04 May 2014

Adriano Bulla: The Road To London

2 Comments Book Reviews

Through a Goodreads Discussion Group I came across “The Road To London” by Adriano Bulla, which was Book of the Month.  The book was up against a traditionally published and commercially successful book but to my surprise I clearly preferred “The Road to London.” 
It is a very artistic account of a personal journey, from youth to growing up, from Italy to London, from in the closet  to being ” out”, from group member to individual. 18990618

Told in an episodic narrative the book also includes poems, music lyrics and letters. 


A light… A birth… A journey… An escape-not just from the whispering noise of expectations but from the growing awareness of a different life, a different path, a different quest. The greatest love letters are written in prose but bring forth the poet’s heart, awakening in the receiver an equal passion-or so the writer hopes. This love letter tells the story of how I reach London, how I reach you, My Dear, how I come to love so deeply, so truly and completely. The journey was not easy, beloved. I faced many ugly trials on this narrow path-but also tests that were… Fun, naughty, spicy and the stuff of memories which will make me smile into my old age, whether you are with me or not. I have no regrets, My Dear, except one… Just one…

I fed off the athmosphere and the compelling tone of the writer and am glad to present him today in an interview.

ME
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

As a writer, I love experimenting: I could never stick to a format, a style or a structure. I have to try something new every time I write. I also have big issues with the whole idea of ‘genre’… I don’t have any problems mixing different genres, even mixing prose and poetry, I don’t want to be constrained by predetermined rules, and I hope I never will. As a person… That’s harder to say. I am actually a joker. I know people who know me as a writer think I’m dead serious, but the reality is that I can turn anything into a joke, in particular into innuendos. I can’t help it.

Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

I started writing poetry as an adolescent; I guess I did it in order to create a world I alone could understand. Like most teenagers, I was, and in many ways still am, afflicted by angst, and like most teenagers I had no one to talk to about the deep uncertainties that were troubling me: confusion about my own identity as a person, especially because I was leading the life of a bohemian young man outwardly, yet, deep inside,  I felt totally insecure about who I was, both in terms of my intellectual identity, fought if you wish between James Joyce and Pink Floyd, and, of course, my sexuality, as I never fully identified with a typical gay man, but never really felt I was straight either. I was a boy suspended between contradictory realities and without the courage to come clean about either of these worlds, so, I created my own world, an almost impenetrable world of words.

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

I had never thought I would be writing a novel until she (The Road to London is a ‘she’) came to me unexpectedly, like most beautiful things, while dancing in a gay night club in London. The words just started coming to me, and they did so for a couple of months, every Friday night, and I simply wrote them down when I got home on a Saturday (or Sunday). The whole novel was born in club, apart from the last chapter, which I wrote on a sunny day sitting on a bench in the Rookery, a park in South London near where I live. The difference between The Road to London and my poems is that the novel is open to the reader: although she is in both prose and poetry, I think she is accessible. My poems were written as a way of hiding from the world, The Road to London was written as a way of talking to the world.

When did you decide to publish your story?

The Road to London was first meant to be published in 2008, I had a publisher, but the recession hit and they folded. Then I left her in a drawer for years, till I hit rock bottom: in 20013, I found myself in a state of total and utter depression, I had lost all confidence in myself, and was about to do something very silly. But then, the very first words of the novel came back to me, ‘Yes, I will, yes. I will save the world, the universe and you.’ I myself had never fully understood what they meant. I’d never worked out who ‘you’ was. In a way, I am sure that ‘you’ is my best friend, Stephane, to whom the novel is dedicated, but I also think that ‘you’ can be me… What I mean is that the novel gave me a reason to live, to pick myself up and show to myself that I was not worthless, that there was still something I had to do in this world, that I still had words I wanted to share with other people. So, I looked for another publisher; I must say that I was lucky, as it did not take long before I received offers, and ended up choosing Glastonbury Publishing / Mirador because they ‘gave me good vibes.’

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

Lots of my Italian friends have always believed that I was ‘wasted’ as a teacher and should become a full-time writer, and I have kept them waiting for years and years. One in particular, Daniele, has been nagging me to publish for a long time now, but I am at heart a very shy person, and because The Road to London does have some autobiographical elements (though it is by no means my autobiography, as some people seem to believe), I hesitated for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t think I could write about something in any credible way if I had not lived it myself, so, for example, even if the story of the Boy in the novel is not my own, lots of his dreams are actually ones I have had.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers? Are you happy with the reception so far?

Yes,  there is a message beyond the story: The Road to London is a cry for freedom, the freedom to be whoever you want to be, the protagonist, whom readers simply call the Boy, grows up un a very homophobic environment; he is not a perfect person, not at all, in fact, in his early life, he is himself a bully, and, having enjoyed the approval and respect of his friends as a leader in his small ‘gang’, he finds it hard to admit to himself that there are areas of his personality, in particular his sexuality, which do not conform to expectations. In a world where boys are meant to be dominant and masculine, his gay and fetishist/ submissive sexuality is something he cannot admit to himself. Thus, he finds himself divided between his thirst for social acceptance and his need to be himself. This is possibly why he starts lying not just to his friends and family, but to himself, then seeks shelter in his dreams, by which I don’t mean his ambitions, but the dreams he has at night, yet, the days remain grey and offer no space where he can express himself, so, he starts taking drugs and drinking excessively, and hallucinations start replacing reality. His romantic life takes place partly in impossible love stories with his mainly straight friends, and in part in mysterious letters he writes to his great love, called My Dear, maybe an ‘imaginary lover’ he meets in a gay club in London.

I am impressed with the way the novel has been received by reviewers and critics so far: although different readers seem to have read the novel in totally different ways, but this is one of the peculiarities of The Road to London, that she is not a story that’s ‘written in stone’, and she allows, actually she asks, readers to contribute to her meaning, to add their own stories and perceptions of the world to hers, the reviews have been incredibly enthusiastic. I’m not just happy with how the novel has been received so far; I’m ecstatic.

Who would you hope plays them in a movie version? download (4)

The name that comes to mind is Xavier Dolan: he likes to explore impossible relationships and has a very artistic flair in his films; I think he would be ideal for The Road to London.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

No, I never plan what I am going to write. I don’t even decide if I want to write… I could never be a poet laureate. I find it impossible to predetermine what a book is going to be about, what will happen to a character, how they will speak, behave or react to an event. When I start writing, it’s because I feel an urge to write that I cannot resist, and I haven’t got the foggiest idea how the story is going to turn out, what will happen next and how the characters will fare in it. All I do is put emotions and feelings into words; if an event is necessary to create a feeling, then that will take place in the story, otherwise not. I am much more concerned with human beings’ reactions to events, meaning their emotional and psychological reactions, than with the events themselves.

What would your character(s) say about you?

I think each one of them would find something in common with me. Even those who seem evil at times would say that the origin of all that evil is in me, not in them.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

Words have their colours, their rhythm, their sounds, their smell, and their flavours for me. When I write, it’s as if I am totally engrossed in an explosion of senses: they mix, they match, they literally dance and sweat in front of me. I love that. I see myself more as a ‘facilitator of words’ than a writer: I see my task as putting them down on paper the way they wish to be. I find that beautiful. I like to be part of this process of finding new ways of expression, rather than forcing words to be written down the way I want them. It is the words that tell me what to do, not I who tells them where to take their place on the page. My least favourite thing must be a consequence of the way I write: I never know if I will be writing again; as I don’t force myself to write and I don’t plan what and when I am going to write next, I never know if will write a new novel, a new story or a new poem.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I did have a say in the cover art: I chose seven possible options and then discussed them with my publishers. I actually love the cover of The Road to London: to start with, and this has happened purely by chance, but I believe in Fate, all the covers of my creative writings have a bold head / face that resembles mine. I like to think that the face crossed by the stars and the clouds on the cover of The Road to London is just the face of the human soul in general lost in the cosmos. It could as well be the Boy’s face, or Seb White’s (a key character in the novel), looking down on us from the stars, but I don’t know. I know it is not the typical cover you would expect in what is regarded as a ‘gay novel’: we didn’t want two hunky men in an erotic position; the novel is very sensual and very much about sexuality and even sex, but she is much more about how the individual can find his (or her) way in life, against all odds, against the ‘thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I also feel that those green eyes looking out of the cover see a whole world in front of them, the whole path to freedom, the future, the road to London, in fact.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

I write wherever words happen to come to me. I cannot distinguish between silence and music when I read or write, because I confuse signs, colours and sounds: I’m synaesthetic, you see, so, if you say a word, I see flashes of colours in front of my eyes, if I write a word, I hear music, sometimes I even see shapes moving in front of me. It’s a funny condition, but I quite enjoy it.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

I write once, and I do not type: I write with a fountain pen on paper. If I change something, I tend to do it straight away as I am writing, I don’t go back to it and re-read it and maybe cut and paste or change sentences like people can do if they use a word processor.

What is your advice to new writers?

Write from the heart. Hide part of yourself in every one of your characters. Even if it’s a trait of your personality you do not like.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many… Woolf, Emily Bronte, Joyce, Milton and Dante very likely top my list of favourites, but I could go on for hours and hours. I tend to read the classics, all of them, and I find it hard to put them down. My favourite living novelist is Toni Morrison: she’s a genius and my favourite living poet is Derek Walcott.

What is your life like outside of writing?

I love History and I love Art. I used to go clubbing a lot, but now I’ve calmed down a bit… maybe it’s time to for me to go out a bit more.

What makes you laugh?

Satire, especially political satire and innuendos (I think I said that). I like puns and verbal humour more than slapstick.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Plato, for sure. If it’s true that the whole of human knowledge is only a footnote to Plato, I have so many questions to ask him. I would also like to invite Leonardo Da Vinci, I can literally burst into tears in front of his paintings.

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality? What would you name as those qualities?

Oddly enough, I don’t think my friends really know me that well: I’m sure they would all say that my best quality is my intelligence, and that would also be my oddest quality for them. Instead, I would think that my best quality is my heart, not my mind, and I would think my oddest quality is that if I give my word, I stick to it, no matter what.

Tell us about your other books?

Tales is a collection of short stories based on ‘minor’ characters or events in The Road to London, my favourite story in there is ‘The Housekeeper’s Innocence’, the story of a woman who gets raped when leaving mass, then decides to become a nun, but a sister shows her that she is a lesbian, so, she becomes a priest’s housekeeper instead, but when she sees the man who raped her in the congregation, she burns the church down. It’s based on one of the dreams of the Boy in the novel, a Kafkian dream. Ybo’ and Other Lies is a collection of poetry that I first published in 2005, it is quite experimental, there is a lot online about it, including articles on its erotic poems and on the ‘flickers’ a form of poetry I have allegedly invented. I have also written a grammar book, The Labyrinth of Grammar and a study on Dante and Coleridge, The Mariner’s Inferno.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

The ‘soundtrack’ of the novel is mainly provided by Pink Floyd, though there is a reference to ‘Live to Tell’ by Madonna, and other songs, however, the one I would choose to capture the feel of the heart of the novel, which is also quoted, is ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ by Jaques Brel.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

The weird thing very few people know about is that the first English Dictionary was written in Streatham, South London, where I live. A nice thing about Streatham is that is a very safe place and it has a real mix of people, and a fact… It’s still affordable to live here despite being a stone throw away from Central London.

Find Adriano and his books on
Twitter: @Bulla_Adriano
Bio
Born in Milan, Italy, and Londoner by adoption, Adriano Bulla has been publishing since 2005, when his first collection of poetry hit the shelves. Over the years, he has always tried unconventional and experimental ways of expressing himself, often crossing genres and refusing stereotypes in content, style and form. His style has often been praised for being intense, dense and surreal, and his themes have become more and more conscious of social inequality, in particular when concerning homophobia and the LGBT community, yet always exploring the emotional and spiritual dimension of the individual in search for freedom in an oppressive society.

 SYNOPSIS

When time and place play tricks with your birth, what can you do apart from creating your own imaginary world, then run away from your own creation, to a new life?

A boy is born, some time in the recent past, in Milan, Italy, yet backwards when concerned with ‘different’ sexualities, and Fate wants this boy not only to be of an intellectually and socially dominant nature, but of a sexually and emotionally gay and submissive disposition.

Unable to explain himself to himself, unable to relate to the world, this soul creates his own world, through dreams, drugs, alcohol and lies, while from a distant place, a club in London, and maybe from his future, if he ever learns to fly, letters to his beloved My Dear look back at his life in Italy with parallels in a romance yet to be.

He tries to be ‘normal’ and have relationships with girls, he tries to be honest, and open himself up to his love and friend, but life has decided only pain, rejection and suffering should come of it, for the time being at least.

But little glimpses into another, maybe possible life, sparkle here and there through his life, his dreams and into his heart….

10 Apr 2014

New Release and Review: “Memento Mori” by Katy O’Dowd

1 Comment Book Reviews

21795048“Memento Mori” by Katy O’Dowd is an excellent, inspired and unusual Victorian period piece about the Lamb family and about O’Murtagh, a female assassin in London in the 1850s. It is a playful portrayal of organised crime in London in those days, and in the novel the crime comes in many forms and shapes: pick pocketing, prostitution, smuggling, extortion, murder and deceit.
Told in two main narratives, the book follows not only the Lamb family after the father’s ominous death, but it also follows the fate of a 5 year old girl from the 1830s onwards. She is presented with a memento mori from her mother by a stranger and survives as orphan on petty crime and trickery.
The plotlines are brilliantly interwoven and all is told in wonderfully authentic style. The book is playful and entertaining, yet historically accurate, authentic and convincing.
O’Murtagh is a great character with her coldness and ambiguous feelings, and many other players in this gem of a book are equally fascinating and colourful: An Abbess, the Lamb brothers and some of O’Murtagh’s lovers and victims. 
The rivalry, plotting and scheming mostly play out with some unexpected twists and surprises, while some plot parts are more obvious and deliberately put in place for us to enjoy watching as they unfold for the characters in the story. There are also some mechanical inventions and a clever raven that add to the magic of the book. 
The memento mori theme from the well chosen title is beautifully put in all the right places to add an element of sentiment and nostalgia into the story.
All comes together in a great ending for this hugely enjoyable and accomplished piece of art. Very well done.

Take tea with the Victorian Mafia – organized crime has never been so civilized

Revenge is a dish best served cold. At the Lamb residence, it is also served on fine bone china.

The untimely demise of Thaddeus Lamb leaves his son Riley in charge of the vast Lamb empire, which imports tea, picks pockets, extorts, and keeps men warm on cold winter’s nights. And so the Lambs grieve for their father in the best way they know how… Retribution.

Hired by the new head of the Fox Family, a position recently vacated by another untimely demise, the assassin O’Murtagh is tasked with the utter destruction of all the Lamb Family’s business associates. They learn the hard way that there is no better hit man than a beautiful woman with tricks and weapons up her finely coiffed sleeves.

Treachery and deceit abound in the streets of London, and no one is safe. Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone drink. Would you care for one lump or two?

eBook Buy Links  5311518

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Memento-Mori-Katy-ODowd-ebook/dp/B00JG3NQ4O

Amazon Smart Url: http://bookShow.me/B00JG3NQ4O

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21795048-memento-mori

Author bio:

Katy is an arts and entertainment journalist and has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online.

Alongside writing with her Dad under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose first book ‘The Scarlet Ribbon’ was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line, she writes under her own name. ‘The Lady Astronomer’, a YA Steampunk tale was released by Untold Press in 2012.

Katy reviews for the Historical Novels Review and the British Fantasy Society.

Link to my previous feature on Katy

and my feature on her joint project with her father

Connect with Katy: [Webpage][Twitter][Goodreads]

Links:

Katy blogs at www.katyodowd.com

Twitter: @katyod

Facebook: www.facebook.com/katy.odowd

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5311518.Katy_O_Dowd

Contact:

katy@pictureandword.com

Excerpt

Snip. The jewelled secateurs caught the soft light thrown by the candles. Snip. Dark orange on green. Snip. Tiny white blossoms fell to the stone floor. Snip, snip.

Carmine Fox took an orange in her gloved hand and turned it over, this way and that, examining the pitted skin and running a finger along the bumps and grooves in the fruit.

In an alcove, the huge Brass Lady statue gleamed, her beautiful features painted buttery gold, eyes looking blindly at nothing at all.

Carmine’s dress swept the floor, not a mourning dress as you might expect, having lost her father, but rather dove grey and lavender picked out with black trim along the panel, cuffs, hem, and bustle. Her hair, long and coiled, was the color of Grip’s wings, as were her eyes. The muted tones of her dress made her sallow, or maybe it was just the lack of light.

Years of water and living things within the man-made lake had given the huge cathedral style glass ceiling and everything beneath a greenish hue and made the walls bleed rust.

She looked up from her study of the orange and threw it across the room, faster than the eye could see.

The woman standing in the shadows caught the orange, her arm shooting up to stop the fruit, as it nestled in her palm.

“Oh, brava.”

O’Murtagh stood silently before Carmine Fox who walked toward her, the secateurs dangling lazily from her hand.

“Quiet little thing, aren’t you?”

Fox peered at her intently, taking in the pale face and brown eyes framed with a veil of auburn hair.

“Well, quiet suits my needs. Feel free to eat the orange, which will be sweet and ripe. Ah, but how could such a thing grow here you wonder?” She paused. “It didn’t, of course, there is a vast orangery in the house, but I like to be here to prune, the setting eases my mind.”

O’Murtagh made no move to peel the fruit; instead she put it in one of the many pockets of her skirts.

Carmine Fox shrugged. “No matter. When you come to eat the orange, you will find it as I say. But now, we have other matters to discuss.”

She walked back to the table where the plants stood and put the secateurs down.

“You have come highly recommended.” Her heel tapped on the black and white tiled floor. “I have been told of your merits, misdeeds, and probably know more about you than your own mother, whom I believe has been dead a long time. But that doesn’t interest me, your skills do.”

O’Murtagh nodded imperceptibly.

“This is not a pretty tale, but then I suppose these things never are.” Fox sighed and smiled, pacing the room, warming to her tale and the task ahead.

“Tell me, O’Murtagh. Do you believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” Fox waved her hand airily. “We are not here to talk about the philosophy of doddery old men falling asleep and drooling into their beards. I mean vengeance, retribution. Honor, even if it is only the kind to be found among thieves.”

Fox stopped pacing, abruptly, and O’Murtagh could feel the heightened tension in the room under the still water.

“There is no need for you to know everything, but know this,” Carmine resumed talking and walking, “I am not sorry that my father is dead. Vile man. He made my mother’s life a misery. Drove her to her death. I had this statue of her made. You know, I talk to her as I prune.” She gazed fondly at the Brass Lady.

“But he didn’t do this alone. No. Rather he was fuelled by his once great friend turned great enemy. Interesting that they should have died in the same week, is it not? Thaddeus Lamb and my father climbed the tree to the gold at the top, from ragged boys to prosperous men, branch by branch to the prize at the end. Suffice to say there was a falling out and my father the Fox did everything in his power to bring the traitor Lamb down.”

Carmine went to the Brass Lady, and standing on tiptoe, ran her hand down the statue’s cold cheek.

“My mother would have hated to see this. Hated to see what he made me. But my father not only left me his riches, he left me his hatred. After my mother died, all I heard of was how he was going to get his revenge. Now that he is no longer here, it is up to me to see this thing through. You do understand, don’t you?”

“I do.”

O’Murtagh’s voice was so quiet that Carmine Fox wasn’t sure she had heard her in the first place.

“I suppose you do, why would you be in your line of work otherwise?”

The assassin kept her brown gaze on the woman who had hired her, but held her tongue.

“Very well. Your job then, is to take the family down. Not directly, but by hitting them where they will hurt the most. Trade routes, business associates, and so on. My father left a diary full of any information you should need. I shall release the names of four people to you when the time is right. None of this shall be traced back to me, and if you should fail, I will make your life one long misery.”

“I have no doubt.”

“Good. So,” Carmine Fox rubbed her hands together, almost gleefully, “Thaddeus Lamb, the Head of the Family is out of our way. I have been told that other factions are gathering like vultures over the rotting corpse of what remains and that the Lambs–when they are able to act–will find other matters to occupy their time. Such as a nasty little turf war. At which point we shall have progressed to a point where we will be able to muzzle them entirely.”

She laughed, and O’Murtagh, seasoned as she was, felt the small hairs on her arms raise and her skin became as pitted as that of the orange in her pocket.

Fox pirouetted, her skirts spreading out and then settling.

“None of it shall ever be traced back to me,” she delighted in her glee, before quietening. “Then I can get straight to the heart of things.”

O’Murtagh’s place was not to ask. She was being paid handsomely and had more time than she cared for to do these jobs. Nor was she squeamish, her body-count was impressive. Though she stopped short at children, babies, and pregnant women.

“Now, my dear.” Fox clapped her hands together. “Time for tea. Would you care to accompany me back to the house?”

26 Mar 2014

Review: “Butterfly Season” by Natsha Ahmed

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butterfly-season

Today I am making good my promise to review this charming novel, a romance from a new promising, female author from Pakistan: Natasha Ahmed. As I anticipated a fantatsic story just to my liking with a cross-cultural theme from the not so often heard female voice and perspective from that region of Asia.

“Butterfly Season” by Natasha Ahmed is a beautiful romance between two Pakistani adults in London. Rumi is on a holiday to visit her sister in London when she meets successful businessman and very attractive Ahad. They share an intellectual and physical attraction but the odds, families and circumstances all seem to work against them.
Rumi is already over 30 and inexperienced and only on a holiday. Her expectations and her feelings are beautifully described in this sensitive and low key novel that says a lot about the importance of finding yourself, your confidence and following your heart.
Having spent a lot of her life dedicated to others and her family, can this be the season to fly for Rumi? 

Natasha Ahmed has written two great characters, a believable chemistry between the two leads and portrays the obstacles in an insightful manner. Rumi finds herself in the twilight between conservative and restrictive views and a modern society in which she also believes. This is a great novel that successfully combines romance with deeper issues. 


 
Buy links:
 
iTunes:
08 Dec 2013

“September Ends” by Hunter S. Jones

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Sept Ends NEW sml

“September Ends” by Hunter S. Jones is a wonderful bittersweet love story, told in various writing styles and narratives. Diary entries, emails, chat transcribes and poems tell the story of Liz / Elizabeth and her love life. This patchwork of impressions and plot segments worked surprisingly well for me, even the poetry which is a genre I don’t often enjoy.

The initial diary entry and opening of the novel records the death of Liz’s brother in a traffic accident and her subsequent depression. The scene was very emotional and moving and I found it hard to jump ten years ahead and let go of this powerful first strand of the plot.
What follows is the email exchange between Liz and some business executive, interspersed with poems from a poets blog. There are also some erotic chat room transcribes but they are important for the character development and fit well into the novel. It took me a while to settle into this dual telling but I am glad I persevered for it all comes together beautifully. A stroy of love, loss and survival.
The story ends another ten years later with a last diary entry and a last segment of spectator’s narrative.
September Ends is cleverly plotted and well written, it has a strong story, real emotions and excellent characters. The book is an emotional journey well worth your while.

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

Thank you for asking. My name is Hunter S. Jones writer and entertainment blogger from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I notice things people do and say that most people do not even notice. The oddest movement will catch my eye, or maybe simply a turn of phrase will capture my imagination. As a person, I am a good friend, loyal and sometimes even dependable.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

Writing has always been a part of my life in some manner, yes. Ms Jones Official 11-13

Tell us about September Ends. When did you decided to write this story?

The concept of September Ends presented itself earlier in 2013. After the poet collaborator and I discovered the three main characters, the synopsis was developed. I found it the other day. The original synopsis is so different than the finished book. It is interesting how you can have a plot so very planned and prepared, yet once The Muse calls, the story takes on its own life. 

How did you come up with the concept for the narratives?

That is such a fantastic question and I really don’t know. I wanted the story to be something different, beyond the poetry and prose aspect. The story wanted to be told in the way we communicate today. It’s written in the manner in which we process written information now.  

However, I have no idea how I came up with the POVs we used. I wrote each chapter separately, almost like a short story. That way, if my collaborator wanted to omit a chapter, we would not have to re-do an entire section. That may have a lot to do with how the story weaves in and out of each character’s life.  

What genre would you say it falls under and what is your target audience?

September Ends is a different kind of love story. It is a Romance, a contemporary romance however it is very much of today’s world. The target audience is Romance & Poetry readers, with enough erotic elements and supernatural glimpses to keep my fans intrigued yet appeal to a wider audience.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

This one is easy! From idea to published form, September Ends took almost six months to complete.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The creative is always the easiest for me. Once The Story finds me, it’s as if all I have to do is write it down. Edits and re-writes are agonizing for me. Gruesome, seamlessly-never-ending-phases of detail.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

There is a message. The poet & I were very adamant that the message be a vital part of the story. Everything is so easy to obtain in today’s world. What seduces us to believe it is love is maybe not love at all. Maybe it is what you wish love to be. Then when you discover love, true love, you will know it. You will understand the difference when you love right.

Yes, some readers and reviewers pick up on the message. For the literature aficionados, there is a Verbal Imperative used in September Ends which speaks the message of the entire book. I will send a gift to the first person who spots it. 

What do you like most about your characters?

The three main characters in September Ends are so flawed. They are almost human in their frailty. Being Southern I know that the most flawed personalities have the greater chance of forgiveness and redemption. That gives the characters more depth. Hopefully.

Are you like any of them?

Yes and no.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Anyone who is as excited about the book would be fine with me! Secretly, I believe Russell Brand could play The Poet. Yes, I know he isn’t known for dramatic roles but I believe he has a depth of character which could capture the spirit of Jack O. Savage.

What are your next projects?

There are a number of projects underway yet nothing I can share with you yet. Watch this space, so you say in the UK.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My life is chaos right now. Luckily, I have a husband, friends and a writing group which keep me occupied with creative ventures. I am very thankful for all of them, their support and the love and laughter they bring.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Everyone is an influence-some more than others.  I will commit to favor(u)ite album – Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones.

What are your views on independent publishing?

It’s great! We are in a golden age of publishing, a veritable Renaissance for writers, authors and poets. The Penny Dreadful of 200 years ago is the new 99 cent novel.  

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I recommend Christoph Fischer’s books and all of my publications. J Actually, I recommend any and all indie books & authors.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

She’s such a nice girl from such a nice family. Where did she get such a crazy imagination?

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Animal? Cat / Colo(u)r? Red / Outdoor Activity? Walking to my car or to a restaurant or on the country lane my farm is on.

What would you take to a remote island?

Johnny Depp, champagne, wine, a guitar, books & a hat.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

What if I answer this question in the next interview…

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

Watch this space…

Buy links:

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/September-Ends-ebook/dp/B00FJD05YO/ref=la_B009SLNLKS_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380674120&sr=1-6

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/September-Ends-Hunter-S-Jones/dp/1492817333/ref=la_B009SLNLKS_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385618359&sr=1-1

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook:

www.Facebook.com/huntersjones111

www.Twitter.com/huntersjones101

www.Pinterest.com/huntersjones

There is a Pinterest board for September Ends

 PoetryPromo

10 Sep 2013

Derry O’Dowd: The Scarlet Ribbon

3 Comments Book Reviews

 

TSRCover

The Scarlet Ribbon was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line in 2012.

Written by father and daughter team Michael (a doctor and medical historian) and Katy O’Dowd (a writer), the book follows James Quinn, a young Irish surgeon battling prejudice, suspicion and personal demons in his controversial quest to change the face of medicine.

Following his marriage, tragedy strikes, thrusting James into a life of turmoil and despair. Throwing himself into his work, the young surgeon eventually begins to find solace in the most unexpected of places. From the backstreets of Paris, through the glittering social
whirl of London and finally back to Ireland again, this is a story of the thorns of love and the harsh reality of life in the eighteenth century, where nothing is simple and complications of all kinds surround James Quinn, man midwife.

 

“The Scarlet Ribbon” by Derry O’Dowd is a fascinating historical novel about man-midwifery in the 1700s.
I am amazed at the amount of research that must have gone into this work of art. With much attention to detail O’Dowd sets the scene perfectly with the description of a dramatic birth that draws our protagonist James Quinn into the field of mid-wifery.
Quinn immediately encounters the first prejudices and obstacles to his new chosen career path, which continue through his life and the rest of the book.

Although it is quite specific in its theme and full of medical procedures and jargon the book reads easily and makes the topic accessible for readers like myself who have lesser knowledge of the field.
Many other historical novels also loose themselves in excessive insertions of researched facts whereas this books strikes an excellent balance. I feel that I got a wonderful insight into the state of medicine, mid-wifery and 
also some entertaining superstition of the times but this never gets in the way of the smooth flow of the novel.

James Quinn is a greatly chosen protagonist, possessing a caring nature and a genuine desire to help but also some weaknesses. Without giving much of the plot away, his professional and private life are both full of painful moments which makes for a very good balance between history, facts and fiction.

The Scarlet Ribbon refers to a piece of wedding finery and stands for the strong connection Quinn holds with his wife and mother of his son Daniel. The book is full of great locations, such as Dublin, Galway, Paris and London and rich in plot and sub-plots. It is a personal journey of loss, endurance and professional vision but it also reflects on mid-wifery and medicine in more general and political terms.

O’Dowd creates a great feel for the times yet he has drawn characters we can easily relate to. One of my favourite parts in the book is a very moving letter to James written by a rejected admirer, so well composed and heart-warming and gracious that I had to stop and read it again.

The authenticity of the book is greatly helped by lovely short excerpts from the ‘Quinn Household Recipes and Remedies Book’ which are so cleverly put at the beginning of each chapter, often serving as very appropriate indication of the themes to come within the story.

This was a real find for me and a book that I would chose over many best-selling historical novels for its genuine and lovely feel. O’Dowd has written an astonishing debut novel, I have no doubt he will do very well with his writing and hope there will be many more books to come.

 

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Hi Christoph! Thanks for having us over – I’ll be answering on behalf of Dad and I.

 

How long did this book take you to write?

Dad had the idea for The Scarlet Ribbon years ago but didn’t have the time to write it. He approached me and asked me if I would like to write it, and from there it took a couple of years. Dad plans and plots the books out and I write them. We have a weekly meeting, and talk through the scenes which I then go away and write.

 

How did you research for it?

Dad is an ObGyn and a medical historian. He put a lot of extra work into research for The Scarlet Ribbon series (we are hoping to write at least three) and then had to explain and re-explain the medicine of it all to me until I could write it in layman’s terms. Quite the challenge, I can tell you, but hugely interesting.

 

How comfortable do you feel writing about history and medicine? How much did you know before you started writing?

Dad has written about history and medicine before with the text books The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and The History of Medications for Women. I on the other hand, knew absolutely nothing when I started, but feel much more comfortable writing about it now that I know I can do it.

 

How difficult was it to draw the balance between research and invention/ imagination?

I think the difficult bit was presenting all the research in a way that seemed natural to the reader rather than bombarding with lots of facts. A difficult thing to do for any historical fiction writer.

 

Was the storyline pre-determined or did it change during the process?

The storyline was pre-determined. I think when working in collaboration with another person it’s probably absolutely essential to do so. There were small deviations, but on the whole the plan was kept to.

 

How many rewrites did it take you?

I have put it out of my mind! Ha! We edited as we went along, so a fair few.

 

What did you find most challenging about this book?

Turning all the medical stuff into something that I could understand and then write for the reader to understand too.

 

Will there be more books from you? Will they be the in same genre or even about the same characters?

Absolutely. As Derry O’Dowd, Dad and I have at least three in the James Quinn Scarlet Ribbon series. And plenty more ideas too. Medical historical would seem to make sense as Dad has so much knowledge, but we may deviate at some time.

What would you say is the message of this book, or rather, what would you like us to take with us from it?

Ah. It has to be love. Kindness. Compassion.

 

What are your next projects and where would we be able to hear about them?

We are currently writing the second in the series (as yet it only has a working title). You can find out more at www.derryodowd.com

 

 

The Scarlet Ribbon is widely available in bookshops and online in ebook and paperback at

Amazon UK 

Amazon USA 

The History Press Ireland

Find out more at www.derryodowd.com

And visit Katy at www.katyodowd.com

 

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