Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)
I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Married with three children, I work part-time and have a lot to juggle, which isn’t ideal for my writing. As a result, independent publishing has been wonderful as it suits my hectic life down to a tee and I set my own deadlines. I’m probably a typical writer – a bit introverted, and was prone to daydreaming from an early age. I was an only child and my mother died when I was young, so I grew up spending a lot of time alone (though not lonely). Books were always my joy and I turned to them frequently. I grew up during the seventies – a particularly bleak time in Ireland, so escaping into other worlds was attractive.
I first dabbled with poetry during my teens. Then I helped out on a local newsletter for a year or two, but it was only after my third child was born, that I decided to write a book – and it was purely to prove to myself that I could and with no thought of ever publishing. I loved writing and researching it and that was the catalyst. Early on, I joined the Historical Novel Society whose members, I have to say, are some of the most supportive people I have had the pleasure to meet.
Stories just pop into my head and then I have to get them down as fast as I can. I grew up watching period dramas and reading classics so a lot of my background inspiration comes from those. Primarily I am intrigued by how people react in difficult circumstances and I suppose a little part of me wants to explore the world through their eyes (my characters tend to be a lot braver than me!).
I write under my maiden name for a few reasons; firstly as it is an unusual name it makes me easy to find; I have come to writing relatively late in life and want to keep my personal and writing life separate; lastly, I wanted to use my maiden name for sentimental reasons.
What is the title and genre of your book?
My debut novel is entitled The Bowes Inheritance. The genre is historical fiction but it is a mix of romance and mystery set in the late Victorian era (my favourite part of the 19th century). My next published piece will be a short story set in the WW1 era and set in Ireland. It is called In Three-Quarter Time and I hope to publish it on Kindle very soon.
How did you come up with the story?
The original premise for The Bowes Inheritance was a young woman inheriting a property and having to fight to keep it. It had a beginning, a middle and an end (always a good thing!), but there was no flesh to its bones. I knew I wanted it to have an Irish flavour, but with a new angle perhaps. I have always been fascinated by the complex relationship between the Irish Ascendency and their British counterparts and that, and a wrangle over land, seemed a good place to start. It was only as I started to research, that the story took on a life of its own. Sub-plots popped up, often influenced by real events that I read about from old newspapers, books and on-line blogs. What started out primarily as a love story became tangled up in Irish history, Fenians and the English Lake District! The Bowes Inheritance was born.
Much to my delight the book has been very well received and was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and shortlisted for The Carousel Aware Prize 2016. Just last week it was awarded the ‘Discovered Diamond’ status.
It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?
As I’m independently published I have complete control over title and cover. My original cover, when I first published in 2015, was lovely and I was really proud of it but I felt over time that it was too ‘nice’ and not genre specific enough. I found a cover I loved (a pre-made cover) and the graphic designer, Victoria Cooper, was very willing to add to and amend it to what you see today.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to write about what you love and what interests you. Good writing will out. If you want to write to a formula for commercial success ask yourself what kind of legacy is that leaving? Will anyone want to read your work in a hundred years’ time if it’s the same as a hundred other novels out there? I’ll take quality over quantity any day.
What is your writing routine?
Most of my writing is done in the evening or at weekends. As I work outside the home on a part-time basis, having a writing routine is virtually impossible. Marketing and promotion take up a lot of time and eat into those hours I’d rather be writing. Lately, I have pulled back on it and all of the other distractions that stop me from writing but it isn’t always easy. The days I’m working I am usually too tired to write and sometimes when I have time the writing muse deserts me!
I’m lucky to have an office at home where I can surround myself with my favourite books, pictures and research material. It is nice and quiet and generally the only company I have is the dog and perhaps the cat if he’s in the mood! Most importantly I can listen to music while I write – I find it helps me relax and the ideas flow more easily.
Do you have an editing process?
I tend to edit as I go which I suppose draws out the process somewhat. However, it seems to be the only way I can work. I always have an outline of the plot but it is only as I write that the details emerge. Historical fiction requires a lot of research and luckily I love that as much as the writing.
I have a wonderful editor, Hilary Johnson. She does an initial structural edit, checking for any major errors, plot and character holes, etc. Once I’m happy I have the final version I send it back to her for a thorough copy edit/proofread. She is incredibly professional and strict. I trust her judgement so if she says something isn’t working, I will go away and think about it. She’s usually right!
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
The most enjoyable part for me is watching my characters emerge and grow. When I’m working on a story, the characters tend to be in my head all of the time, even to the point where they are having conversations. But dialogue makes or breaks a book so I tend to spend a lot of time and energy on trying to get it right.
The worst thing for me is not having enough quality time to write. I really envy those who are lucky enough to be full-time writers.
Where can people find you on the internet?
I maintain an active presence on Facebook and Twitter and I have a website/blog. These work best for me as I have such a limited amount of time to be online. I love to interact with fellow authors and of course, readers. My first wow moment after publication, was when a total stranger emailed me to say they loved my book. You can’t get much better than that.
Universal Link to buy The Bowes Inheritance (Amazon) www.bookgoodies.com/a/B010EB2XC2