Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Interviewed by Author Jane Davis.

Morning everyone,

Delighted to be interviewed today by Author Jane Davis.
Here's the Q & A:

Q: The protagonist in Going Against Type is Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan. What five words best describe her?

A: She is best described as feisty, ambitious, positive, kind and vulnerable.

Q: Where is the book set and how did you decide on its setting?

A: The book is set in Dublin, against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers. Because it’s my debut, I wanted to write about something familiar. I had worked as a journalist for a Dublin newspaper, and have always lived in this city, so I know it well.

Q: What were the major areas you had to research?

A: Charlie is a sports journalist, and the story opens in the sports department at her newspaper, where she is given a chance to write a new sports column under the pen name Side Swipe. I had worked as a features writer, and had never written about sport, so I really had to research quite a lot about it. I wanted Charlie’s columns to be authentic and sharp and witty.

Q: At what point in writing the book did you come up with its title?

A: The book was very near completion, after numerous drafts, before the title was picked. I’d had a working title, and then another one. But Going Against Type really fits well, on a couple of levels. First, my heroine is working in what’s still quite a male environment, especially in Ireland. And my hero is a fashion writer, which is largely quite a female world. So they are both going against type. Second, Charlie and Derry, my hero, are polar opposites. Charlie is certainly not the type of woman Derry usually goes out with, and Charlie has never dated anyone like Derry Cullinane! So the title refers to their personal lives too.

Q: If you were trying to describe your writing to someone who hasn’t read anything by you before, what would you say?

A: I suppose I can only talk about Going Against Type, but it taught me a lot. My writing is light, but there is real plot and character development. I think that if you’re good enough to buy a book, you’re entitled to a decent plot. And subplots. It’s also very fast. I tend to keep my scenes short and pacy, with lots of dialogue. Anyone who has read my debut has told me that it races along. Which is good, unless you’re the type of person who never wants a book to end!

Q: Who is the hero of your story? Or your hero within the story?

A: My hero is Derry Cullinane. Born and bred in Co Cork, he now lives by the sea in Dunlaoghaire (pronounced DunLeary), Co Dublin. His mother is a renowned fashion designer and Derry fell into journalism, although he has a healthy respect for the fashion industry and an understanding of fashion writing. When the story opens, it’s clear that the sort of women he dates are quite shallow. Which suits him, because he doesn’t like to get too serious. And there’s a reason for this, which is revealed later on. But beneath that, he’s a decent man. One of his closest friends in work is actually a woman, and because there is no sexual tension between them, readers can see that he can respect that sort of friendship. Of course, when he meets Charlotte (Charlie) he is drawn to her and intrigued by her.

Q: John Irving says that you can’t teach writing. You can only recognise what’s good and say ‘keep doing that.’ Do you think that’s true?

A: I think this is partly true. Certainly I think you can learn about how stories are structured, what your triggers are, where to put your obstacles and climax and so on. And this is hugely helpful because if you’re anything like me, you need storyboards and scenes, even if they change along the way.
But recognising what’s good is vital. This comes from reading other people’s work, and knowing what you like. And it comes from writing every day. When I’m reading back over something, I know if a passage of writing is good. And if something isn’t , I know I’ll have to rethink it.

Q: So how did you come to be a writer?

A: I had written for a long time, as a journalist, obviously. And I’d also had some short stories published, in women’s magazines. To be honest, there wasn’t ever a time that I can remember that I wasn’t writing. I was one of those children who wrote all the time. Later on I attempted to write novels but wasn’t sure about the structure of them, so they always came asunder. After I won a national short story competition here in Ireland, I did a weekend writers’ course to learn the nuts and bolts of novel writing. Plot, structure and so on. That was it.

Q: Do you prefer to write in first person or third person and why?

A: Anything I’ve written has been in third person, and to date I’ve kept it simple. For example, in Going Against Type, it’s third person, and I’m only in Charlie’s head. I didn’t want to get into ‘head hopping.’ But I often enjoy reading other novels, that are written in first person. I think when I become more experienced as a writer, I’d like to try it.

Q: Some writers need silence, others like the buzz of a coffee shop, or their favourite music. Which type are you?

A: Sometimes I like peace and quiet when I’m writing, especially if I am trying to work through something that’s just not coming together. Other times I will escape to my favourite Italian coffee shop in our local village. I will tuck myself into a corner, and write long hand. Everything around me becomes white noise. I have had people coming up and saying my name and I don’t hear them, because I’m completely in another zone. I think that comes from working in newspapers, and having to work with a lot of noise and chatter around me. It kind of suits me.
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Thanks for reading,
Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.

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