With imagination, suspense, and originality, CJ Carey has created an eerie story of “what if” that explores the development of certain systems of female power that the Nazis loved in of England occupied by Germany.
We chatted with CJ Carey about his latest release Widowlandincluding writing, book recommendations, and more!
Hello, CJ! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Hello, I’m an English writer, living in Wimbledon, and I was a journalist before I was a journalist. I worked at the BBC and in Fleet Street, the home of UK newspapers, and I loved every second of it. But I always knew I wanted to write novels, and since my twenties I’ve always been writing one. Used to Widowland I have published nine new books under my real name Jane Thynne.
When did you first discover your love for writing?
When I started to travel the stories I wrote about teachers at school. I give teachers wild personal lives after their honorable status and I find it fun when my friends start asking for more. I went to study English literature at Oxford and have been writing fiction and poetry ever since.
Fast lightning cycle! Tell us the first book you remember reading, the book that made you want to be a writer, and a book you can’t stop thinking about!
The first book I fell in love with A Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A girl’s sense of herself, living on her own merits in a cruel world, informs all my stories. It’s not fiction that made me want to be a writer, but the vast and immersive world of George Eliot. Middlemarch show me what books can do. And now, I’m curious about Elizabeth Jane Howard’s addictive family story, The Cazalet Story.
Your new book, Widowland, out now! If you could describe yourself in five words, what would it be?
Exciting, immersive, fast-paced, romantic and imaginative (cheat the pun there!)
What should readers expect?
A counterfactual mystery set in 1953; Coronation year in Britain, but not Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Great Britain formed an Alliance with Germany and in this harsh and oppressive regime, all aspects of the country were changed, especially the lives of women. They are divided into castes that reflect their value to society, with the lowest caste representing single women and widows over fifty who live in areas known as ‘widowlands’. ‘. Our heroine, Rose Ransom, is rewriting the classics of British literature to align them with the Alliance’s ideals, especially removing references to tough, independent women. or wisdom. When conspiratorial images begin to appear in public buildings, the widow’s wives are accused and Rose is sent to investigate.
Where does inspiration come from? Widowland do not?
Shortly after my own husband’s death, I was having lunch with an old friend who was having a good time. He said, ‘We would like to invite you to dinner . . .’ but before I could say yes, he added, ‘but we only have men to eat.’ As I walked home, I thought, I live in dead land now. Almost immediately, the thought comes, what if the land of widows is a real place, where women are relegated to the edges of society? And what if those women became rebels and literate in the country? So my friend did me a favor without knowing it.
Can you tell us a little about the challenges you faced while writing and how you were able to overcome them?
I’m not the only writer who says that the annoying and annoying lawsuit is lock, which means it’s a scary time for writers. Living in isolation, without having enough time for outside stimulation, is ridiculous. If you pour everything out on the page you need human interaction to refill the source. Although I’m lucky enough to have two millennial kids and a dog with me, it’s not a great time.
Are there any favorite moments you’ve had the most fun writing or researching?
Often times in stories, the characters go through a process of growth, where they find out about themselves over the course of the story. The joy of writing Rose Ransom is imagining someone encountering the great poets of English literature for the first time and seeing them clash with everything he’s learned to believe. Not only Rose but the reader needs to find out what’s normal, which is what he’s supposed to do.
What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
‘Write down what you see.’ It was advice that stuck with me for many years because I thought I could only write about a white, middle-class woman growing up in twentieth-century Britain. As the supporters of the culture would like. The answer, of course, is that whatever you write is what you see, because it will be delivered through your unique worldview. It’s your lens and your experiences that you recreate, no matter what purpose you choose. In the same way that I believe that historical stories are new stories, because they reflect the ideas of the time, so whatever style or scene you choose, in Either way, express yourself. So throw away the chains and write what you want. Leave the narrow boundaries of your own life. In the research process you will learn a lot about the world.
What’s next for you?
My next book will be a sequel Widowland called The Last Queen, which will be released in the US next year. The story is picked up two years later, when President Eisenhower is making a big state visit to the UK, and Queen Wallis is hoping to escape.
Finally, do you have any 2022 book recommendations for our readers?
The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland is the amazing but little-known story of Rudi Vrba, who escaped from Auschwitz and tried to teach the world, but his advice fell on deaf ears. It’s a fascinating story of brutality and human resilience, and while it’s not fiction, it reads like a thriller.