Thursday, 21 February 2013

Interview With An Author - Michela O'Brien

Today's Interview With An Author is fellow Crooked Cat Publishing author Michela O'Brien on writing and her gorgeous book A Summer Of Love:

A SUMMER OF LOVE by Michela O’Brien
Successful artist Jonah Briggs is a man who has made mistakes. Aged just eighteen, he was sent to prison for two years, leaving his family shattered and his first love, Sally, to wait for his return.

But at eighteen, two years seem like a lifetime, and some promises are hard to keep.

When Jonah reappears in her life, Sally finds herself torn between him and Ewan, the young Cornish farmer she has married, divided between loyalty and passion, duty and love.

Over the course of almost two decades, through meetings and partings, secrets and revelations, and two momentous summers, Jonah will have to confront his past and heal old wounds, while Sally will face the consequences of her choices – whether to follow her conscience or her heart.

Learn more about Michela on:

1.       What are the main ideas or themes in your book?
The novel explores the themes of redemption and forgiveness, and how our choices can affect our lives and those of others. Relationships and family ties are the main focus of the story. I also wanted to touch on topics like domestic violence seen from a different perspective and the emptiness of fame.

2.       What is the setting or context of the narrative? Why is it important?
The action moves between different places, mainly London and a fictitious village in Cornwall.  Cornwall, though, is the main background. I have visited the county several times and love its ragged, romantic beauty and its history.

I like to capture the spirit of places and buildings, something that I mirrored in Jonah and his “artistic eye”. I often walk into an old house and feel that there are memories still lingering, stories to be told. The Old Lighthouse is not just a location in the book, it’s another character and a main player in the story.

The time frame of the novel spans a couple of decades. Some of the past events are told in flashbacks and recollection. I tried to give a sense of the time passing by focusing on one aspect for each of the period depicted, so the late 80s are seen through the characters’ memories of the so called Second Summer of Love and its rave culture centred on house music and Ecstasy. Ten years later and we are in Cool Britannia, with its hedonism and indulgence, highlighting the different paths the protagonists have taken, the contrast between Jonah’s life in fashionable London and Sally’s in the Cornish countryside. In the final part of the book, we’re in the digital era of mobile phones and computers, which sees two sets of teenagers – those that have now grown up and the new generation following in their footsteps – dealing with the same heartaches, dreams and desires.

3.       Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.
Jonah, the protagonist, is a complex character, with many layers to his personality. He’s a rebel and a dreamer, with a dark side but a pure soul. Throughout the book he’s looking for redemption, to free himself from the guilt of the tragic event that has led to his imprisonment and consequent fall out with his father. He’s also chasing after a lost dream and trying to find it again through his relationships and his art.

Sally is the stronger between them. She is determined to protect those she loves from the consequences of her own mistakes. In many ways she complements Jonah and their lives remain entwined even when their paths have split.

4.       How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?
I’m a slow writer. Normally it takes me 4-5 months to write a novel and almost as long to edit it. This one in particular was the first I wrote in English – I published a book in Italy ten years ago – and the first draft was a lot longer than the final edit. I shelved it for a while and worked on another novel (“Playing on Cotton Clouds” published by Crooked Cat last year).  But I was very fond of Jonah and Sally’s story, so I went back to it. The original draft told a lot of the background story as it took place, and there were a lot more details about Jonah and Sally’s young love, the tragic events that split them, Jonah’s life in prison and how Sally and Ewan grew closer. All of that was cut and shortened, and told through flashbacks and memories.

I’m considering using what was cut from the first draft and putting together a sort of prequel, maybe a novella told from Ewan’s perspective. His character lost the space and depth he had originally and it would be nice, somehow, to give them back to him. A freebee on my site, perhaps?

5.       If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?
Keep hold of your dreams.

Thanks Michela!

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of posting freebies on a site but I'm not sure my discards would be ready for that! I'd probably spend too long editing them!


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