Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’m chatting to Alison Knight on the launch of her book. The Legacy. An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape.
James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.
Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.
Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.
Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?
Welcome to the tearoom, Alison and your book sound amazing.
Thank you for the invite to the Clubhouse tearoom to help celebrate the launch of my book, Paula.
You’re very welcome, Alison. Let’s start by asking you, did you try to be more original when writing this book, or deliver what you felt the readers wanted?
I was driven by a desire to follow a path to see where it led. My previous book, MINE, was based on real events in my family in the 1960s but there were gaps in my knowledge of what happened that couldn’t be filled because the people involved are no longer around to tell me what actually happened, so I had to use my imagination to fill those gaps. One fictional scene involved two of the main characters, Lily and Leonard, visiting a Miss Jarvis in a nursing home in order to witness her Will. She had changed it to effectively disinherit her nephew, James, and leave her God-daughter, Charlotte, the fortune he had been expecting her to leave him. After I’d written it, I began to think about how James and Charlotte might have reacted to this, and that’s how THE LEGACY came into being. I wanted to know why James had been disinherited and how that changed his life. I also didn’t want Charlotte’s story to be quite so sweet and wholesome as we first think. That’s why the legacy is a both a curse and a blessing.
Did you feel energised or exhausted after writing this book?
Definitely energized. Writing MINE had been very hard as it was a story so closely linked to my own life so I welcomed having to concentrate on writing THE LEGACY after that. It was also the quickest book I’ve ever written – it took less than six weeks to finish the first draft whereas I’d taken decades to write and rewrite MINE until I felt it was right. Other books I’ve written took several months and sometimes years as I had to write them in between bringing up a family, working full-time and often studying as well (I went to university in my mid-forties and achieved a first class degree in Creative Writing and an MA in the same subject over several years, studying part-time). I’m in a fortunate position now of being a semi-retired empty-nester, so I have more time to focus on my writing.
Do you want each of your books to stand alone, or are you building a body of work that are interconnected? Whether that be a theme, a set of characters, a setting, etc. Explain more for our readers.
THE LEGACY is a stand-alone story, but it does start with a repeat of the will-signing scene from MINE and makes a couple of nods towards that story, including a later appearance by Lily, so they can be read together. Also, my current work in progress is another stand-alone story which is set in another country and follows what happens to one of the secondary characters in THE LEGACY. So although all three books can be read alone, I hope people will read all of them and enjoy the links between them.
How do you balance your demands on the reader with taking care of your readers? In the book did you spell everything out so your reader just had to read it, or did you rely on their emotional response to your words?
I always hope that my readers will have an emotional response to my books, although I was aware that people might be upset by what happens in MINE. Thankfully, everyone has been very kind and appreciate that there could have been no other ending as it is based on real events. In THE LEGACY, that’s not the case, but I hope my readers will engage with the characters and understand why they are how they are. My aim is for readers to care about what happens to them.
Do you hope your book will deliver you literary success and how will this look to you?
Literary success for me is good reader feedback. It would be nice to win awards and sell lots of books, but it’s more important for me to tell a good story that my readers appreciate. I want people to read my stories and love them so much that they tell their friends, who then read them and tell their friends and so on.
Was there anything you edited out of this book, you wanted to keep in, but you knew it would be a better book by cutting it?
Actually, no. It’s the first book I’ve written that didn’t need major edits or rewrites.
How long did you spend researching this book’s subject matter, or was it a book you had already planned?
I already had some knowledge of wills and probate as I was a Legal Executive for over a decade and the legislation and processes weren’t very different between the 1960s and when I trained in the late 1970s. I had also done a lot of research into life in the 1960s to supplement my own childhood memories of that time when I was writing MINE. So I was ready to go with THE LEGACY, apart from some research into the links between criminal gangs and London casinos, and looking at attitudes to homosexuality in the 1960s – it was illegal until 1967, but even after that it was still extremely difficult for gay men, so few came out. I hope that doesn’t give away too much of the plot!
What was the hardest scene to write in the book?
There’s a scene where Charlotte, the main female character, is besieged by the press who are outside her flat, knocking on the door, peering through windows and trying to call her. She’s a mild-mannered school teacher who has never experienced anything like that before, so she’s traumatised by it. I’ve been in a similar situation and it’s not something I’d ever want to repeat, so writing it was tough. But I think it fits well with the plot, so it had to be done.
How will you cope with bad reviews on this book?
I’ll try not to take it personally, and if their criticism is a valid one, I’ll take it on board. However, I’m a sensitive soul, so I probably will worry about them. I realise that everyone is different and we all have our own likes and dislikes, This story is pure fiction but I try to make it as realistic as possible so if it’s not to someone else’s taste, I’m sorry. But I hope more people will like it than hate it.
What’s the one thing you would give up to become a better writer?
Wow! That’s a hard question. I know I’m not perfect and am always striving to become a better writer. But I’m not sure what I could give up to achieve that. I think it’s more a case of doing more rather than giving something up, so maybe I would have to say that I’d spend less time procrastinating and more time writing in order to become a better writer!
Thank you for the invite and it’s been great fun.
Congratulations on the launch of your book, Alison. The tearoom wishes you many sales.
Please check out this link to buy the book: mybook.to/legacy.
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.