Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Luccia Gray to the Storage Room. I’ve been a fan of Luccia’s books ever since I read the first book in her Eyre Hall Trilogy, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. As some of you may already know, Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time so you can imagine how much I would love a trilogy about Jane’s later life. And I did. Luccia Gray has taken the characters in Jane Eyre and made them her own. She added some wonderful new characters to Jane’s life as well.
So without further ado, here is my conversation with Luccia Gray.
What is your writing process?
I’m not sure if my writing process is stable enough to write about it in the present tense! I’d prefer to tell you about how I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
I started with a few characters, who tormented me mercilessly until I wrote their story.
The characters were Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester and Richard Mason, borrowed from Jane Eyre. I added a character of my own, Annette Mason, Bertha Mason’s daughter born at Thornfield Hall while she was married to Mr. Rochester (and hidden in his attic).
I envisioned their story in my mind, as if I were watching a film: Edward was on his deathbed and Mason returned to blackmail Jane with Bertha’s secret daughter. I started writing to see where it would take me.
As I wrote, other characters and stories appeared until it gradually turned into a full-length film in my mind. I realized it was getting complex, so I stopped writing and started planning book one until I had an outline. I needed to know where I was going and how I was getting there.
There are lots of theories and methods to help writers develop story arcs; the one, which worked for me, was the classical three-part frame (dating from Aristotle). I then included 10-12 scenes in each part, which became about 30 chapters. The scenes include confrontation, crisis, turning points, surprises, complications, revelations plot twists and turns, as well as a climax and a resolution.
More about how I plot here – Writing: Stage Three
Now that you have finished the trilogy, what would you tell another author about writing a trilogy? Any tips?
I suggest planning the three books as early as possible.
As I said in my previous answer, I wrote the outline to book one early on. I took a little longer to plan the whole trilogy, which worked well for me, but I’d recommend at least a loose 3-book outline as soon as possible. On the other hand, you also need to be flexible and allow the plot to grow along the way. Remember your plan’s there to help you, not constrain you.
From my experience, book one and three in a trilogy are the hardest to write. With book one, you have to grab your readers and convince them you’ve got a worthwhile story to tell them. Book three is very demanding, because you need to wrap it up and make the readers feel the journey was worthwhile. In book two, you can let go because there’s less pressure. It’s the connecting bridge, you need to tie up some loose strands from book one and open a few more for book three. I know I shouldn’t say this, (writers, like parents shouldn’t have favourite children!) but my second book, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, is definitely my favourite. I had a lot of fun writing it.
How have you as an author changed from the first book to the third?
It’s been an amazing three-year journey, which has taken an abstract idea, and turned it into three full-length novels.
When I wrote book one, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, I wanted to prove I could do it, that I could write a good novel, similar to my literary idols. It was a cathartic and painful process. I’m very proud of book one, and it seems to be my readers’ favourite, but I was also learning all about self-publishing along the way, so the whole process was daunting and stressful.
When I wrote book two, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, I had more fun! I’d proved I could do it, so I was able to relax. I more or less knew the ropes to self-publishing, and although I still felt (and feel!) like a drop in the ocean, I didn’t feel lost or alone any more. I was more concerned with enjoying the process of writing.
In book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, I paid closer attention to the flow of words on the page, trying to write as economically as possible. It’s the shortest of the three, because I’ve learnt to write in a more compact style. My prose is leaner and more effective, in spite of maintaining a Victorian feel to it.
I’m letting go of my Victorian Masters and moving on. It’s the way I want to go. I want to tell my characters’ stories by writing sharp, agile and effective prose. It’s a challenging and an ongoing process…
Jane Eyre is such a beloved literary character. What kind of responses have you received from Bronte enthusiasts?
I have upset a few people, who made me feel like the spiteful older sister who tells her younger siblings that Father Christmas is a fake.
I’ve also angered a few people, who made me feel like an impostor or a thief, by daring to emulate one of the greatest authors in the English language.
My answer to them is that The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to the Victorian authors who taught me to love literature and how to write. I’m keeping their spirit alive for some contemporary readers who have never read Victorian literature, except as compulsory schoolwork. It is also meant as a reinterpretation for the modern day reader. We cannot ignore the fact that today, a person like Mr. Rochester would be in prison. I’d ask them to think about who they are standing up for!
Fortunately, they’re a minority, and they’re entitled to their opinions, but they’re not entitled to being rude or offensive, which they usually aren’t.
On the other hand, the vast majority of readers, who respond to my novels by writing reviews or contacting me via Twitter, Facebook or on my blog, have enjoyed my reinterpretation of and sequel to Jane Eyre. Many have said that as a result of reading my novels they have read or reread Jane Eyre, which is the greatest compliment I can receive.
What is next for you?
Midsummer at Eyre Hall has just been published as a Kindle eBook (21st June) and I’m proofreading the paperback version. I’d also like to prepare a Kindle box set with the three books.
When I finish sorting out my trilogy, I have a few projects in store, but I’m not sure which one will become a published novel first!
I’m writing another Victorian Gothic Romance with some of the characters in The Eyre Hall Trilogy, but not Jane. This new novel takes the story on after Jane’s death. All the original characters from Jane Eyre have now died, so its 100% my own characters and my own story. At the moment, it’s at a novella stage, but it may become a full-length novel. Time will tell…
On the other hand, I’ve also started a couple of contemporary romantic suspense novels some time ago, which I’d like to finish in the near future…
Where can we find you on the internet?
My favourite place on the Internet is my blog, Rereading Jane Eyre. Drop by and you’ll find out more about Jane Eyre, Victorian Literature, My writing process and The Eyre Hall Trilogy: https://lucciagray.com/
I love interacting with my readers on Facebook and Twitter. Please say hello.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Elizabeth. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions. If there’s anything else your readers would like to know, please ask me in the comments.
Midsummer at Eyre Hall is the third and final volume of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, which chronicles the lives of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.
Following the death of her second husband, Richard Mason, Jane is finally engaged to the man she loves. However, her oldest son, John Rochester, will do everything in his power to stop the wedding and take over Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate, with devastating consequences for Jane.
Romance, mystery and excitement will unfold, based on the lives of the original characters, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside to Victorian London, and magical Cornwall.
Luccia Gray was born in London and now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and at the Spanish Distance University.