Dear fellow Babblers,
As I have not been as active on my blog as much as I would like lately due to my move to a new country, new job, new language – new life. I have been living here in France for about two months now and now that the absolute excitement and amazement is wearing away and real life is taking its place I often find myself a bit lonely and dreamy. In moments like these, I often think of recent books I’ve enjoyed and the characters whom I’ve grown to love. I’m sure my babblers out there know that feeling. When you feel completely and utterly lost in this world we are supposed to call real, but in our minds that “real” world is the inked universe between those sometimes clean, most times dusty pages.
And then when we reach those last pages of an intensely entrancing read? There is no sense of accomplishment here, but rather a sense of longing for more of this other world, beyond the scopes of our own imagination, connecting us with the writer behind it.
Such describes my feelings towards A Blindefellows Chronicle by Auriel Roe. Being her first published book, I was instantly mesmerized by the characters, happenings and stylistic techniques that brought together this novel. At the same time comic and dramatic, A Blindefellows Chronicle has become more than a physical object for me. It has become another place I can go in the back of my mind when life overwhelms me and I just need to go elsewhere, if even for a few moments, or a few pages in this sense.
Roe is currently an artist, but is heading closer and closer to a full-time career as a writer. A writer myself, Roe’s decision inspires me beyond all reason. To never let go of that “other life” – the one where your heart leads you and only then, the rest of you follows.
I had the amazing opportunity to interview Roe about her life as a writer, the thoughts, feelings and processes behind A Blindefellows Chronicle along with a set of questions that may be helpful for our up-and-coming authors out there. You can read my full review of A Blindefellows Chronicle here. My discussion with Roe has been empowering for myself and I hope the same can be said for anyone out there – writers, artists, athletes whose grasp is torn between logic and passion…
The questions that I have decided to ask, given that A Blindefellows Chronicle is your first book, are not related to the book at all, but to you as an author. I thought that would be more intriguing to readers to know more about the writer behind this wonderful book so they could know what to expect from you in your current book and others that you may write in the future…
1. You are an “accidental” writer. I would never have guessed such a thing from reading A Blindefellows Chronicle. You must have had some pretty great influences that inspired your writing. Any authors you can think of?
I’m mainly interested in classics as I get disappointed so often in reading a lot of today’s fiction. Some favourites are Dickens, Wilkie Collins, PG Wodehouse. As I do a lot of art, I tend to have a story on from BBC Drama as I do this so I’m a bit of a reading cheat!
2. Did you like reading as a child, or is it something that weaved its way into your life with time?
I wasn’t much of a reader, to be honest. I was a very run about active child, not a curl up with a book sort of creature. I did like making up plays as a child and, before teaching art I was head of a drama department so always liked engaging dialogue which I hope I have in my book.
3. A Blindefellows Chronicle is unlike any book that I’ve read before, and I read A LOT. I can’t think of it as a novel, but it’s not a collection of short stories either, of course. How would you describe this unique take you took on writing this first book of your career as an author?
I think the fact that I have eclectic tastes in classical literature makes the book have a unique feel. I don’t follow any current trends. I sort of wrote the book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.
4. What is the hardest part of writing for you? Is it the time it takes, the inevitable risks involved; perhaps the unlimited wanderings of the imagination…?
The novel is quite a daunting beast as it’s so long and has to be coherent which is perhaps why I opted for this format of each chapter being a short story/episode able to stand alone but a thread running through all of the stories stitching them together, either tightly or loosely. I know a lot of people who have to have a “structural edit” as there are plot holes, but fortunately that wasn’t me!
5. I, as well as many of my readers, look at your book like a cookie. You eat one and just want MORE! What can we expect from you next? Or are you going to surprise us just like you did with this stellar title?
I am in the planning stages of my next book and will be starting to write very soon. I’m being a little braver with this one as it’s a “proper novel” with one set of characters right the way through. I’m planning it really carefully to avoid the aforementioned plot holes. Blindefellows was set in a private school, this next one is taking place in an international school. (I’ve worked in both kinds.) It’s another comedy with a few poignant peaks, like Blindefellows.
6. What are your thoughts on the publishing industry and social media’s growing role in promoting the marketing of book and new authors?
I feel a bit sad about the amount of time I’m expected to spend on social media when I’d rather be writing or doing something artistic. I think twitter is less like birdsong and more like gridlock! I actually have a full time job too – I run a school art department – so social media is on a back burner which isn’t so good for my book, I suppose. I think it’s a shame that there is less of going out there and meeting authors in person and listening to them read their book. I’m thinking of having a youtube channel in which exactly that happens.
7. How is a typical “writing” day for you? Is it filled with endless hours sitting by the window and dreaming up your next best villain? Is it nonstop pounding of letters on the keyboard?
I don’t have endless hours atm but planning on changing this as I see I can write a good book. I like to plan in a notebook first for about a week per chapter. Then I may need to read up on certain things. Only when it’s all planned in long hand will I start typing.
8. For you, what makes what we bibliophiles call, “a masterpiece” ? Every sentence is important to the story and every sentence is beautifully written.
It seems to me that you initially forwent your dreams of becoming a writer only to return to them now. What caused this change in your life?
I think I quite suddenly felt now I would be a better writer than then and it is true. I still have a couple of things I wrote and am so glad I didn’t pursue publication with them – I would be embarrassed now!
9. Do you have any advice for our young writers out there dreaming to be the next great Rowling and Dickens?
Don’t feel you must follow trends – strive for originality. Don’t write with dreams of money, write because you feel you have something important to say. Only write if you are invigorated by the experience, otherwise it’ll be a hell on earth (do you enjoy long stretches on your own, for instance?).
Many thanks to Auriel for providing me with the time to interview her. It has been an honor and is always a pleasure to learn about and receive a tour around the writer’s imagination.