Monday, 7 September 2015


I am delighted that DINAH JEFFERIES is joining me on my blog today. Dinah's second book - The Tea Planter's Wife - was published by Penguin on 3 September 2015. 

So Dinah, what inspired you to write a book in the first place?
I was living at the top of a small mediaeval village in Northern Andalucía. In summer it was too hot to go out and, with time on my hands and missing my own language, I just decided to immerse myself.

Where do your ideas come from?
Tricky. Where do ideas come from? The big wide world is the easy answer, but from the depths of my psyche is the more honest one.

Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
I’m not sure you can write anything without your personal experiences influencing your work. I am my work and my work is me.

Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Atmospheric, tension-filled, intimate and emotional.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Writing is pretty strange full stop. The usual middle of the night stuff when my brain is firing ideas at me.

Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
A mix of both. I have an outline and some key scenes in mind, then I write. After I while I assess where I am and where I need to go, and then I work out how to get there. I always have a sense of the heart of the story before I begin.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
The planning. It gives me brain ache.

Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
I LOVE reading, but it’s really hard to write and read. I read when I can and look forward to it as a treat. I enjoy Sarah Waters and Rachel Joyce but many others too.

You were born in Malaya, which is the setting for your first book, The Separation. What memories do you have of your time living there?
Wonderful memories of sun, sea and freedom. I loved Malaya. It’s in my soul.

The Tea Planter's Wife is set in Ceylon. Why did you choose this as the setting for your second novel?
I wanted to stay with South East Asia and as I knew so little about Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and really wanted to go there, I plumped for that. Since then I’ve been to Vietnam for book three, and I have a trip to India coming up. I NEVER expected all this when I set out to write and I feel incredibly fortunate.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Being a published writer is fabulous, but you do need dogged determination and a well-honed degree of obsession.  By writing you learn how, so keep at it and develop a feeling for your strengths and your weaknesses. The way I feel about it is that I can’t not write, and I’m never satisfied with early drafts. That might be the key.

And lastly, why should people read The Tea Planter's Wife?
If you’re looking for mystery, love, heart-break and joy – then it’s for you. But I think Liz Trenow’s words say more than I can.
Liz Trenow author of The Poppy Factory:
‘With a naïve young woman protagonist discovering the undercurrents of a tropical land and a husband haunted by the tragedies of a previous marriage, The Tea Planter’s Wife cleverly melds themes from A Passage to India and Rebecca into a highly engaging story, informed by meticulous research and a real feel for the setting of Sri Lanka, when it was still Ceylon. Dark secrets lie at every turn, hidden beneath layers of 1920s racism and the fearfulness of a crumbling colonial power, making for a thoroughly gripping tale. But what I loved most of all, underpinning the whole narrative, is the moving way in which Dinah writes about the loss of children and the redemptive power of love.’

About Dinah Jefferies

Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia but moved to England at the age of nine, travelling widely throughout her life and always maintaining a love of Southeast Asia. She spent time living in a musicians' commune, and has had work publicly exhibited as an artist. Dinah’s first novel The Separation was published by Penguin in 2014. The Tea Planter’s Wife is her second novel. She is currently working on her third to be published in 2016, and is a contributor to the Guardian and other newspapers. After living in Andalusia for five years, she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband.

Find Dinah Jefferies on her official Facebook page and follow Dinah on Twitter - @DinahJefferies

The Tea Planter's Wife
Published by Penguin (3 September 2015)

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past - a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds - that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can't stay buried forever . . .

I loved this book - read my review here.

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