I was interviewed recently by Mairangi Writers, for the Arresting Prose blogsite.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Wondering what the day will bring and having the chance to do something different every day. I never know what words are going to come into my head at any one time and it’s exciting to see what happens next.
What is your favourite book from childhood? Tell me about it.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I was crazy about horses as a child and read endless adventures stories about horses, girls on horses, and picture books of horses. Reading a story from the perspective of the horse was out of this world and made a huge impact on me. Wind in the Willows, and all the quirky characters, has to be my second favourite.
What are you currently reading? Tell me about it.
Written in my Heart’s Own Blood by Diana Gabaldon. At over 820 pages, it is the 8th book in the Outlander series. You either love the series or hate it. Claire is a 20th century figure who time travels through an ancient stone circle to land up in 18th century Scotland where she meets the incredible Jamie Fraser. Part fiery romance, part historical portrait and part science-fiction the author weaves the impossible into the plausible with a lot of historical fact. The plot expands to fit – moving from Scotland to America, and back and forth through the stones to the present – throughout is all is the steamy love affair between Claire and Jamie. There is family in both times and in both countries. Gabaldon’s detailed historical research leads to richly worded scenes and wonderful characters. This one is weighty and wordy and could do with an edit.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Why does it stick in your memory?
I can’t remember the title, but it was an essay for a school assignment on my favourite things, when I was about ten. I wrote about horses and my riding lessons. My teacher rated it highly and had me read it out to the class, but as I was reading all sorts of new ideas came to mind. I started to add bits in as I was reading and I changed the ending. I was told off because I hadn’t read what was written. All I was doing was editing – even back then.
The first book I wrote was ‘Daniel’ – a biographical narrative about a New Zealand soldier, pioneer, patriarch and pacifist between 1842 and 1926. It has since been retitled ‘The Disenchanted Soldier’ and has a new cover.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Freedom – and knowing that words have the power to move and influence people. A few words in the right order, in the right place, can produce huge emotional and psychological responses in a reader. I love playing with words, hoping to trigger such a response.
What is your writing process?
I write every week day – spending hours at my desk, doing research and writing. The weekends are reserved for family. I try to write as many words as possible for my current work-in-progress or sometimes a scene from my notebook, or on a random topic to change my thinking. I have a blog page, a website, and I post about books and writing on Facebook.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading. I love reading. Reading helps me understand how other authors put words together. I would put reading ahead of anything – except family. I always have time for family, my adult children and my grandchildren. Travel ranks highly. Fortunately, my significant other and I both enjoy cruising and going anywhere and everywhere in our caravan, and we have huge plans to do more. When there’s nothing else to do, my garden fills up my spare time.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing an historical novel about Irish immigration to Australia and New Zealand as part of The PastFinders stories. This one is part romance and part family history with the themes of love and betrayal wrapped around historical events.
Taken from the perspective of a young girl who left her home and family at the age of 17, the story tackles the choices needed to make a new life: the hazards of the journey, the difficulties of adapting to a new country, finding work and the heartaches of finding love – with a twist.
The Disenchanted Soldier – A tale of courage and determination, of love and loss.
The Cornish Knot – Art, mystery and wealth; two centuries, two lives
The Art of Secrets – Lives bounds by tragedy and lies
The Girl from County Clare – Like making lace, she pieced together a new life from a single thread of hope.