Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Author Gervase Shorter: Writing Books About Books

DSC00781-1bMeeting authors from around the world through blogdom is fun, but when you connect with one from another continent that has ties near where you live….it’s amazing.

I recently met the wonderful author Gervase Shorter from Rio de Janeiro. Through our correspondence I learned his family has ties in the area where I live in Georgia (USA). Now isn’t it a small world after all?

Please join me in welcoming Gervase as the special guest blogger here today. He is the author of 3 intriguing novels: A FEELING IN MY BONES (a thriller), CRIME FICTION FOR BEGINNERS (a murder story), and PRINCE KORASOFF’S ROAD MAP (a romance) with more on  the way.

Gervase talks about ‘Writing Books About Books’

Feeling_CoverWhen I was trying to think up a topic for this post, I was suddenly struck by something I hadn’t noticed before: all my novels are either about books or use books as their background. How did I get so involved with books and how did this involvement provide material for me as a writer?

I was raised in an isolated farmhouse in Suffolk, a dull, flat part of Eastern England. It was the beginning of the 1950s, a time when television hardly existed but, in any case, our house didn’t have electricity so we entertained ourselves by reading. I was aged 12 when I read my first serious piece of literature. It was ‘Crime and Punishment’, an odd choice and, looking back, I wonder how much of it I really understood but I must have enjoyed it because I became hooked on Russian literature and since then I’ve read every Russian novel  that has come my way.

An infrequent bus service ran past our farmhouse to the nearest town, which was Ipswich, about 10 miles away. On one of my visitsCrime_fiction_Cover I discovered Silent Street, so called because all its inhabitants had once died of a plague. It was there that I found The College Gateway Bookshop, an establishment of which I became a regular customer. 

On the ground floor there were several rooms full of shelves crammed with old books. Upstairs there were attics and garret rooms filled with piles of books, mostly leather bound eighteenth century editions lying about in dusty heaps. The shop was unheated and freezing in winter, when its proprietor would sit like a character out of Dickens on a high stool wrapped up in an overcoat and woolen scarf, with a beret pulled down over his ears. 

Most of the books were quite cheap but one that I came across had belonged to Voltaire and had his signature on the flyleaf. It was priced at fifty pounds, a fortune in those days and far beyond my means. Instead, I bought sets of leather bound books and read them all. They are now ranged on my shelves here in Brazil, suffering a little from the tropical climate but, so far, (touch wood) undamaged by termites. And from then on I became a voracious and pretty well omnivorous reader and hoarder of books.

Korasoff_CoverWithout realizing it - till now - I’ve been drawing on my involvement with books in all of my fiction. In my thriller, A FEELING IN MY BONES, I wanted the narrator Sally to have a really close relationship with her husband Jake at the beginning so that when he reappears after being out of contact it’s the cooling in their relationship that makes her suspect something is terribly wrong. To create a really close relationship I had both Sally and Jake work from home – Sally as a literary agent. Her author-clients are quite an important bit of the story’s background and they play a key part in helping Sally survive when her life goes up in flames. 

Gervase, thanks so much for guest blogging today. I like that writing plays such a part of your own writing. I enjoy characters who spend time reading or dealing with books in stories.

Now let me tell you a bit more about Gervase. He’s an English writer who has traveled and lived in many parts of the world but has made the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro his home since the 1970s. He lives with his wife Charmian and Zoë, his daughter (a Paris trained pastry chef) in an apartment in central Rio with a view across the lagoon. 

However, whenever it’s too hot in Rio Gervase escapes to the farm they built three thousand feet up in the mountains where it’s cold enough for log fires in the winter. When he’s not enjoying Zoë´s incredible desserts, listening to his collection of classical music or reading any kind of book he can lay hands on, Gervase is writing. 

Gervase, in fact, is enjoying the holidays with his family in the mountains as we read this. He won’t be able to join us today, but if you have any questions for him, just leave them in the comment section with your e-mail and he’ll get back to you after the holidays.

For more on Gervase and his writing, visit his website at

Here’s a short synopsis of FEELING IN MY BONES: Jake Forrester disappears while on an assignment for a reclusive billionaire called Cyrus Kroger at his heavily guarded place in the Catskills. Kroger falls ill and dies while Jake reappears some weeks later in a Miami clinic suffering from a nervous breakdown. His wife Sally helps him recover but is unable to discover what Jake was doing. She finds their relationship has lost its old warmth and Jake has become irritable and suspicious but also fabulously rich. Their life changes beyond recognition as they leave their old habits and friends behind. Then, in their luxurious penthouse overlooking Hyde Park, Sally stumbles across something that turns her world upside down. She realizes she is in danger because she knows too much so she runs for her life. 

If you are an author, do you include writing and books in your storylines? As a reader, do you enjoy stories that include the characters’ involvement in reading and/or writing? Sorry I’m still absent from blogdom, but thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. Mason - Thanks so much for hosting Gervase.

    Gervase - I've been a bibliophile just about all my life, so I know exactly what you mean... And it's interesting how many of them there are in fiction.. I wish you much success!

  2. Gervase, thanks again for guest blogging and sharing your thoughts on writing. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the mountains. Wishing you much success with your writing.


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