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Author Interview: E.V. Bancroft Chats about Of Light and Love

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Get ready to learn more about the book Of Light and Love in this discussion with sapphic author E.V. Bancroft.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz E.V. Bancroft about Of Light and Love, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Set in the UK / Ireland category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Of Light and Love?

This book is about an artist who loses her muse when her wife dies. It was inspired by a friend of mine who was a brilliant artist but had to give up painting when she lost her eyesight. Painting had been purpose in life. The same is the case for Caro who is heartbroken and thinks she will never love again… until a graduate student, Laura, applies for a room in Caro’s house.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Caro is probably my favourite character because she goes through the biggest transformation. She is grumpy initially (although there’s a reason for that) and blossoms with love. I hope I’m not grumpy! but I do love art, and I also did a masters degree in animation like Laura is doing.

How much research did you need to do for Of Light and Love?

I LOVED doing the research for this book. I read books on art and watched documentaries and took a few trips to London to the art galleries. It was such a sacrifice (not)! As I had already done a masters degree in animation it was great to relive that experience and refresh my memory on a number of things. And my (now very old) cat was the model for Artemisia, as he still delights in knocking things off tables (pencils, notebooks, phones etc!)

What is your favorite line from your book?

It would be a homage to Yvonne in her last few months, with the vestiges of lines cracking her alabaster skin. People were much more interesting to paint when they were older, with their experiences traced upon their cheeks and temples.

What is your writing process like?

I am definitely a plotter, and complete spreadsheets before I’ll start to write. Even then sometimes the characters decide to go a different way and I have to haul them back to the main pathway ( often with help from my editors!). I love the research best when you suddenly find yourself five steps away from the original query reading about horse rearing practices in Outer Mongolia. My first draft is the proverbial shitty first draft and I wish I was happier with the way that turned out. My first draft is very much telling the story, the second and third drafts are much more the feeling of the story and digging below the surface. I also need time between drafts to mull the story over and come to it fresh.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

I’d love to write literary fiction, because I love reading it. Nothing thrills me as much as savouring a well turned phrase with layers of meaning stacked within the words. The fiction I love best is that which reads almost like a poem when it is read aloud. It would be confusing to use the same nom de plume, so I’d change it for that.

When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

I have to write with pen and paper rather than on computer. I think there’s something about it being organic that helps the emotions to flow through. I also then have to draw on my own experiences where I felt a similar emotion in order to adapt it onto the page. Sometimes I write it in first person and then “translate” it into into third. And if I’m writing a sex scene I’ll often save it until I can’t put it off any longer and the deadline is looming!!

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

I hated the character Amanda from Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes who keeps Maud and Bea separated from the same care home, despite them arranging to be together. She was an amalgam of all the sanctimonious people who affect to be religious and upstanding and hold a moral superiority as a cover for their own self serving greed. the closest to redemption is her bedgrudging acceptance of the situation when called out on it.

What books have you read more than once in your life?

I’ll have my comfort reads, such as Jane Austen, which I’ve read many times over the years. I like to know how the story ends so that I won’t get stressed or anxious when reading. It’s like the difference between a lazy punt downstream on a sunny day, versus a rapid canoe ride when a river is in fast flood where I’m never sure what’s going to happen next.

Have you ever thought you’d hate a book, but ended up loving it?

It took me ages to pick up Shattered by Lee Winter, even though I love her writing. I was put off because I assumed it was a superhero young adult novel, and the original cover seemed to confirm that. Not that there’s anything wrong with superheroes, but it’s a long time since I was a young adult. Of course Lee Winter had a usual take on celebrity culture, and finding purpose, and now I think it is one of my favourites by her, even though it’s not a romance.

Meet E.V. Bancroft

E.V. Bancroft always wanted to write when she grew up. On early retirement, she wrote the award-winning Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes. Virgin Flight, set in WW2 featuring ATA pilots is a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society award for Historical Fiction. She’s currently writing a book based on the code breakers at Bletchley Park. She lives near Bristol, with her daughter and neurotic cat.

Visit E.V.’s Website

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