Today I am happy to welcome Grace Coleman to Liz Loves Books, telling us about her novel Walking Barefoot and a little about herself. Thanks Grace!
Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..
Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will Balston, past and present. As the story unravels we try to come to terms with the source of his unhappiness. It’s a brooding dystopian novel; more character-driven than traditional Speculative fiction with an intriguingly headstrong but flawed protagonist. Set in the futuristic, but broken, city of London, it paints a vivid portrait of what the world could look like.
Where did you grow up and what was family life like?
The majority of my childhood (6+) was spent in Sussex in a town not quite big enough to be interesting and not quite small enough to be quaint. My family life had ups and downs but there was always a lot of love there, so I count myself very lucky. I’ve always been very close to my big sister too, although five years older she really is my best friend.
Academic or creative at school?
I was a bit of a brown-nose at school so did well in most subjects. I loved the thrill of acting in front of the class in Drama as much as I loved the satisfaction of working out a tricky maths equation. I chose History to study further and now work in the business side of television, so I think I’ve always put myself in situations that combine the academic and creative.
First job you *really* wanted to do?
I wanted to be a generic business woman for a large part of my childhood. This involved carting round a plastic pink phone having imaginary but very important conversations, writing endless notes at my writing desk and answering our home phone with ‘Miss Coleman speaking, how can I help you?’
Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?
I really don’t. Writing has always just been there; whether it was presenting my mum with stories about magic frogs, hours of not-so-veiled teenage angst poetry or a way of imagining the Californian record-label hotshot I would become (spoiler alert – I didn’t make it), writing has always been a way of exploring and expressing myself and letting my imagination run wild.
Who are your real life heroes?
I tend not to hero worship, but I’m very proud of both my grandmothers. One for her strength and smarts in pulling herself out of working class Belfast to a career in fashion in the city at a time when it couldn’t have been easy for a woman trying to make it in the working world. The other for successfully raising a family of seven (and uncountable grand and great grand kids) with endless love and patience that is still felt in the family today.
Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?
If my mum reads this I’m dead.
Coming back from a night-out, alone tripping in heels and wearing an over-sized coat, I eventually gave up on walking (I think I was heading in the wrong direction anyway) and hailed a taxi. I was a bit perplexed when he said ‘It’s OK get in the front seat’ and even more concerned when I couldn’t see a metre anywhere. After a few comical back and forths it became painfully apparent that I thought he was a taxi, and he thought I was a prostitute. Of course my reaction was to burst into tears. His was to drive me back to my house (well, near my house) giving me lectures all the way about stranger-danger. At the time I was pretty shaken up, but since then I’ve taken a more philosophical approach to the encounter: First, don’t get into strangers’ cars. Second, even old men who pick up prostitutes can be nice people.
DIY expert or phone a friend?
I like to be self-reliant and hate asking for favours; so if I ever have a DIY need I do it myself with a hammer. I’m not very patient or precise so my attempts usually end up in gaffer tape solutions.
Sun worshipper or night owl?
There’s something intrinsically more exciting about the night-time but I’m definitely more melancholy in the evening. Plenty of sunshine and natural daylight keeps me on an even keel. I like the to think this means I’m a typical Aries, but it probably means I’m a typical human.
A book that had you in tears.
I cry quite easily but I remember being really affected by the final lines of Phantom of the Opera. I like books that twist your expectation, where the line between good and evil are blurred and there’s such a broken tragedy to Eric.
A book that made you laugh out loud.
I stumbled upon Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on our family bookshelf before going on a long haul flight. I don’t even know what it was doing there (no one in my family appears to be a fan) or why I decided to take it with me. I stayed up the whole, overnight flight with my little reading light on, chuckling away (much to the annoyance of my neighbours). Every word was so purposeful. It reinvented what writing (and reading) could be for me.
One piece of life advice you give everyone
About the Book:
Set in a futuristic London in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present. The cocksure eighteen year old who, in a bid to find himself, goes travelling and the city-living adult, who despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend, struggles to be happy. When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy. As his paranoia heightens he must ask himself – is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?