Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Author Interview: Martina Reilly

Regulars to my blog will know that I am a HUGE Irish fiction fan having previously held a Irish feature month so today I'm delighted to welcome back to my blog bestselling Irish author Martina Reilly who I have interviewed previously.

Martina's latest book The Things I Want You to Know has recently been published in Trade Paperback format online and in Ireland but is now also available in eBook format on Amazon today.   

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book The Things I Want You to Know?
Things I Want You to Know is my eighteenth book. It’s about Nick, who returns home to look after his two little children when his estranged wife Kate dies. On the day of her funeral, he is given a book, written by Kate, called Things I want You to Know. It details the rules for bringing up their children. There is also a request for Nick to go out on five dates with five women who were important to Kate. Nick, who has shied away from life, soon realises that there were other things Kate wanted him to know. Is it too late for him to learn them?

It’s a story of grief and redemption with a lot of humour thrown in. 

What inspired you to write about an estranged father returning home to look after his young children?
Fatherhood has always fascinated me. I think the way men see parenting is very different to the way women see it. 

I could also see the potential for humour in a man’s man suddenly becoming immersed in a woman’s world. For added drama and poignancy, Nick had to be floundering in some way. 

The book was also inspired by a poem I wrote when a good friend of mine passed away. I wrote it in the hope that one day we would meet again. 

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to give us a hint as to what it’s about? 
Yes, it’s called ‘That Day in June’. It’s a very different story to ‘Things I Want You to Know.’ It’s about a homeless girl - Sandy - who receives a cup of coffee each day from Max. One day Max doesn’t come with the coffee and the day after that he is missing too. Sandy goes in search of him.

The book is narrated by Max and by Sandy and is about being alive in the world. And no, it’s not a self help book :-)

What inspires your writing?

It could be an image - in the case of That Day in June, it was seeing a homeless man get a cup of coffee from a passer-by and from there I weaved a little ‘what If’ scenario. 

Some music - for my teenage book Fast Car - it was Tracy Chapman’s song about the desire to flee bad situations that fed into the narrative. 

Real life - In ‘What If’ I wrote about a woman with Alzheimer’s. This was inspired by my own grandmother who had it and who lived with my family growing up. I began to wonder what I would do if I found out that I was losing my memories. 

For Things I Want You to Know - I wondered what I would do if I was dying and I felt that my husband needed help minding our children when I was gone. 

How has your writing style evolved over the years?
As you get older, I suppose the things you want to write about change. I’ve been lucky in that my publishers have always supported my fledging ideas. My books are not typical romantic fare, I like to think that they’re about love, in all its beautiful grittiness. 

What does a typical writing day look like for you?
During school time, after my daughter has left the house, I’ll bring the dog for a walk. I’d like to say it clears my head, but in reality, it just makes my arm ache! The animal is seriously mad. 

When I get back, I’ll make a coffee and bring it upstairs to my office. I work from 10 - 1 and if I haven’t had an invite to go for lunch from one of my friends, I’ll break for about thirty minutes before working from 1:30 -4. 

I don’t work weekends and try not to do anything on school holidays. 

I’m lucky in that I’m a fast worker and work really well under pressure. 

What’s the best thing about being an author? And on the flip side what is the worst? 
The best thing about being an author is the writing. And sadly, the worst thing about being an author is the writing! 

Do you treat yourself to something special upon publication of each book? 
I try to. It used to be clothes or shoes but now, it’s generally a piece of furniture or a knick-knack for the house. I know - so middle-aged.

If you could go away to a writing retreat abroad, where would you like to go to? 
Anywhere near a French beach. I adore France and would happily live there. My husband and children refuse to come with me though, so I guess I’m stuck in Ireland for the next while anyway. I have a French friend so that helps :-)

If you were going to write a famous person into one of your stories, who would it be and why? 
I’d put Rosa Parks in - she triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 by refusing to relinquish her bus seat in the black section of the bus to a white man. To be a powerful woman in those days was impressive, to be a powerful black woman was an act of amazing courage. 

I suppose I’d use the incident as a backdrop to my main character finding her own courage. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author just starting out?
Starting out is the best - there is no deadline, no expectation, just you and the page. Go for it.

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