Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Gill-Marie Stewart


I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Gill-Marie Stewart to talk with me today and her book, Music and Lies. Gill-Marie was born in Lancashire and lived in Yorkshire and Cheshire until the age of 15, when her family moved to South Africa.  At 21 she moved to France, and then tried Zimbabwe before finding the perfect country: Scotland.  She has had many jobs including au pair, cleaner, teacher and accountant, but her first love has always been writing. She has had four romantic novellas published under the pen-name Gillian Villiers and two contemporary women’s fiction novels (Sunshine Through The Rain and The Lost Woman) published by Accent Press under the pen-name Gilly Stewart. Gill-Marie lives in a beautiful village in the Scottish Highlands with four dogs, three cats, a husband and many, many books. Her two student sons deign to visit occasionally.

Music and Lies is her first novel for young adults and begins a trilogy of books about George and Finn. The second book, Bright Lights and Lies, is now available.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I am a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and had heard of B.R.A.G. from other members. I was encouraged to apply for the medallion by my friend Katy Haye who like me is a member of the Paisley Piranhas YA group  and became an Honoree herself earlier this year.

Please tell me about your story, Music and Lies.

Music and Lies is the story of George (Georgina) who at nearly 16 has had enough of family holidays and wants to spend some time on her own. To do this she has to tell a few little lies. Then, by chance she ends up accompanying her step-sister to an off-beat music festival. She knows neither of her parents would approve, so the lies continue …

The second strand is the story of Finn, who is all too familiar with music festivals as his mother died at one just like this a little over a year ago. To Finn the wild behavior and the drugs are something to be avoided, but he gradually gets more and more involved as he tries to help naïve, attractive George and her fragile step-sister Becky.

I enjoy reading both romances and mysteries, and Music and Lies involves both these aspects. There is a developing romance between George and Finn, and dual mysteries of the drug dealers and a hidden Picasso painting. George wants to solve the mysteries, and when Finn finds he can’t stop her, he helps too.

Tell me about why you chose rural southern Scotland as the setting for your story.

The idea for Music and Lies came to me when I was attending a music festival near Dumfries in South West Scotland close to where I lived at the time. It was a small, indie festival set in the depths of a forest. As I wandered around I wondered what it would be like to attend as a teenager unsupervised by adults … and the story was born.

Is the Forest Music Festival fictional or a real event?

The Forest Music Festival is loosely based on a real festival (see above) but I have changed it significantly to fit with my story. As far as I know, there is no festival that is set in a different forest each year, and (hopefully) none where there is quite so much nefarious activity.

Please tell me a little about George and Finn’s relationship.

George is pretty much you average teenage girl who would like to have a boyfriend, although it has to be someone she really likes. Initially she thinks there isn’t much about Finn, but as she gets to know him better she is more and more intrigued. Finn, on the other hand, has been wounded by his past and is reluctant to get involved with anybody. More than once he tries to keep his distance from George, but finds himself unable to do so. He can’t stop himself trying to keep her out of trouble. And the more time they spend together, the more he realizes he is attracted to her.

Which character in your story are you most fond of? And why.

It has to be Finn. I have a soft spot for George, but Finn fascinates me as he is both drawn to help other people, and yet tries to keep himself apart from them. His difficult childhood has given him challenges that he has to face in this book and again in the two further books in the trilogy.

Who designed your book cover?

Berni Stevens – a joy to work with as she is so thoroughly lovely, plus designs the best covers.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

This was a struggle! I find that titles either come straight away, or only after a lot of puzzling. My original title was Festival Time, but no one else seemed to like that. It was Pia Fenton, another member of the Paisley Piranha group and my beta reader, who finally came up with this title. As soon as she suggested it, I realized it was perfect.

What are you working on next?

I alternate between writing women’s contemporary fiction books as Gilly Stewart and YA as Gill-Marie Stewart. I have just finished the first draft of a Gilly Stewart book (called tentatively ‘A Life In Film’) and am about to start on the 3rd in the George and Finn trilogy. The 2nd in the trilogy, ‘Bright Lights and Lies’, came out in the summer of 2015. In the 3rd book, ‘No More Lies’, many of the issues facing Finn and his complicated family are resolved. George and Finn also need to work out whether theirs is a romance with a future, or not.

Do you stick with just genre?

I always write romance, that’s just the way my writing works! But I write both women’s fiction and YA romance.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I’m lucky enough to have my own study to write in, but as this also serves as a spare bedroom-cum-storage room it isn’t as ideal as it sounds. I do my best writing first thing in the morning, immediately after breakfast and hopefully before I get distracted by social networking. My books come to me initially as ideas of people and places, not as plot. As I get to know the people and their relationships better, the plot begins to unfold.

Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?

First thing in the morning it has to be tea! Then mid-morning I treat myself to my one coffee of the day.

Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Apart from reading, my particular love is walking. We have 4 dogs so they take a lot of walking, and the area where we live (Scottish Highlands) has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. In winter, when the weather is not so good and the days are shorter, I enjoy knitting, tapestry and cooking.




Amazon US

Amazon UK

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Gill Stewart who is the author of, Music and Lies, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Music and Lies, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



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