Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I grew up in Liverpool’s inner city. Home was a tiny terraced house with no hot water, bath or shower and joys of joys – an outside toilet.
This influenced my 1970s based Liverpool series. I write about real people who struggle to survive in poverty but I do this from the inside out because I lived there too.
I aim to capture the humanity, wit and humour of my characters as well as the community spirit which is one of the best things about Liverpool.
The first of my Liverpool books was my debut crime thriller, Piggy Monk Square.
Piggy Monk Square was first published by Tindal Street Press, short-listed for the Commonwealth New Writers Prize, optioned for film by Willy Russell, and broadcast on Ireland’s RTE Radio One.
Many Piggy Monk Square readers mentioned that they loved the character of Josie. She was a minor character but readers loved her cheeky attitude, big heart and spirited approach to live.
I enjoyed writing about Josie and so I wrote two more books featuring her as the main character.
When the Sun Shines is a short novel introducing the character and setting the scene for the full-length novel – The Sunshine Girl.
I started off writing to please myself but was greatly encouraged by my creative writing teacher.
I began to write short stories and when I won awards for these, including Ireland’s Book Stop Award, I was encouraged to write more and more.
When these stories were published – I well and truly got the writing bug.
I did a detour into film school so my career has been varied.
I wrote, directed and produced documentary and short films for television as well as writing short stories for RTE’s Radio One.
I also taught script-writing and creative-writing at 3rd level but right now I concentrate on writing novels.
LIFE IN A WILD ATLANTIC WILDERNESS
I live with my husband in a wild Atlantic wilderness along with a tiny rescued Jack Russell pup who enjoys chewing on laptop leads and barking at her own reflection.
I also have ten hens who regularly escape into our neighbour’s gardens as well as three lucky ducks.
I love walking around the country lanes where I live and also enjoy weekend coastal walks.
One day I hope to have walked the entire coast of Ireland….
WRITING FOR CHILDREN
I also write for children and my love of nature and its natural magic inspired me to create the fictional town of Ballyyahoo.
With my Ballyyahoo books, I aim to encourage children to enjoy the wonder of nature.
My eBooks link to a website where young readers can click directly from their books to find more free stories, photographs and background information about the characters, animals and wildlife of Ballyyahoo.
You can visit the magical town and read some free stories at www.ballyyahoo.com
GRACE LIKES TO GARDEN
I also love gardening and grow my own vegetables, fruit and flowers.
I have a blog about my efforts to tame my wild Galway garden at www.gracelikestogarden.com
Writing can be a lonely business so I love hearing from readers.
Whether you want to say hello or ask me a question go ahead and can contact me at the sites below.
www.gracejolliffe.com and www.practicalcreativewriting.com
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is Kindness and Strangers. This is another in my Liverpool series and features Frankie.
Frankie is another spirited female character and I have to say I am fond of her.
She’s not perfect but neither is her life. When she arrives home one day to find her father packing his bags her life changes in a way she never imagined.
Her father’s abrupt departure launches the family into a spiral of debt and it’s up to Frankie to save them.
Kindness and Strangers will be published very soon.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I am lucky in that I can write anywhere. Once I immerse myself in the story I can tune most things out including the sound of my dog snoring.
Eppie, a tiny terrier, likes to sit on me or beside me when I’m writing and apart from occasionally tapping her paw on the keyboard she is great company for a writer.
I walk every day and I would swear this keeps writer’s block away. I also tend to drink a lot of tea when I’m writing but apart from that, I don’t have any particular routines or superstitions.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
When I think back I think the book that influenced me most was ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’
She was my first heroine and she made me want to be a writer.
I love John Steinbeck’s East of Eden because it says so much about human nature and makes me ponder the questions of good and evil and what makes us who we are.
My reading choices are hugely influenced by my mood – when I need cheering up I read Tom Sharpe. His books never fail to make me laugh.
I love to read thrillers for the escapism – legal ones like John Grisham’s are a favourite.
I always enjoy reading books about human beings who don’t quite fit in but can’t figure out why.
Anne Tyler does this beautifully and ‘The Accidental Tourist’ is one of my favourites.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am planning another novel in my Liverpool series.
I used to just start writing and go from there but I’ve learned from my mistakes and these days I prefer to plan the novel out before starting so that I at least have an idea of how the story will develop and most importantly – how it will end.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I love sites like this which make promotion accessible to those of us with smaller budgets. I have found little and often works well when it comes to promotion.
I am still experimenting with advertising and promotions so it’s hard to say which method is best but I did have great success promoting Piggy Monk Square on Bookbub. This was the most expensive promotion I have ever done and I bit my nails waiting for the results – but it more than paid for itself.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I love to encourage new authors and my best advice is to write regularly, don’t allow your inner critic to stop you and if a story doesn’t work out – think of it as practice and start another right away.
I used to teach creative writing and scriptwriting and so have plenty more advice and information for my writers on my website:
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
You’ve only got one life – don’t waste it.
So… always take steps towards the life you want – even small steps can get you there.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading Testimony by Anita Shreve.
What’s next for you as a writer?
What’s next for me as a writer? Big question but my loose plan is to finish one or two more books in my Liverpool series and then experiment by writing in a completely different genre.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The first one would be a non-fiction book about surviving on a desert island of course.
I guess there’d be a lot of thinking time on that desert island so my second book would be East of Eden by John Steinbeck because as well as being a compelling story it is an amazing study in human nature and never fails to make me think.
Next would be two very, very long books that I have never read.