Author: Monica McInerney
This month's Special Guest is Australian born author Monica McInerney.
Monica, 47, grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Since then Monica has lived all around Australia (in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart) in Ireland (in County Meath and Dublin) and in London and also travelled widely.
She was a book publicist for ten years, working in Ireland and Australia and promoting authors such as Roald Dahl, Tim Winton, Edna O’Brien and Max Fatchen and events such as the Dublin International Writers’ Festival.
She has also worked as an event manager and organiser of tourism festivals in the Clare Valley; as a freelance writer/editor and in arts marketing in South Australia; a public relations consultant in Tasmania; a record company press officer in Sydney; a barmaid in an Irish music pub in London and as a temp, grapepicker, hotel cleaner, kindergym instructor and waitress. Her first job out of school as a 17-year-old was as wardrobe girl (and later scriptwriter) for the children’s TV show Here’s Humphrey at Channel 9 in Adelaide. She is now a full-time writer.
For the past twenty years she and her Irish husband have been moving back and forth between Australia and Ireland. They currently live in Dublin.
source: Monica's Homepage (adapted)
For more information about her books visit Monica's Homepage
Monica also agreed to do an author interview
I love your books and all I read so far have an Australia and Ireland based storyline. How come?
Australia and Ireland are the two countries I know best in the world. I grew up in South Australia and have lived in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart and also travelled widely around the entire country. I’m married to an Irishman and for the past twenty-one years have been living in Ireland, in County Meath and Dublin. I love to set my novels in places I know well or have visited myself – so as well as Australia and Ireland, my novels are set in London, the US, Cornwall, Scotland… It’s one of the great things about being a writer, everywhere I visit is a possible location.
What inspires you to write these long novels?
Families – I’m fascinated by all the layers within family life: the drama, the comedy, the different, complex characters all trying to get along, the secrets, the hardships but also the hopeful times every family in the world faces at some stage. I love to explore all those themes in my novels.
How do you plan your novels? Do you plan the plot and the characters or does your story develop while writing?
I start with the characters, and spend a lot of time thinking about the sort of people they are, their family relationships, their hopes and dreams. I then put the main character right into the middle of a tricky situation and the story takes over from there.
How important is it to you that your stories are lifelike? Those Faraday Girls has a totally realistic ending but it wasn't the one I expected. Is it more important to you to write realistic stories or stories that totally fulfill the reader’s expectations?
I try very hard to make my characters as real as possible. I write a lot of scenes which don’t end up in the final book, but which help me get to know their personalities inside out. The endings to my books sometimes surprise me too, as in Those Faraday Girls. Without giving away too much about it for anyone who hasn’t read it, as I got closer to the end of the story, I realized it had to finish that way. If I can’t always have a 100% happy ending, I aim for a hopeful ending, where the reader can put the book down and feel that somehow all the characters will be okay, that everything they have been through has been worth it. But I do still think about the Faraday family and there may yet be a sequel!
Could you describe your typical writing day?
I am at my desk by 8am most days. I aim to write at least 2000 words every day. I may end up cutting most of it, but I find a daily goal helps me to keep the story moving forward. Writing a book is like building a house, you have to do it brick by brick. I usually write the new scenes early in the day and then spend the afternoon editing and rewriting.
As far as I am informed your books all have a female protagonist. Is it important to you to write from a female perspective?
Many of my novels do have a female main character, but as I write family comedy-dramas, there are of course also plenty of male characters – fathers, sons, brothers, uncles. I like to get right inside the heads of all my characters. I’m lucky in that I grew up in a big family, with three brothers and three sisters and many uncles, aunts and cousins, so I have plenty of experience to draw on.
Is there one of your novels you like the most (and why)?
I like each of them for very different reasons (because it was my first, because it was my last, because I liked a particular character, because I especially liked the ending), so I can’t choose, sorry!
How long does it usually take you to write one of your books?
I think about each book for about 6 months before I start writing it, and the writing and rewriting and editing usually takes about a year from the blank page of Day 1 to the moment (usually a minute before midnight of my deadline) I send it to my publishers around the world.
Do you have a favorite book and/or author?
I have hundreds of favourite books and authors. I try to read at least 3 books a week, everything from novels, to poetry, non-fiction, children’s books. Some of my favourite authors are Clare Chambers, Rosamunde Pilcher, Anne Tyler, Tim Winton, Joanna Trollope, Charlotte Bronte, JK Rowling, Kristan Higgins, Garrison Keillor, Helen Garner, Curtis Sittenfeld, Janet Evanovich…
If some reader would ask you what places you have to see when visiting Australia what would you recommend?
I would definitely recommend they visit my homeplace of the Clare Valley in South Australia. It’s a beautiful winegrowing area, with lots of vineyards, rolling hills, old stone cottages to stay in, lovely little restaurants and country pubs. It features as a setting in four of my novels, including A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, The Alphabet Sisters and Lola’s Secret. An historic Georgian mansion in the Clare Valley called Martindale Hall was also the inspiration for Templeton Hall in At Home with the Templetons. I love Melbourne too – I lived there for nearly five years and also love to use it as a location in my novels. Tasmania is also very beautiful – I lived there for three years and used it for the setting of Those Faraday Girls.
I will give away one signed copy of Monica McInerney's novel
Those Faraday Girls
in either English or German.