An Interview with Loretta Proctor

I have had the honour and pleasure of not only reading (and loving) three of Loretta’s books – The Long Shadow, Dying Phoenix and The Crimson Bed – but also of meeting Loretta in person on one of her visits to Athens, and she is a truly warm and lovey person.

And so, without further ado, you can see for yourselves just how lovely she is and you can read all about her books and what inspires her…

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Annia: When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

Loretta: It’s hard it is to pin down a moment like this because it comes over time rather than in a sudden flash of insight. It’s a part of one’s nature which I think begins to awaken when we first read a story or poem that thrills us to the core.  Then something within says, I want to write like this, I want to form words and stories that can really move others as I’ve been moved.  So the answer to this question is that I’ve wanted to be a writer from a very, very young age.  My English granny gave me a book of hymns when I was very small and I just loved the words.  Later it was the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats that thrilled me. So if I can pin the desire to write down at all, I formed the resolution to write my own work in my very early teens when I began to read writers like Dickens, Colette, Turgenev, Zola and many other amazing writer’s works.


Annia: Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

Loretta: From within is the absolute answer to that.  In other words, the characters are a part of me in my own unconscious, though some may be modelled on people I meet, love, hate, or am curious about.  I believe strongly that the world we each create about us is made of parts of ourselves that we project on others who are like us, drawing them into our lives and inner circle – or whom we reject as enemies because we don’t like that part of our own nature and let someone else carry the projection of all we deem unpleasant.

My very first real novel was called My Little World. And I wrote it in a red exercise book when I was about seventeen.  It was a great story but my writing was total rubbish!  However, I wrote it as a play later and then returned to novel form again and again.  And this novel is still being written; I change it and it alters along with me.  I now call it Gisla’s Hill…but it may become My Little World again!   I call it my ‘soul’ story.  My daughter who is in publishing would call it a ‘drawer’ story.  The one you feel so close to your heart you keep it in a drawer and never publish. 

As far as descriptive writing and poetry is concerned, I am always inspired by Nature and love to draw pictures and scenery in writing as well as painting them with a brush. Thomas Hardy and his beautiful description of Nature is a great source of inspiration.  The scene when Tess of the D’Urbevilles descends into the Vale to become a milkmaid, the descriptions of Egdon Heath in The Return of the Native are just stunning.  The scenery is almost a character as much as the people.  I tried to achieve this in Middle Watch when describing the lighthouses and coastal scenery of England.


Annia: Do any other art forms inspire you with your writing?

Loretta: Painting has certainly inspired me.  The work of the American artist, Edward Hopper, was a source of inspiration for a series of short stories I’ve written about them and can be found on my website below.  I hope to add more stories to this page.


Edward Hopper

Room in New York, Edward Hopper, 1932 

I also love the PreRaphaelites.  They too tell stories in their work and the colours and ideas are stunning.  Especially Dante Rossetti’s earlier, more medieval works.  John Waterhouse came after the PreRaphaelites but paints in similar style. I used his picture The Crystal Ball for the cover of The Crimson Bed.  His paintings are gorgeous.  Who doesn’t love deep, dark Circe or The Lady of Shalott?  Here’s one of my favourite Rossetti's – The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra.

rossetti 2

The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra, Rossetti, 1857

But, of course, music also inspires. And it’s helpful when writing stories set in Greece to play lots of Greek music and songs to get me in the right Greek mood!  I love the songs of the 1960’s singer Vicki Mosholiou.  They take me back to the time I first visited Greece as an adult.  Ta Deilina (twilight) is my favourite.


Annia: What genre do you usually write in and why are you drawn to that genre?

Loretta: When I was in my teens I came across Walter Scott’s amazing historical adventures such as Ivanhoe and The Waverley Novels.  Then discovered a writer called Jeffery Farnol who wrote historical works that were romantic and thrilling.  His first book The Broad Highway was so beautiful, philosophical and meaningful to me.   History has always fascinated me rather than imaginary future and science fiction.  History has happened and has the lure of something mysterious and past – what Flaubert called the ‘golden memories of the past.’.  They always seem so much more interesting and attractive than the present!

However, I seldom write earlier than the Victorian era and prefer the early twentieth century which is, of course, my own youthful era.  Many writers write in their own youthful era, even Dickens.   It’s one’s own history and one’s own past. 

I also like stories with love interest and particularily those that feature strong, passionate, feeling women like Therese Raquin, Anna Karenina, Scarlett O’Hara.  So I try to have such a woman in my stories. I like to explore their psychology and have real people with all their weaknesses and faults. 


Annia: Could you tell us a little bit about the novels you’ve written so far?

Loretta: There’s a few in the cupboard!  But I eventually published four of them.  The first is The Long Shadow which is set in Salonika, Greece during WW1 and follows the Allied Campaign sent there and a Red Cross nurse who also went over to help the wounded.  She falls in love with a Greek officer and has his child. It’s partly her story and partly that of her son who sets off back to Greece to try and find his roots.  This story was a deep exploration of my own feelings about being Anglo-Greek.  I then wrote The Crimson Bed, set in Victorian London during the time of the Pre-Raphaelites.  It’s about two painters and their loves, art and creative sufferings.  Quite a different story and again about real people rather than just a romance.  One of the painter’s lives is based on that of Dante Rossetti.

Next came Middle Watch which is set amongst the lighthouses of England and follows the adventures of an unhappy orphan who goes to live in a lighthouse and has a somewhat tangled love life.  I really enjoyed researching this story, visiting lighthouses, writing about the sea which I love.

My latest story is Dying Phoenix and this is a sequel to The Long Shadow.  Back once more in Greece in the late1960’s when the country was hi-jacked by the military who held it in their iron grip for seven years.  This forms the background to a love story between a husband and wife whose adventures take them deep into danger while in Greece.


Annia: What are you working on now?

Loretta: I have an idea in my mind to write about my parent’s love story and how they met on a street in Athens during WW2.  Or else a story set in Egypt in the 19th century. So for now I’ve returned to working on Gisla’s Hill while I research these ideas still floating about in my mind!


Annia: What is your connection to Greece?

Loretta: My mother, Diana Safralis, was actually a Greek born in Constantinople.  But she came to live in Greece as a young child.  This is where my father, an airforceman with the British Mediterranean Expedition met her.  They fled to Egypt when the Germans entered Greece and there I was born!  We all came over to Britain after the war and I have lived here ever since.  But I still have lots of relations and friends in Thessaloniki and Athens.


Annia: Can you tell us about your exciting news?

Loretta: I’m thrilled to say that The Long Shadow has been picked up by a Greek publisher, Oceanida, who have had it translated.  It is now called O Iskios tou Polemou (The Shadow of War) and will be out on December 4th – strangely the day my Greek mother died.  I’m looking forward to the book launch and book signing on December 18th at Ianos, a prestigious bookstore in Thessaloniki.   I suspect my Mum will be there in spirit! 

O iskios tou polemou TELIKO 29.9.14


Thank you, Loretta, for this interview and for sharing some of your thoughts on writing and your work with us. It’s been a great pleasure!


If you’d like to read some of Loretta Proctor’s books, please, visit her webpage:


Or her Facebook author page:


And click on the following links, too:

 The Long Shadow


Dying Phoenix



Middle Watch


The Crimson Bed

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