Apple Gidley Interview Published on: 25, Jun 2021

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Become a diplomat, but the closest I got was British Honorary Consul to Equatorial Guinea in West Africa!

Do you remember the first book you ever read?

Not really, but it was probably something by the British author Enid Blyton. I do remember my parents reading to me every night, which instilled a love of books and the worlds they created.

What has been your most valuable experience while living in many countries from Papua New Guinea to Thailand, The Netherlands to Trinidad & Tobago plus another eight?

It has been a privilege to have been exposed to, and hopefully learnt from, so many countries and cultures. It has helped me become adaptable, resilient and I hope tolerant of our differences. On the downside, it has made me very impatient with those unable to open their minds to a wider world.

Your thoughts on conventional vs. self-publishing? What route did you choose and why?

That’s a conundrum every writer faces. The ease and relative speed of self-publishing is a wonderful incentive to choose that route, which I think is great as long as the conventional steps of editing, proofing and so on are still followed. I have had three books successfully partner-published through Summertime Publishing and OC Publishing, and I could not have had a better experience. However, I felt for my fourth book, an historical novel set in 1950’s Malaya and called Have You Eaten Rice Today? that I wanted to try for a traditional publisher. I am thrilled to have been taken on by Vine Leaves Press, and am looking forward to working with them toward a release date of September 6, 2022.

Why did you decide to share your own story in the memoir, Expat Life Slice by Slice?

A number of years ago I was a keynote speaker for an organization called Families in Global Transition in which I talked about my nomadic life. It was well received and people suggested I write down some of my experiences, good and bad. Like many expatriates my life has not been linear so I decided to write in ‘slices’ - education, culture, children, volunteering, death and so on. And with a name like Apple, chapters naturally had to be called ‘slices’!

Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?

Without a doubt my husband. He has encouraged me in every scheme, some harebrained, I have come up with, none more so than writing.

What fears did you have while publishing your first novel?

Falling flat on my face! But, as well as my husband, I am inordinately fortunate to have a close cadre of friends and first readers, all around the world, who are brutally honest without ever demoralizing me.

How much did you research while writing your novel, Transfer?

A huge amount. I truly believe that anyone writing historical fiction owes it to their readers to be as accurate as possible whilst still weaving an intriguing story.

Did you share an original tale from the period of Caribbean history while writing your novel, Fireburn?

Yes. Fireburn was an actual event that took place on the Danish West Indian island of St Croix in 1878, thirty years after emancipation. It was a bloody event which did eventually lead to changes in archaic and unjust labour laws. Transfer was also a real event which was the transfer of power of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States in 1917.

What according to you are the key ingredients of a successful book?

Characters that make you care, or conversely loathe, good plot lines that make the reader laugh or cry and not want to put the book down. And reliable research. I have just finished reading Maggie O’Farrells Hamnet - the epitome of a successful and brilliant book.

Do you need to know how a novel ends before you begin writing it?

No, not exactly. I have a vague idea but I’m not very good at plotting each chapter and rather rely on the characters guiding me to the end. Before I start writing a novel I will have written intense backgrounds for my main characters and so I have to trust them when they take over.

What according to you are the key ingredients of a successful book?

A great story, believable characters, a fabulous cover, good marketing and a very large dollop of luck!

Who was the first reader that reached out to you? What did they say and how did you respond?

It wasn’t the first but it was a wonderful review about Expat Life Slice by Slice - by someone I did not know. Linda Parkinson- Hardman wrote, “Apple's book is a wonderful sensory delight, opening our eyes, ears and noses to the very different communities and cultures she finds herself in over the years. The humour and insight she brings to the journey she shares with the reader is a highlight of the book.” And I cried!

Is there anything new that you're working on? When can we expect the next book to come out?

Vine Leaves Press will be releasing Have You Eaten Rice Today? in September 2022. Later this year, I will be self-publishing a book of fact and fiction about St Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, called Crucian Fusion, and I have begun the research for another historical novel based in Poland and India, which hopefully will also find a home with VLP.

How has your experience working with AllAuthor been?

I have been delighted with the AllAuthor’s professionalism with regard publicizing my work and look forward to our continued collaboration.

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