Spotlight on Yvvette Edwards – Interview with Author of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’

I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am with this interview. Today I have the privilege of interviewing a new author, whose debut was one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

As you can read on my 5-star review of her book, I really loved it. Besides being an amazing author, Yvvette is also a great person, who even let me use one of the many beautiful sentences of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’ as an epigraph for ‘My Sore Hush-a-Bye’.

That’s why I’m so proud to present you this interview.

So, let’s learn more about her!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

My family are from Montserrat in the Caribbean.  I was born in England and grew up in Hackney, East London.  My first novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, was published in April 2011. I started writing A Cupboard Full of Coats during the year that followed my 39th birthday, which was probably the most introspective year of my life.  The idea evolved from a true life scenario and had been knocking around inside my head for a couple of decades before I finally got moving with it. It took about eight months to come up with a first draft, and another year to edit it.  Then about a year to find an agent, and maybe eight months for her to find my publisher, Oneworld Publications.  My novel embraces my cultural background and the lives of people I’ve grown up with. It is steeped in realism, and explores a number of meaty issues, like domestic violence, single parenthood, jealousy and love.  I think I write about things that trouble me, and the writing process is cathartic, so I don’t necessarily understand things more when I’ve finished writing about them, but I feel better, and for me, that’s enough.

How long have you been writing?

I have always loved both reading and writing.  Perhaps because when I was growing up my family didn’t have much money, and certainly not lots of money to spend on toys, I spent my childhood in libraries, and through books I went on adventures, often visiting parts of the world I could not have travelled to otherwise.  Through books I have lived a thousand lives in addition to this current life that now finds me writing myself.  For me, reading and writing are flip sides of the same coin and I have done both as far back as I can remember.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

I can’t remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember that my first ‘major’ work was a biography of the life of Elvis Presley, which I wrote in 1977 in the days following his death.  For large periods of the writing, I could hear my mum and my aunts crying in the background!  I don’t have a copy of it, but I really wish I did.  It was just over 30 pages long and I can vividly remember the feeling of accomplishment I had when it was finished.

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?

I have an obsession with trees.  One of my favourite fantasies is reading a book beneath an Indian bean tree.  I have favourite trees in different places I’ve visited, and books filled with pictures of them.  Weeping willows fill me with sadness.  Laburnum and cherry trees in flower make my heart sing.  The colour of autumn leaves simply takes my breath away.  Because of trees, autumn is my favourite time of the year.  The second (riveting!) eccentricity is that I’m an eavesdropper.  I love listening to fragments of conversations, as I pass people, while on buses or trains, one-sided discussions people have on their mobile phones.  And I am as enthusiastic about listening to what is said as what has not been said, the gaps and holes.  In fact, I think I enjoy the spaces in conversations more than the conversations themselves.  I like to think of it as healthy curiosity, (as opposed to me being nosey!)

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

I have been asked if my novel is a true story because the characters and events seemed so real.  That is always music to my ears.  It is not a true story, but I feel I have accomplished what I set out to when readers find my work so authentic they believe it must be autobiographical.  I was also deeply moved to have been asked if one of my sentences could be used as an epigraph for another writer’s work.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

I haven’t read many books by independent authors, though I have a few in my ‘to read’ pile, that I’m hoping to get to soon.  However I had the privilege of reading Silver by Scott Cairns a few months ago, and I strongly recommend it.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

If it were a single author, it would be the magnificent Toni Morrison, who blew me away when I was about twenty with The Bluest Eye.  Despite my having read thousands of books by that point in my life, I had never read anything like it.  It was so honest, and deep, and eloquently written, (some of her sentences read like poetry, so lyrical), not to mention that it was the first book I’d ever read with a purely black cast and it was written by a black woman.  I think that was the first time I actually truly considered the possibility that I could perhaps one day be a writer myself.

My mum has always supported me in my writing endeavours, as have my husband, and my close friends and family.  I consider it great fortune to have them in my life.

Do you have a WIP (Work in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I do.  I have another fabulous female protagonist on the cards, who is trying to find her way through some weighty emotional issues.  I’ve not been able to carve out, (and defend to the death!) my designated writing times over the last couple of months, which means my progress is much slower than I’m happy with, but it’s headed in the right direction, and I’m in love with it.

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

This is an easy question to answer as I have only had one book published, it’s A Cupboard Full of Coats!

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

I love Lemon.  He is my favourite of every character I’ve ever created.  He’s so stylish and flawed and honest and funny and disgraceful.  And I had a lot of fun with his speech, idiosyncratic and humorous and blunt to a fault.  He was a genuine pleasure to craft, so vibrant.  I would love to have met him.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

I’m a bit of a late-comer to social media, but it is brilliant that through mediums like Facebook and Twitter, I can interact with people who have read my book in parts of the world so far away, that if it wasn’t for these forums, I wouldn’t have the chance to correspond with them at all.  I think I am more of a happy tweeter than a Facebooker – if there is such a word!  Having said that, you can have more of a chat on Facebook.  Plus I’m an over-writer most of the time which means that on Twitter, I often end up spending more time trying to reduce my tweets to less than 140 characters than it takes me to write the tweet in the first place.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

I am very lucky to have had my book published by Oneworld Publications, who have done much of the marketing on my behalf.  I am also lucky that my book is judged on its content and not my marketing skills, which I’m not convinced are particularly good.  I have to do some marketing myself.  It is hard work, and requires me to regularly step outside of my comfort zones.  But I love talking to readers (and writers!) about my book, which is very fortunate.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

Twitter – www.twitter.com/YvvetteEdwards

Facebook – www.facebook.com/YvvetteEdwards

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/A-Cupboard-Full-Coats-ebook/dp/B005F37X7K

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Cupboard-Full-Coats-ebook/dp/B005F37X7K

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Yvvette! I know how busy you are, so I really appreciate that. Now please, don’t let me interrupt you anymore. Go back to your WIP, because I can’t wait to read your next masterpiece!! 🙂

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for the next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

My 5 star Review of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’, by Yvvette Edwards

After posting my first review today, I had to post here my review of this book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and Yvvette Edwards, the author, is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

I really loved this book, and I should have posted my review here and on Goodreads long ago, can’t explain why it took me so long!!

Oh my, what a debut!
This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. The whole atmosphere she creates is so lyrical, so many beautiful sentences, I had to highlight and take notes on my kindle almost in every page.

There are points through the novel where you can actually smell the food she’s describing; listen to Lemon with his thick accent; cry with Jinx.

Abuse and passion crimes, unfortunately, are not new themes to many women; the way they are told here is what makes all the difference.

There’s a beautiful Brazilian song that says, in Portuguese, something like: “Certain songs I listen to/fit so well inside of me/ that I have got to ask/ How I’m not the one who wrote it*”. Well,  this is another book that I’d love to have written. 😀 However, I don’t think anyone else would have the sensibility and talent to have written this story.

A masterpiece by Yvvette Edwards.

She’s writing a second book now, and I cannot wait to read it!

*Find out more about this song here (Milton Nascimento – Certas Canções)

Follow Yvvette on Twitter: @YvvetteEdwards

The best creative writing course – reading!

Every writer is also a reader. We love books, we need to read to be happy.

I’m one of those compulsive readers that can’t stand not having a book to read at the moment. I’m also a proud kindle owner, and believe ebooks are the most amazing thing ever invented.

Of course when you’re a writer, you read in a different, more critical way. You read to be inspired by other authors, and, sometimes, to find motivation to keep writing. It happened to me more than once; I’m reading just for pleasure (or think I am) and start taking notes as if in a class, because the sentences are so brilliant, the characters so well constructed, the story so beautifully told that I think: “Boy, that’s what I want:  to write something that good!”

Reading is the best creative writing course for me. I’ve learned so much from reading great authors! Sometimes you learn what not to do, but that’s not the point! 🙂

Of course, since I love dark, twisted and damaged characters, I read books where they live. I try to always write a review, and, if there’s a way, write to the author just to let them now how much I enjoyed their work. I think this is the least I can do to say “thank you” for their time and effort. Everybody should do that.

I had received amazing responses. Authors are kind people who love to hear from readers. Try it!

These are some of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. Some are Indies, some are not. I don’t care how a book is published, I just want the story to be great.

In these books, the weather and locations are characters, as important to the plots as the people on the pages.  They describe a tense, dark, almost suffocating world, where the characters are consumed by their ordeals.

Ruth Rendell is a master. Her stand-alones are must-read

This was the first book in this genre that I read, when I was only thirteen – it hooked me for life!

Absolutely amazing. This story has some of the best metaphors I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The plot is superb too

Certainly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Almost impossible to describe without spoiling your reading.

Oh my, what a debut! This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. Plus, the author is a really nice person.

This is the American edition of Rupture (UK). Great book about bullying.

Simon Lelic has a compelling way of telling stories.

An excellent debut. I’ll be looking forward for the next book from this author

Sorrel Pitts develops a magnificent tense atmosphere to tell this story.

This is a haunting tale that will stay in your mind for days after finishing the story.

This book is very slow-paced, but it’s a great journey

This is a great coming-of-age story. It’s very dark and extremely sad in some points, with poetical touches all over the text.

I deeply care about not-that-enjoyable characters. You know, the problematic ones, those that proclaimed themselves as bad people, like Libby Day does. And she is so twisted, you end up loving her.

After reading this book you are sure going to watch your back more often and be more careful, especially if you’re a woman.

If the only thing you have are other people’s words as your memories, how can you be sure what’s true?

The author has a beautiful style. His prose is natural, with an excellent pace that keeps you wanting to read more and more.