Author Interview – Lelita Baldock – Where The Gulls Fall Silent
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am an award-winning author represented by London-Based Literary Agency InterSaga. (https://intersaga.co.uk/)
Born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, I now reside in the United Kingdom.
My favourite thing in the world is curling up with a novel but as a child, I actually hated reading. It took a lot of work on my parents’ part to get me to start, but then I never stopped.
I also love history and traveling. New places, peoples, cultures, landscapes inspire me and fill my soul.
I am married to my-soul mate and have a rescue-cat named Jazzy.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I wanted to write from around 10. We had been given a creative writing task at school and I found I cherished placing words into a story. My dad empowered me, asking me to write him a story but I never did because it felt too much. I have forever been a perfectionist. However, the seed was planted and the craving to attempt never disappeared.
When did you take a step to start writing?
In my mid 20s my family and I took an occasion to the Finniss River in South Australia. Sitting on a little speedboat, encompassed by open country and stirring reeds, a thought for a story jumped into my head. I needed to explore the isolation of residing in such a spot, and why someone would decide to live alone. That story was my impetus to attempt to write a novel. So I did. The foundations of that story turned into my debut novel Widow’s Lace.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Widow’s Lace took me 14 years to bring to completion. I wrote the first draft at age 24/25, in grabbed moments between my work as an English Literature teacher. It was my very first effort to write such a long novel, and I had a lot to learn. However, that is totally fine! I loved the cycle and realized it was something I would keep on doing.
However, life happened, as it does, and I set the work aside for a considerable length of time prior to pulling it out again in my late 30s and choosing to truly take the plunge, complete the novel and publish.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Where the Gulls Fall Silent took me about three years to finish, if you count the time between the thought for the story coming to me and really writing it. Real time writing the novel was more similar to year and a half.
The story of life in a little Cornish fishing town was inspired by a visit to Cornwall in 2019. However, I was working on book one of my crime novel series, The Unsound Sister, so didn’t get to begin writing until 2020. The novel was published in late 2021.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Where The Gulls Fall Silent?
The brutal yet gorgeous Cornish shore inspired Where the Gulls Fall Quiet. I fell head over heels for the broad views and the feeling of danger that radiated from the sea. Furthermore, people of the area were so enthusiastic about their history and their area of the planet. Their legends, superstitions and customs entranced me, and I needed to know more, and investigate what life would have been like there during the 1800s.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Where The Gulls Fall Silent?
This novel flew from my fingers.
At times, the history was somewhat difficult, and I needed to invest further energy to guarantee my details were right. However, I appreciate research, so actually that was no difficulty.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
The strength of the women of Cornwall inspired my hero Kerensa. There are numerous accounts of the boldness of the anglers who cruised out into the Atlantic Ocean, which is fair. It was hazardous, unforgiving work and may men lost their lives.
But what might be said about the ladies left behind? What was their story?
That was the part I needed to investigate. Their set of experiences, encounters, misfortunes and strength.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
There isn’t a singular antagonist, it’s more that the superstitions of the people create an amalgamated antagonist. The Cornish people had many beliefs and prejudices which created an interesting driving force for Kerensa’s character, and also allowed redeem some of the worst offenders.
What is the inciting incident of Where The Gulls Fall Silent?
The slow collapse of the fish-run. Traditionally the waters off of Cornwall were rich with fish but due to a combination of over-fishing and a change in international demand, fishermen started struggling to make money off the waters. This change caused a lot of social upheaval, causing people to migrate from fishing towns to mining towns, shifting the nature of Cornish life.
What is the main conflict of Where The Gulls Fall Silent?
The main conflict is between Kerensa, her mother Meliora and the town. Seen as outsiders and mistrusted, Kerensa and her mother are shunned by the people of their town.
Did you plot Where The Gulls Fall Silent in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I’m a planner, which may be because I write historical fiction. It is an essential part of my process to explore my setting and course of events completely before I start, so as I research and plot.
I will outline my characters completely, set the vital events that should happen, detail how every occasion will be triggered, and sum up the action in every section before I begin writing
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Where The Gulls Fall Silent need?
I do the bulk of the editing myself and only bring in an editor to do the final line-edits for typos and little errors.
I enjoy the editing process and like to have that control over the narrative, but a final edit ensures there are no silly typos.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Go for it!! It can feel overwhelming but don’t give up. Your story is worth telling.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I completed my fourth novel, working title A Machine of Fingers, set in post-revolution Paris about the impact of the revolution of the female lace-makers of Chantilly, and the race to mechanise lace-making. It is currently out on submission to publishing houses.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Definitely worth every challenge.
Where the Gulls Fall Silent came 4th in the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year Awards 2022.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Amazon link for Where the Gulls Fall Silent: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HJH1TG6
Amazon Link for Widow’s Lace: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086BDLP3X
Amazon Link for The Unsound Sister: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08ML8QS7H