Today is my stop on the Imprisoned by Loveblog tour and I am here today with an interview with the author!
Title: Imprisoned by Love Author: C. S. Brahams Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 7th July 2020 Format: Paperback Source:: N/A Add It:Amazon. Goodreads. Summary: Deputy head teacher, Sophie Boswell, is back from Croatia and set to tackle the new academic year at her independent school in London. As the term unfolds, Sophie’s husband Michael’s increasingly erratic behaviour begins to take its toll on her. Everything is in a state of flux. Sophie’s world is no longer safe. How will she cope with Michael’s confusion and violence at home while maintaining authority and dignity at work?
Imprisoned by Love is a compelling story about living with dementia. The author’s debut novel provides an arresting insight into the uncomfortable realities of balancing love and duty. With her many years in the teaching profession, C.S. Brahams is all too aware of the problems teachers face keeping up appearances in the classroom whilst compartmentalising their personal struggles. In the past, the author was deeply affected by a significant trauma which left her emotionally labile; it was this strain of maintaining authority on the surface whilst drowning beneath it that made her want to explore someone’s mental health whilst dealing with a personal crisis at home.
What is your favourite thing about writing books? I love the escapism. The beginning and end of Imprisoned by Love is set in the beautiful country, Croatia. Even though I bash away at my keyboard, whilst sitting at a very small desk in my little study, when I am writing, I can escape to anywhere in the world.
I also very much enjoy creating characters whose lives invariably take on a personality of their own. Despite being in control of their destiny, my characters dictate their own fate. The book almost writes itself. It feels natural. I love reading what I have created and hope that my readers will too.
Writing is also cathartic. Even though I am very sociable and I love to meet my friends for walks and talks, I also enjoy being on my own. And when I am writing, I don’t feel lonely or isolated because at that point, I am living with my fictional characters. I know this sounds a bit odd but honestly, my characters feel very real to me.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why? My protagonist, Sophie, is definitely my favourite character. She’s relatable and normal. Sophie is pretty, confident and good at her job but she’s neither arrogant nor complacent. Initially, she knows she is lucky. Her life seems almost too good to be true. Tragically, it doesn’t take long for her husband’s illness to have a hugely negative impact on her confidence; her ability to manage at work and perhaps more importantly, her moral compass. None of us knows how we might cope in a crisis. It’s easy to judge others. Sophie wants to do the right thing by Michael but his behaviour towards her – especially his uncharacteristic violence – make it virtually impossible for her to continue living with the man that she loves.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? I tend to write from 8 a.m. to noon so my favourite drink at this time is definitely a mug of Yorkshire tea. It also gives me an excuse to go downstairs to the kitchen and take a break, even if I have only been writing for twenty minutes!
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing? Yes. I occasionally drink Diet Coke in the morning – which I know is disgusting – and I also, if things aren’t going well, find myself browsing the Internet, ostensibly to do some research, when in actual fact I sometimes purchase something on Amazon instead!
How did you research your book? In some ways, I have been researching this book ever since I qualified as a teacher back in the summer of 1992. In other ways, it was simply by opening up to people and talking to them. I have always been a good listener. But since writing, I have become a good observer too. People who talk all the time rarely notice what’s going on around them.
On a more practical note, I also visited residential care homes; hospitals; spoke to doctors and nurses about dementia; talked to people living with and caring for partners suffering from long-term and incurable diseases. It was heart-wrenching at times but it afforded me a remarkable insight into other people’s lives.
Not all research is done on the Internet or face-to-face. Some of it is simply one’s own life experiences. And I have had plenty of those too.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? I wish I was the former but I think I am the latter! On the one hand, I knew that Sophie’s story was going to be told in the first person and that it would span the length of one academic year. So, in that respect, I plotted the novel. On the other hand, I am pragmatic in everything that I do. So, in that respect, I am also a pantser! When Sophie’s sleep is disrupted and her live is in turmoil, even though I didn’t plan for her to commit a petty crime or steal something from a souvenir shop, her fate was sealed from writing one chapter to another. I guess I am a hybrid: is there such a word as a plotanster?
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? I wouldn’t. I hate fantasy books. I prefer to live in the real world.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? I think it would be Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Even though the novel was written in 1813, Austen’s characters are modern. I could imagine being friends with Elizabeth because she is full of enthusiasm and has an insatiable and magnetic wit. I love her energy and her laughter. And although she is prejudiced against Darcy initially – and who can blame her for that – she is magnanimous to change her opinion of him. I’m also an incurable romantic so the fact that Elizabeth wanted to marry for love makes her the perfect fictional character whom I would want to meet.
About the Author
Catherine Brahams read English, Russian Studies and Linguistics at Durham University where she spent much of her time acting, producing or directing plays. She qualified as a teacher of English (secondary) a year later and has spent over twenty years in the teaching profession. At the height of her profession, Catherine was the Vice Principal of a Sixth Form College in Kensington and a Head of Sixth Form in central London. She has also been a manager at both English Heritage and Bonhams Auctioneers, both of which gave her wonderful insight into a world outside of teaching. Catherine has been a School Inspector for some years now and is also a Governor at a girls’ school in London. She is married to Lawrence with whom she has a daughter called Alice.