Interview with Sandra Ireland #LoveBooksTour #BoneDeep

I'm delighted to welcome Sandra Ireland, author of  Beneath the Skin and Bone Deep to the blog today. I first interviewed Sandra last year (you can read my interview with her here) and am grateful to her for taking the time to answer more questions from me. I reviewed Bone Deep, her second novel here.

Your new book, Bone Deep has just been released. Tell me a little about it?
Bone Deep poses the question, what happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

What inspired you to write it?
I worked at Barry Mill, Angus, for several years. It’s a National Trust for Scotland property, one of the last working watermills in Scotland. I grew to love the whole process of milling, and the landscape around the mill. I always had some quirky folktales up my sleeve to entertain visitors. I found myself drawn to the mill as a setting for a novel, and the ancient Border Ballad of The Cruel Sister seemed to fit. In the ballad, the jealous older sister shoves the younger one into the mill pond. As I’m not a historical novelist, I wanted to make this a very modern story. It looks at contemporary relationships, but the past is never far away. I was very fortunate to receive support from Creative Scotland who saw the potential of the project.

Your first novel, Beneath the Skin was short-listed for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award, 2017 and your new book, Bone Deep has already appeared on numerous lists of “books to read in 2018”. How does this make you feel? Proud? Scared? Happy? All of the above?
It's all very exciting, of course, but the reviewing process is nerve-wracking! I was over the moon when Beneath the Skin was nominated for the award, but by that time it had already received a favourable reception, so I wasn’t too nervous, and just enjoyed the whole experience. Bone Deep has been sold in three territories; India, Germany and the US, so I should be full of confidence, but it rarely works that way! I will continue to be terrified until I hear some positive feedback from bloggers, reviewers and readers!

Where does the title come from? Did you choose the title or did the publishers have a major hand in the decision?
I originally called the book The Bone Harp, as it features a rather unusual harp. My editor thought Bone Deep would be better. You always have to consider the cover design, and what will fit best with the image. We wanted to convey the idea of water, as water plays a big part in the novel, and also the notion of love and other fierce emotions being ‘bone deep.’

What’s a typical writing session like for you? Is it very planned? Or more laid back? Are you the kind of writer who ‘dresses for work’ before sitting down to write, or do you barely make it out of your pyjamas?
I could stay in my pyjamas all day, whether I’m writing or not! I used to always write first thing in the morning, but I’ve been doing editing for other writers, and online creative writing classes, so I’ve had a slight change of routine. Nowadays I sometimes take myself off to a café to write as it frees my mind from all the other things I should be doing at home.

Sandra Ireland
You are one of the team behind Chasing Time: writing retreats which allow writers to get some time and space to let their creativity flow, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. How did you get involved with this?
I help run Chasing Time with Elizabeth Frattaroli and Dawn Geddes. We got together initially as writing buddies, and would meet periodically to critique each other’s work, which was extremely valuable. Along with Richard, another member of our group, we went on a writing weekend to Bronte country and got loads of writing done. It totally got us away from our domestic routines, and so we decided to offer the same dedicated time to other writers. So far, we’ve held about five or six tutored weekends at an Arbroath hotel and it’s been very well received. It’s a lot of fun for us too!

What’s next for you? What are you currently working on?
Novel Three, which is set in a scrapyard and focuses on a missing mother, is complete and is with my publisher, Polygon. I’m working on Novel Four, and I’ve just received a publishing offer from Little Toller Books for a non-fiction book about mill folklore. I’m about to start publicity for Bone Deep, so it’s going to be a busy year!

Many thanks to Sandra for answering all my questions.

You can find Sandra on Twitter at:
Her Facebook page:
Her website:
The Chasing Time website:
Polygon books on Twitter:

And check out the video for Bone Deep:

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