A FRANK INTERVIEW
Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through a number of jobs, including nanny, bunny girl, dressmaker and full-time mother, before, at the age of forty-nine, settling upon a career that would allow her gifts to blossom: she became a published writer. Lesley lives in Devon and has three daughters and three grandchildren.
How are you in these crazy times?
Pretty good, having worked at home for 20 years it’s not so different.
Where are you and what is your situation?
I’m living in Torquay Devon, by the sea, with my dog.
Let’s start firstly with ‘LIAR’ your latest. What’s it about and the inspiration behind it?
Set in London in the 1970’s, Amelia White finds the dead body of a young girl on a pile of uncollected rubbish close to her home. She works for the local newspaper and is sent to the parents of the dead girl to interview them. Two more dead girls later, Amelia’s involvement has grown, and there are fears she may be the killers next victim.
“People always said they kept my letters because they were entertaining, and I was often asked to write difficult letters for people. But I started out writing a short story about something that happened on a holiday. It was rubbish, but it gave me the bug.”
How hard is it when writing a period piece (Liar is set in the 70’s) How do you stay in the mind set?
I had my eldest daughter in 1970, and so I recall everything about that time. The music, what we wore etc. For previous books set long before I was born, I have to do extensive research. But I love that part of the job, and quite often begin to believe I’m living in that period.
How much research do you have to do re the policing at that time?
That is quite hard. I don’t think I could handle writing believably about forensics. My brother was a scientist and I used to pick his great brain a great deal, but sadly he died a few years ago and I’m on my own now. I do have a policeman friend as an advisor, but to be honest I’d rather not get into technical stuff, I leave that to those writers who have that background.
Tell us a little about your life as a writer. You weren’t published until you were 49 years old. What was the catalyst for you to finally get on that path?
People always said they kept my letters because they were entertaining, and I was often asked to write difficult letters for people. But I started out writing a short story about something that happened on a holiday. It was rubbish, but it gave me the bug, I did a home study course on creative writing, then just kept on until I finally got published. That took 16 years!!
Your personal story has had its challenges, could you tell us bit about that?
My mother dying when I was 3 and being separated from my brother and sent to an orphanage wasn’t great. But it’s been useful bit of research for troubled children. My stepmother who came later was a dragon, but I do believe she made me what I am now. So no bitterness.
You have a staggering 28 novels under your belt. Does it get easier or harder to keep coming up with the goods?
Harder, I fall asleep something at my desk, I’m not so keen on bombing around the world to research things. The ideas keep coming, but the plodding ability needed to sit and write isn’t so good anymore.
“I have to be at my desk. No sitting up in bed with a laptop. I usually start writing after I’ve taken Stan out for his morning walk. But good weather distracts me as I love gardening. I sometimes pray for rain, for both the garden and my writing.”
What is your routine around writing?
I have to be at my desk. No sitting up in bed with a laptop. I usually start writing after I’ve taken Stan out for his morning walk. But good weather distracts me as I love gardening. I sometimes pray for rain, for both the garden and my writing.
Who or what inspires you on a personal and professionally level?
Charles Dickins is an inspiration. But reading any good book makes me want to try harder, broadens my mind.
Tell us about your fund-raising for NSPCC. Why is this charity close to your heart?
They were called to my school once when I had can weals on my legs. My stepmother could be a brute, and at the time I was very unhappy. I saw that uniformed ‘Cruelty’ man as my saviour, and although I never told him the truth about my injuries, the man stayed in my head, and I think I vowed then that I would try and find a way to help other children. I don’t do so much now, but I am always available as a guest speaker at any of their fund raisers.
Tell us about your public speaking. What do you love about it? I’m a born chatter box, and I think a latent comedienne. I just wing it. I don’t prepare, I mostly talk about my own life, about funny incidents while researching. Whatever comes into my head really.
“Write for yourself, if nothing else it’s something to leave your children, and it can be very cathartic. I’ve killed off my stepmother twice fictionally!”
How do you feel when in front of a lot of people?
I see a room full of strangers as potential friends, I don’t really suffer from nerves. I usually try and make them laugh as then they are on my side. No real preparation unless of course I’ve been asked to speak about a cause. Then I have to gen up on it.
What would you say to anyone who has a desire to write a book, who may feel it might be too late in their lives?
Go for it. If you have the passion and drive, all you need then is persistence. It’s a tough marketplace to break into now and may be age could be held against you if publishers feel you aren’t very promotable. But write for yourself, if nothing else it’s something to leave your children, and it can be very cathartic. I’ve killed off my stepmother twice fictionally!
Liar by Lesley Pearse is published by Michael Joseph, price £20.00
Find out more about Lesley and keep up to date with what she’s been doing: Follow her on Twitter @LesleyPearse
Follow her on Facebook @LesleyPearseAuthor
Sign up for her newsletter www.lesleypearse.com