Friday, 8 July 2011

Welcome to... Cornelia Grey

Today I am thrilled to welcome Cornelia Grey to my blog. Cornelia, I love the title of your book!

How did you get started writing?

Well! I remember that when I was little, I must have been around 5, I used to watch quite a lot of TV. My favourites at the time were the Power Rangers series, and some Japanese anime about people stranded on a desert island with giant robots. And I was re-watching on a loop Disney’s ‘The Rescuers Down Under’. Now, the only problem was that the stories were going nowhere near the way I wanted them to. I was very unhappy. So my dad provided me a small blue checked spiral notebook (I remember it with strange clarity!) and I set out to write my own adventures, in wobbly capital letters. Looking at it now, it was a giant crossover fanfiction with the Power Rangers ending up on the island and the Rescuers thrown in for good measure. I think the spiral block might still be somewhere in my attic.
And that’s just how it continued. The world isn’t giving me the stories I want to read, so I write them myself. J

What inspires you the most?

I studied fine arts for six years, focusing on painting and photography: I’m a very visual person. And it’s still visual material that kicks off inspiration for me. I’ll see a location or two characters looking at each other just so or a strange artifact... and suddenly a scene will explode in my head, sprouting leaves and flowers and climbing everywhere like some sort of mutant ivy. Sometimes the idea will never progress beyond that one scene, but sometimes it will just tumble on to become a full-blown story.
So, whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I browse around for related pictures. That’s partly why I spend way too much time on art websites and my computer is chock full of images. I keep trying to find some practical way to organize them – landscapes, urban, quirky characters, sombre characters, warriors... etc! –  but they just keep piling up and somehow I never get around to sorting them out. My pictures folder remains a jungle, but what an inspiring one it is J.

Are you lucky enough to write full time or do you have another job?

At the moment, I’m in my final year at university. I’m studying writing, however, so I’m lucky enough that what I’m studying is actually my passion. I also work the usual random student jobs in the meantime – waitress in obscure gothic pub, cashier at supermarket of doom. I also sell handmade bags when I have the time do squeeze in some sewing.
I’m not really planning to make writing my main career. I would love to get a postgraduate degree and move on to teaching. Honestly, even if I ever managed to earn enough just with my writing, I would love to teach anyway. Something to do with my geeky streak!

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

That varies. During term time, I just sit down to write every afternoon after class – me and some friends find a secluded computer room in the recesses of university and we hole there until closing time. Things get tricky whenever I get back home for the holidays. I study abroad, so whenever I get back I have lots of catching up to do. Everyday life is generally more full of distractions, not to mention that sneaky unconscious vacation-mode that sneaks on me and makes me the Queen of Procrastination. Example? I got back to Italy on the first of June, right after my exams. Despite my best intentions, I spent most of that time catching up with mother, grandmother, boyfriend, cat, assorted friends, eating like a starved piglet and reading voraciously. But I’ll get around to doing something productive, like... very soon. Ehr...

What are your current writing projects now?

My main focus at the moment is my final project for university, which is due next January. It’s a steampunk novel, not romance-centered, with a strong female protagonist. At the moment the plot and world-building are fairly complete – now I just need to actually get cracking on the prose!
I tried to convince myself to set aside all other writing to focus on this final project. But Storm Moon Press’ ‘Weight of a Gun’ call for submissions is just there, at the corner of my vision, all too tempting...

What are the elements of a great erotic romance for you?

First and foremost, my favourite word when it comes to writing: conflict. I love it. Everywhere, all the time. When in doubt, pile on more conflict, and I’ll be happy.  I love it when the characters have to fight all around – against the world on the outside, against their own desires and secrets and guilt on the inside. I love it when relationships are strained and have to survive in the face of all sorts of adverse circumstances. I love it when the characters have an explosive relationship, with scorching fights and an equally fierce passion. I love it when the conflict grows worse and worse until there’s just no other option but for everything to go off with a bang in the climax of the action.
I also prefer it when the characters’ relationship isn’t the only leading force of the story. I like the romance to be interwoven with a strong adventure. I love it if the adventure is pressing and urgent and reckless, which in turn puts even more strain (conflict galore!) on the relationship. The more irons in the fire, the happier I am – conflict junkie, I know J!

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?

Absolutely. A couple of days ago I started reading ‘Koolaids’, by Rabih Alameddine. I’m devouring it and utterly loving it. It weaves together the stories of several characters, lovers, painters, militiamen, dealing with different topics – war-torn Lebanon, the great AIDS epidemic in America, the difficulty of facing one’s homosexuality in the conservative Lebanese society. The prose is an odd mixture of points of views, dreamlike sequences, poems, articles, pages of nonsensical scripts, legends that mix the absurd and the religious. It took me a while to figure out the mosaic of characters and their connections, hopping from one’s point of view to third person narrations of someone else, now in their childhood, now on their deathbed.
If someone prefers linear narration, where things are clearly explained and laid out, I don’t recommend this book. Much is left unsure, and it requires a conscious effort to connect all the threads and start to make sense of the whole tapestry. Personally, I love this narrative style, I love the random odds and ends that intersect the story. I fell in love with the glimpses of characters and places that Alameddine offers.

Give one piece of advice to aspiring authors?

I’m still rather new to the whole author thing, but there is one thing I’ve already learned well. If you want to do it, then do it. Don’t talk about it, say ‘one day’ or ‘I’d like to’. If you want to write, sit down and do it. I know the step from wishful thinking to getting down and dirty on the keyboard is a hard one to take. I know the nagging feeling that the story will always look better in your head is hard to shake. Be stubborn. Show that blank word document what’s what. Power through. Sit down and bloody write.

Silly question time – what is your soul food, the food you can’t do without?
I am gonna be living the clichè now (and I regret nothing): pizza, all the way J. I don’t usually eat it when I’m in London, because it just tastes... odd, but when I get back home, I make sure to go to town on it. I have some friends from Naples, and they tell me the pizza we have in Northern Italy has got nothing on the original Neapolitan pizza. I guess I’ll have to hop on a train and go try it sometime J!

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a blog, both on Livejournal ( ) and Blogspot ( ). I am also on Twitter, , and very sporadically on Facebook J. Apart from books, I tend to chat about London, Italy and fine arts too much – hope you’ll come say hi!

Cornelia's Bio:

Cornelia Grey is a student halfway through her creative writing degree with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, she is now based in London, and she is thoroughly enjoying the cultural melting pot that is the City.
Her interests vary from painting to photography, from sewing to acting; when writing, she favors curious, surreal poems and short stories involving handsome young men seducing each other. She loves collecting people's stories and re-discovering lost tales that deserve to be told.
Her days are full and hectic. She reads, goes to flea markets, galleries and the theater, and of course spends most of her time writing. When she's at home, she likes to curl up with a book and the classic cup of tea and leaves chestnuts in the garden for the squirrel that comes around from time to time.

‘Apples and Regrets and Wasted Time’

He lives in the shadows of the law. Now, wounded and stranded in the city after a job only he could do, he has no qualms about climbing through the window his old lover left open—or stealing his shampoo, at that. He has, however, not taken into account the possibility of being surprised in the shower.

Three years is a long time to go between visits, especially if you've left so much anger and hurt and desire unresolved. They try to negotiate a truce for one night—over Chinese takeaway leftovers and apples, and between the sheets.

Buy Link:


“Three years and the only reason you came to see me was because you needed a shower, idiot?”

I shrug. I close my eyes, letting the water wash over my face.

“You left the window open,” I say. He doesn’t reply.

When I turn around to face him, his hands are tucked in his pockets, his face tilted down, half-hidden in the shadow. He looks at me with quiet, dark eyes. I can feel my body tingle under his intense gaze, a shiver running down my abdomen and to my cock.

His eyes flicker down for the briefest of moments.

“You left the window open,” I repeat. It sounds almost like an accusation.

“That didn’t mean you had to come in. I didn’t put any sign saying Idiots welcome, let yourself in,” he retorts. I can glimpse the flash of a smile on his lips, but it disappears too quickly.

I can feel the memories stir in the back of my mind. His smile always made my blood pump faster. I can feel my face heating, and I hope the shadow is enough to hide it. “Maybe I was feeling nostalgic.”

“Right.” He unclips the holster and pulls out his gun, checking the safety before reaching to lay it on the sink. My knife is just out of sight, on the rim of the tub. It’s never out of my reach. I don’t move my hand toward it, don’t even look in its direction. I know I won’t need to use it.

His voice is tight when he says, “What are you doing here, really?”

It’s the city, that’s what it is, messing with my head. My nerves are rubbed raw.

“I don’t know,” I snap, harsh. “I’m just having a damn shower. Leave me alone. What do you even want?”

His arm shoots out, and he grabs me by the nape, hand clenching in my hair a fraction too hard. The water is quickly soaking his sleeve, staining it dark, spraying on his chest, his face. He doesn’t seem to notice.

“I want you to get out of here,” he says, voice dangerously low. “I want you to leave. I want to never see your face again.”

I wonder if he’s aware of how tightly he’s holding onto me. I wonder if he realizes that, while he’s telling me to go, his body is screaming don’t you dare move. I wonder if he even knows he wants me to stay.

His eyes are a sharp blue, mere inches from mine. Too close. They give away things I suspect he’d rather keep hidden.

Slowly, I reach to wrap my fingers around his tie. I pull him forward, pull him in. He has to brace his hand against the tiles in order not to fall, leaning awkwardly over the tub, the water now streaming down his face, soaking his shoulders.

I can see the anger fade from his eyes, washed away, leaving only a too-heavy weariness.

He doesn’t pull back when I lean forward and press my mouth to his. I trace his lips with my tongue, let it slip inside. I feel damn near intoxicated when he gives in to the kiss, tilting his head to the side to gain better access to my mouth as his tongue tangles with mine, sliding hot and wet between my lips. He tastes like apples and regret and wasted time.


  1. Great interview and sounds like an awesome book!

  2. Hi! Hi! Fun and lovely interview, y'all.