As those of you who read this here blog may know, I’ve been privileged not only to meet people across the pond through Twitter, but also in actuality (sp?). Among those I’ve been fortunate enough to meet online is Louise Phillips.
This will be my first quite possibly lame attempt at an online interview. No pun intended. Ha ha!
Well, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so here we go!
Besides, I’ve seen the answers and all’s well that ends well, if you know what I mean.
So, anyway (crutch word!), on with the show …
My interview with Louise Phillips
Hey, Louise! Thanks for letting me interview you here on my blog.
Q1 What’s your novel about?
RED RIBBONS is about lots of things, but essentially it opens with the discovery in an isolated spot in the Dublin Mountains of the body of a 12-year-old schoolgirl, Caroline Devine, who went missing a couple of days earlier.
When a second body, another schoolgirl is found 24 hours later, the police fear they have a serial killer on their hands. O’Connor who is heading up the investigation calls in Dr. Kate Pearson, a criminal psychologist, to get inside the mind of the killer before he strikes again. But Kate has her own history, and the deeper she gets into studying the murders and the killer, everything starts to become too close for comfort.
Apart from the narrative stream from Kate Pearson, and the killer himself, there is another main voice in RED RIBBONS, that of Ellie Brady. Ellie is the woman who stopped talking because everyone stopped listening, and for me she is an extremely important and intimate element of how this story unfolds, and how the accused woman, Ellie, institutionalised for the killing of her own daughter 15 years earlier, is connected to the current wave of killing.
Q2 When and how did you decide to start writing fiction with the serious intent to publish your work?
I didn’t write for over twenty years. I spent the intervening years raising my children, working in finance, and working hard within a family business. When my youngest son became a teenager, I followed a path which I had neglected for far too long. I don’t think I’m particularly unusual in this regard. I think many women, and indeed many men, put part of their early dreams on hold when life gets complicated, busy, and you become responsible for others.
I had written in my teens, and I don’t know why, but I always knew I would write again. I bravely went to my first creative writing class six years ago – I say bravely, because I was totally scared, and nervous, and wondered if I would make a complete fool of myself.
That night after leaving the class, I knew I would never stop writing again. A part of me, a very positive part, had been left waiting in the wings for far too long.
It was a number of years after that, after spending time in creative writing groups, practising my craft that I decided to attempt a novel. The first attempt didn’t work, I stopped halfway through. Looking back, it was fear which prevented me from finishing the manuscript more than anything else. So when I started RED RIBBONS, I shut out those doubting voices in my head and kept on going until I got to the end. It was only first draft, but it was done, a novel was completed, even if nobody ever read it.
When I sent the script away, I had no idea that it would be picked up straight away by Hachette. It would never have happened if I had not shut out those negative voices, ones that unfortunately, exist within many of us.
Wow, I really hear what your saying about fear and those negative voices. I think that’s the toughest part for most of us.
Q3 What led you to write a psychological suspense novel?
Very good question! To be honest I didn’t plan to end up writing a psychological suspense novel, but I suppose fairly early on I realised my writing tended to visit darker areas of the human mind. I think it’s a little bit like falling in love, it is either for you, or it isn’t.
Awesome! I really do have to meet you the next time I hit Dublin.
Q4 Your experiences seem to have substantially informed your fiction writing. Can you describe how those experiences have informed this particular novel?
You are totally right there Debbi, but having said that, I wasn’t consciously aware that this was the case when I was writing RED RIBBONS. Certainly being a parent, the fear of something bad happening to any of my children influenced this manuscript greatly. Again, facing your worst fears. Also, I’ve always had an interest in psychology, having studying it as part of a degree course a very long time ago. I think most writers have an interest in how the mind works, and I think crime writing is more predisposed than some other genres for exploring this.
The voice of Ellie Brady was a fictional voice that seemed to come from nowhere. But she appeared completely whole on the page as a character from day one. It wasn’t until after RED RIBBONS, was completed that I actually made the connection to women I had visited in institutionalised care, while doing volunteer work as a teenager. Somethings in life never leave you. But Ellie is also the voice of anyone of us whom the world may have left behind, and who stop talking, because everyone stops listening.
Now that’s what I call a hook!
Q5 Were the three main characters inspired, in any way, by people you know?
No, not directly. I would hate to meet someone like the killer in RED RIBBONS. To write him was very difficult for me, I had to get inside a bad man’s head, and that isn’t a comfortable or easy place to be, even in the fictional sense.
Ellie, although drawn from experience, is her own woman. She feels totally real to me. Ellie Brady is Ellie Brady, she is no one else, fictional or real.
Of the three main characters, perhaps Kate was the hardest one to find, and maybe that’s because she displays many of my own personal traits. She strives hard, works hard, wants to protect her family, wants to do good by others, and is constantly looking to solve the missing piece of the jigsaw, whether it is part of an investigation, or her own jigsaw. I think many of us strive to find a missing piece, to work out how this whole thing of life really works and why.
Q6 Will this book be part of a series? If so, any idea yet how Kate Pearson develops and grows as a character over the course of the series?
The only character to travel into my current novel, THE DOLLS HOUSE, is Kate. She has a way to go as a character, and as a writer, and I hope as readers, this journey will be interesting in how it develops. When I think about Kate Pearson, I think – the last piece of the jigsaw. It isn’t all fully formed in my mind yet, which I believe is part of the excitement of having Kate around for some time, and I hope others agree.
Q7 When and where can readers buy your book?
The book is available from the 3rd of September 2012. You can order it on www.amazon.com, simply type in RED RIBBONS by Louise Phillips and you will find all the links.
You can also find out more about RED RIBBONS, and THE DOLLS HOUSE on my website www.louise-phillips.com The website also has links to ordering on line. The novel will be available in all main bookshops throughout Ireland from the 3rd, and will hopefully travel to shops overseas in time.
Q8 Is there anything else you’d like everyone to know about yourself or the book?
I’m sure there are many things, but for now, I would very much like to thank you Debbi for being part of this blog tour. I hope if anyone picks up a copy of RED RIBBONS, that they enjoy it, and if so, please contact me via the website www.louise-phillips.com or follow me on Twitter @LouiseMPhillips.
Writers love to get feedback – it is the only way we know how you feel, so please everyone stay in touch.
Awesome, Louise! That wraps it up. By the way, here’s the cool trailer for the book.
I’m really looking forward to reading this novel!
Louise Phillips returned to writing six years ago after a 20 year gap spent raising her family, managing a successful family business, and working in banking.
Quickly selected by Dermot Bolger as an emerging talent, Louise went on to win the 2009 Jonathan Swift Award and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice Platform, as well as being short-listed for Bridport UK Prize, the Molly Keane Memorial Award, and the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. Earlier this year, Louise was awarded an Arts bursary for literature from South County Dublin Arts. Other publishing credits include many literary journals and anthologies, including New Island’s County Lines.
A self-confessed Twitter and blogger addict, she believes social media has broken down many barriers and obstacles to people connecting with each other. With a can do approach to most things in life, Louise put her creative skills to the test once again when she took on the task of creating a book trailer for her new novel. And from humble beginnings, growing up in the tenements of Mount Pleasant Buildings, Louise believes nothing should ever hold you back, you might not fully succeed, but trying is often the best part.
Louise is currently working on her second, The Doll’s House, which will be published by Hachette Ireland in 2013.