Monday, 5 January 2015

Author Interview: Anna McPartlin

Today I'm delighted to welcome back author Anna McPartlin to find out more about her latest book The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes which was published last Thursday.  And congratulations to Anna as The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is included in the Richard and Judy Spring 2015 book club.  

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end... 

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. 

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. 

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. 

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes? 
It’s about the last 8 days of a woman’s life. We meet Rabbit and her mother Molly as they enter the hospice where Rabbit will die but this is very much a story about life. It’s about love, freinds and family, unbreakable bonds, joy, laughter, sweet memories, hope, forgiveness, strenght, courage, letting go and saying goodbye. 

What was the hardest part to write about this storyline?  

I cried and laughed most of the way through this book but I can’t say any part of it was difficult to write. Rabbit’s story felt so familiar so it was one of those books that just flowed out of me. Although my mother didn’t die of cancer she was moved into a care home when I was eleven and she died when I was seventeen so Rabbit brought back many happy and sad memories all of which I’m grateful for.  

Rabbit has a lively family, which character was your favourite to create?
Molly Hayes, Rabbit’s mother has been my favourite character to create so far. I fell in love with her in my head before she ever went on the page. She’s inspired by four women, my mother, my two Auntie Mary’s but there would be no Molly Hayes without my mother in-law Terry McPartlin who can make me laugh till I hurt without ever trying. Molly is an Irish mammy at her most resiliant and best.

How did you come up with the name Rabbit Hayes? 
Rabbit’s given name is Mia Hayes but when I conjured young Rabbit in my head, she wore health board thick framed glasses that were so heavy on her face that she’d have to hold them up by pressing her finger against the bridge of her nose. She also wore her long hair in two bunches either side of her head so that they looked like Rabbit’s ears. The bunches and glasses combination reminded me of Bugs Bunny in disguise so the nick name Rabbit was born. 

What message do you hope readers take from reading this novel?  
Rabbit is less about hope and more about living and loving in the moment. It’s a seize the day book and I like to think that it’s about joy rather than anything else. 

What can we expect from you next?
I’m currently working on my seventh novel, ‘Somewhere Inside of Happy’.  It’s about a family and community dealing with the disapearance of two boys in the mid ninties, focusing on the seven days from the time the go missing until they are found. Like in all my work where there is darkness there is light. 

What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I wake up early between 5.30 and 7.00am depending on my deadlines and work through till lunch then I take an hour or two off to shop, walk the dogs etc… and then back to work till about 6.00 or 

Do you set yourself a daily writing target? 
No. I’ve never done that. It’s never about word count, sometimes I spend entire day going over what I’ve previously written and adding a sentence here and there, just putting meat on the bones. It’s time consuming but those character florishes make all the difference.  

Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’m a plotter and a panster. My characters live in my head for about a year before I hit the first key. I know my first page and my last page, I know the story I want to tell but how I get from first page to last is what makes every writing day interesting. 

What is the best advice you have ever received about writing? 
Don’t talk about it just do it. 

If you could write in another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I’d love to be able to write Sci-fi, It’s a genre I really enjoy but unfortunately my voice does not lend itself. 

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
I go for lunch with pals, finishing a book you’re proud of is the best feeling in the world, it’s also a time to mourn, saying goodbye to characters who have been a part of your life for a time is oftentimes sad so it’s always nice to end it surrounded by friends. 

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