Friday, 29 August 2008
"How do you rebuild your life when the world lies in ruins?
February 1945. Europe is in ruins and the Red Army is searing its way across Germany’s eastern marches, revenging itself upon a petrified population. The war is over, but for some the fight for survival is only just beginning.
Alix, the aristocratic daughter of a German resistance fighter, is alone and desperate to flee before the Reds come. But when a ferocious snowstorm descends she must return to the shelter of her abandoned ancestral home. There, she is shocked to find her childhood sweetheart Gregor. As old passions are rekindled, a couple break into the house to hide – the man, dressed in Gestapo uniform, is a stranger, but his companion is altogether more familiar.
By morning, the blizzard has died down but the Reds are back. The woman and her Nazi escort are dead, and Gregor has vanished. Alone and terrified, Alix runs for her life, and embarks upon an extraordinary and heartbreaking journey.
It will take sixty years and the fall of another empire – Communism – before the riddles of that fateful night can be deciphered.
Restitution is a memorable novel about love and betrayal, hatred and heroism – a reminder that, even in the worst of times, the most courageous acts of kindness are possible."
About the Author:
Eliza Graham lives in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, with her husband, children and dogs.
Hi, Eliza, tell us a little about your novel, Restitution:
"Essentially Restitution is a wrong-person-at-the-wrong-time love story crossed with some Gone with the Wind/Cold Mountain elements, perhaps! But set at a very dark time in European history: the closing months of World War Two in Europe. I'd been mulling over the subject matter for some years. As a teenager I stayed with a German family who'd come from the east as the Red Army moved in at the end of the war. They told me about packing a handcart with possessions and running away through the snow and to my teenage imagination, I'm afraid to say, it actually sounded quite exciting. As I grew up and read more I became completely chilled by the horror of that time. I kept wondering what would happen if you had competing loyalties, if you had friends or lovers on the wrong side. It seemed like a miracle to me that from so much suffering Europe could possibly have been rebuilt. And so the seeds of Restitution were planting."
Restitution is your second book published by Macmillan New Writing. How has your life changed since they published Playing with the Moon in 2007?
"It can be crazy! I still have my freelance proof-reading job, which I juggle with looking after the children. Writing is a lot of fun but it means I have to be much more disciplined about putting aside time. When I first started, I just wrote when I felt like it and in some ways, for me, that worked well as I could just relax into my imagination and let the book unfold at its own pace. Now I have to be more ruthless about getting on and doing it. But I'm certainly not complaining as it's a problem I longed to have for years while I was in Writing Wilderness.."
What is your typical writing day?
"The beginning of the week is less busy with my freelance work and other commitments so I tend to try and seize time then. Sadly my subconscious doesn't always respond well to the need to Have a Good Idea on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I just grit my teeth and try to get something down, even if I know it's not very good, before about half-past two, which is when the dogs start marching up and down and demanding their walk. After about half-past three it's unlikely much will happen writing-wise as I become a taxi service."
Four not-so random facts:-
Do you have a writing mantra?
"Prepare for the worst and keep Plan B up your sleeve. My Plan B includes changing my name and leaving the country and starting all over again somewhere like Tasmania."
By pen or by keyboard, and why?
"Both! On holiday I use pen and I often scribble on bits of paper as I dash around. When I'm at home I tend to use the laptop for convenience."
Greatest influences on your writing:
"I don't think I have any in particular. I'm very fond of spy novels like Len Deighton and John le Carre but I don't write books in that genre. I also love nineteenth century novels and frequently reread them."
Most ludicrous moment in your life?
"When we were struck by lightening, disabling our broadband and telephone; I broke my mobile; the front door key snapped in the lock; and my car battery went flat. All within 48 hours. If someone was doing voodoo on me, I've got the message now, OK?"
Thanks, Eliza, and best of luck with Restitution which is published 19th September 2008 and is available at all good booksellers.
You can read an extract of Restitution by clicking here, or for more information please visit the Macmillan New Writing site here.