Doesn’t Time Fly?

Here it is December 2016 already.  I cant believe it – this year has flown by, life has been busy; a grandson was born and he is now 8 months old.  Recipes have been tried and tested and many books have been read and reviewed – around the one hundred seventy mark thus far.

I am enjoying sharing the joy of reading with my grandson (with  appropriate titles) – it is never too early to encourage a love of reading.

Recently I invited a couple of ardent readers to share some of their favoruite reads on my site – to broaden the type of book reviews available here.  I hope you find some new favourite books and authors.  Thank you Bec and Brenda.

 

The reading year has not yet wound up – there is a blog tour ahead; the launch of Rachel Amphlett’s new police procedural series, Scared to Death. There is a   Q & A with debut Perth writer Anthea Hodgson, a Christmas menu to compile and share and a series of “best of 2016 reads” for you to comment on and…more reviews.

scared-to-death-blog-tour4-19-23-dec

 

Seasons greetings to you.

Christmas pavlova

 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Ann Girdharry

Welcome to my blog Ann Girdharry.

 

Ann Girdharry

 

Ann Girdharry was born and educated in the UK. A trained psychotherapist, she has worked for many years as a manager in the not-for-profit sector, for agencies working with: carers, vulnerable older people and those with dementia, survivors of abuse, and victims of racism and racial attacks. Today, she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children.

Good Girl Bad Girl

 

 

Let’s talk childhood. What aspirations did you have as a child?

When I was a child, my ambition was to be an astronaut. I loved science.

Well, I can tell you that would never have worked out, at least, not the astronaut part – sometimes I can get travel sick even in the back of a car!

I went on to study science, actually Biochemistry, but was turned off by all the animal experimentation and lack of ethics in the pharmaceutical industry. This was a problem for me because the pharmaceutical industry is the main source of funding for research in this field.

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author? Do you have a favourite book?

I have read many good and enjoyable books over the years and I like to read widely.

In the mystery and suspense genre, my favourite book is Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. This has been on my ‘to read’ list for a long time and I just finished it recently. It’s a wonderfully written book – full of tension and great story-telling. Towards the end, I actually slowed down reading it, because I didn’t like the idea of it coming to an end – and I think that shows you how good it was.

If, one day, my books sat alongside this one on a bookshelf, I’d be very happy!

 

How long has the road to becoming a successful writer been for you?

The road has been long and it’s been happy.

I’ve always been creative and imaginative. I won my first story writing competition at school at age fifteen and writing remained a side-line hobby for most of my life. For unknown reasons, after the birth of my second daughter (I have two daughters) I fell into a period of creative frenzy. Perhaps it was the effect of spending long periods of time in the house with two small children, perhaps it was the child birth, maybe it was simply emotion– I don’t know – but I wrote every day and I absolutely had to write. Everything spilled out – poetry, short stories, flash fiction – and it was that period that pushed me to refocus on my writing and which finally led to me creating this novel.

 

Let’s talk writing.  What do you love about writing?

If I didn’t write, I wonder if I might go a bit strange? That’s probably an exaggeration…

The truth is, I’ve always had an ‘over-active’ imagination, so writing is a great channel. Once you’ve learnt the art of writing, it becomes a passion.

 

I see you are well travelled. Tell us about that.

I know that I have a nomadic streak and I often feel restless. I think this has been passed down to me through the generations.

My ancestors were indentured labourers who moved from the poor suburbs of India to work the sugar plantations in what was then British Guyana. That was about five generations ago, and Guyana is long since independent. In return for their labour, my ancestors ‘earned’ their plot of land in Guyana and that’s where my parents were both born.

My mother came to England to work as a nurse, then as a midwife, and I was born in the UK. For my own part, as an adult I’ve lived in the USA, Norway, spent a few years back in the UK and now I live in France. In my life, trips to India and Guyana have been important to me and I have family and cousins all over the world (my father was one of ten, and my mother one of six).

My family history definitely influences my world view. It also influences my on-going support and interest in the issues of settlement and successful integration of immigrant communities and refugees.

 

How do you choose where to site your books?

I choose places that have had an impact on me (good or bad) and which I can describe in vivid or attractive detail. I remember reading at one time of a writer who was living in (I think) Bangkok, specifically to research his new book (I think this was Jo Nesbo) – I am not in that situation! So I draw on my own past experiences to choose settings.

 

Let’s talk early careersHow has your work with the vulnerable and disenfranchised influenced your writing? 

This is an integral part of my writing, although the influence often comes in as an undercurrent rather than as the main theme of my stories or characters.

Certainly, my understanding of psychology and my experience of working for and with people in various situations of crisis, brings a humanity to my writing and, I hope, an insight. My characters are perhaps not the usual ones you find within the pages of books, especially not the usual ones you find within a suspense thriller.

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your book?  Who influenced your portrayal of Kal?

 

Firstly, Kal is many young women I’ve known wrapped into one. She’s got guts – she’s determined – she’s going to fight against the odds and the odds are stacked against her – I’ve known several young women just like that.

She’s got a tiny part of me in her (from when I was younger, and I hope, the best parts though with time and how memories can fade, perhaps I’m deluding myself there!).

Part of her is made up of a person who can understand detail, who pays attention to detail, who has been taught to interpret and theorise based on detail and instinct. This is built from a certain temperament and a certain mind set, that again, I’ve seen and met close-up in people that I’ve worked with and for.

 

 

Let’s talk next book.

Good Girl Bad Girl is the first book in the Kal Medi series.

Kal has more adventures and difficulties to face and I’ve just started writing the second story. If you want to be in on it, you might want to join my Reader’s Group (you can find details on my website). From time to time, I keep in touch with my Reader’s Group, and they’ll be the first to know as the new book progresses.

 

If you want to know more about Ann check out her social media sites here:

Website http://www.girdharry.com

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/GirdharryAnn

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/AnnGirdharry

 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Tiffany McDaniel

 

 

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows.  She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist.  The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

 

Welcome to my blog Tiffany McDaniel

Tiffany McDaniel


Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Tiffany McDaniel

 “Sometimes this world is like red fences in the snow.  There ain’t no hiding who we really are.”  Tell us a little bit about who you really are Tiffany 🙂

I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who hopes to write a novel good enough for Ray Bradbury to rise from the grave and give me a thumbs up.  Everything else interesting about me is my writing itself.  Outside of that I’m just vanilla ice cream.

 

Let’s talk childhood. What aspirations did you have as a child?

Writing definitely.  I wouldn’t realize writing was a profession I could have until I was in middle school and the guidance counselor came to my class to talk to us about what we wanted to be when we got older.  Writing was just so wonderful to me I didn’t think you could get paid to do it.  My parents had jobs, very hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money.  So I thought that’s what I would have to do.  Have a job I didn’t like.  Though it took me eleven long years to get a publishing contract, realizing I could have writing as a career, was like being told I could pocket all the stars in the night sky and have light with me forever.

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author? Do you have a favourite book or seven?

It’s hard to say my absolute favourite author.  That’s like choosing a favorite heartbeat.  I can’t live without any of my heart beats.  Same can be said about me and my favorite authors.  Seven of them are Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Poet James Wright, Kazou Ishigaro, Agatha Christie, Harper Lee.

 

How long has the road to becoming a successful writer been for you?

Eleven years.  Writing is the easy part.  Getting published is the hard part.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen years old.  I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything which is my fifth or sixth novel written.  For me it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  Literary fiction, the genre I write, can be difficult for publishers to take a chance on because they consider it not as lucrative as commercial fiction.  Especially when you write darker literary fiction like I do.  Even when I got the deal for The Summer that Melted Everything I had no idea it would be two more years before I saw the book on the shelf.  In this fast-paced world, publishing still moves at a snail’s pace unfortunately, so with all the years added up, I’ve been waiting thirteen years to see a book on the shelf.  July 26th will indeed be a very special day.

 

Let’s talk writing.  What do you love about writing?

Falling in love with the characters and their stories.

 

Let’s talk setting – the setting is the summer of 1984 – why this particular time period?

When I think about the 1980s, I think about a decade-long summer with its neon colors, big hair, and even bigger ambitions.  I was born in 1985 so I can’t attest to if this is true about the decade.  But for me the 1980s was a natural home for this story.  1984 was the year I chose because of its parallels to George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984.  I don’t want to give any spoilers away but readers will know the significance of Orwell’s novel in relation to The Summer that Melted Everything after reading.

 

Lets’ talk about naming characters –  I love the sound of the name Fielding Bliss  – how did you determine the names of your characters?

I always say the characters know their names.  It’s up to me as the author to listen to the characters.  It can be as simple as seeing that particular word that day.  I take this as a hint from the characters.  They’re saying, “Here is my name.  Write it down, won’t you?”

 

If you had more time what you be doing?

Indiana Jones-ing my way around the world.  Or just sitting out on the grass at night, looking up at the stars

 

What is your favourite film of 2016 so far?

I don’t believe I’ve seen any of the new movies released this year.  I’ve just been too busy.  I will say one of my favorite films of all is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

 

Let’s talk next book – I assume there is one in the pipeline?

I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth.  The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is titled, When Lions Stood as Men.  It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in my land of Ohio.  Struggling with the guilt of surviving the Holocaust, they create their own camp of judgment.  Being both the guards and the prisoners, they punish themselves not only for surviving, but for the sins they know they cannot help but commit.

 

If you want to know more about Tiffany check out her social media sites here:

I don’t have social media, but readers can always find me on my author website:

http://www.tiffanymcdaniel.com

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Jennifer Scoullar

 

Journey's End

Journey’s End

Jennifer Scoullar

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143797005

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jennifer has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Her house, which was left to her by her father, is on a hilltop overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash. She lives there with her family. A pair of old eagles live there too. Black-tailed wallabies graze by the creek. Eastern spinebills hover among the callistemon. Horses have always been her passion. She grew up on the books of Elyne Mitchell, and all her life she’s ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian stock horses.

 

I have read three books by Jennifer; Billabong Bend, Turtle Reef and her latest Journey’s End.   I have been impressed by all three. I love the connections to the land; the flora, the fauna and amazing Australian rural settings. The narratives are engaging, the social and environmental issues add considerable weight to these contemporary reads.  A favourite read you ask?  I think Jennifer’s writing is becoming more and more special and appealing with each release, Journey’s End is outstanding… but I loved the cover of Billabong Bend (and the narrative which took me to a landscape I have yet to witness first hand).

 

Please welcome Jennifer to my blog.

 

Jennifer Scoullar

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jennifer Scoullar

Let’s talk childhood. What aspirations did you have as a child?

As a child I was an avid reader, and felt a very special, secret connection with animals and plants. I wrote stories, poems and began my first novel when I was eleven. I think it was some sort of a plagiarised version of The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. I wrote three chapters before I lost the manuscript, but I knew I’d grow up to be a writer.

 

Let’s talk early careers; studying law… and the paths to the road of writer and… foster carer.

My childhood ambition may have been to write novels, but things soon changed. I think every one of us has something important, deep down inside, that we always meant to do. Then life takes over and you don’t do it. That was how it was for me.

I went to University and studied law. I worked as a prosecutor with the National Crime Authority and as a defender with Legal Aid. I got married, had kids, got divorced, became a foster mother to many more children … and all the while a little, annoying, nagging voice – the voice of me as a child – reminded me that I was supposed to be a writer. I’m very grateful for that voice. In his wonderful essay ‘Why I Write’, George Orwell says, ‘If a writer escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write.’ He also said ‘never use two words when one will do’. More good advice.

Anyway, one day I saw a little wasp buzz past, and it struck me as amazing that for one moment, that insect and I shared the same time, the same place, the same space. I wondered what else we shared. This got me thinking about unlikely connections. I sat down and wrote my first novel, Wasp Season.

 

Let’s talk writing. Tell us about your family influences…

I grew up in a house full of books, and in a family of story-tellers. My father told fascinating stories about his time as a jackaroo in Queensland. My mother didn’t only read to me and my brother. She was a frustrated writer herself. Mum could invent wonderful tales on the spot, with recurring characters and highly original plots. The Magic Professor series was my favourite. A little girl (me) went for a walk in the bush and fell down a wombat hole where she found a science laboratory complete with a magic professor. They became friends, and he’d invent potions to help her with problems. Trouble was, they always backfired hilariously.

My grandfather was the editor of a country newspaper, and would secretly write letters to the editor to encourage engagement with readers. Sometimes he had fiery arguments with himself. My great aunt, the writer Mary Fullerton, died before I was born, but I have her novels and poems. My mother was very proud of Mary’s friendship with Miles Franklin, and her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement.

 

What do you love about writing?

I love the writing process – the rhythm of the prose and the pleasure of getting a sentence just right. I love that everything happens the way I want it to in my imaginary world. And as an introvert, I love the seclusion.

People often ask me about the solitary nature of writing. It can be no other way and fortunately I embrace solitude. If you don’t, you probably have no business being a writer. Many writers are loners. I’m a complete hermit. Some people ask me how I put up with being on my own so much, but I ask them how they put up with all the interruptions.

 

In any case, I’m not really alone. I have my characters, and I have the ghosts of readers. I feel an uneasy intimacy with future readers through my written words. It’s an uneasy intimacy because writers gently impress themselves onto readers’ private space. Even though writers are invited by readers to do so, it sometimes still feels like an imposition.

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author?

I can’t choose one. Elyne Mitchell, author of the Silver Brumby books, is still one of my favourites. I adore Charles Dickens. What a master story-teller! Nobody draws characters better or with more humanity. I love his warmth of feeling, his sentimentality and his ability to draw the reader in emotionally. I love the way he sets a scene, painting a vibrant picture by evoking the sights, sounds and smells of a place. But most of all I love the courage he shows by engaging with social issues, attacking and exposing injustice wherever he sees it. I love Barbara Kingsolver for the same reason. Her work often focuses on biodiversity and the interaction between people and their environment. She inspires me to do the same.

 

Do you have a favourite book?

It changes all the time. Currently it would be a tie between Where The Trees Were by Inga Simpson (my former writing mentor) and Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver.

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your booksyour novels are character driven narratives – how do you construct a character?  Fully formed before you begin writing? Influenced by people you know?

For me, the possibilities of place always come first.  My stories are always inspired by some natural place that particularly interests me. I try to write animals and landscapes not as mere background or setting, but as essential parts of the narrative. So once I’ve decided on where, the characters evolve organically from there.

Sometimes they are influenced by people I know. This is particularly true of the main character in Journey’s End, Kim Sullivan. She was inspired by my old school friend, Kim Gollan, a real-life bush regenerator. Currently she’s on remote Lord Howe Island, restoring habitat for the Lord Howe Island Giant Phasmid, the world’s rarest insect.

 

Let’s talk about themes in your work. Conservation and nature are themes that feature in your novels. Can you talk to us about rewilding and how dingoes feature in this landscape?

I’m fascinated by the notion of rewilding – restoring flora and fauna to their historical range. The theory has gained popularity after conservation success stories such as bringing wolves back to Yellowstone, and the large-scale return of Europe’s apex predators like lynx, bears and wolverines.

 

Australia is beginning to embrace rewilding. Quolls, bilbies, bandicoots and bettongs are being returned to parts of their natural range. Plans are afoot to bring Tasmanian devils back to the mainland after a four-hundred-year absence. Many ecologists advocate reintroducing dingoes to control introduced pests like rabbits, cats and foxes – a concept I explore in Journey’s End. Yet rewilding isn’t just for our land. It’s a concept for our minds and spirits as well.

 

Let’s talk about research for your books – you obviously have a great deal of knowledge about your settings and the flora and fauna of the region –  how do you research for your books?

For Journey’s End the research trip was particularly simple. Twenty years ago, my real-life friend Kim established the Dingo Creek Rainforest Nursery at Bobin on the edge of Tapin Tops National Park. I had the great privilege of staying at their nursery, and having a guided tour of Tapin Tops by two passionate botanists who love and understand the sub-tropical rainforest found there.  

However, I’ve always been an amateur naturalist myself, and am fascinated by everything wild. I read a lot of non-fiction. At the moment I’m reading a book called Once and Future Giants – What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth’s Largest Mammals. Also a book about Australian wildflowers, a book on Tasmanian history, and the 40th anniversary edition of Born Free by Joy Adamson, A Lioness of Two Worlds

Novels with relevant subject matters are also must reads. For example, one of my works in progress has a fair bit of falconry in it. Reading novels such as H is for Hawk and My Side of the Mountain adds to the knowledge bank.

 

Lets’ talk next book?  Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set? What issues do you want to draw our attention to?

I’m thrilled to announce that I have a new contract for a sweeping historical saga that will be out in the first half of next year. I’m very grateful to Penguin Random House for allowing me to explore this new genre.

It’s said that history is written by the winners. I want to write a fresh version of history, giving a voice to the outsiders, and to the animals teetering on the extinction precipice. My new book begins in late 19th century Tasmania, and is the first novel of a trilogy. It’s the story of Luke Tyler, a man unjustly condemned to prison in his youth, and of Isabelle Holmes, the girl he loves. The narrative follows their lives over a twenty-five-year period. It’s a compelling love story.

As in all my novels, animals play an important part. For example, I also tell the story of one of the last Tasmanian tigers, soon to disappear from Earth after a twenty-five-million-year reign. Apart from a little gem, Coorinna, written in 1957, there is no historical fiction concerning the Thylacine. I think it’s time to fill the gap.

My new novel explores the forces that caused the extinction of the greatest marsupial predator since Thylacoleo Carnifex the mighty marsupial lion, vanished forty-five thousand years earlier. What if the ultimate culprits weren’t the men who shot and snared them? What part did xenophobia play? And could the heroic actions of one young fugitive determine the fate of an entire species? I’m having a lot of fun writing this one.

 

 

Keep in touch with Jennifer here:

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenScoullar

https://twitter.com/JenScoullar

https://jenniferscoullar.com/

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Meredith Appleyard

The Doctor Calling

Meredith Appleyard

The Doctor Calling

Penguin Book Australia

RRP A$32.99

Please welcome Meredith to my blog. Meredith  lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia (which coincidentally is one the memorable places we visited on out caravaning holiday a couple of years ago, a region we will visit again). Maybe we can make the next visit line up with the next Clare Writer’s Festival. 🙂

 

 Meredith Appleyard - credit Nan Berrett Word Solutions

Meredith Appleyard – credit Nan Berrett Word Solutions

As a registered nurse and midwife, Meredith has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. When she isn’t writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers’ Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Lily. She is the author of The Country Practice.  Her second novel, The Doctor Calling has just been published.

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Meredith Appleyard

1. My first novella was written when I was 15, and it was ‘self-published’ – I typed it up nicely, bound it, and did the cover art myself!

2. Green is my favourite colour. All shades of green with Pine Green and Bottle Green on top of the list. I even like the word, green.

 

3. In 2005 I went to Vietnam with a group of nurses. We did volunteer work in several hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City. I worked alongside Vietnamese doctors and nurses in a busy gastroenterology hospital in the 5th Precinct. It was an experience that hasn’t faded with time…the heat; the humidity; the traffic; the food; the pollution; doctors and nurses working on a daily basis in conditions and with equipment we deem unacceptable; and, the kindness, friendliness and generosity of the Vietnamese people.

4. My sister is my best friend.
5. Lily, our border collie pup is asleep beside me. She’s only 8 months old and it’s very rare for her to be asleep during the day.

6. When I was growing up I wanted to be a school teacher. Circumstances intervened and I became a nurse instead. I’ve never been unemployed, I’ve travelled and worked in Australia and overseas, and I’ve had many wonderful experiences and met so many characters in the course of my work. Great fodder for my books!

 

7. Once, when I was fed up with shift work, I decided I could sell life insurance. It sounded like the perfect lifestyle, and no more night duty. It was a disaster. I am no salesperson.

 

8. I do not like ice-cream. I do like dark chocolate. A lot.

 

9. Australian crime writer Michael Robotham is one of my favourites. I was on a panel with him at a writers’ festival and I DIDN’T GET A PHOTO!

 

10. Reading and writing are the joys of my life. Making a second career as a writer is a dream come true.

 

 

Keep in touch with Meredith on here:

https://www.facebook.com/meredith.appleyard

meredithappleyard.com.au

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Olga Lorenzo

The Light on the Water

The Light On The Water

Olag Lorenzo

Allen & Unwin

RRP A$29.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother’s House, which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards, including the IMPAC Prize. Olga has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. She has taught writing for 17 years at RMIT University and various other tertiary institutions, and has a Masters and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. She previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age.

 

Welcome to my blog Olga. I very much enjoyed your latest release, it is so evocative at times I had difficulty reading.It certainly made me think.

Olga Lorenzo photo(c) Tania Jovanovic

Olga Lorenzo photo (c) Tania Jovanovic

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Olga Lorenzo

Let’s talk early careers; teaching, journalism and other paths to the road of writer. How did you early careers influence your approach to writing?
I’ve found journalism and novel writing quite different; one is almost like filling out a form to me, in the sense that there is a known and recognizable structure, especially in the inverted pyramid that is a news story. Writing a novel sometimes feels like trying to find a path through seawater. There are very few markers.

 

Let’s talk writing. I know in 1996 you published the novel The Rooms in My Mother’s House, did you write other pieces before this or plunge straight into writing a full length novel?
I plunged into the novel; I had always wanted to write a novel.

 

 

I see that you have won the prestigious Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship – scholarships and grants provide the author with other resources and assistance other than just (useful)$$$ – how did winning these award/grants assist you in your path to publishing?
I was extremely fortunate that when I applied for the Arts Council grant, I had to ask for a letter of support. I approached Hilary McPhee, whose son I had once babysat. Hilary was then head of Pan Macmillan, and she looked at my excerpt and offered to publish the novel when I finished it. I had only just started and that was very exciting and sustained me as I was writing.

 

 

What do you love about writing?
I don’t know that I love writing. I love having written. But Toni Morrison once said that the great thing about writing is that you can use all of your earned wisdom, everything you have learned about people and life, all your pain and all your joy can go into it. I do love that about the work I get to do. Only art allows for anything like that.

 

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author?
That is so hard to say. I go through phases and of course I read as much as I can. As a child and young adult I read voraciously. I loved Hermann Hesse and John Steinbeck. More recently I have loved Elizabeth Strout. And Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping is a gorgeous book.

 

Do you have a favourite book?
No, but I think that Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, while flawed, has moments of absolute brilliance. I love strong characters.

 

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your books – your novels are character driven narratives – how do you construct a character? Full formed before you begin writing? Influenced by people you know?
They are always fictional but yes, they are influenced by what I have experienced in life. I tell my students to write from life in the sense of using their own learned wisdom, as Toni Morrison says. And then fictionalising for all your worth.

 

 

Let’s talk about themes in your work. The social construct of family seems to feature heavily in your work. What other issues do you want your readers to consider in The Light on The Water?
Ideas about social inclusion and exclusion are huge to me, and I DO think it starts with family. Sometimes we are outsiders even in our own families, for instance, when we are not fully accepted by in-laws or step-children. Sometimes a parent doesn’t accept their child’s sexual orientation. All forms of being unaccepted and excluded are very painful, as we are social animals and don’t do well on our own. We need our clan, our herd. I was writing about this in The Light on the Water, and am returning to it in my next novel.

 

Who do you see as your prime audience?
I want as many people to read my books as possible. I aspire for them to be thoughtful and intelligent and well-written, but also accessible to a wide audience. I sometimes think of something like The Simpsons cartoons, which I think a wide variety of people respond to at different levels of meaning, depending on their ability to understand satire.

 

 

Lets’ talk next book? Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?
It is set in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs and also inner city Melbourne, and is about a single mother who brings home the wrong baby from the hospital. When she finds her true daughter, she begins a relationship with that child’s father, who is also single. But the daughter she didn’t take home from hospital has grown into a cold and haughty young woman, partly because she has been over-indulged by her father. As a result, she is unable to love or feel empathy and doesn’t accept my protagonist’s attempts to love her.

Keep in touch with Olga here:

F/b Olga Lorenzo – Author
Twitter Olga Lorenzo @olgalorenzo3

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Peter May

Coffin Road

Coffin Road by Peter May ($29.99), published by Hachette Australia.

 

About Peter May:

Peter May’s books have sold several million copies worldwide and have won awards in the UK, the USA, and France. He is the author of:

  • the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
  • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell
  • the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France
  • several standalone novels including – the multi award-winning Entry Island, Runaway, and his latest, entitled Coffin Road, which sees a return to the Outer Hebrides (January 2016, Quercus UK, Hachette Australia).

 

Peter May was named Scottish Young Journalist of the Year Award when he was twenty one.

 

Television Work

Peter May had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland’s most prolific and successful television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated drama serials in his homeland before quitting television to return to his first love, writing novels.

 

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

  

Let me extend a big Australian welcome to Peter May.

Peter May

 

 

Let’s talk childhood. What aspirations did you have as a child?

 

I knew I wanted to write from the moment I picked up my first pencil. My father was an English teacher and my mother was an avid reader. They taught me to read and write before I went to school, and at the age of four years I wrote my first book. It was only a few pages long but it turned out to be the first in a long line of attempts to write a successful novel. I discovered the evidence of that first foray into writing when many years later I rediscovered the manuscript, if one could call it that, in a dusty box in my parents’ attic when I was clearing out their house. It was called The Little Elf. My mother had shown me how to sew the pages together just like a real book and I had made a cover for it, colouring it red and writing the legend “designed in England and made in Scotland”. I have since scanned all the pages and made a short slideshow with a musical accompaniment which I have put on YouTube for anyone to read. So clearly my aspiration was and always has been to write. Here is a link to my first story: http://youtu.be/XTxOEfwclh0

 

About your writing. How long has the road to becoming a successful writer been for you?

 

The road to success has been a long one. When I left school there was no career path to becoming a writer and so I turned to journalism as a way of making my living by writing. And it was only then that I took the advice that everyone had been offering me for years, which was to write about what I know. So I wrote about a journalist, and that was the first book which I had published, at the age of 25. But even then my course towards becoming a novelist was subverted by a career change which took me into television. Having published my first book, I developed the character and idea for a television series which was taken up by the BBC. I went on then to become a screenwriter and spent most of the next 20 years working in television. It was not until 1996 that I finally quit the world of television to try and make my living writing books. Even then it was nearly 15 years and 12 books later before I had my first major success with “The Blackhouse”, since when I have never looked back.

 

Let’s talk journalism, scripting writing/producing and novel writing. In Australia you are well known for your crime novels, in The UK you are a Richard and Judy superstar, a talented television scriptwriter and producer and a Scottish award winning journalist. Is there nothing word related you can’t do?

 

Ha ha ha, I don’t know about that. But words have always been my stock in trade, they have been my means of expressing myself, not just verbally but visually, using those words to paint pictures for my readers, as well as exploring the human psyche.

 

What do you love about writing?

 

I love that when I am writing I am transported from my desk and my study by the power of the imagination to anywhere in the world that I may choose to go.

 

Who is your favourite author? Do you have a favourite book?

 

I do not have a single favourite author but several who have influenced me over the years, including such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, H.E. Bates and others. My favourite book is probably “The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B” by the Irish-American writer J.P. Donleavy, because it taught me how to break the rules of grammar and freed me to develop my own style of writing.

 

Do you have a favourite band/song? The song, album and video you recorded, Runaway, depicts a major life changing event in your teenage years “also providing the inspiration for the new book which I am currently writing. I have already clocked up 45,000 words as I blog this. And what is the working title of the book? Well, “Runaway” of course!” Has music inspired any of your other books? (And we can we see another video please?)

 

The most influential band during my formative years was, without doubt, The Beatles. They provided the soundtrack to my growing up years. All of my earliest experiences, particularly in affairs of the heart, were related to one Beatles song or another. But I loved much of the music of the 60s and 70s. It was an exciting time, and music was breaking new ground at every turn of the record. My earliest books were all written to the sounds of my favourite bands. But I found, in the end, that music was proving too influential, colouring the mood and content of my writing, and I gave it up and now write in silence. I cannot say that music has influenced any of my books other than “Runaway”, but I still write, play and record music today. Here is an example. The song is called “Big Bad Wolf”, and it tells the story of the initial rejection of my breakthrough book “The Blackhouse”: http://youtu.be/IR1SR9afWSI

 

Tell us more about the eco warrior within you. (My reference is to Coffin Road – bees and science) and I believe the China novels have an eco/conservation theme.

 

I believe that writers have an obligation to address matters of universal importance. Much of my writing in the China Thrillers, and in my latest novel “Coffin Road”, has involved warning of danger in the unfettered exploitation of science for purely financial gain. Many scientific advances such as the development of genetically modified foods or pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops, are sold to us as being beneficial to mankind when very often they are exactly the opposite. “Coffin Road” was motivated by my concern about the effect on bees of a breed of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Bees are vanishing at an unprecedented rate and their disappearance altogether would be a disaster both for the planet and the human race. Bees are responsible for producing anything up to half of all the foods that we eat, and the link between their demise and the use of these pesticides is now irrefutable. Having thoroughly researched my subject I felt that both the bees and the silent majority of the human race needed a voice, and “Coffin Road”, I hope, has given them that.

 

Let’s talk about the settings of your books. France, China, Canada, Scotland, Hebrides….all so different. What attracted you to these particular settings for you crime novels? Are you also a master of languages? Gaelic? Chinese? French?

 

Ha ha. No. I speak and write in English, I have become relatively fluent in French, but I speak no Chinese or Gaelic. Languages are not my strong suit. As far as settings are concerned I go where my stories take me. I never write about a place I have not been to, so I have travelled widely, and hopefully in my books I take my readers on those same journeys with me.

 

How did you research your books?

 

All my research is conducted in depth, on the Internet, in books, and in journeying to the settings of the various stories. I also enlist the advice of various experts in the different fields about which I am writing in any given book. Being fearless in my research is something I learned as a journalist and now I almost enjoy the process of research more than the actual writing.

 

Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?

 

I have just finished writing the sixth and final book in the Enzo Files series which is set in France. It will be out next January.

 

If you want to know more about Peter check out his social media sites here: http://about.me/petermayinfo