Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I'm an hour and a half early posting this, but what the hell, I'm too excited to wait.
LIVE UPDATE - Louise's launch has been a fantastic success, the shop was packed to the rafters and many happy readers are tucking into the book as I type. I saw one lucky fan declaring the queue for the book signing was too long, so she'll be getting Louise to sign it another time...
tks facebook for the update
Yes, Red Ribbons blog tour has arrived with the fabulous, brilliant Louise Phillips calling in to answer five of the best questions - at least five of the best that could be found ricocheting around in my head - relating to her latest novel, now in the shops and having it's official launch tomorrow night. I think you'll agree when you've read her answers that this is one to watch.... Get out there and buy it, published by Hachette and in all good book shops (sometimes even signed by the author herself) now!!
Straight to business -
1. Do you remember the moment when you finished writing this book -did you recognise that
moment when it came? How did it feel, what did you do that evening?
I totally remember the moment I finished the manuscript, well the 1st draft of the manuscript. I had
worked intensely on it for twelve weeks, so much so that the fictional world of RED RIBBONS felt
like it had taken permanent residency in my head. It was there before I went to sleep, when I woke
up, as I fervently got other jobs out of the way trying to get back to it, as I walked up mountains
clearing the cobwebs out of my brain, as I walked back down again, excited that more ideas had
come into my head, and all of this in the run up to Christmas. The last word got written the day
before Christmas Eve. I darted around Dundrum Shopping Centre, aware that hardly a present had
been bought. I picked up the turkey and ham, turned an upside down house into a semi-normal one.
I felt hassled knowing how much I still had to do, but I felt elated too. I had done it, I had completed
a manuscript. I looked at the pages all lovely, filled to the brim with words, my words, and I felt more
than elevated emotionally, I felt a huge relief. I had done it, irrespective of anyone ever wanting to
read it, that moment, I became a NOVELIST!
2. What has attracted you to the dark subject matter in this book do you think? Has it changed a lot
during the writing process?
The editing changed many things, but it never changed the soul of the story. If someone was to set
fire to every copy of the manuscript in existence, if every hard drive crashed, I could walk through
those lives again. I could go back, perhaps write it differently, but it would still be the same. RED
RIBBONS, was a story to be told, and I’ve done my best to tell it well. Maybe in a couple of years,
I’ll look back and say, I could have done this and that better, but if so, no matter. It’s there, and I’m
proud of it. I don’t say that lightly. In a way I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to
visit this world, even if it is of my own creation.
As for the dark subject matter in the narrative – I don’t think you choose stories, I think they choose
you. I hope being a parent, loving my children with all my heart, has equipped me well to walk the
path of such tragic loss. I think it was George Elliot who said, ‘human kind can only bear so much
reality.’ I would never have been able to face this story in reality, but in writing it, I hope the end
result is one of light within the dark, of hope when there is so much loss, and recognition, that the
bad man is often shrouded in the veil of the ordinary.
3. What was the biggest challenge either in terms of characters or plot - which part of the book
(without giving away too much) did you sweat over most?
The biggest challenge was getting Kate Pearson right. I knew everything about her – I knew where
and when she went to school, why she came back from the UK, what drove her to study criminology,
her relationship with her husband, her son, her late father, her mother. I knew the things she loved
to do, I knew her fears, her childhood, her ability to push herself far greater than she should, and
I knew her past. This all sounds fantastic, but despite all this, she only really came to life in the 2nd
draft, and in retrospect, I think I understand why.
Ellie was the driving female voice first time around. She haunted me, she had a story which needed
to be told, and Kate, well she had to wait until Ellie’s voice was fully realised. The great thing is
though, looking back on it all, it was the absolute perfect way to write this story. You don’t always
know what you’re doing when you are writing, but you get a sense when something special is
happening. If I had written both these female voices with the same intensity first time around, each
would have been diluted. The end result is exactly how it should be.
As for which part of the book I sweated most over, I would have to say it was the action pieces.
When I did the research into psychological profiling, police procedure in Ireland, and forensics, I
thought I had most things covered. But I forgot one important detail, I had never written live action
before. Sure things happened before in my writing, but not fast action-intense, a million things
occurring at the one time, multiple reactions, panic, movement, anxiety, building up to a crescendo
and resolution. In the end, I went with my gut – if the action was fast, I wrote fast – if the emotions
were tested, frightened, I wrote the same way – if a character stopped, when everyone else was
still rushing, I stopped with them, slowed down, reflected. I guess I wrote as if I was there. I hope it
4. What's your view on short stories now, having written both those and the novel? Would you see
one as practise for the other or are they completely different to you and how?
They are completely different. A short story can take months to get right, and still it can test you. A
novel obviously has more words, but it is freer, certainly in the first draft stage. You don’t have time
to mess around with a short story, but equally, a novel has its own rhythms, and in a crime novel
especially, every chapter has to be there for a reason. I think I learned a lot from writing short stories
about character creation, description of place, establishment of mood, showing without telling. I
don’t think you necessarily have to have written short stories to write a novel, but I think it helped
5. The big launch of the book is tonight... What are your hopes for the launch, for the tour, for the
readers - did you think of them while you wrote?
Well I’m excited about the launch and I’m nervous. I know everyone will be there to support me,
which is totally amazing and beyond words. I’ve no idea how I’m going to feel when I see so many
people from my life in the one place, and during this special time, but I’m pretty sure it will be
emotional. There could be tears, there could be many things, but I hope it will be a fantastic night,
and my gut tells me, it will be like nothing that has ever happened in my life before.
My hope for the blog tour isn’t defined. It is something which I think will be very worthwhile. I have
certainly learned a lot about RED RIBBONS, when other writers like you, Niamh, ask me questions,
and take part. I’m overwhelmed by how many of my friends have wanted to be involved. It started
as a one week blog tour, then two, and finally ended up as sixteen blog visits from Ireland to the
USA. The world is wide and vast, but friends are always close by.
Did I think of the readers when I wrote Red Ribbons? The answer to that one has to be ‘no’. Not
because I don’t have an absolute respect for readers, because I absolutely do, they are the real
test for any manuscript – but I don’t think as a writer, you can listen to any voice other than the
one inside your head. You are never completely sure you’re getting it right, but you can’t write it to
please, or perform for others. It is all about story – it dictates.
So there you have it folks... the story dictates and it will captivate you, so go on, get your copy now....
and the good news is the follow up is already in progress - a chiller by the name of the doll's house - the images for the second novel are already being chatted about in this boutique in powerscourt....
Posted by Niamh B at 1:50 PM