In conversation with... Rebecca Mascull

Hi Rebecca! I have just finished reading Miss Marley, the final work by the late Vanessa Lafaye, which you so seamlessly completed, and I am delighted to have you here to talk about it! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Miss Marley tells the story of how Jacob Marley came to be punished so severely that he should end up wandering in chains for eternity. Vanessa was fascinated in the idea of how this came about. What on earth had he done that would lead to such a fate? She decided to come up with another character to help explain this turn of events and thus his sister Clara Belle Marley was created.

What did you and Vanessa find so fascinating about A Christmas Carol that you thought there should be a dedicated appreciation society?

A: Vanessa and I both adored Dickens as a writer. And that’s the key thing – as a writer. I love the film and TV versions and watch many of them often, but I love him most as a prose stylist. His way with language is just extraordinary, just as impressive as his range of characters and clever plots. My favourite Dickens novels are: Great Expectations (his masterpiece, in my opinion); David Copperfield (the one I’m fondest of, as it’s the first I read all the way through apart from A Christmas Carol and it introduced me to the wonderful world of Dickens the writer); Our Mutual Friend (a little-known yet absolutely brilliant novel, full of social comment and haunting characters). I realised recently that I’ve mentioned Dickens in two of my novels! In The Visitors, A Christmas Carol is the first book Adeliza reads herself. It’s very relevant to her because it features ghosts and she can communicate with spirits, so it is a bit of an epiphany for her. In The Wild Air, the character of Dudley Willow carries David Copperfield around with him when he first meets our heroine Della Dobbs on Cleethorpes beach. As for A Christmas Carol, I adore ghost stories and I love Christmas stories, so that’s a perfect mixture right there. Also, as Vanessa and I discussed, the writing in that book is exquisite. Try rereading the passage where the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge on a journey across the sea. It’s an astonishing piece of writing – I used to use it as an exemplar of descriptive writing when I taught Creative Writing to undergraduates. Here’s an article I wrote about A Christmas Carol and how beautifully it’s written and why it’s mentioned in my first novel, The Visitors.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I am currently writing a saga trilogy called The Ironbridge Saga. I’m writing under the pen-name of Mollie Walton, as it’s a different genre. However, my style of writing and the things I love to write about are still all there and so I hope there’s something for readers of my Mascull novels and for saga lovers too! I’ve just finished writing the first novel in the trilogy – The Daughters of Ironbridge – which is due out April 2019. It’s set in the dangerous world of the iron industry in 1830s Shropshire and tells the stories of two girls, one rich and one poor, who become secret friends. I’m about to start writing the second book in the trilogy, set twenty years later, where we see the fate of our characters from the first book and the next generation… I’m loving the era, the industry and the saga genre and will be writing the third novel next year. Readers can already pre-order The Daughters of Ironbridge here.

Thank you for your time.

A: Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Silvia.

Vanessa Lafaye (left) and Rebecca Mascull (right)

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