Today I am excited to introduce Lilac Mills. Lilac has three published works out right now, all of which look adorable and charming. I was reading through the reviews of Elephant and Pinky Moon and it sounds like it’s a delightful and funny read. Definitely the kind of entertainment I could use right now. Check out my interview with Lilac, plus be sure to check out her awesome website and her charming novels!
Tell me about yourself:
I’m married, with one adult (more or less) daughter, and work full time in an administration role, as well as trying to make my way as a writer.
What first inspired you to start writing?
Like many people, I’d dabbled with the idea of writing a novel for years. On several occasions, I’d even got as far writing the first chapter, or scribbling down a half-formed plot. But that’s always as far as I ever got, until my little dog died. I have no idea where it came from, but one morning, after days of thinking I could hear her claws clicking on the tiles in the kitchen, or thinking she’d just walked into the room, I woke up with a virtually complete idea for a story in my head. And that’s how I came up with Under the Cherry Tree.
Are you a cat or dog lover?
Dog definitely, though I’ve also owned cats. There’s just something about a dog which appeals to my need to be worshipped!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A bit of both, really. I cherry pick (excuse the pun!) the traits of various people which I think will work for a character, and I might use a snippet of one person and a smidgen of another, until the character fits in with what the story line needs. I didn’t actually realise I’m doing it, until my mother pointed out she could see herself in one of the character in Under the Cherry Tree, and again in Elephant and Pinky Moon, though I honestly swear I never ever knew my mother had been known to dance on tables and flash her knickers when she’d had a few too many gin and tonics!
What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
I can’t point to one, because I’ve read thousands of books over the years and many have stuck in my mind for a raft of different reasons. I was reading books aimed at adults (no, not those kinds!) in my very early teens, and one writer who still stands out for me now is Joyce Stranger. I was very into animals then, and the way she wrote about the fictional lives of wild animals blew my mind away, but I daren’t go back and re-read any of hers, just in case they’re not as good as I remember them being.
Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
I hope to have at least twenty books under my belt by then. With three published this year and hopefully more next year, I should be well on my way to achieving my aim. I’ve got so many stories in my head, that I need to get them all down on paper, so to speak, and at the moment, the ideas are coming faster than I can write. Long may that go on!
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
That question isn’t as easy as it sounds, because I like most of them, even the baddies, because they’re fun to write. If pushed, I’d say Flossie out of Elephant and Pinky Moon, but if you ask me next week my answer may well have changed.
Any website or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer?
Scribophile is great for honing one’s writing skills. It can be a bit of a time-suck, and I’ve been known to lose whole days to it, but the reactions, critiques and suggestions of other writers to my own work has been invaluable to me. I don’t use it much now – not because I don’t have anything more to learn because I do, but because I have a good team of beta readers who soon let me know if the standards of my work have slipped!
What do you love most about the writing process?
The idea, which sometimes hits me like a lightning bolt, and other times sneaks in through the back door and catches me unawares; starting writing (that first chapter is always so exciting!) and writing the last few words, when I can kid myself that the novel is actually finished.
If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Flossie – I’d want to go on holiday with her, maybe skiing? I reckon she’d be good at that!
What are some tips you can give other aspiring writers?
Keep at it. Every writer I know feels like giving up at some point in their manuscript. If you don’t finish it, it can never be published.
Tell me about your book: Elephant and Pinky Moon.
Nina is a slightly uptight, set-in-her-ways teacher, who has little else in her life apart from work. Flossie, her grandmother, has just lost her husband, yet her joie-de-vivre far outweighs Nina’s. Flossie doesn’t want Nina to miss out on life, so she sets herself the target of teaching her granddaughter just how much fun life can be. She also tries to set Nina up with anything in trousers, much to Nina’s disgust
Where did you get the idea for your book?
My husband is to blame for the title (you’ll have to read the book to find out its significance) and once the title was in my head, the idea developed from there. I knew it was going to be a chick lit, so the outcome was rather inevitable, but the bit in the middle was more of a mystery until I’d written it.
What inspired you to keep writing it?
I’d written a full-length novel before – I knew I could do it again. My husband actually suggested writing might similar to killing someone – it gets easier each time you do it! I don’t know if it gets easier (and I’m talking about writing, not killing – though dispatching the odd character or two is quiet liberating), but the fact that I’d done it before, kept me going.
Can you leave us with an excerpt?
Can you leave us with an excerpt?
Of course I can! Here you go…
Flossie was already seated in a corner booth in Marks and Spencer’s cafe, with a pot of tea in front of her. As soon as she saw Nina she called ‘Coo-ee‘ to a waitress, who smiled and brought a coffee for the new arrival. Nina dumped her bags on the floor and dropped into a chair with a harried sigh.
‘It’s official,’ she announced. ‘I hate shopping.’
‘Show me what you’ve bought,’ Flossie said, and Nina bent down to retrieve the first thing which came to hand – a swimming costume.
She soon sat up straight again when Flossie produced a miniature bottle of vodka and poured it into her tea. ‘Gran,’ she hissed, ‘what are you doing?’
‘Drinking my tea,’ the old lady said, a picture of wide-eyed innocence.
‘Put it away, you’ll get us thrown out!’
‘Don’t be such a wuss,’ Flossie replied, sucking up her tea with relish and smacking her lips.
Nina had difficulty getting her head around the fact that her eighty-four-year-old, frail grandmother had just called her a wuss, and that she carried vodka in her handbag and was brazen enough to flash it in the middle of an M&S coffee shop, without even batting an eyelid.
Her grandmother was a secret lush.
‘Want some?’ Flossie asked, waving the half empty bottle.
‘Put it away,’ Nina repeated, scanning the café like a spy expecting an ambush. ‘I’m sure they’ve got to have a license or something if they intend serving alcohol.’
‘They’re not serving alcohol,’ Flossie pointed out. ‘I’m serving myself.’
Nina sighed and looked away when a couple on a neighbouring table gave her a dagger-like stare. Anyone would think she had some control over what her grandmother did. She snorted and thought, ‘I wish!’
She’d forgotten she was still holding her one-piece, until Flossie jabbed a finger at it and asked, ‘What do you call that?’
‘A swimming costume, Gran.’
‘It looks roomy enough to fit a horse inside. Did you pick up the right size?’
‘Yes, thank you.’ Nina was indignant; there was nothing wrong with her costume.
‘Bit old-ladyish, innit?’ Flossie slipped the now-empty bottle into her voluminous bag.
‘Not at all. I like it!’ Nina changed the subject. ‘Did you manage to alter the name on the booking, or do I have to take all this back for a refund?’ Nina relaxed a little now the vodka was hidden away.
Flossie blinked owlishly. ‘What name?’
‘My name, remember? You were going into the travel agent to change the booking from Grandad’s name to mine.’ Please don’t let her really be losing her marbles, Nina prayed silently.
Her grandmother looked relieved, as if her memory had suddenly come back. ‘Oh that,’ she waved a hand airily. ‘All done. Nothing for you to worry about.’
‘What about the rooms?’
‘Booked. As I said, nothing to fret about, all sorted.’
‘Shall I check the paperwork, just to make sure?’
‘I’m perfectly capable of sorting it out myself,’ Flossie said, sitting straighter in her seat and doing a Queen Victoria impression. Nina could tell she wasn’t amused.
‘Okay, if you’re sure…?’
‘I am. Now, let’s not hear any more about it. Show me what else you bought, and I’ll show you mine,’ Flossie commanded.
Nina glanced around, not certain she wanted to drag any more of her purchases out, especially since Flossie had been so dismissive of her swimming costume. Her grandmother had no such qualms, producing a huge pair of knickers and holding them up for the whole world to see.
‘Look, they’ve got a pretty bow on them,’ Flossie announced.
What are you working on now?
I’m just doing the final edits on a Christmas story, And a Sixpence for Luck, and it will be out at the end of September.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
If anyone would like to join by beta or Advance Reader Team, just let me know.
You can find me at , on Twitter @lilacmills or Facebook
Twenty-eight-year-old Nina lives a quiet, unassuming life, happy (ish) with her job, maybe not quite as happy with her non-existent love-life (but no one can have everything, right?) and content to trundle along with her nice, predictable daily routine.That is, until Nina is persuaded to accompany her octogenarian grandmother on a beach holiday to Turkey.Nina envisages sedate walks along the promenade, afternoon naps by the pool, and bingo in the evening. What she actually gets is too much vodka, adult games of “pin the tail on the donkey” and dancing on a bar whilst flaunting her knickers – and that’s just her gran!
More About Lilac Mills:
Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!
She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…
When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing (she meant to say “borrowing”) her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.