Friday, April 1, 2016

Housing Elephants - interview with Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Greetings, commies!
Today's guest is a self-identified daydreamer from Wales - and her name is very, very Welsh. Meet Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, the author of Housing Elephants, exploring the pitfalls of obsessive love.

If two lost souls were to collide and a love so deep was born, it would surely take a herd of elephants to tear them apart… 
MJN: The word "dreams" pops up in your bio and the synopsis of your novel Housing Elephants. Dream - unless it revolves around something other than finding cure for cancer - has almost become a "dirty" word. Dreamer as opposed to Doer. Some people are addicted to the idea of having an unreachable goal. So even if they manage to turn one dream into reality, they feel a void that needs to be filled. So they come up with a new far-fetched dream.

ELJ: I think having a dream and a goal to each is healthy. It keeps you striving and working hard, even if you never quite get there. If it is something you really want, why not do everything in your power to make it a reality? That's what I feel I am doing with my writing. To become a best seller is a dream of mine. At the moment i feel it is rather far-fetched, but it doesn't stop me going for it, for pushing myself so that I am a little closer each day... Does that make sense? I do also sit around and daydream, but I think that is something else entirely! Ha! 

MJN: You list U2 and The Beatles as your old-time favorites (great taste, by the way). Your character Eve also seeks refuge in arts and music from her overbearing mother. Do you believe that a person's music library is like a psychiatric medical chart, detailing his/her past tribulations?

ELJ: Ha! I like the idea of it being like a medical chart! I suppose if you were to list them in some sort of chronological order it might look like that. I certainly have music that is linked to my state of mind at certain times in my life, as I imagine lots of people do.  

MJN: Here is a quote from your synopsis. "Love can suffocate, and love can turn to hate."  I am so glad that you bring up that sobering point. Nobody wants to admit to it, but I think that there is an element of manipulation and obsession to almost any relationship, even if it's 90% healthy. But some people deliberately avoid commitment, because in the past every relationship had turned out to be toxic. Some people just know that they are not capable of healthy love, so they prefer not to wreck any more lives. Do you think a human being is able to reprogram him/herself and learn to love in a healthy, balanced manner?

ELJ: Yes I do. I believe very much that we are shaped and moulded by the people we surround ourselves with, and that like a piece of whittling wood, we can be carved. Our fears can be chipped away, our insecurities smoothed out and sanded down and we can be varnished and polished into a more trusting version of our former selves. 

MJN: Housing Elephants is your debut novel. Your first book always holds a special place in your heart and on your writing resume, even if you go on to write ten more books or just one more. I am always fascinated by the backstory behind each author's first novel.  There are so many variables. Some novels have been written on a whim. Others are product of decades of emotional toil. Sometimes the author is also the protagonist. Sometimes the author is just an observer. When writing Housing Elephants, did you lean on your own experiences or those of people around you?

ELJ: It started out as a 2000 word short story that I did for a creative writing course. The protagonists, Eve and Billy, were very loud in my head though, and demanded, even commanded my attention. So i began to write more about what they were telling me. It turned out that I had got them all wrong. They were completely different to the characters I had started out with, and I have to say, they wrote most of the story for me. I know that might sound weird to a non-author, but the characters come live. There were times when I thought I had the story all mapped out and BAM they would change it all up. Some feelings and emotions were written from experiencing them myself, but for the most part, the experiences, that the characters go through are fictional and from my imagination, which is pretty vivid at times!

MJN: At the end of the book description you put a warning: Contains scenes that some readers may find upsetting. I find that modern readers are very jaded and find very few things shocking. The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey is proof of that. My understanding is that readers expect certain elements from a specific genre. For instance, if a novel is labeled as a romance, they expect a happy ending, and any deviation from it will be "upsetting". Obviously, if a reader picks up a book about zombies, he/she should expect some gore.

ELJ: Yeah... there are some slightly disturbing issues dealt with in my book, but done sensitively I feel. I just felt I needed to put that there for those readers who might not have a strong gut. Unfortunately, not all love stories have happy ending though do they! Especially not ones about REAL life... mine is about real life. Real people and what really happens to real people... hehe!

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