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Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Lamplugh’

Hard to believe that we’re half way through the year already, and as we’ve hit this milestone, I figured that it might be a good time to round up some of the great indie books that I’ve featured so far and some of the great authors who have given their time to take part in author interviews or written guest posts for us to read.

Links to each of the Friday features are below, or alternatively if you want to use the search function at the top of the page, just type in the name of the book or author to bring up the relevant page.

Feature Links:
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech (book feature)
The Twitches Meet a Puppy by Hayley Scott (book feature)
Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie (book feature)
Inborn by Thomas Enger (book feature)
Roz White (author feature)
Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz (book feature)
The Courier by Kjell Old Dahl (book feature)
The Red Light Zone by Jeff Zycinski (book feature)
A Letter From Sarah by Dan Proops (book and author feature)
The Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn (book feature)
Runaway by Claire MacLeary (book feature)
Sunwise by Helen Steadman (book feature)
The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin (book feature)
The Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh (book and author feature)
Death at The Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly (book feature)
Heleen Kist (author feature)
White Gold by David Barker (book feature)
Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers (book and author feature)
Claire MacLeary (author feature)
A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West by Frances Timbers (book feature)
The Killer Across The Table by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker (book feature)
Maggie Christensen (author feature)

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features both a book review and an author interview, and I am thrilled to share my thoughts with you about The Red Gene.

  • Title: The Red Gene
  • Author: Barbara Lamplugh
  • Publisher: Urbane Publications
  • Publication Date: 18th April 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

When Rose, a young English nurse with humanitarian ideals, decides to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, she is little prepared for the experiences that await her.
Working on one front after another, witness to all the horrors of war, she falls in love with a Republican fighter, Miguel. In 1939 as defeat becomes inevitable, Rose is faced with a decision that will change her life and leave her with lasting scars.

Interspersed with Rose’s story is that of Consuelo, a girl growing up in a staunchly Catholic family on the other side of the ideological divide. Never quite belonging, treated unkindly, she discovers at a young age that she was adopted but her attempts to learn more about her origins are largely thwarted.

It falls to the third generation, to Consuelo’s daughter Marisol, born in the year of Franco’s death and growing up in a rapidly changing Spain, to investigate the dark secrets of her family and find the answers that have until now eluded her mother.

My Thoughts:

The Red Gene is an impressive journey through the history of three distinctly different women, all of whom are linked by a connection and are completely unaware of it.
Rose, a young woman makes the decision she must volunteer, her nursing skills would be of great use to those fighting in the Spanish Civil War and give her the glimpse of the world that she so desperately wants. For Rose, this begins as an adventure, not aware of the harsh realities she will face so close to the fighting. The injuries she sees, the lack of supplies and the constant fear of bombardment take their toll on Rose, they change who she was, and in turn begin a transformation into a woman who takes chances and knows her worth.

As readers get to know Rose and her story, they are immersed in the early life of Consuelo. She is a troubled young girl, feeling that her place in her family isn’t as valued as that of her siblings, always feeling that she is on the receiving end of her mother’s disappointment. Learning that she was adopted as a baby, things begin to make sense for her but this also leaves her with so many questions. Where did she come from? Who were her biological parents and are they still around?

The lives of both Rose and Consuelo play out over the course of their narratives, and so does the exploration of their personalities. In these two women we witness great humanity but also pain, we see them grow, watch them take on challenges and thrive under the pressures placed on them. Just as their lives reach a certain place, a third narrative is added in by way of Marisol, Consuelo’s daughter, a confident but somewhat youthfully naive girl who questions everything around her. Her inquisitive mind illustrates the movement of both time and society, why does her mother do everything for the family, why don’t her male siblings help out around the home instead of expecting the females of the family do it it all … she demonstrates the change in thinking that drives the modern world and in turn gives readers another strong female character to fall in love with.

Barbara Lamplugh has written a strong yet beautiful story that brings to life the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, the stolen babies of the Franco era and the turmoil associated with them both. She approaches the subjects with sympathy and sensitivity, not shying away from the realities, yet she manages to portray them in away that gives readers an understanding of the situations. The confusion and turmoil faced by her characters is so vividly described in The Red Gene, the sense of loss and longing that is depicted is very real and it’s hard not to be moved to some extent by it.
Whilst being a very interesting read and very well written, there is a subtle message that this book bestows upon the audience, the importance of family. It reminds us that family is not just those who you are linked to by blood or genetics, but those who you choose to to bring into your life.


Author Feature:

Barbara Lamplugh started out as a travel writer in the 1970s, inspired by a life-changing overland journey to Kathmandu in a converted fire-engine. Her love of adventure then took her backpacking around SE Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railway and Japan. Two travel books, Kathmandu by Truck and Trans-Siberia by Rail, were the result. Another new experience – motherhood – came next, putting an end to her extensive wanderings. However, she continued to write, turning now to fiction. In 1999, spurred by the challenge of living in a different culture, she headed for Granada, Spain, where along with the energising light of the sun, she found her dream job as a features writer for the magazine Living Spain, writing on topics as diverse as garlic, machismo, the life of a lighthouse keeper and the nightmarish experience of being trapped at an all-night drumming festival. Although her heart and home are in Granada, where her 2015 novel Secrets of the Pomegranate is set, she makes frequent visits to the UK to spend time with her children and grandchildren.
Her new novel, The Red Gene, will be published by Urbane in April 2019.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Nothing can beat the exhilaration of that moment when an idea comes to me out of the blue for a plot development, a scene or just a sentence that expresses perfectly what I want to say. But the thrill of getting feedback from readers that they’ve loved my book or been deeply affected by my writing comes a close second.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Sending my baby out to agents or publishers after years of hard work and emotional investment and getting no response or just a standard two-line rejection six months later. It’s hard not to get discouraged, to continue to believe in yourself and your writing.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

That’s a difficult question, there are so many. I’m tempted to pick one of Roald Dahl’s for his brilliant imagination, creative way with language (Frobscottle! Whizzpoppers!) and the pleasure he’s given to generations of children. But I think instead I’m going to plump for one of Rose Tremain’s novels. I’d be proud to have written any of them, I so admire the way she gets under the skin of diverse characters and brings settings – from 17th century Denmark to gold-rush New Zealand to post-war Switzerland – vividly to life. If I have to choose one of her books, I’ll go for The Colour. It portrays a world previously unknown to me and reflects, as do all her books, her deep understanding of human nature.

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I like to balance the solitary hours at my desk with socialising – seeing friends, spending time with my children and grandchildren in the UK, generally getting out and about – and to balance the sedentary task of writing with exercise – walking, cycling, swimming, dancing. I’ve always loved travel though I do less now than I used to. Reading also plays an important part in my life, as I imagine it does for most writers.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I’m at my most creative in the mornings and I need silence and solitude. Although ideas can come to me at any time, I never take my laptop to cafes as some writers do. I would find that far too distracting. If I’m stuck, I go for a walk, or to the beach in summer. That nearly always works but only when I’m alone. I’ll write my ideas down in a notebook or on any handy scrap of paper, to be transferred once I get home. Inspiration comes when I’m relaxed and tends to strike most easily when I’m in or near water: the sea, rivers, even the bath!

What’s on the horizon? 

While I’m in the full throes of promoting The Red Gene, it’s difficult to focus on a new novel. I need to have some writing on the go though, so in the meantime, I’m working on a memoir around the theme of migration – my family’s and mine – and how it has influenced our lives. After that, I hope to return to fiction.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

Life is full of coincidences, missed opportunities, tragedies or serendipities of timing, often with momentous consequences. I’ve sometimes used these in plotting my novels. For example,
Secrets of the Pomegranate opens with Deborah, the central character, catching a train by the skin of her teeth. It happens to be one of the four targeted by Islamist extremists in the terrorist attack of 2004. The fact that she’s on that train sets off a whole chain of consequences, without which there’d have been no story. In The Red Gene, missed opportunities and accidents of timing were all that stood in the way of encounters that would have changed the lives of my protagonists. I’m often struck by how much in life is down to chance (call it Fate if you like): to being in the right place at the right time or the reverse.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

The Red Gene is a novel about love and war and motherhood and identity, set in Spain and England between 1936 and 2012. It tells the story of Rose, a young English nurse who volunteers for Spain with the International Brigades at the beginning of the Civil War. The story spans three generations of women so it’s also the story of Consuelo, born in 1939 soon after the start of Franco’s dictatorship and of Consuelo’s youngest daughter, Marisol. Having lived in Spain for 20 years, I’m pretty fluent in Spanish and that meant I was able to interview older Spaniards on both sides of the political divide about life under the dictatorship. Their stories and what has emerged in the press in recent years showed me some of the less savoury aspects of recent Spanish history, including the theft of babies for ideological reasons. Both the interviews and the media articles were invaluable when plotting The Red Gene and fleshing out the background.

It’s an action tale, a love story and a family drama rolled into one, but set in a historical context that resonates today as we see fascism on the rise again in a number of countries. Readers have told me they found the book moving and hard to put down and that they learnt a lot too. I personally like reading novels that involve me emotionally but also make me think and I hope that’s what I’ve achieved in writing
The Red Gene.

A huge thank you to Barbara for joining me today for a chat, it’s a huge honour to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Barbara and her books, check out her website or Twitter!
Website: https://barbaralamplugh.com


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