The Writing Life of: Fionnuala Kearney
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Fionnuala Kearney. Fionnuala will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘The Day I Lost You‘, which will be released on 11th February 2016 and answering a few fun questions too.
I’m Fionnuala, pronounced “Finoola”, am Irish, living just outside London and I’m hugely proud to say I’m a writer.
Before my writing career, I was an insurance pen pusher, a too-short-to-ever-be-successful model, a secretary, finally ending up in property. There, for many years, I was a home search agent – think Phil and Kirstie but without the cameras – that was me. I loved it while it lasted but the day came when that writing itch just had to be scratched.
I’m married, a mother, a sibling, a daughter, a friend: all roles which help provide fodder for the day job plus I’m a dialogue whore; love listening in on conversations, on real life drama. Coffee shops, the tube, standing at a till, I can probably be seen scribbling on a yellow post it.
I love to write about relationships, peel away the layers that make up couples, friends, parents and children, siblings. I want to know the ‘who’, the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of what’s happening in their lives and how they really feel about it.
1) Do you remember the moment you decided that you would like to become a writer?
I don’t think there was one specific moment. I wanted to ‘write stories’ even as a child so I think the yearning to write has always been there.
Most writers say it’s innate, something you can’t fight. That’s certainly how it is for me. I do remember the moment when life gave me the opportunity to concentrate on writing, which was about nine years ago on holiday when for the first time ever, I didn’t have to work full-time, and I thought ‘it’s now or never…’
2) How did you go about following your dream?
At the time, the internet was the place that I found like-minded people for the first time – people like me who wanted to write, thought they maybe might be able to, but weren’t sure how to go about it.
Online I found fabulous forums for people like me and that really encouraged me and gave me the courage to keep going. I met people in writing forums back then who remain firm friends today.
I started writing a novel and though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, over time, I learned various tricks of the trade. It’s like any long apprenticeship – you learn as you go, though I also believe as writers, we never quite master the craft – it’s always a learning process and one I absolutely love.
3) Is there a particular author that inspires you?
I couldn’t possibly choose only one! My favourites are probably Maggie O’Farrell, David Nicholls, Anne Enright, Marian Keyes, Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes…
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any strange writing habits?
I can’t think of any strange habits?! My typical writing day is at the desk by 9 or 9:30, write through until lunchtime, take a break of a couple of hours where I catch up on stuff at home or go for a walk or both, then back at the desk until 5 or 6.
In amongst this work time is writing whatever the WIP is, social media stuff, emails etc., so it is really a full working day. If I’m on a deadline or revising to a time limit, the days are often longer!
5) Do you write Longhand, Type writer, Computer?
I’m full of admiration for those who write long-hand. My hand gets sore writing a post-it! I think much quicker and more efficiently straight into a keyboard than I could ever write longhand.
6) From all your books, do you have a favourite character?
Argh, no! That’s like asking who my favourite child is! I suppose if I had to choose one, it’s probably Beth, the female protagonist from "YOU, ME AND OTHER PEOPLE", my debut novel. She’s a strong woman and she’ll always have a special place in my heart.
7) Do you plot your books completely before hand or do you let your imagination flow whilst in the writing process?
A little bit of both. I’m a natural ‘pantser’ but have had to embrace the idea of plotting a little bit more. Now, I start the novel with the characters, a beginning, middle and end, a rough idea of story arc and then I let my imagination do the rest.
For me, having every chapter outlined to the ‘n’ the degree beforehand would spoil the creative process. That said, it works for a lot of writers and indeed if you asked me in a few years, it may be the way I work then!
Concerning your latest book:
Author – Fionnuala Kearney
Publisher – Harper
Pages – 432
Release Date – 11th February 2016
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
The day that Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche is the day that changes everything. Left to explain her mother’s absence to Anna’s five year old daughter, Rose, Jess isn’t yet ready to admit to herself that her daughter may not be coming back.
But Anna’s disappearance dredges up some life changing questions: Jess must uncover her daughter’s secret life and unearth something that could change her world irrevocably.
The day I lost you was the day I discovered your secret life.
The day I lost you was the day you tore our family apart.
8) How long did it take to get from the ideas stage, to the date of publication?
I’d say from initial idea to first publication is probably about fourteen months.
9) Did you suffer from writer’s block at any stage? How did you overcome it?
Oh yes! A long walk can help or a talk with my long suffering husband, or editor, but more often than not I just have to walk away from it for at least a week and work on something else. (I am often caught walking around the house talking to myself!)
10) How did you come up with the name(s)for your lead character(s)?
My character’s Christian names always come to me as they themselves arrive in my head. In other words, take book two, "THE DAY I LOST YOU" for example, Jess arrived as a forty eight year old woman with her particular circumstances and she was just always ‘Jess’! Same with the male point of view, Theo. Often they don’t come with surnames though, and there, I usually just try out a few for size and see which feels/fits best.
11) If your book was made in to a film, who would you love to play the lead character(s)?
Not that I have already cast the movie in my head or anything…☺ For ‘YOU ME AND OTHER PEOPLE’, I’d love Beth to be played by Jennifer Connelly and Adam to be played by Gabriel Macht (of ‘Suits’ fame).
And for ‘THE DAY I LOST YOU’, I think Kate Winslet would make a fabulous Jess, Emma Watson as her daughter Anna and finally Henry Cavill as Theo. I DO like this game!
12) Did you get anyone in particular to read your work before sending it to the publisher i.e family member, friend etc?
I’m lucky enough to have three ‘beta-readers’ who read my work en-route way before I send it to my agent or publisher. It’s invaluable. None of them are family or friends but other writers who can usually point out the error of my ways!