Is it easy to give up your books once you've handed them to the publisher?
No. Matthew Smith from Urbane Publishing works as a “collaborative” publisher. That means that he welcomes the author to stay in touch and to share how the novel will be marketed. I love this approach. I am grateful for being published in a very competitive market place – and feel that the least I can do is to contribute as much as I can to the book’s success.
Leaving it alone would be like abandoning a baby for someone else to take full care of it. I couldn’t do that.
Has your writing style changed much since your debut novel?
I think my dialogue has improved – others certainly tell me that, and I think my writing is more concise and compact. It packs more punch. I also think I continue to be fascinated by human beings and I am prepared to go to the dark depths of any character without flinching and also to the heights of their being.
As a writer did you have any bad habits you needed to break the more you continued to write?
I needed to get the balance improved between descriptive writing with lyricism (as I love a poetic phrase or two J) with action and keeping the story moving along. I learnt the importance of engaging the reader in the story and bringing in those twists and turns that I mentioned earlier.
Has writing always been a passion for you?
Yes. When I was seven, my mother took me to Ligoniel library in Belfast. I had three library tickets for the week. I read all three books. I knew even then that one day I would want to be a writer who could create a fantasy world for the reader.
If you could have a dinner party with three authors living or dead who would they be and why?
I would invite Jack Kerouac from “On the Road” fame because I think he was way ahead of his time in his pursuit of the meaning of life within a story. He was therefore quite lonely towards the end of his life. I would make him a good meal, ask him lots of questions and make him laugh. I would invite John Banville because I like the way his mind works and is revealed in his writing. He is honest and unflinching in his descriptions. And I think the third would be A S Byatt for her novel Possession. I also found her prepared to tackle challenging subjects, totally gripping in her writing style and there’s a hint of mystery about her.
For any aspiring writer do you have any words of advice or encouragement?
Find out what you love about life – what fascinates you. Learn as much about it as you can and write about it fearlessly.
And finally, what do you hope your readers will take away from your latest book?
I would like them to be surprised that going through Hell as the Painter does is often the fastest way of finding true happiness. Maybe I also learned that growing up in Belfast, living in Hell and yet also finding a love there which has never left me.
And I would like them to say that it was extraordinarily honest, deep, a twisting fascinating story with spellbinding dialogue!