Greenwood author of Elissa's Castle explains what inspired
her to write the novel.
man who wants to define himself as real lover of women admires
what shows of her past on a woman’s face, before she ever
saw him, and the adventures and stresses that her body has undergone,
the scars of trauma, the changes of childbirth, her distinguishing
characteristics, the light in her expression’.
Wolf – ‘The Beauty Myth’
What inspired me to write ‘Elissa’s Castle’?
Strangely enough, it was my own – entirely unexpected –
delight in growing older.
idea to write a modern version of Jane Austen, but with a middle-aged
(I prefer the word ‘mature’, myself) heroine, had
been brewing away ever since I first watched the BBC’s version
of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (the one with Colin Firth
in a wet shirt), and realised that I was nearer in age to Elizabeth
Bennet’s mother, rather than to Elizabeth herself.
the time, I didn’t feel ready to be put on the shelf and
end up as the mother-in-law from hell. A decade later, and now
in my mid-forties, I still feeling I’m much more interesting
than I ever was in my twenties, and, with all that embarrassing
learning curve of youth (more or less) behind me, finally clued
up, wised up, and ready to go. As far as I’m concerned,
the real adventure begins here.
wanted to write the kind of book I would like to read now, with
the kind of heroine who reflects my own stage in life. There are
plenty of books about virgins and whores, chicks and mothers out
there, stretching back to the advent of the novel form itself:
but where are the stories with the mature heroines? There have
always been women travellers, explorers, inventors, rulers, spies,
warriors, healers, saviours and poisoners, and quite a few of
them have not been in the first flush of youth when they took
off across deserts and bedded exotic (and often much younger)
men. We just don’t hear about them.
anyone is going to put mature women on the map, and carve out
an honourable place for us, it has to be older women ourselves.
Who else? And there are plenty of men out there who love the more
voluptuous sensuality and confidence of the sexually experienced
woman, and the humanity etched in each line and crease of our
faces. And the ones who don’t, who see only our middle age,
or nothing at all? Well, I have a feeling those are probably the
ones you seriously don’t want to know, at any age.
so ‘Elissa’s Castle’ was born – although,
until Transita, I was quite sure a publisher would never be interested
in a castle-owning, opinionated, bolshy and headstrong romantic
heroine of fifty-two. And the idea of a middle-aged woman positively
fighting off the men in pursuit of her assets? Well, I can personally
vouch for that not being so very far-fetched – and my traditional
little quarryman’s cottage perched on a Welsh hillside is
definitely nothing like a castle!
be seen … as someone else’s projection of what they
would like us to be
is deeply unsettling because it is not us.’
Friday - ‘The Power of Beauty’