In the Chair with Claire Kinton
An interview with Celia, author of ‘Set my Soul on Fire’
Posted on 16 October 2012 20:52
Celia, before we delve into your most recent news and the launch of your new novel, ‘Set my Soul on Fire’... could you please tell us a little about Celia.
I married young and had two girls and with a friend I started one of the first playgroups in south east London where I was brought up and still lived. This gave me an interest in how children develop and how they learn. When my girls went to school, I went to college and gained the NNEB a qualification in child care. We moved to Kent where I worked in special units and schools and for social services, all around Kent or in greater London. Then we moved again, to Cornwall and I was asked to teach some students about child care; but I also had to take a qualifying teaching course to do this so I did a part-time course alongside teaching, for my Certification of Education that enabled me to formally teach. My girls had grown up and flown away by now and my husband and I moved again back to Kent. I taught for a while in colleges but I became ill and had to retire and then later we moved to Lincoln, near my daughters. In between all this, I wrote unfinished stories usually about romance. Then when I became a grandmother I began making up children stories and started writing them down; my romance stories sat in notebooks buried in cupboards.
Okay, now tell us your latest news? In the past you have written children’s stories what was it that made you turn to writing the gripping and romantic story ‘Set my Soul on Fire’?
I had been toying with the idea of writing a ‘gown up’ story for a couple of years. I find love fascinating; it is the most powerful thing on earth. There are so many different shades of love, and the more I see the less I understand. For example, why is it that some people love others even if they are unlovable to them, what makes that person love them back?
If you had to sum up ‘Set my Soul on Fire’ in thirty words, what would you say? Tell us about it... give us your blurb.
Divorced Francine has lost herself in marriage, feels unattractive, old, not clever and lonely. After going on holiday a challenging dream emerges, this leads to a hidden and very different woman.
What was it that inspired you to write ‘Set my Soul on Fire’?
My husband and I use to go on holiday to France when the girls were young. And a couple of years ago we went back , we went to Cape d’Adge and I loved it there, all the boats and warm sun. When I came home, I began thinking about how it would be fun to travel round on a boat if only we had the money.
Francine is such a colourful character; I can see nearly all female readers really adoring her strength... and in many ways her luck. Are there any people in the book based on someone you know, or experiences based on events from your own life?
A friend of mine, recently left her husband because of all his affairs and she felt bad about herself. He was like Ben controlling and not nice to her so with a woman friend she went travelling around Europe, she was not as lucky as Francine, but she came back a different person. Also she found love like she has never experienced before.
What do you loathe most about the character Ben?
Oh, his lying; nothing worse in my opinion than a deliberate liar. His selfishness was part of his nature and putting down Francine was also something he couldn't help or see, because it was wrapped up in his many inadequacies, so naturally didn't admit to any of them.
For me, ‘Set my Soul on Fire’, isn't just about the romance but about mastering the art of relationships on all levels. Did you consciously see this as being at the forefront of your story?
Most defiantly, but all relationships evolve. Sometimes life gets so hectic that you don’t see the change and what has happened between those you care for most. You can get hung up on the wrong things especially if you do not like confrontation and have no direct ambition or drive for yourself in life. I have seen many a woman loss herself in marriage and the family; most women are sacrificial creatures through nature and there are times when this is necessary to be so. However, I have noticed that the most successful relationships are usually those that have both partners following their own dreams or independence, or hobbies, but within the obvious constraints of the life they lead together, keeping a balance; and of course money comes into it. Good relationships grow from acceptance and unconditional love that you have for each other’s happiness.
‘Set my Soul on Fire’ is not just a romance... in parts it’s an erotic romance, which really takes the heat level up a notch, or several notches depending on which chapter you’re on. Did you find it easy to write? Was it a case of letting your imagination run wild?
Yes, it was easy which surprised me. I remember speaking to my sister about writing intimate scenes, I wasn't sure I could do it. She laughed saying she would do the sexy bit if I wrote the story….but she didn't need to; it was great fun and your lover can be how ever you like or ever fantasized about. It was much easier to write than children’s books, because anything goes and you do not have to worry about morals or words you use and whether a child is able to read or understand them.
What books have influenced you most in your life?
I remember reading about Angela Davies, before your time in the 70’s, she wrote ‘If they come for me in the morning’, while she was in jail. She is a black activist in America and was accused of murder…and a communist! That was a real no, no in America. I thought what a strong brave person and a woman, she was. At that time, I had just gone back to part-time college to get some ‘O’ levels, as I left school with no certificates at fifteen. ( My father considered educating girls, a waste of time.) One of the subjects I was taking was sociology, which really woke me up. So I was all for standing up for feminism, plus Amnesty International and against war and rights for all people despite their colour or religion. I had two small girls and I wanted them to live in a fair world for all. I was very idealistic then, but I think you should be at that age; I was about twenty two. I still want those things, I am very anti-war; but as I get older, you get tainted about life. I realize that this is an impossible dream, because of some human beings and the lack of love in the world for each other. Another book that has haunted me and an example of what a waste war and prejudice is on the resources of making a country or people great is by Var Hong Ashe a Cambodian woman and another autobiography style book. It is about her surviving the Cambodian war. I really wanted to go to Cambodia to help the people after reading this, but my own children were small, but I raised funds and sent money. I also knew I would never be as courageous or driven as these two women. The latest book I read that caused me to think was ‘The bookseller of Kabul’ by Asne Seierstad, about a male bookseller and his family in Afghanistan. The story focuses on the conditions of Afghan women and his first wife. Women still live very much under the domination of men—Afghan traditions allow for polygamy and arranged marriage. It makes you very glad you were born in England. The book has caused a lot of controversy.
Do you write under a pen name?
Sort of, with my children’s books. I use my maiden name and a shortened version of Celia - Lia Ginno.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Any form is fine with me; although I have found if you read in the sun, my e-reader stops the glare that can make your eyes sore when reading a book with white paper and so it is easier on the eyes.
If you could have dinner with any author, be them dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Having dinner with friends, chatting and laughing, is my favourite past-time so I would like someone who could make me laugh. Not strictly an author, I would pick John Sullivan a script writer who died last year. I loved his sense of humour. He was mostly known for writing ‘Fools and Horses’. That programme still has me crying with laughter, even though I have seen most of the episodes many times. I used to live in south east London and uncounted people like Del, full of love, un educated, making ends meet, with only dreams to keep you going most days. Oh, another show he wrote was Citizen Smith, again before your time, but it was funny, it catches the mood of the time. If it has to be an author I would pick Roald Dahl he had a wicked sense of humour.
Do you have plans for another book along the same lines as ‘Set my Soul on Fire’? Could this be the first in a series?
No, it will not become a series; but I am writing another love story, but quite different on another aspect of love. This time about children of war and when they grow into adults, how they can ever love, and trust when they have seen horrific things or have tramatic things happen to them.
Where else can readers find you?
All Good Book Shops
Thank you Celia, your novel has been a pleasure to read. I did not want it to end. It was brilliantly written and I absolutely adored Francine, envied her luck, her travelling and career, I felt every disappointment and cherished every scrap of happiness she found along the way. It was a great adventure, yet at the same time it was a very real and moving story. My full review will be up shortly but believe me when I say, a naughty book is rarely dusty, it shall be re-read, no doubt about it... just as soon as I’ve finished my Read-a-thon.
A beautiful New Romance Novel Exposes Bold Different Shadows of Love.
Having been awarded the coveted Autumn Best Read Award by ‘Modern Romance’, Celia’s first romance novel will resonate with passionate women around the world. While erotic fiction has experienced something of a recent boom, raw and hard-hitting romance still has its rightful place on the world’s bookshelves. Thanks to British author Celia, the genre is seeing a positive resurgence with the release of her novel aimed at romanticists everywhere.
‘Set my Soul on Fire’ fuses a modern love story with the lust and desire that’s allured the human heart for millions of years.
As the author explains, her book takes readers on a journey through love’s many shadows.
“Love is subjective and has many faces; many of those are showcased in my book. I wanted to strike the balance of beautiful writing while still tugging on the heartstrings of each and every reader. I hope everyone will find a bit of themselves in Francine,” says Celia.
She continues, “It’s a modern love story for all those looking for a timeless tale of life’s greatest emotion.”
However, with explicit fiction growing in popularity, Celia has made sure her book satisfies the racier side in her readers.
“Don’t worry, it isn’t all gushing hearts. The book’s characters find themselves involved in steamy bubble baths, inappropriate use of the kitchen table and even getting illicit nipple tattoos,” she adds.
Recently divorced Francine was a naïve young virgin when she first met her ex-husband. After a passionless, controlling marriage, where she lost her dreams and herself, she feels old and inadequate. Concentrating on her future, she craves a different life that will make her feel alive and set her soul on fire. Now free to pursue her dreams, a challenging idea emerges and an unexpected change of fortune takes her into a new world, where the last thing on her list is a man or love….or is it?
Warning: This book contains sexy encounters in bubble baths, inappropriate use of the kitchen table and illicit nipple tattoos.
Voted this year’s - Best autumn read. ‘ Modern Romance’.
An intimate vision into anothe human being. 'Romance.'
A hugely delicious, love story. 'Lincoln Lovers.'