Fire and Ice is happy to spotlight author Adrienne Clarke today. She has offered us some question answers as well as an international ebook giveaway so read on…
What are your five favorite all-time books?
This is a tough one, but here goes (in no particular order):
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Lady Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro
How did this book idea come to you?
Everyone who knows me understands that I’m obsessed with fairy tales. I’ve always been drawn to fairy tale themes in art, literature, dance, music, anything really. But when I started to write my first novel, Losing Adam, it was about mental illness, not fairy tales. However, as the story unfolded I realized I was drawing on one my favourite fairy tales, The Snow Queen, albeit in a realistic contemporary way. When I began work on To Dance in Liradon I knew it would be about faeries, Irish faeries in particular. My background is Irish and I’ve always been fascinated by Irish mythology where faeries are tall, beautiful, proud and amoral – very different from the tiny, winged creatures you see in English fairy stories.
Do you have any favorite all time reads?
So many, but I’m going to choose one classic and one contemporary. Wuthering Heights had a huge impact on me when I read it as a teenager. For me, it is one of the most passionate romances ever, not romantic in the clichéd, optimistic happy ending way, but intense, dangerous, and utterly unforgettable. In my opinion there’s never been more romantic line than, “Whatever souls are made of his and mine are the same.”
One of my favourite contemporary books is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I love this book for many reasons, but most of all for its devastating prose and buried anguish. So many books bang you over the head, telling you over and over again how sad, mad, happy the characters are, but Ishiguro never does that – he doesn’t have to – you feel it in every word. There is nothing sentimental about this book, and yet I can still recall the passages that literally made me sob. Haunting and restrained, this is the kind of writing I admire most.
How about a quote or motto you love?
It’s not what the world holds for you it’s what you bring to it.-Anne of Green Gables
If you could be or meet one character who would you choose?
This is an obscure choice, but I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Irene Forsyte from John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga. Irene drives the action of this sprawling novel because so many of the characters are obsessed with her. And yet, although she is constantly described by everyone around her the real Irene is a mystery. We never really know what she thinks about the powerful effect she has on people. Beautiful, serene, and ultimately enigmatic I would love to have tea with the real Irene.
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had as an author?
Winning second place in the Alice Munro short fiction contest meant a lot to me because I adore Alice Munro so much. Just having my name associated with her was a wonderful feeling that I’ll never forget.
Do you have other writings you can tell us about?
I’m very excited about my novel in progress, Opium Ghosts. It’s a supernatural mystery set in Victorian London at the height of the spiritualist movement. I’ve always been interested in séances, ghosts and mediums, and I loved the idea of writing a historical novel that was part romance part ghost story. The growth of spiritualism also marks a fascinating period in women’s history – all of a sudden young middle class women found themselves in positions of real power. Some of the most famous mediums of the day were teenage girls who captivated their audiences with ghostly materializations, or not, depending on whether you believe in magic or trickery. I’ve done research for all my novels, but the research for Opium Ghosts has definitely been the most fun.
What authors or people have inspired you?
A lot of writers have inspired me in different ways, but the three that come immediately to mind are Neil Gaiman, whose power of imagination is incredible to me, Alice Munro for her beautiful prose that somehow transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary, and Stephen King for his passion for story in all its forms. Although my writing is nothing like Stephen King’s, I’m continually amazed by his dialogue that never has a false note. Reading Stephen King is like taking a master class on how to write good dialogue.
What has been the biggest surprise about this whole process?
I’m continually surprised by how supportive and enthusiastic people have been about my writing dream. Writing can be a lonely business and it’s been a lovely surprise to connect with other people who seem to want to know about me and my work.
Tell us what you enjoy to do when you are not writing?
Read! There’s never enough time to read all the books on my list, probably because I’m constantly adding to it.
Favorite movies, hobbies?
I love movies and have several favourites, but the three that come to mind are Pan’s Labyrinth for the darkly romantic fairy tale world it creates, Slumdog Millionaire, because I adore the lead character who possesses a genuine idealism that’s so rare in film these days, and Dangerous Liaisons (the John Malkovich version) because of the fascinating battle between true love and cynicism, and because it includes one of the most romantic lines ever: “The only happiness I have ever known has been with you.”
If you could travel anywhere where would you go and why?
There are so many places I’d love to go it’s hard to think of just one. But if I had to choose I think it would be Ireland. I’d like to see how the real Ireland compares to the fantasy Ireland I created for To Dance in Liradon. Also, I have this long held conviction that if I went to Ireland I’d finally see a real faerie.
What advice would you have to other writers?
Perseverance. Writers say this all the time, but it really can’t be said enough. Except for the lucky few there is just so much rejection in publishing. You need to believe in your work and keep putting yourself out there. This doesn’t mean rejecting criticism; I think you need to listen to criticism very carefully and use it to make your work better.
When did you publish your first piece and how many works gave you written?
I published my first short story ten years ago, and it was one of the best moments of my writing life. The idea that someone liked my words enough to publish them was amazing to me.
I’ve completed two books and am currently at work on the third. To Dance in Liradon is my first published novel. My first book, Losing Adam is still looking for a publishing home.
If there is something you want readers to walk away with after reading your book what would that be?
I would like them to have the feeling of being transported to another time and place, and wanting never to leave. I think the best books make you sad to leave the characters you’ve grown attached to, and leave you wanting more.
Which fictional character do you most identify with?
Keturah from Martine Leavitt’s book Lady Keturah and Lord Death. On the surface, Keturah and I have little in common, she’s a peasant girl living in the middle ages, and I’m a middle class woman with two children, however, I powerfully relate to her need to tell stories, particularly stories about true love. Keturah is fascinated with true love and I guess I am too; it’s the theme I always come back to. I think I feel compelled to write young adult novels because I still very close to the girl I used to be – someone who doesn’t expect miracles but hopes for them anyway. I loved Keturah’s character so much I named by daughter after her, Juliet Keturah Clarke.
Author Bio: I think I became a writer because the world inside my head was so real and vivid, sometimes more so than the outside world. In some sense I have lived parallel lives, present in my real and imaginary lives in different ways. Because much of my childhood was spent searching for faeries or reading about them, it is natural that my work would encompass faerie tale themes and other magical elements. In the words of Tennessee Williams, forget reality, give me magic!
Adrienne has previously published short stories in The Storyteller, Beginnings Magazine, New Plains Review, and in the e-zines A Fly in Amber, Grim Graffiti, Les Bonnes Fees, The Altruist, The Devilfish Review, and Rose Red Review. Her short story, Falling was awarded second place in the 2008 Alice Munro short fiction contest. To Dance in Liradon is her first published novel.
An avid reader of fairy tales and other magical stories, a thread of the mysterious or unexpected runs through all of her work. When she’s not writing Adrienne can be found searching for faeries along with her daughters Callista and Juliet.
Description of To Dance in Liradon from Amazon.com: Seventeen-year-old Brigid O’Flynn is an outcast. A chance encounter with the Faerie Queen left her tainted in the eyes of the villagers, who blame the Faerie for the village’s missing women and children. Desperate to win the village’s acceptance, Brigid agrees to marry her childhood friend: Serious, hardworking, Connell Mackenna. But when Connell disappears before their wedding, Brigid’s hopes are shattered. Blamed for her fiancé’s death, Brigid fears she will suffer the same fate as the other village outcasts, the mysterious Willow Women. Lured into Faerie by their inhuman lovers, and cast out weak and broken, the Willow Women spend their lives searching for the way back into Faerie. When Connell suddenly reappears, Brigid is overjoyed, but everything is not as it seems. Consumed by his desire for beauty and celebration, Connell abandons his responsibilities, and Brigid soon finds herself drawn into a passionate, dangerous world of two.
When Brigid discovers the truth behind Connell’s transformation she’s forced to choose between two men and two worlds. Brigid’s struggle leads her into glittering, ruthless Faerie, where she must rescue her true love from a terrible sacrifice or lose him forever.
The Giveaway: We have one ecopy of To Dance in Liradon to giveaway internationally. To enter simply comment below. Giveaway ends Monday. Good luck!