Gilli Allan Author of Buried Treasure is my Guest Author: we both dig Archaeology too.
I am really thrilled to welcome fellow Accent Press author
to my blog.
She has a new book published
17th June 2019
and I am so happy to be able to introduce you to Gilli and her writing.
We share a love of archaeology for starters.
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage.
Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist.
She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
She is published by Accent Press and each of her books,
FLY or FALL
has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer.
His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.
Let’s find out about
Buried Treasure is not always what it seems:
Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different.
And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined.
Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve.
Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.
Gilli’s Reviews to date:
Buried Treasure “.… is a book that rather defies classification by genre. Although there’s a strong element of romance, there’s a great deal more to its clever construction: as the attraction grows between its two main characters, there’s an engrossing historical mystery around the treasure of the title, all complicated by the politics of the academic world and the conflict between progress and the importance of preserving the past…..” Anne Williams
“… Buried Treasure is a slow-burning and thought-provoking romance with credible, flawed, and affecting main characters. I came to care very much about socially-awkward Theo and prickly perfectionist Jane. Their respective loneliness, sadness and difficult back stories made this seemingly mismatched couple very appealing…” Anne Stormont
“….a very satisfying romance, to be sure, but as always with Gilli Allan’s stories, ‘Buried Treasure’ is about so much more than the relationship between two people. Parental relationships, sibling, marital, workplace and that all-important relationship with oneself all come under compelling scrutiny. The writing is intelligent and honest, and made all the more interesting by the author’s knowledge and evident love of archaeology, which gives the story that extra credibility. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘Buried Treasure’ as a must-read this summer…” Lynette Sofras (the Manic Scribbler)
Here is an extract from Buried Treasure for you to enjoy:
This extract from Buried Treasure, is a flash-back to when Jane (my heroine) is a teenager in her first job. She has a crush on the boss, Lew Chapmans. He has asked her if she’s going to the firm’s Christmas dinner dance, and when she says no, it is too expensive, a ticket for the occasion arrives on her desk.
The echoing function room, windowless and partially below ground, did not live up to its name – Riverside Ballroom. Other than the festive banner looped above the disco-rig on stage and a few desultory Christmas decorations, there was nothing to relieve its blandness. Piped music competed unsuccessfully with the parrot cage chatter. Triple-checking her place-card before sitting down, Jane fussed with her dress, repeatedly pulling it flat under her bottom. The guests at her table all either worked at ‘Roofing Solutions Two’, or were their ‘plus ones’. The two sets of employees worked several miles apart and rarely ever crossed paths. Back in the summer Jane recalled talk of a “get to know you” picnic – a day of recreation at a local park – but she’d not gone.
‘Do you see much of him,’ her neighbour, Gary asked, after ascertaining she worked at head office. He jerked his head in the direction of the top table, which was as far from theirs as it could be. Jane was rescued from answering when someone else chipped in.
‘No one does, do they? Surprised he came to this.’
‘That’s down to the wife, isn’t it?’ Another man volunteered. ‘Too up herself to socialise with the workers.’
‘She’s probably just shy.’ the woman next to him objected. ‘I was surprised, first time I saw her. She’s no beauty!’
‘I wouldn’t mind giving her one,’ her male companion said, with a leer.
‘As long as there’s a pulse…’ Gary interposed, to raucous laughter. ‘But we all know why LC married her, jammy sod. Joined the firm as a sixteen-year-old apprentice brickie, then married the boss’s daughter … probably got her up the duff to make sure of her … then fast track up the greasy pole. Kicked out the wife’s old man, took over, and he’s a billionaire by forty.’
‘Can’t be far off. Have you seen that canal boat of his, Carlew?’
‘Canal….? It’s a bloody ocean going yacht….!’
The fantasy Jane had conjured of the Riverside Ballroom had pillars, a circular reflective dance floor, a wall of French windows opening onto a terrace overlooking the river, where a romantic moment might be snatched. But why on earth would he be interested in a chubby girl not long out of school? A girl who had never…. Typical of her to read too much into a kind gesture from someone whose interest was no more than pastoral.
Tables were being cleared, signalling to the occupants that it was time to let their hair down. A volley of pops, snaps and bangs, shrieks of laughter. A metallic whiff hung in the air. Though she did pull a cracker with her neighbour, she neither put on the hat nor read out the joke. Her brain buzzed and a flush crept up her neck. Better to stay silent and invisible. If she bent her head, no one would notice her. The paper napkin had slid from her lap. Jane saw the tell-tale slash of white thigh, through the nylon of her black tights.
Pulling convulsively at the hem, she now regretted her purchase of the dress. It looked like what it was – cheap. The fine black fabric, threaded with a silver metallic thread, that the shop assistant had promised was festive, Jane now saw as tarty. How had she ever imagined she looked nice in it? How had she believed the dress hid her bulges? It hid nothing, not even the ladder in her new tights. And then there was her hair! What had made her think it was a good idea to brush it out long tonight? It was kinky and fuzzy, no matter what she did with it. Sitting tongue-tied amongst strangers, she felt ridiculous – a blushing, fat, ginger blob with nothing to say.
The overhead lighting dimmed. Coloured spots swooped back and forth above, in concert with the pulsing lights from the disco-rig. “Get This Party Started” pumped-out at a massively increased volume. People began to move forward to dance. Many still wore their cracker hats, and trailed long corkscrew threads of coloured paper. Time to go. Jane unhooked her handbag from her chair.
It was only by standing that she could even see the top table, see the boss and his wife getting up – but not to dance; to leave the room. Jane sank back into her seat, her bag clutched tight, staring at the double-doors which swung closed behind them. Another track played, but the Chapmans didn’t reappear. Perhaps they now had somewhere far more sophisticated to go, or were they just outside, socialising with company bigwigs?
Felt rather than heard, there was a trill from her bag. Preferable to deal with a text from her forgetful mother than to stare into space, pretending she was enjoying herself. The room, the music, the flickering lights all seemed to rush backwards, isolating her in an altered reality.
“riverside walk far side bridge. Carlew moored. C U there soon? LCx”
Gilli and her books can be found here:
Let’s find out about Gilli’s interest in Archaeology:
The Rewards of Research – or Being an Archaeologist for the Day
My great uncle, Sydney Ford, discovered the Mildenhall Treasure – the hoard of Roman silver tableware unearthed from his Suffolk farm during WW2, and now in the British Museum. We believed his account of what happened. Why wouldn’t we? More recently, in researching the subject, I discovered many anomalies in his version. As I’ve I talked about this elsewhere, I’ll concentrate here on my own enthusiasm for archaeology that Uncle Syd no doubt inspired.
I find writing difficult, and the gap between books was growing longer. Back in 2015, I decided to write my next book about something I already knew about, and or based on subjects in which I already had easy access to experts. It sounds like a rather prosaic approach, but I put my hand up to looking for anything that would make life easier.
Archaeology sprang to mind. I did not have a story begging to be written, but my son, Thomas Williams, is a historian and (desk) archaeologist. I also have experience of conference organising, through my husband’s business interests, and for more than ten years have been involved in setting up regular conferences at Queens’ College Cambridge. I decided these two elements could provide the back ground themes, but still without a plot, I needed to expand my experience in case my developing story took its characters on an actual dig.
My sister also has an interest in archaeology, which has led her to taking various qualifications at Sussex University. She identified a dig we could go on together, as ‘beginners’. And that was how I became an archaeologist for the day at Plumpton Roman Villa, in Sussex, organised by the Archaeology department of the university.
No longer in the first flush of youth, I’m a bit stiff and creaky. As the day approached, I began to have concerns. My sister kept stressing that working on a dig is very hard. “Knackering!” is the precise term she used. The weather was also a concern. I speculated that a bunch of amateurs was unlikely to be let loose on an area that promised to be full of treasures, so I imagined myself wet, muddy, exhausted and in pain, scrabbling waist deep in a barren pit.
At least the sun was shining when we arrived. The team of ‘beginners’ was instructed on the techniques we should use, told to work in pairs, and off my sister and I went – me with the mattock and she with the bucket. Some of the large site had been excavated the previous year. We were working on a corner which, other than being de-turfed, was virgin. I was disappointed. So close to the surface were we likely to uncover anything of more significance than soil, stones, more soil and worms?
But from the dislodged material of my very first mattock stroke, my sister, and partner in crime, Jan, picked out a rim section of a pot. And we weren’t the only ones in the team to find objects of interest. All along the line, artefacts were being unearthed – there were fragments of shell, shards of pottery, tiles and a terracotta material, which looked like brick.
When it was time to go home, I had to walk away from our strip, leaving a tile with a ridge along its edge of around 10 cms long, as well as various bits of brick, protruding tantalisingly from the ground. I am convinced that the productivity of the area we were working on came as a surprise to the experts present. Given the roof tiles and Roman brick exposed, our team leader theorised that the villa had toppled towards ‘our’ corner of the site. I guessed it was a scenario previously unsuspected. And while we were there, the ‘official’ metal detectorist working on the spoil heap even found a Roman silver coin!
Many of life’s big events fall short of my fantasies. I am capable of imagining everything bigger, brighter, more glittery and exciting than it could possibly be in real life. I felt for two of our number for whom the ‘beginners experience’ had clearly been underwhelming. Not only did this pair of young teenage girls appear to be incapable of following our leader’s instructions, one of them expressed the hope that she would find a skull, and the other thought she’d be allowed to take her finds home! When disabused of this idea they lay around in their cut-offs, sulkily staring at their phones.
Being a real archaeologist for the day, greatly exceeded my expectations. It was thrilling. The sun shone, my own ‘old bones’ stood up very well and I provided myself with a scene for BURIED TREASURE. I even ended up with a certificate!
Thanks so much for being my guest Gilli, I wish you much success with your latest book,
and I hope my friends will seek it out.
Photos (c) Gilli allan 2019