I am beyond excited to have the wonderful Cesca Major drop by for a chat today.
Without sounding like a stalker, I am a HUUUGE fan of both Cesca’s books, The Silent Hours and more recently The Last Night.
Read on to find out a little more about this amazing lady….
Hi Cesca, I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to Swirl and Thread. Having read both The Silent Hours and The Last Night it’s such a pleasure to finally get to talk with you.
Thanks Mairead, your review was wonderful.
Cesca, you have had a very interesting career thus far……
As a TV presenter for four years, could you share a little with us as to what it was like to be in front of the camera? What kind of programs were you involved with?
It is great fun in many ways, I always liked the element of performance to it and my most memorable jobs were working at ITV West (Soccer Night was particularly fun as they allowed me to come up with my own feature ideas). I did loads of live shows and that was how I learnt to present. Gala Bingo, Price Drop etc..!
Following on from that you became a history teacher and now a housemistress at a boarding school. What a transition!! What spurred you on to take such a huge change in direction within your career path?
Freelance TV presenting was great but I found myself searching for something to present. I wanted to front an accessible history programme or do something that reflected my own interests. I basically needed to live a little and return to that world once I had. So I left to become a history teacher and write books, then I was very fortunate my school promoted me to various roles over the years. It works really well with writing and I now vlog regularly too so am still presenting. I hope one day to return to television with something to say!
Cesca, your first real writing success came as a Runner Up in the 2005 annual Daily Mail Writing Competition. How did that recognition spur you on in your writing?
It was vital as I suddenly had a spark of self-belief. I was so excited that someone else had pulled my piece from a large pile and found merit in it. It definitely gave me the confidence to enter more competitions and ultimately, write a novel.
Both your novels are based around true historical tragedies. I read that you studied history at college…did this influence the direction your writing has taken?
I know the word history can be such a turn-off for some. For me history is about trying to imagine yourself in a different time and how you’d react. What would you have done in Nazi Germany? Gone along with the crowd, tried to be a mouthpiece? I like taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary times. Above all though I just want to write about interesting characters in a different setting.
The Silent Hours was truly a novel that affected me to the core. Could you share with us how you came to write about such a tragic event. Where did you hear about the tragedy of Oradour-sur-Glane ?
A colleague of mine told me about this little known tragedy when I was searching for something to teach my Year 9 class. I got obsessed with the story of one woman on that day and started to build a story around her.
As a debut, The Silent Hours was widely received as a wonderful, compelling novel. Is it hard, as a writer to sit down, after all the hype, and put pen to paper with a second book? Are you conscious of the expectations that readers now have?
It was much harder in many ways and this is probably the novel I have been most nervous about on publication day. You just can’t tell if it was a fluke or whether you can pull it off twice..!
The Last Night is your latest release, only launched this month.
Again a beautiful, poignant read inspired by true events in Devon. The true story is run in parallel with fictional characters yet there is that question of the ‘The Unknown Woman’. Can you explain to us who she was?
I think I got close to discovering who she really was during my research. There was a woman who approached someone in the village a few years ago who believed herself to be the niece of the Unknown woman.
However the family were not keen to pursue it and I’m not an investigative journalist, I wouldn’t feel comfortable digging any further.
Cesca, having written two wonderful novels, can you share with us a little of what we can expect in your next novel?
It’s another book based on a true event, this time in 1940s New Zealand. I’m addicted to the research at the moment and am excited about one particular strand of the story. I have to be quite cloak and dagger about it at the moment as I’m not sure how much I want to reveal yet as there are some twists and turns to plan..!
Thank you so much Cesca for taking the time to drop by today!!
It’s been an absolute pleasure to chat with you and I do so wish you all the very best with your next project and look forward to seeing Cesca Major on the bookshelves for many many years to come.