It’s been a while since I had a Friday Read blog but Buried Treasure by Gilli Allan looks so fab I really wanted to let you know about it. Isn’t the cover intriguing?
And here’s the blurb :
Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.
Buried Treasure is written in alternating chapters from two points of view – that of Jane Smith and Dr Theo Tyler. Jane and her friend and helper, Emma, are on a visit, scoping out the college of an ancient university, to assess its suitability to host a conference. They have been allotted a room for the day (called the Philosopher’s Room) in Lancaster College, as a base from which to operate.
It sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Here’s an extract to whet your appetite even more:
Emma pours two coffees, then grabs a pastry. ‘What’s first on the list?’
‘We’ve twenty minutes before we meet the manager of the college’s hospitality department and start the tour round the accommodation and the facilities. Then….’ Jane pauses, momentarily transfixed. A whirl of crumbs floats down around her friend, as she tears off a portion of her pastry and opens her mouth exaggeratedly wide.
‘Lipstick,’ Emma explains.
‘For the moment, you can carry on networking, or shopping, or…’ Eating, Jane adds in her head, as she clicks over to her inbox. ‘And I have a load of emails to deal with.’
Apart from the tap of keys, the occasional sigh or muttered comment and the scrape of the chair as Emma stands up to help herself to another pastry, the room becomes quiet, until she speaks again.
‘Did you say your sister came here?’
‘She could have. I suspect Oxford was preferred because it’s further away from home.’
‘But you never regretted your decision to leave school?’
Jane looks down at her feet. It’s all very well showing off her tan, but she’s a bit cold. Because of the weather forecast she’d chosen to wear open-toed sandals and tight white cut offs, but now half regrets the vanity.
‘Rachel had the brains and the aptitude… What’s that?’ Is something clinging to the blue-painted nail of her big toe? She pushes back her chair and bends over to brush off the fleck. ‘But at the moment she’s taking some extended maternity leave to look after Pandora…’
‘Not a name I’d choose,’ Jane acknowledges. ‘And she’s currently trying to start a beauty vlog.’
‘She’s quite a bit older than you, isn’t she?’
‘Seven years…. Bugger it!’ Whatever it is – a bit of fluff, a tiny sliver of paper – it’s stuck fast. Jane licks her finger to wipe it away. ‘Hell…! I don’t believe it! I’ve bloody chipped my toe-nail!’ Jane sits up straight, head buzzing with annoyance. Emma looks across.
‘It hardly notices.’
‘But I’ve only just had them done! Damn it!’
‘Honestly, no one’s going to know.’
‘I know!’ She grabs her bag, and begins to rummage.
‘I wouldn’t worry, if I was you.’
But you’re patently not me, Jane thinks, giving the retrieved varnish bottle a vigorous shake. Lifting her leg, she props her bare foot on the edge of the table in front of her. The brush pinched between her fingers, she leans forward and catches sight of the fan of pastry flakes on the floor around Emma. It’s an effort to control the urge to put the varnish down and begin clearing them up, or at the very least to nag Emma to do so. To divert herself, Jane reverts to the previous subject.
‘So, there was me, just scraping along at Saint Philomena’s, everyone – parents and staff alike – only too willing to rub my nose in what a popular all-round star my sister was, and why was I so rubbish, when Rachel got into Oxford. Always a bit of a know-all, she was instantly a gazillion times worse. All hoity-toity and totally insufferable, like she knew everything and we knew nothing! I was embarrassed for Mum and Dad, but they fawned over her as if she was the oracle! And from then on, the parade of cringe-making boyfriends…!’ Her finger to her mouth, Jane mimes retching, prompting a giggle from Emma. ‘They had to be seen to be believed. And they all had those god-awful Hooray Henry names. You wouldn’t catch me going out with a…’ Sitting up straight and wiggling her toes, she assumes her best upper-class drawl. ‘A Hugo or a Quentin!’
‘Then to cap it all, she went and married a Miles! I was amazed by my parents’ acceptance of him.’
‘Apart from his name what’s wrong with him?’
‘He’s far older than Rachel, with one of those smoke and mirrors jobs that caused the 2008 crash. He’s previously married with two school age kids … and with all the arrogance and air of entitlement you’d expect of a man from his background. I refused even to try to follow in my sister’s footsteps.’ Jane frowns down at her toenail; she can still see the paler triangular indentation. As she lifts her foot and props it on the edge of the table again, she is thinking about the stubborn certainties of her younger self, but it’s pointless regretting the decisions made back then.
She stoops forward holding the recharged varnish brush. ‘Wasting my time at university … particularly a fusty, dusty old pile of stones like this one … and coming home with my nose in the air and plums in my mouth was the very last thing I wanted.
Dying to read the story? You can buy the book here:
I asked Gilli to tell us a bit about herself
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be an artist. Writing was my hobby, but I never imagined I was clever enough to be a real writer. I come from an arty family, my father a graphic designer, my mother an amateur oil painter. At school, as art was the only subject I was good at, it was as much a family expectation as it was mine that I’d go on to art college and eventually become an illustrator.
What do you like writing most?
Anything but a new book. Beginning a book is hell on earth. That changes – or always has so far – when I get caught up in the story and have some idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going. When I eventually force myself to do so, I have to write the kind of book I would like to read. I can do no better than to quote something Anne Williams said about my writing, on her Being Anne blog, when she kicked off my ‘Cover Reveal’ week.
“….there’s romance – of course – but her characters are often a little flawed, her plots rather different from what you might expect, and her writing is superb. She can catch you by surprise, [and] take you to places you might not be expecting…”
What a terrific quote, Gilli! Do you have a special place for writing?
We have a study in our house, which to all intents and purposes is mine. I am quite old fashioned in some ways. My computer is a desk top and I am most comfortable using that for writing, social-media and emails. Everything really. For me it works well. I like being able to take a break from the *virtual* babble and close the door on it. I don’t possess a smart phone and though we do have other devices in the house, I don’t tend to use them, apart from a basic Kindle reader.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real-life incidents?
I often use real life experience to flesh out and ground a story. If I’ve witnessed, experienced or even heard about an incident, it can find its way in, in the most unexpected places. BURIED TREASURE is inspired by my own experience, but the story, and the interactions between the characters is not. That is pure invention. The building blocks I started with to create the book were treasure, archaeology, a Cambridge College, conference planning, plus a family mystery.
Treasure: My great uncle, Sydney Ford, unearthed a hoard of silver Roman table-ware on his Suffolk farm. Known as the Mildenhall Treasure it is now one of the most famous discoveries housed in the British Museum.
Conferences: I have been involved for more than a decade in the organisation of biannual conferences held at Queens’ College, Cambridge.
Archaeology: My son is an Early Medieval historian and (desk) Archaeologist.
I came to the decision that if I made my ‘hero’ an academic archaeologist, and my heroine an events & conference planner, and the back drop for a proportion of the story a university college, it would be easy to flesh out the detail, trusting that once set loose in this world I’d created, my imagination would do the rest. What could go wrong? In fact, it was probably the hardest book I’ve ever written.
How fascinating about your great uncle, Gilli. I can see how that was an inspiration for the story. What are you writing at the moment?
It has been on the back burner for a time, while I prepared BURIED TREASURE for publication. There’s no title but it’s set in the world of costume design, and the skills needed to produce elaborate or historical costumes. Set over a number of years it follows a girl and a young man. She is the very much younger sister of a successful designer; he is an actor. Being a pantster I can’t really tell you much more, as even I don’t yet know quite where it’s heading
What inspired you to write this book?
I wouldn’t call it inspiration. It is far more prosaic than that. I have friend from my art school days, Amy Roberts, who is a costume designer and I hear about her work, and sometimes tantalising snippets of show-business goss’. (For example, Amy has been designing the latest series of THE CROWN, and Olivia Coleman is as nice as you might imagine her to be!) Real inspiration can strike at any time, but for me it seems that I have to start writing something – anything – before it deigns to show its face. I just need to keep my fingers crossed.
What time of the day do you write best?
I am definitely NOT a morning person. I tend to write between around 11 am and 6pm. I have been known to rush into the study after dinner and write into the night, but that’s not very usual.
What are your hobbies?
Art (I still do a bit of illustration), reading, walking, taking photographs. For a while I did a lot of bargello – a type of needle-point.
What advice would you give to other writers?
When I experienced the light-bulb moment that I should try to write a publishable book, it was instant. What I didn’t do was read ‘How To’ books about writing a best-seller, or go on any writing courses (I was so green I didn’t even know such things existed). In other words, I didn’t angst about it and worry that I wasn’t ‘good enough’. I found a notebook and started.
I am not telling anyone that they shouldn’t be systematic and business-like about it. Do go to work-shops, and courses, by all means. Read the ‘how to’ books. But don’t let ‘thinking about it’ stop you from doing it. Just begin. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish. It may not be. And the more you do it the better you become.
That’s good advice, Gilli. A lot of new writers think too much before they write. I always say get the story down then make it better.
You can contact Gilli here:
Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us, Gilli. I hope your book flies off the shelves!
Bring a little sunshine into your life with one of my feel-good romances, all set in glorious locations.Check out my Amazon Author Page for details.