Author Interview with Kerry Dwyer
January 15, 2013 4 Comments
Many of the authors I interview are fiction writers from just about all genre’s, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this month’s interviewee, has written a non-fiction book. Kerry Dwyer journey trip through the Emerald Isle was inspiration for her novel RAMBLINGS IN IRELAND
So let’s begin…
That is one of the sort of questions that I find difficult to answer. When people ask you where you are from that is often not, what they want to know. They want to know where you were born or where you live now. What they certainly don’t want is a long explanation; they tend to drift off if you give them one. I was born in the North of England but I would not say that that was where I was from as I left before I was six. I was raised in the Home Counties of England (The counties surrounding London). I now live in south west France with my French husband and my darling daughter who laughs at my French and his English. I hope she will survive these tender teenage years and grow into a gorgeous young woman who can afford the best retirement facilities for her parents one day.
My book is a non-fiction travel memoir, don’t expect a travel guide. The holiday is a loose thread for the memoir which shoots off in many directions.. I have won prizes for my poetry the last one being when I was seven for a poem about my cat. I have written short stories and flash fiction. I am currently trying my hand at a fiction novel but it is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. Don’t hold your breath for its publication . I have been published before but that was industry specific technical papers and most people would fall asleep reading them.
2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
A career in writing would be a dream but that is not what I aspired to. I really do enjoy writing. I like to pour out onto the page, to tap out my musings on my keyboard. I started a blog for my ramblings in order to be read. I have written for years and apart from those technical papers no one has read my work since I was seven years old. The travel memoir was going to be a diary of my holiday maybe a few blog posts. But it turned into a book mainly because I didn’t stick to the point. There is something terrible and magnificent about being read. There is a chance that others, like kind family and friends, will say they like it. There is also the risk that something you have put time and love into will draw harsh criticism. When I am waiting for my work to be reviewed, I am on tenterhooks I can’t wait for it to be over. The decision I took was to be published. I wanted to be read, to have my work in the public eye and to risk people saying they love or hate it.
3. So many people wish to write fiction, what inspired you to write your travel memoir?
My travel memoir was inspired by Ireland and the Irish people. It really is such a lovely country and I would recommend it to anyone. There is something about the country that has a little magic in it. People seem so happy there, at least in the places that we went. We were greeted with smiles and laughter, nothing was too much trouble. There was also a lot of inspiration in the time that I spent so closely with my husband. That closeness that you have at the beginning of a relationship disappears over the years. Couples in general spend less time together as lives continue. It was wonderful to find that closeness again and to find that the spark of our relationship is still very much alive. I don’t mean that in a sexual sense but more a meeting of two minds. We are can still be foolish together and laugh, we can talk over a meal and have companionable silences whilst sitting looking at a view. I see some couples of our age out together and they look so bored nursing a glass of wine and staring into the distance. I am just so happy that we still lean into each other and giggle.
4. What difficulties did you find between writing non-fiction and fiction (so far)?
Personally, I find writing non-fiction easier than fiction. With non-fiction you can describe characters as they are. Your stories do not have to have logic. By that, I mean that if someone acts in a way that is out of character it just happens. In fiction, you would need to make this logical and make it a part of that character. Personalities are already there in reality and the trick is to describe them well. Inventing a character from scratch is the most difficult thing. In my current work, I started off with a number of different parts of me. No character was whole and each just had some of my characteristics. To develop from nothing a whole character where each part compliments the other is hard. One of my characters, for example, if having a relationship with a married man. This is something I have never done and can’t imagine doing. So what is her make up? What does she have in her personality that is different from mine? I don’t want her to be a lose woman but a woman in love, trapped and that is not me, I can’t imagine myself in that situation. So I need to invent a character who would be. I hope that is clear. Each part of a character has to compliment the other parts.
The story part is not so difficult. I can take things that happen and add or subtract from them. I enjoy trying to write the worst thing that could happen in a situation and then pulling it back to something more subtle, more reasonable, more believable. If you start with the worst, it is, for me, easier to see the path.
5. Tell us a little about your fiction story. What inspired you to write it?
The working title is ‘The Book Exchange’. It is a very different discipline to writing fiction and I have found it more difficult than I supposed. The story is based on an English Book exchange that I go to on a regular basis. For English speaking ex pats the book exchange forms a social hub. I saw this as a way to link several characters and yet have them lead independent lives. The story has grown from its original concept and, as is my wont, is going off at tangents. I need to bring it back together and do some severe editing. I am finding the process very interesting and I am learning a lot.
6. What books (if any) have influenced you over the years?
All the books I have read have influenced my writing. If I hadn’t read so many books I would not have been inspired to write in the first place. That is an excellent question. The books I prefer are light in tone and humour and that is what I have tried to do in my own work. I am not witty like Fford and I don’t have the imagination for other worlds like Prachett but I love the way the stories go off at tangents and then come back again. I have never got on very well with Man Booker Prize winners as I find them too heavy going. Books that have won the Orange other such literary awards are much easier for me. If that makes me a lightweight reader then so be it. Reading is very personal and I tried to write something that I would enjoy reading something light and humorous.
7. If you were given the opportunity to write a fan-fiction novel, who is the author you would choose, and what would be the book?
What an interesting question! Now that is something I have never thought of doing but now you have put the idea in my head I might just well do it. I adore Jasper Fford’s character ‘Thursday Next’, a literary detective who is able to travel through the literary world. The possibilities are endless as she can go to into any book. In Fford’s stories she mainly visits classical books but I would like to put her into an epic fantasy such as Lord of the Rings. She could visit a different medium such as film or a television series like Game of Thrones. I can imagine her crossing over from the books to the films or TV series and interacting with characters played out in both. A character in the book being disgruntled with how they are portrayed by the actor in the film and Thursday would need to intervene in the dispute.
8. Speaking of books to film or TV, have you ever been struck with an idea that you thought would be a good idea for those mediums?
One of my reviewers ‘Nancy Silk’ said she thought my book would make a good sitcom. I think it is out of time. Many years ago when we had sitcoms like ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘The Good Life’ it might have been a success. These days people want more action and adventure in their films and reality TV involving stars of screen and stage on their televisions.
9. All writers have days when trying to put words together is almost impossible. How do you push past those days and continue?
You are right, we all have days like that. Sometimes I go out for a walk. I find the rhythm of walking and clearing my head will jolt things along. I think a lot when I am walking and I often work through scenes and even talk both sides of a conversation. I get ideas for other stories as well and sometimes talk to myself about those. It is lucky that I live in the countryside and there is no one around to hear or see me. Because I have several things on the go at once I can usually turn to something else. If I can’t get on with the next part of my book I might start a short story or a blog post. There are days when I just have to let it go and do something entirely different. I write for the pleasure of writing so there is no point in doing it if it feels like hard work.
10. What advice would you give to a new author who wants to write?
That is a difficult question. If someone wants to write then they should be writing. I would need to ask what is stopping them . If you want to write then do so. Do it for the sheer pleasure of putting something on paper, of getting all your thoughts, grief, fantasies, stories, history, imagination, whatever it is – write it down. Think about what you want to do with it later. Your writing may end up in a drawer never to be seen again. You may read it and think, I could do better. Maybe you feel you just need to change it a little – or a lot. Once you have written the best piece that you can then you need to consider if you feel it is worth publishing. If you do then that is the time to involve other people, beta readers, proof readers, editors and maybe an agent or a publisher if you don’t want to self publish. If you don’t think it is worth publishing then you have lost nothing. You have spent time doing something you enjoy.
There are people who write for a living. It is something they are paid to do and I know some who, at times, really do not enjoy it. They hate the deadlines and having to be inspired to order. This is a very different discipline I would not like to be under that sort of pressure.
Five for Fun
1. If you could be any breed of dog, what would it be?
A dog? I think it would have to be a Beagle. They are so cute and are also associated with detective work, although I am not sure that sniffing bags in airports would be my choice of job :). My favourite beagle is Snoopy. [I had a beagle when I was a teen. My step-father used to call her a tramp dog because she’d get into the car with anyone. 😀 ~Darke]
2. Is there one food/beverage that you can’t live without?
Chocolate. It is just the best. It has to be good quality, bitter and high in cocoa solids for me. My favourite is Green and Black’s.
3. Bungee jumping: exhilarating hobby or death wish?
Death wish. Although I did once jump out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane for charity.
4. What is your favourite movie?
You do ask the most difficult questions. Just one? The Blues Brothers. [Note: The opening scenes of the second Blues Brothers movie were filmed outside Milhaven Penitentiary, just outside Kingston, Ontario.]
5. Question from Sithboy; If you were a Jedi, what colour would your lightsabre be; green, blue, yellow, red, or purple?
Not Orange? My favourite colour is orange. It would have to be purple, I do like The Colour Purple. (Also that gets in the name of another film I like 🙂 ) [No sorry Kerry, no orange. We’ll have to petition George Lucas to fix that. :D]
Where to find Kerry online;
Twitter : https://twitter.com/DwyerKerry
Blog : http://kerrydwyer.com/
Where to purchase RAMBLINGS In Ireland online: