely places. I also love going book shopping and visiting cafes to drink Earl Grey tea, with dear friends and good conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these.
As a child living on the streets of London, then in an orphanage, Dawnay Price grows up determined not to let her background stand in the way of her ambitions.
In an era where women rarely travel alone, especially for scientific study, Dawnay sets sail aboard The Prospect to the beautiful Iberian Peninsula. Amid rumours of mermaids in the sparkling waters, she makes some unexpected discoveries, including what it means to fall in love.
Having fought hard against convention, Dawnay is determined to put her career above all else. Yet as war approaches she finds herself divided by feelings she cannot control.
Told in Dawnay’s words, from the author of THE VISITORS, this is an unforgettable story about what it takes to achieve your dreams, even when they seem impossible.