Friday, April 22, 2011
I think I write in the parts of me that I prefer to keep hidden from the world – the occasionally cynical, frustrated and grouchy parts that would make eyebrows raise if I were to speak them straight out. When they come from some of my occasionally cynical, frustrated and grouchy characters instead of me, I get smiles instead. It feels far safer.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have a quirky habit of pretending to be right there with the characters when I’m reading fiction, seeing the whole story pass before me like a movie I’m watching. Then when I’ve finished the book I still daydream about the characters, inventing more scenes which the author never added. I was always embarrassed by my pointless habit but it is lots of fun.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was very small and my Primary School teacher would tell us to write a story my heart would leap with joy. Later, when I was 15 years old, an English teacher told me that I have a fascinating way with words. That was when I decided that I wanted to be a fiction writer more than anything else. Making people smile, laugh and cry has to be the best career choice in the world, I thought.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
They must have an element of romance in them without being from the pure romance genre. I love books in which depth of character development and a fast-moving plot are evenly balanced. I have come across stories in which one of these elements is emphasized at the expense of the other and that makes me disappointed.
Although contemporary fiction is my chosen genre, I enjoy reading historical as well. Something with a dash of mystery or suspense makes me really happy.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I homeschool my three children which makes our lifestyle more relaxed and takes away that hectic school-schedule rush. We live in a beautiful, restful part of the world and I love walking, country drives and soaks in the bathtub.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I love to use names which I wanted to call my children but couldn’t get my husband to agree on. Now that my family is complete, whenever I come across a beautiful name, I think, I’ll use it in one of my novels. Friends sometimes jump to wrong conclusions when they see books of baby names out on my table.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
My daughter adores panda bears. All of South Australia is mad about them at the moment, as a pair was recently shipped from China to our Adelaide Zoo. They are exotic and cute at the same time; never hurry and look as if they are thinking about some droll joke. Yes, I’ll choose the panda.
What is your favorite food?
Crispy, honey chicken and rice followed a slice of light, melt-in-the-mouth cheesecake. I’m mixing up my countries of origin but never mind.
It sounds yummy to me right now. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
It was actually getting past the first few pages without crossing out sentences, getting discouraged and quitting. It was a great moment when I learned that the creative and judgmental sides of our brains were never meant to work simultaneously. It is quite right to let our creative sides be messy and profuse before the editor in us takes over.
Actually, I have to edit as I go. Tell us about the featured book.
Best Forgotten is my brand new fiction title. I’ve tried to weave together elements of mystery, suspense and redemption in a way I’ve never done before.
A young accident victim wakes up in hospital and can’t remember who he is. He finds that not only does he have nothing in common with his family but he develops an aversion to the person he used to be. He just can’t understand or relate to the way he used to behave or the choices he made. The more he learns about himself, the more puzzled and upset he feels.
He finds out that his best friend has disappeared without a trace on the night of his own accident. The more he tries to investigate, the more likely it appears that he was involved in something really shady. And he’s afraid that something bad is after him. So he’s torn between wanting to find out and being terrified that he’ll have to face horrible consequences when he does.
I’ve been fascinated by the relationship between our thinking patterns and what we make of our lives. How much is a person’s personality shaped by their sum of experiences? To what extent do the thoughts we choose make us into the people we are? Do the small, apparently random choices we make during our daily lives have the impact to come back when least expected and influence the rest of our lives?
When readers find out the mystery, hopefully they’ll say, “Oh wow, I never saw that one coming!”
Please give us the first page of the book.
His eyes blurred with tears, Reverend Barney Wills drove along the steep winding road. The rugged cliff loomed dark ahead and a tatter of cloud obscured the pale moon. His bedside vigil had gone on much longer than expected. It was after midnight.
He was thinking of Maud’s last words and planning how he would break the news of her death to his parishioners when a figure shot out of the scrub and barreled onto the road in front of him. Barney had a transient image of a wraith-like form in dark clothes with wild dark hair flying everywhere. The apparition wheeled around to face the headlights. Its pallid face was petrified. As he slammed his foot on the brake, the thought flashed through Barney’s mind that this might be the Grim Reaper.
When he thought it over later, he was ashamed of his jumble of impressions born of superstition and horror stories. Barney thought he’d left those hang-ups behind in his youth. Perhaps in this case they were wishful thinking. Bowling down a vampire or zombie was preferable to the unthinkable concept of seriously hurting a human being. But his front bumper-bar hurtled the figure off its feet, lifted it high onto his bonnet and pitched it onto the road. Tyres screeching, Barney jerked his steering-wheel as the car careered into the roadside scrub.
His hands shook violently; he took three attempts to open his door. His quivering knees were almost too weak to take him to the prostrate figure. He sank to the ground, staring at the white, unconscious face. A trail of blood gleamed on the pale chin. The teeth had bitten deep into the flesh of the lower lip.
Oh God, what have I done?
Wow! I can't wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is http://www.appleleafbooks.com/
My blog is http://www.appleleafblog.blogspot.com/
My books are also available from Amazon.com and I have a Face Book fan page.
Thank you, Paula, for spending this time with us.
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