As soon as I finished reading #GillianPugsley’s story, I felt so connected to the heart and spirit of the characters’ of whom had entertained my mind for so many lovely moons of a stay, I did not wish to depart them. Even though I knew my time with them was coming to a close, I wanted to learn a bit more about the back-story of how this particular novel was composed so eloquently but also, how real-life provided such a hearty level of inspiration, as there are points within the novel’s scope of depth where you can feel quite attune and attached to the author’s journey inasmuch as her characters!
This is one of those special novels which becomes an experience of it’s own to read – where you feel inter-connected through time and the pages of where words bridge the gap between what can be well-envisioned of a lived life and where fiction tucks in the differences and grants us a personal glimpse of ‘what could have been’. Such is the beauty behind “The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley” as you are treated to such a heart-moving story about a granddaughter’s search for the truth about her grandmother’s life!
I was overjoyed when Ms Örnbratt was open to an interview, as there were questions which were coming to me as I read the story and some came after I concluded the final bits which left my cheeks watered with tears and a choking realisation all is known, and all is quite a bit lost except for the happiness of having crossed paths with both Gilly and Gillian Pugsley! Two women who should leave an impression on each woman who reads their story, for they had such a legacy of words, love and a voice of a life lived whilst in pursuit of finding one’s voice and owning the path you choose.
Here is the conversation the novel inspired me to compose
and the responses on behalf of Ms Örnbratt I believe will inspire you!
She has written a heart-centred story befit for granddaughters who achingly miss their grandmothers whose close-knit connection was a dear part of their lives. This is a story told from a granddaughter’s perception about their grandmother’s story – as Gillian is best understood through the graceful wisdom of Gilly; two women who share not only a name but an old soul mentality about life, living and the circles of love. It has such a powerful thread of story, you do not realise at first how hard-hitting #GillianPugsley will be until you tuck yourself inside it’s chapters and fear for the moment where your fingers turn the ending pages, revealling not only the fuller scope of what you’ve consumed but the theory you first realised when you began reading it.
The ‘particular appeal’ of #GillianPugsley is she’s an ‘every woman’ character, writ solid with a dimensional story arc not limited by time nor country. Hers is a story of fortitude of strength and a zest for adventure; where accepting limitations is not her mantra and where embracing life as it arrives is part of her nature. She’s particularly appealing because of her moxie and her deep commitment to living life on her terms. She softens by love and she is renewed in the spirit of living by the one man she never had to explain herself too as he already understood her quirky nature. If war and time had not been erased of the clock, you start to wonder – would their lives have been writ differently?
This is a story written from the living hours straight through to the resolution of the tomorrow Gilly captures from her grandmother. It’s an ode to grandmothers and granddaughters of whom intrinsically know more than they let on about each other.
From the opening sequences of the novel, I instinctively felt the poems were the foreshadowing of this story to be layered through autobiographical data left behind and/or passed down to you. How did you approach crafting the story out of the poems, as this was also a measure of Gilly’s journey as well? Were the two connected or did you expound a bit away from your own living truth?
Örnbratt responds: The poems are autobiographical. Of this, I have no doubt. How I interpreted them on the other hand, was left to my imagination. Indeed, they foreshadow much of the story and yes, I drew bits and pieces from my own and my grandmother’s life, eg. setting (London, Tobermory, Berkshire), my grandmother working as a nanny for a maharaja of India, a sister named Beaty, etc. But the actual story is fictional.
I had a general idea of where I wanted the story to go. In this way, the crafting was rather loose, at least far from rigid. I let the feeling of the poems drive the story. My writing was very much connected to them through the entire process. At times, I would write a chapter and the poem I had originally chosen to accompany it, fit better somewhere else. There was shifting throughout which was easy to do because I understood there was a common thread through all of them. They were about love, passion and commitment. This worked well for the story’s purpose. I drew from between those lines. Even if my interpretation wasn’t my grandmother’s actual history, I could imagine some of the poems deriving from a first love and others, the settled, familiarity of marriage.
Gilly, the granddaughter’s journey is definitely connected to the poems. It is a journey that also mirrors my own in ways. Both my character and myself as a writer became reacquainted with a grandmother and the writer neither of us knew she was. As I learned that my own grandmother had a past, that she was once a young woman filled with passion and dreams, so did my character. Read More