Armed and almost ready

I find strange ways to silence my voice. I’m working on finding out why, but a mix of factors – personal, familial, cultural, societal – contribute so that when I feel the need to express my bewilderment or anger at a set of structures and rules, I write realms in my mind and those words join the millions of others gathered over a life of mostly quiet observation. The young words push into the decreasing memory space, they watch the older ones fall off the edges, they turn back to face the outside, next time, next time she writes, next time she opens her mouth, we’ll be there, armed with the courage to jump.

One of the strangest ways I find to silence myself is to write a novel. I’m almost guaranteed to imprison those words again, when they’re armed and organized, their desperation cloaked in the quiet politeness of a novel that now needs to fit in to yet another set of structures and rules, those of the ‘publishing’ world where we argue about punctuation, editing, design, creating a brand, finding an agent, the correct way to (not) respond to a personal attack in a review, how to market, how to sell, how (not) to make money, until the energy of those words is depleted, the mind silenced again by the sheer distance of the fall.

I moved to the US for the chance to be in a country where my skin color would not immediately label me. I have to laugh now at my naivety, ending up in a situation where I hesitate to leave my house, because I’m now a brown person walking, where I set my navigation app to alert me if I go even a few miles above the speed limit, because I’m now a brown person driving. The words are gathering, but they will probably slip out in disguise, for the moment, until I am an American citizen.

I hesitate to comment on things going on in Ireland as I don’t live in the middle of it now and I can only find out about it through the filter of the news here (very filtered) and my Facebook friends (possibly an echo chamber, but pierced by hate-filled comments on open threads). I know there’s a debate going on in Ireland about an Irish-born brown person. I know that are many other aspects to the situation, not just the color of his skin. I read the comments on a post about the situation. I felt the same sickening in my gut when I read the lines and between the lines. I only have 30 years of living in Ireland and being an Irish citizen, I don’t have the ‘born in Ireland’ tag, that you can glance at on the collar of a white Irish person’s shirt (on any white person’s shirt). Brown skin is the first handy label, it obscures the ‘Made in Ireland’ for both those who were made there and those who were formed there.  I can only imagine what it feels like to be ‘not Irish’ even though you were born and raised in Ireland. I know what it feels like to agree inside with the Irish friends who helpfully explained that I could never really be Irish. In the same way I knew from a young age that I would never be Nigerian despite being born there. I was Indian, however, until I gave up my Indian citizenship to become an Irish citizen, and in my inner thoughts over the years, I stopped being the Indian I had been and found myself absorbing Irishness, the charm, the humor, the beauty, the warmth, as well as the insularity, and the training that looked at a non-white person and just ‘knew’ they were not Irish.

I wrote a book about an Indian-Irish woman who was born in Ireland, partly because I didn’t want to justify the expectation I felt that I might ever be considered Irish, even by myself, and partly because I wanted her story to speak to the white Irish who can at least allow the unfairness of mentally refusing Irishness to a non-white person who was born in Ireland, even one with a white Irish parent.

Arm out, I held back the hordes of my other words, maybe the next time, the next time I write, the next time I open my mouth, my own story will be there, armed with the courage to jump.

Here are two extracts from ‘An Outsider Inside’ that I’ve picked out, but really the whole book is about labels and fitting in, in whatever society surrounds us.

Prologue

~ 1 ~

Dublin, Ireland. 2012

The shove on my spine was rougher than expected in the jostling, but cheerful, crowd.

I spun round.

He was a typical fecking lesbian-hater. Even had a handwritten ‘No Women Screwing Unless I’m Watching’ sticker on his metal-covered leather jacket. At a Pride march.

I moved towards him, anger outweighing fear. My head came up to his pierced nipples, inches from the swastika tattoo hidden in the jumble of skulls, crossbones, and chest hair. The smell of armpits and the stale sweat of beer on his beard invaded my nostrils.

I took comfort in the gardai I’d noticed about 20 feet away, standing in a group, bantering with the crowd. A female guard who’d eyed me up earlier, now turned, her interest piqued by the altercation.

I glared up at him. “Did you push me?” Raised my voice. “Did you fecking push me?”

He grinned, and I flinched at the stench of his breath. I glanced to the side again, almost wet my pants. Where were the cops? I couldn’t see them on the crowded sidewalk. Too late to back down now. Fecker couldn’t shove me, and get away with it, not here, not now, not with thousands of us marching to be seen and heard.

He said, aiming the comment at the guy beside him, “A fucking loudmouth lesbian.” An English accent. Didn’t think my blood could boil.

“Yes, a lesbian.” Looking him straight in his red-stained eyes, I said. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“Yeah, bitch.” He towered over me. My gut crawled into my chest. Fear and anger had clumped into an adrenaline-soaked ball in my stomach. Where were the women? The fading chants of my group dissolving into the crowd of marchers answered that.

Where was the guard? I risked a glance to where the cop in her now welcome navy uniform had been. There! Two uniforms, pushing through the bodies.

My eyes flicked to his.

His mouth twisted into a snarl. “Not just lesbian, a bastard mulatto.”

The matching, but bigger, companion snorted from his right. “Which one of your parents was the black bugger?”

The first thug leaned in, inflamed eyeballs receding under heavy lids. “Bet a pound twas a dirty black fucker fucked your cheap white mother.”

The fear got swallowed up in the old dark cloud that rose from my heart, fogged my brain. I screamed above the noise. “He was an Indian motherfucker and she is a gorgeous Irish woman who’d eat you English Nazi bastards for breakfast.”

The cops barked warnings, getting louder as they neared, but I yelled into the angry face above me. “Hope you get what’s coming to you in our Irish jail tonight.”

He swung. I ducked and his fist and arm ploughed through the male cop. I leaped to my left as the female cop’s baton crashed down on the thug’s skull, felt a pinch on my jacket as I fell past the other Nazi.

A few colleagues surrounded her, their batons ready, but the thug was out cold and his buddies backed away.

“Are you okay?” Her voice held more concern than required, seeing as I’d escaped and her partner had taken the blow.

 

Time crawled by on its knees.

 

I nodded.

Grinned up at the cute cop.

She knelt. “Don’t worry, there’s an ambulance coming.”

“Why?” The word trudged off my tongue. My mind wandered, not sure where.

 

Gentle hands on my clothes, my lapel badges clicking through the buzz in my ears.

 

I looked along my body.

 

Darkness crept out in a circle on the pocket of my pink jacket. Chloe had given it to me a long time ago, but she’d only gone last month.

My hand fretted at the stain, fighting a strange, uncaring, gravity. I squinted at my fingertips. Crimson blurred from six of them.

The breeze touched my brow, chilly on wet skin. I shivered.

The cute cop’s hair shone above me, a dark halo against the sun.

My throat protested, muscles tired, but the words needed out. “My name is Jaya Dillon. I am a lesbian. I am Irish-Indian. I have the right to walk the streets of my country.”

Her eyes were kind. “Yes, you do.” She smiled, held my blood-splattered hand, the only part of me that felt warm. “How bout doin that without pissin off the nut jobs who’d beat up anyone who’s different?”

I wasn’t sure if my lips arrived at a smirk though my cheek muscles started the journey. “Wouldn’t be as much craic now, would it?”

The bursts of a siren picking its sluggish path through the throngs pierced her surprised laugh as the light faded from my day.

 

Edited Extract (to avoid spoilers as this passage appears twice in the book in different ways) –

“I dropped out of the womb of an Irish-American banished to Ireland by her white family, onto an Irish hospital bed so that gave me the Irish part, the shocking sight of my darker than expected skin and hair lessened slightly (and a little later) by eyes, all of me darkened by the genes of an Indian student visiting New York then gone, lightened by my mother’s pale blonde blue gave the nurses and my mother’s extended family pause before condemnation, gave me a chance in the depths of seventies rural Ireland, a tanned baby rather than the black babies they were instructed to be charitable to, but who’d never drop into their midst, who’d never be one of them.

My mother’s fierce protectiveness, fierce as a lioness who knows her cub is unique, damaged, different, special, beautiful, would inspire unwelcome feelings in the village, even the good feelings uncomfortable, who wants change, but the lioness banned from the wild for being too wild was not going to be tamed by the laws of rural life. She flowed through, her cub in tow, demanding the glory for having produced such an exotic seed. And the family and village, dazzled by her leonine charm, opened their hearts to the bedraggled cub who didn’t officially know she was not full lion, more half-lion, half-tiger.

I was occasionally reminded of my difference, not by accuracy, but by the chants that followed the Travellers when they stopped by the village. I look more like one of them, the easy-tan skin, the dark-blonde hair, and amber eyes glowing with the same wildness no matter how much I kept it hidden under the required tameness of me.

I’m ashamed I didn’t stand up for the Travellers, not that they needed my help and I didn’t add to the chants, but inside I found myself counting the ways I was Indian-Irish or Irish-Indian and the ways I was special rather than different, oh, your hair is so thick and lush, your eyes, holy jesus, they are something else that colour, you lucky thing, you get such a nice tan, no fecking freckles on you.

“See, that’s my Indian side. Though the impression most of the village had of Indians was the roaming Sikh salesmen so I guess I was an itinerant to them, anyway. I hadn’t yet seen, and neither had they, the explosion of medical and scientific staff from India and Pakistan, the gentrification of the Indian image in Ireland took place in towns and cities out of view of my child eyes and happened only in my twenties when I was away from the rural, when I was in the urban of Galway, when I creaked and groaned with the growing pains of modern Ireland, growing, but yet unable to graft new shades of skin, unable to see beyond into the Irishness of birth, of soul, of thought, of presence. There were scales everywhere. I felt sorry for the blackest of the Irish born here, but never Irish to the Irish; the half-skinned, born here, but considered a curiosity, a half image of Irish; and the light-skinned right-blooded, not born here, but Irish by heritage, a full image of Irish, but still not full Irish to the Irish.

There are years and years of Irishness I don’t get to claim as there are years and years of Indianness I don’t get to claim either, except in my genes, but all they produce are the features that give me access, the legal right to be present. They don’t give me the key to the Irish and certainly not to the Indian. They give me a door to the displaced, the window on the itinerant passing by, who at least belongs in his own world of motion.”

Recording the journey – August 2017


This is the first in what I hope will be a series of blog posts recording the journey of bringing one of my visions to life.

It’s a long story as to how I got here, to this point.
It involves (in part):
Ten moves in three years,
eleven losses in eleven years, the latest two in the space of four months,
different jobs, sick buildings, veterinary hospitals, diverse landscapes, extreme climates,
new friends, new stories, new loves.
And a constant dream, re-imagined.

I’m taking stock now. Dreaming, planning, sending out visions.
Recovering, taking a breath, mourning.

I’ve gotten through the last few years unconsciously relying on writing, moving, making new connections. In the last year, I’ve used a more conscious approach with counseling, therapy, painting, writing, resting, friends, karaoke, improv…

Every day is pierced with unwelcome memories and microscopic chaos. With gratitude, pain, fear, depression, silence, anxiety, joy, love, friendship, laughter, gratitude, always gratitude.

The depth of layered emotions is daunting. So most of the time I skim the surface, deal with the ripples, bob gently, return to calm. Occasionally, I delve deeper, one dive, touching the indigo. Always resurfacing, changed, sometimes gasping for breath, other times quiet, aware, floating. Remembering when I was being taught the mechanics of swimming, that how I finally felt secure was by learning how to float, knowing that I could switch onto my back and float and I would be fine.

Right now, I’m floating on the surface, looking at the sky and clouds drifting, dreaming my vision of what I will create next. This place I have felt at the edges of my soul for as many years as it has been aware.
Home.
Community.
I’ve dreamt it, talked it, skirted it, faced it. Now I build it.
And record the journey.

In the last year, I managed to stumble onto land, a house to be restored, a lake here and to come, wildlife including the biggest bugs I’ve ever encountered…

Yesterday, I got a name, booked the domain, designed a logo.

No concrete plans yet, just a wisp and a vision about what a part of the destination will include: sanctuary, gentle social interaction, nature, wildlife, reading, writing, painting, fishing, walking, hiking, pets, gardening, cooking, yoga, massage, meditation, improv, life coaching, book clubs, pool, singing, games, movies, and more…

Next step: Planning a lake and garden 🙂

The Writing Process Blog Tour

This is my contribution to the “blog tour” game going around the Internet (#Mywritingprocess). Authors blog about their writing process and then tag someone else to do the same. I was tagged by Sandra Moran, an author I’m very happy to have met recently and whose book ‘Letters Never Sent’ was the first full-length novel I’ve read in ages. It was definitely worth breaking my fiction reading block for this excellent book. See her blog post here.

1. What am I working on?

I released my fourth novel ‘A Place Somewhere’ in March (along with a song for the book), and promised myself a break to deal with moving from Ireland to America. However, as seems to happen every time I finish a novel, another one bubbles to the surface.

So now I’m working on the third in the Vision Painter series. I I have an outline worked out and the characters have been talking away to me on my many walks with Clio through my new (temporary) neighborhood.

I’m still at that early stage where decisions can shape the whole outcome. As they say, every journey of a thousands steps begins with one step. If that step sets the novel off in the direction of the East instead of West, it will end up completely different. I find that thought exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Falling Colours and Casting Shadows (the first two books in the Vision Painter series) were quite different from each other, and I enjoyed both in different ways. Falling Colours introduced the unique concept of vision painting and its power while Casting Shadows delved into the origins and secrets of the profession.This, as yet untitled, sequel will focus more on the beauty of the unique concept of vision painting, and its future. And there will still be love, pain, deception, and a few twists along the way. Kiran has to face a whole new set of challenges, including a new vision painter in town.

2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

I‘d be a lot more able to answer this question if I knew in what genre I wrote and so counted as the ‘same genre’.

I don’t really write by genre. I write the story I need to tell, and everyone’s story is different. I draw from my diverse background as an Indian, born in Nigeria, living for many years in Ireland, and with all my family in America. From my educational and career background as a doctor, an IT person, a restaurant/bar owner, a writer. Even from my brief experiences in summer jobs as chambermaid, inventory clerk, pizza cutter, physiotherapy assistant, flower-stall ‘manager’. From my interests, my daily life, my loves, my failures, my successes.

My work will always, therefore, be different from the work of other writers in any genre. In the same way that their stories will be different from mine.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write to find out what I believe, what I feel, what life is about, what love is about. To answer the many questions that I have. I write characters who are not me, but they allow me to live in them, to see what could happen in another world, to achieve a temporary sense of control, to say and do what I should have, to make sense of what others do.

I’ve always been an introvert and sometimes, in the past, I’ve lived through my avid reading. Since I started writing stories, I have lived in the minds of many different characters. I’ve had their voices playing in my head. In those years, there have only been a few weeks, between projects, where I’ve woken up to just my voice, to the ‘reality’ of a life where none of us has any control. The sensible advice would probably be to ‘get out more’, but I feel less alone by having the capacity to live in those parallel lives, to have the company of my ‘imaginary friends’ as well. And sometimes I discover things in my characters or my fictional worlds that help me in my ‘real’ life.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’d love to be able to answer that now in the same way that I did for a blog post months ago or years ago. But it has changed again. My writing process seems to be changing along with me, as I grow and learn.

I still work along the basic lines of – get an idea (or get hit on the head with an idea), develop the idea into a concept by asking ‘what if’ questions, work out an outline, design the architecture of the story, write the scenes. I edit as I write, so the next step for me is to get the manuscript to trusted beta readers and see if there is anything that isn’t working for them.

What has mostly changed for this novel are the mechanics of writing. I’m not at my usual writing spot, with my usual PC/laptop. (I’m supposed to be learning MAC programming so I’m now Windows-less and that’s a big change after so many years). When I wrote longhand, it was on the back of old typed printouts of my previous novels. Now I’m carrying around a purple ruled notepad that I stole from my nephew’s collection for school. I try to keep the notepad near me, but usually get whole conversations playing out in my head while I’m on my many walks with Clio (I know, I know, I’m repeating myself, but she really has become very demanding). The walks can be very good for percolating, and I’ve managed to come back from them and get a few conversations down on paper. Which is another change that I noticed from the last few months of writing ‘A Place Somewhere’. I’m writing down more conversations between characters and then building scenes around them.

The best analogy I can think of for my writing process is that of a train. I decide that I’m going to take a journey, I pick my departure and destination and construct a railway line with stations along the way. I create the scenes as compartments of the train. While all of that might seem very structured and mechanical, I need it to keep on track. I invite the characters on the journey and give them the freedom to be themselves within the compartments. They can have a riotous party or they can talk quietly amongst themselves. There are times when I’ve caught them running along the roof of the carriages whooping and hollering, but ultimately we all remain on the train and it is up to me to keep them on board and drive that thing to the destination.

At the moment, with the WIP, I have gathered everyone together for the journey and I’m laying out the tracks. I wrote the Prologue (got too excited about writing again and jumped ahead of myself), but I’m not allowing anyone on board until I’ve figured out the journey. Some characters have already started to have conversations on the platform, so I’m taking notes. With everything that is going on in my life, they’re going to have to be patient..

I’m tagging Caren Werlinger, author of Looking Through Windows, Miserere, In This Small Spot, and Year of the Monsoon. Her newest release, She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things, will be available in May. You can find out more about her work at www.cjwerlinger.wordpress.com.

I’m also tagging Kate McLachlan, author of RIP Van Dyke, Rescue at Inspiration Point, Hearts,Dead and Alive, and Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl. Her latest book, Return of an Impetuous Pilot, was released in March 2014. Please check her out at http://www.katemclachlan.com.

And last, but certainly not least, I’m tagging my best hugger 🙂 Tonie Chacon McLachlan, wife of Kate McLachlan, and author of Struck! A Titanic Love Story which is being published in April 2015. http://www.toniechacon.homestead.com.

Going to add another tag 🙂

I’m tagging Suzie Carr, author of Staying True, Inner Secrets, The Fiche Room, Tangerine Twist, A New Leash on Life, The Muse – A Novel of Romance and Discovery, and Two Feet off the Ground. Her latest release, The Journey Somewhere is now available. Find out more at http://curveswelcome.com.

The Princess Clio Diaries: Musings on my life with my human – Day who knows

It’s a dog eat dog world

Clio

Me: So what would you like to eat today?

Clio: I’ve a choice? Is that diet you have me on optional?

Me: Not really. But I heard something the other day and I wanted to make sure.

Clio: So this blog post is about you? I knew it. How long has it been? I mean, this has got to be Day 500 or something.

Me: I’ve been a little busy…I did do some writing, you know.

Clio: Oh, I know. I mean seven blog posts on your trip to PTown.

Me: I did a lot there.

Clio: Was I there..?

Me: No…

Clio: Right. So this blog post is about you again?

Me: No, no, we’ll get back to you. How would you like them served?

Clio: What served?

Me: The doggies you’ll be eating.

Clio: What?!

Me: Well, I heard it is a dog eat dog world.

Clio: So you thought I’d like roast leg of Labrador?

Me: They say babies are very tender..

Clio: Roast Leg of Labrador Puppy??

Me: You’re on a raw food diet. No roasting. Tell me, if I brought the puppy in here, would you mind awfully if I left it to you to do the necessary?

Clio: Wait, wait.. I see what you’re up to. Are we adopting a puppy? Because if we are, I’ve got to make sure you and the little tot understand the ground rules.

Me: We’re not. Ahem.. I think I’m the one who should be making the rules.

Clio: As I was saying.. One, there are no vacancies for King or Queen. Those are arbitrary words. Just because my title is Princess does not, I repeat, not, mean that any royalty extends to anyone else in the house.

Me: I thought I was –

Clio: No input really necessary. Just write.

Me: Right..

Clio: Two, any time involved in the upkeep of a puppy must not be subtracted from the time spent on me.

Me: But you are a full-time job…

Clio: Three, the puppy must be trained properly from the start. A few steps behind me is fine when we’re out in public. In the house, there’s a spot in the hallway that I’m not all that fond of, it can have that.

Me: But –

Clio: Four, boys only. We both know from experience what havoc females can cause.

Me: Anything else?

Clio: Something might occur to me after you type all that out.

Me: Right. So, I guess you wouldn’t want to eat the puppy..? You know, dog eat dog world…you’re a dog, it’s a dog..

Clio: I’m a dog?

Announcing the publication of A Place Somewhere

I am thrilled to announce that my fourth novel, ‘A Place Somewhere’, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

DigitalFrontAPSHow far would you go? Would you lie to protect the innocent?
ALEX HART risked everything to be with her online girlfriend of two years and moved from Ireland to America. But the unthinkable happened and she is emotionally and financially ruined. Devastated, she turns her anger and betrayal into a mission to root out those who deceive the innocent online.
When a mother pleads for Alex to protect her daughter from an online predator in Ireland, Alex must become what she hates.
How far will she go before losing herself in her own web of deception?

A Place Somewhere on Amazon.com
A Place Somewhere on Amazon.co.uk
A Place Somewhere on Smashwords

It arrived earlier than expected and the song of the same name that was to be released with it is only going to be recorded on Thursday and should be available on iTunes etc by Friday.

Casting Shadows is now available

Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter

Casting ShadowsKiran is still the only vision painter in Ireland but she cannot express her gift as she struggles with the consequences of its misuse. When everything she loves is threatened, she must protect her family by uncovering the history and secrets of the vision painters in Kerala. But there are those who will do what it takes to keep the truth locked away in the shadows of the past.

Casting Shadows is a story of love, sacrifice, betrayal and guilt. Of love and hatred that spans time and place. Of history that casts shadows on the future.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00B6UFULM

 

The Princess Clio Diaries: Musings on my life with my human – Day 1

Clio

 

 

 

 

 

Clio: Ok so, Day 54 and the..

I put down my pen and she glances at me and stops.
Me: Day 54? What happened to Days 1-53?
She waves a little white paw in the air.
Clio: You’re the writer, you fill them in. It feels like Day 54 to me. Should I continue or are you going to interrupt me at every stage?
Me: You know, a small subset of people think it I am weird to love animals as much as humans? Why do you look puzzled?
Clio: You are weird.
I pick up the pen and make a gesture towards her.
Clio: So, as I was saying, Day 54 and my human accompanied me on a brisk walk down the lovely country lane – Yes, what is it?
Me: Could we at least refer to me as something more complimentary?
Clio: You have a problem with the truth? You’re human, you’re my only subject, ipso facto, you’re ‘my human’.
Me: I didn’t know you knew Latin?
Clio: What did I say about interruptions? We must hurry, if this works on the same principle as my 7 dog years to your 1 human year then I have just 7 minutes of inspiration per day.
Me: You think that’s funny?
Clio: I crack myself up. Now, where were we?
I look back at the notepad.
Me: I should have left you down the bog country lane.
Clio: You wouldn’t!!
Me: We’ll see. Go on.
Clio: My subject…my human, no? What would you like then? Especially since you were so kind as to come up with a pretty decent title for me. Though why on earth you picked such a long one is beyond me. I would have been satisfied with something short and sweet like ‘Her Royal Highness, Princess Clio’.
Me: I wanted to give a sense of your authority.
(Under my breath): And limit its scope.
Clio: Did you say something?
Me: No.
Clio: I like it. ‘Her Royal Highness, Princess Clio of Cloogantoverville’. It will be difficult to emblazon across a jacket but it is fitting. Why tack on the ‘Ville’ at the end of the name?
Me: Don’t know really. Wanted to have an Irish and American feel to it.
Clio: Right. Well, I’d like to shorten it in everyday conversation to ‘HRH Princess Clio the Pretty’.
Me: Ok, HRH, what’s next?
Clio: I was thinking that since these are my musings on you and my life here, I would start by letting you tell readers how pretty I am and maybe a few details about my good nature and gentle character as well as my very regal bearing.
Me: Well, I do write fiction. Should I include the fact that I had to wash poop off your big fluffy backside this morning? You know, I now get why my dad looks at me sadly and shakes his head and says ‘You used to have such potential.’
Clio: My backside is not big!! Besides I like my hair.
Me: You should have a gold medallion to hang around your neck. You could pass as a Greek guy then, with all that chest hair.
Clio: Would you like me to talk about the time Freda wanted to call the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on you?
Me: I knew you were behind that!
Clio: Well, you have to admit the haircut you gave Hamish was cruel.
Me: You try shaving a wriggling dog with one of those hand power razor things.
Clio: You didn’t think of stopping after the first few jagged swathes of hair were gone off his back?
Me: (muttering) It was an expensive razor thing. Hey, it might still be in the cupboard somewhere.
Clio: You bring that thing near me and you will be eating through a feeding tube too.
I retreat to doodling in the notepad.
Me: are you nervous about your surgery on Friday?
Clio: What, with the specialist flying in from Israel just for me? And a top vet surgeon in Dublin?
Me: Right. So it is just me.
Clio: You worry about everything. I’ve come through seven surgeries on my mouth and I’ve got this feeding tube stuck in my neck, do you see me complaining?
Me: Yup.
Clio: When?
Me: What do you call running from the towel and rubbing your wet self into every cushion in the house?
Clio: A royal protest. Besides you shouldn’t have cream-coloured fabric covers. Pink is much more my colour.
Me: I’m getting a headache. Your seven minutes of daily inspiration are surely over by now?
Clio: You’re getting old.
Me: Hey! Eight in dog years is older than I am now. You think maybe we should retire the ‘Princess’ thing now? Maybe call you Milady Dowager or something?
Long silence.
Me: I’m going to pay for that, aren’t I?
Clio: Human, you have no idea how much…

Pre-Launch of Casting Shadows: Falling Colours & Heart Stopper – $2.99 for a Limited Time!

In anticipation of the launch of my third novel Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter, I am running a promotion on my other two novels. This promo runs for a limited time so if you haven’t already got the first in the series, this is your chance to catch up.
You can get the first novel in the series, Falling Colours – The Misadventures of a Vision Painter, at the reduced price of
$2.99 on Amazon.com and
£1.92 on Amazon.co.uk
You can also get Falling Colours on Smashwords for $2.99 by entering the Coupon Code: JR73J

While you’re there, check out the new cover for my first novel, Heart Stopper. And get it for
$2.99 on Amazon.com and £1.92 on Amazon.co.uk
You can also get Heart Stopper on Smashwords for $2.99 by entering the Coupon Code: AP69B

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged by fellow author Alison Grey for the 24th week of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

The idea is to hop from blog to blog to discover exciting books we might not have heard about or that are still works in progress. Each author will answer the same ten questions, then list authors who will answer the questions on their blogs next Wednesday.

So let’s get started..

What is the working title of your book?

My work in progress is Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter. It is a  sequel to Falling Colours – The Misadventures of a Vision Painter but due to personal circumstances I’m now not sure whether it will be finished so I’ll be talking more about Falling Colours which was published in June 2012. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was writing exercises for writing classes and working on my first novel Heart Stopper, I kept finding that life was imitating my writing in small and slightly scary ways. Over the previous few years I had already discovered the power and danger of writing out your visions for your future. When an exercise was set to write out a short story using magical realism, I thought of the idea of someone with the gift of turning people’s vision into reality. I did not want to write about a writer doing this, and since I enjoy painting, I came up with the concept of Vision Painting. I wrote a short story called The Vision Painter which I turned into the novel, Falling Colours.

What genre does your book fall under?

Falling Colours does not really fit into any category. It has elements of magical realism, lesbian romance, and suspense. It has been nominated in the General Fiction category for awards for this reason.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I wrote Heart Stopper and had an Irish-Indian character, Priya, who had no Irish blood in her, I found that people assumed that Priya was me. So I tried to change the protagonist’s ethnicity in Falling Colours but still wanted her to have an Irish-Indian background. I based Kiran on Aishwarya Rai who has beautiful and different coloured eyes to the norm of an Indian woman. So I guess it would make sense that Aishwarya could play her. Ashley was based on a crush I had at the time on a straight redhead. She grew more developed in my mind as I wrote Casting Shadows but I guess Julianne Moore or Jessica Chastain could play the Ashley that appears in Falling Colours. We are talking wishful thinking here, right..? 🙂

By the way, it didn’t work.. People still see Kiran as me..

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Falling Colours: Everything changes for Kiran, the only vision painter working in Ireland, when she meets a woman and makes a tiny wee mistake.

Casting Shadows: When everything she loves is threatened, Kiran has to uncover the secrets buried in the history of the vision painters.

What is the longer synopsis of your book?

Kiran is a vision painter. The only vision painter working in Ireland. Her vision painting  practice isn’t doing too well and she works as a waitress in a struggling restaurant in Connemara. Everything changes when she meets a woman. And makes a tiny wee mistake.

Falling Colours (as described in a review) while thrilling in its pace and plot turns, is also a truly unique study of love and its effects.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Falling Colours was self-published as an e-book (at Amazon and Smashwords) and as a paperback through CreateSpace.

My first book Heart Stopper was also self-published as an e-book (at Amazon and Smashwords) and as a paperback through CreateSpace.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote and edited Falling Colours in five months. The writing flowed and I did most of my editing as I wrote. I found that the characters in the book pretty much told me what to write and I had a lot of fun especially in the interactions between Marge and Kiran.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Falling Colours was inspired by the idea that someone could help people find their own happiness by getting them to visualize it clearly.

Casting Shadows was inspired by a curiosity about the details of the entirely mythical profession of vision painting. How did it start? How does it work? How did the rules come into play? What happens when things go wrong?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope it will get readers thinking about what they wish for in their lives and why. Also, there are challenging characters in the book, especially the character of Marge, and that is the only criticism I have received of the book. I wouldn’t change Marge for the world. I wrote her as she presented herself. I find I can’t write if I don’t believe so I can’t write books that are just populated with likeable, loveable, happy characters. We all know people who are so damaged that they can be difficult to love or like. I wanted to explore the point of view of a character like that, one who is not inherently evil and doesn’t mean to be hurtful but ends up causing such pain.

Next Wednesday check out Clare Ashton’s blog to find out about their Next Big Thing.

If you are an author and you want to participate in the blog hop, please contact Clare.