The Mystery of Gorse Lodge: A new novel by Annmarie Miles

By Tiana Binns

Returning to The Echo with her new book and first ever novel, Annmarie Miles tells a Downton Abbey-esque, historical fiction story about a mystery in the 1940’s. The book, called Gorse Lodge, was released in December 2019.

Previously, Annmarie has written for the children’s pages in The Echo featuring her character, Lizzy Redmond and since then has been on a writing journey.

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Ann Marie Miles


From blogs to collections of short stories to this novel, Annmarie has no doubt been keeping herself busy with her passion for writing.

She has won a myriad of awards for her pieces and now is ready to step into the world of full length novels in a genre she does not typically go for.

“I started writing in 2012 and when I did, it was as if the stories were sitting in storage and they have poured out ever since,” Annmarie said.

Taking inspiration from a bed and breakfast that she visited with her husband, she truly takes this story in directions that she herself did not even realise it would go. In an interview with The Echo, she tells us about her book, her inspiration and what future plans she has underway.

Where are you from and what is your previous writing experience?

I was born and raised in Tallaght in the foothills of South County Dublin, but now I’m living in the Eastern Valley of Gwent in South Wales with my husband, Richard. Richard is a church minister.

Our lives are surrounded by books, gadgets, musical instruments and fridge magnets, if you can believe it!

I was raised on songs and stories, so it is no surprise to me or anyone else now that writing is my passion. I have been pursuing nonfiction blogging since 2012 on my blog, which is woefully neglected at the moment as I have a few other ongoing projects.

However, I love to write in all types of genres. I write long and short fiction, as well as having experience in web content creation and radio presenting.

Regularly I also contribute to VOX Magazine in Ireland about faith in Ireland and the Association of Christian Writers blog in the United Kingdom.

I like to describe myself as a part time writer, but a full time believer.

I even wrote for The Echo for a time. I had a weekly story in the children's section with a character called Lizzy Redmond. I loved her so much as a character.

Before Gorse Lodge, I self-published two collections of short stories. One in 2013, which was re-released in 2018, then a second collection later in 2018.

I started writing in 2012 and when I did, it was as if the stories were sitting in storage and they have poured out ever since. I have had some dry seasons, but they always pass.

In 2016 my first collection of short stories, ‘The Long & The Short of it’, was shortlisted for the inaugural Carousel Aware Prize for Independent Authors.

My second collection, ‘A Sense of the Sea and other stories’, was published in 2018. My short stories have also made other award lists, including the RTÉ/Penguin Short Story competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award.

Gorse Lodge was my first actual novel and that was published in December 2019.

Can you give me a brief overview of what Gorse Lodge is about?

The book is about a young woman called Molly Marsden, who is left an anonymous conditional legacy of an empty derelict Gatekeeper's Lodge.

Many years ago, the Lodge was connected to a large estate called Amberton Hall (think Downton Abbey), but a tragedy occurred which meant the lodge was cut from the estate.

Molly only knows a little of the history from her father, but it's enough to make her question whether opening up Gorse Lodge is the right thing to do.

Officially the book blurb is:

In the mid 1940s, near the end of the glory days of Amberton Hall, a tragic incident caused the Gatekeeper’s Lodge to be cut from the Amberton Estate and renamed Gorse Lodge.

More than fifty years later, Molly Marsden, whose parents once worked in the Big House, is left an anonymous, conditional legacy, the derelict Gorse Lodge.

Together with Maggie, a homeless woman who has been in Molly’s life (and kitchen) for as long as she can remember and Richard, Molly’s friend and colleague, she tries to find her mystery benefactor.

Will opening up Gorse Lodge betray her father’s memory or answer her childhood questions?

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What inspired you to write this book?

A few years ago I was on holiday in the South West of England and I saw a beautiful cottage.

Our bed and breakfast host told us that the building needed a lot of work, but the lady who lived alone in it was unable to afford to restore it as it was a listed building and would be expensive to restore.

It got me thinking about someone who had property they could not sell and could not restore.

That was the kernel the story grew from. Also, I love Downton Abbey and though I don't write historical fiction, I wanted to bring a Downton type storyline in. So, I set the property on the grounds of a large estate.

What was the writing process like for this book?

I love writing first drafts, the story often flows quite well and I've become used to ignoring the errors and research points until the basic story is told. I tend to leave it for a while, mainly because I don't enjoy the editing process.

It means reading the manuscript again and again, fixing, researching, changing one detail which often means having to go back and change a whole thread of the storyline.

The most challenging part was the historical stuff. Making sure that the voice of the people speaking in the historical era was correct is important.

There was a certain way people addressed each other. If a writer gets that wrong, it can ruin the authenticity of the story.

As I was going back in history at stages of the book, I had a spreadsheet with the decades, what year everyone was born, married, died etc. It was the only way I could keep track of the characters and their stories.

I did a lot of research and hope I've got it all right, but if I didn't, I'm happy for someone to correct me. It's the only way we learn!

The most enjoyable part though was that I didn't know the answer to the mystery, until the book was about 75% written. The big question in the book is, who left the Lodge to Molly? I had no idea for a long time and I loved that.

Do you have any future projects underway or advice for new writers?

I am planning to put the best of the Lizzy Redmond stories in a book, with the illustrations which were done by The Echo.

That's a slow burner I'm afraid, but I'll get there. I wrote a novel before Gorse Lodge, which I'd like to return to. It still needs lots of editing. I've also got a new novel on the go.

My main project is a non-fiction book, which I have written and am editing.

It's about weight, food and faith. I've had some interest from a publisher... who knows?

In terms of advice, the best advice I was given was to get the story out of your head and on to a page.

You've no idea if you have a story at all until you write it. Just get it written, editing, spelling, timeline, plot etc., can be fixed afterwards.

Gorse Lodge is available on Amazon.

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