Thursday, August 20, 2015


Contemporary Women’s fiction/ Reading Group fiction
Release Date: 23/4/2015
Publisher:  SilverWood
Passionate, free-spirited Deborah has finally found peace and a fulfilling relationship in her adopted city of Granada - but when she is seriously injured in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, it is her sister Alice who is forced to face the consequences of a deception they have maintained for ten years. At Deborah's home in Granada, Alice waits, ever more fearful. Will her sister live or die? And how long should she stay when each day brings the risk of what she most dreads, a confrontation with Deborah's Moroccan ex-lover, Hassan? At stake is all she holds dear... '
Secrets of the Pomegranate deals with topical themes such as inter-cultural relationships and the moral dilemmas around truth and lies – whether personal or political. It explores, with compassion, sensitivity and - despite the tragic events - humour, the complicated ties between sisters, between mothers and sons and between lovers, set against a background of cultural difference and prejudices rooted in Granada's long history of Muslim-Christian struggles for power.
“Lamplugh does a great job of unveiling a little at a time – but still maintaining tension until the surprise of the final revelation.” Rebecca Foster, Bookbag

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About the Author
Barbara Lamplugh has been writing since the 1970s. Her love of adventure and travel took her first on an overland journey to Kathmandu, which inspired her to write Kathmandu by Truck (1976) and then on the Trans-Siberian railway, by boat to Japan and around SE Asia, which led to her second book, Trans-Siberia by Rail (1979). Becoming a mother put a stop to such long travels but not to writing. She turned instead to fiction, inspired by the often fascinating and unexpected stories of ordinary people she came across in her work in the community. She also wrote occasional articles for magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian and Times Educational Supplement. In 1999, with her two children now independent, she moved to Granada in Spain, where Secrets of the Pomegranate is set. Her encounters and experiences of life in Granada provide her with abundant inspiration. For several years she worked as a features writer for Living Spain magazine, contributing around a hundred articles on topics ranging from Olive Oil to Machismo to Spanish names. Alongside her writing, she teaches English, edits and translates. With two children and five grandchildren in the UK, she makes regular visits there. Other passions include cycling, dancing, travel, jazz and reading.


Where are you from?
London originally but I lived in Shropshire for many years before moving to Granada, Spain in 1999.

Tell us your latest news.
Secrets of the Pomegranate has been chosen by an Essex reading group for discussion at one of their monthly meetings this autumn. A Skype connection will enable members to ask me questions about the book. I’d be delighted to do the same for other reading groups, wherever they’re based.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After the publication of my first book, Kathmandu by Truck in 1976.

What inspired you to write your first book?
This book described a life-changing overland journey from London in a converted fire-engine, spending time in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, before crossing into Nepal. I hadn’t planned to write a book about it and didn’t even take any notes, but after returning, I felt so inspired by my experiences and encounters with people, I felt I had to share them; writing about the journey was a way of reliving it.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not conscious of a specific style. I think it depends on the kind of book (or other medium, eg magazine); on whether it’s a travel book, a novel, or whatever. If I’m writing in the first person or even in the third person from a particular character’s point of view, that will dictate the writing style. For example in Secrets of the Pomegranate, those parts written from Mark’s point of view have a very different style from Deborah’s diary excerpts or Alice’s narrative.

How did you come up with the title?
The Spanish word for pomegranate is granada and although that’s not what gave the city its name, it is used as a symbol so you see pomegranates everywhere – not only the real ones growing in the area but also on the pottery, for example. Pomegranate designs are commonly used to decorate the glazed ceramic tiles, flower pots, bowls and so on,typical of Granada.They also feature on manhole covers, traffic bollards and street signs. So for a story about secrets set in Granada it seemed an apt title. Also, the pomegranate features in the myths and superstitions of many religions and cultures. According to the Qu’ran, it grows in the gardens of paradise. It can signify fertility, abundance, blood, sex and resurrection, amongst other things. Some of these meanings are relevant to the story. And there is a pomegranate tree in Deborah’s garden.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That because we share a common humanity, we have the capacity to understand and accept others, whatever their differences of culture, class, sex, age, religion, etc. if we only open our minds. We all have weaknesses and qualities to be admired. Another message is the importance of living every day as if it were the last, of not putting things off, because life can change in an instant. Also, we can never quite predict the consequences of our actions.

How much of the book is realistic?
Although the story of the sisters and their secret is fictional, the setting and background events are absolutely real and readers have commented that my characters are ‘real people’ in the sense of being believable.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?
The experience of moving to Granada is loosely based on my own but Deborah made the move more than a decade earlier and came with her baby son whereas I came alone. Her character and the events that mark her life in Granada are not based on mine nor on those of anyone I know. I’ve never had a relationship with a Moroccan and neither is there a ‘Paco’ in my life (unfortunately!)

What books have most influenced your life?
Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome), As I walked out one Midsummer Morning (Laurie Lee), Braided Lives (Marge Piercy) and The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing).

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Rose Tremain. I so admire her ability to take you into the geographically and historically diverse worlds of her characters and make you feel totally involved almost from the beginning.

What book are you reading now?
A book of short stories by Jane Rogers, Hitting Trees with Sticks. The characters and settings of the stories are very varied but in all of them she displays an acute understanding of human nature, of what makes people tick, and conveys it within the tight framework of a short story.

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns) for his skill as a story-teller; Rana Dasgupta (Capital: The Eruption of Delhi) and Katharine Boo (Beyond the Beautiful Forevers) for their writing on 21st century India. I’m about to start reading Jessie Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist.

What are your current projects?
I’ve been researching for a new novel, also set in Spain and spanning three generations of women. It starts with a British nurse who goes out to Spain at the beginning of the Civil War and falls in love with a Spanish Republican fighter. I’ve been reading widely and interviewing older Spanish people about life during the posguerra, the 1940s, 50s and 60s under Franco’s dictatorship. It’s proving fascinating and often heart-breaking. I’m raring to get started on the actual writing.

What would you like my readers to know?

Secrets of the Pomegranate is not my first novel. I’ve completed six others over a period of at least thirty years, though none of them has been published. One, Diary of a Wrinkly Rebel, came very close, but in those days (early 90s) no one wanted to read about old people (or so I was told). Another, Staying Mum, is about a woman who steals a baby and gets away with it – until the girl, aged 15 when the novel opens, becomes curious about her origins…  Despite all the rejections, I have persisted and can’t see myself ever ‘retiring’. Writing is addictive.

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