Interviews with Writers

Literary Fiction | Grace and Serenity | Annalisa Crawford

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I’m delighted to be welcoming Annalisa Crawford today who is chatting to us about Grace and Serenity as part of Rachel’s Random Resources tour.

Book cover for Grace and Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

Grace and Serenity by Annalisa Crawford is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.


Hi Annalisa, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.

Please summarise Grace & Serenity in 20 words or less.

Suffering an abusive marriage, running away is the only thing that makes sense to Grace, but it means leaving her baby behind.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

What happens with all my novels/short stories is I have a sentence or even a title that haunts me until I write it down. In this case, it was the title. I had no idea what it meant, if it was a state of being, if they were—as it turned out—people. Slowly, the concept of a teenage mother struggling to cope formed, possibly because I was pregnant with my second child at the time and I was splurging all my fears onto the page. I find myself appearing in a lot of my characters!

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you Annalisa?

She keeps going. I put her in some terrible positions, but she always fights. I’m not sure I’d be as strong in her position.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …

Don’t marry him. But then, her parents tell Grace that, and she doesn’t listen to them.

Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

I get a lot of inspiration when I’m walking my dog. Firstly, I have a beautiful nature reserve on my doorstep that we go to daily, so I stare out across fields and rivers which makes me happy and rests my screen-tired eyes. Secondly, it gives me time to let my mind drift, and when I drift all sorts of great things happen. I run through conversations my characters need to have, or problems with the plot, or that missing X factor.

Panster or plotter?

I consider myself to be a pantser, but I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that my first drafts are just very detailed plans. In some cases, those ‘plans’ are edited and submitted before I realise they’re not the final story I want to tell.

Do you think movie adaptations do books justice Annalisa?  Do you have a favourite?

I don’t think movies do novels justice at all. The best movie adaptations are from short stories or novellas – Benjamin Button, A Christmas Carol.

Novels work much better as mini-series – my favourite is the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, and Good Omens was fantastic as well.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

I don’t think I’ve had a ‘worst part’. I suppose a lot of people would say the rejections are the worst part of being a writer, but I think they’re necessary and help you learn the craft. When I first started writing, and this makes me sound far older than I am, it was common to get feedback on your rejected submissions – I kept them and re-read quite often, especially if that story got accepted elsewhere because it reminded me that all rejections are subjective and you really should just get on with the next one.

… and the best?

Winning 3rd Prize in the Costa Short Story Award 2015. It’s attached to the Costa Book Awards so I had to go to London, and up on stage, to receive my prize. It also meant I got to attend an actual award ceremony which was so exciting.

Finally, can you share with us what you are working on now?

I’m writing a novel about a woman who wakes up and everyone has disappeared. Most of it has been written during the UK coronavirus lockdown, so my research was walking around the deserted streets of my town. It’s not about a virus, though—I started it last year.

Thank you for being my guest. Wishing you success with all your writing projects,

Author photo Annalisa Crawford

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and dog.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal.

Over the years, she has won several competitions, and had many short stories published in small press journals and online. Highlights include being placed 3rd in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 and being longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Bath Short Story Award in 2018.

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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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