If you have ever been anywhere near a writing group or book festival of any kind, you will know that writers come in all shapes and sizes, from big, robust circles, to tiny, stabby stars. They come in different flavours too, from cool, classic vanilla, to eyeball-exploding, triple-hot chilli sauce. Some of the nicest people around are writers, but some of them truly are mad, bad and dangerous to know.
Thrillers With Attitude has undertaken to meet up with a few of these weirdly-shaped and strangely flavoured writers, some well-established, others emerging, so that you, dear reader, can find out more about them without endangering body or soul.
Welcome then, to the Thrillers With Attitude Literary Smorgasbord. My guest this week is author, Orla Broderick.
Hi Orla, thank you for agreeing to take part in the Literary Smorgasbord. Please tell us a little about yourself – what were you like at school? I’d especially like to hear about the kind of trouble you were in with the nuns, as mentioned on your Amazon author page.
Initially I was fairly quiet at school. Before the age of 14 I was the girl in milk bottle specs, home-made blue velour/ towelling track suit bottoms with pageboy hair style. I spent my free time washing feet in the local hospital, visiting the elderly, and every weekend I sat with a group of old ladies saying decades of the rosary. For reasons best kept to my own blog I was sent to an all-girls boarding school when I was 15. I hated it. I often snuck out at night, by myself, and hitched a lift to the pub. I stole paracetamol for my hangovers from the nuns own store, and helped myself to their food, which was far superior to the stuff we were fed. I was caught fairly regularly.
Your first novel, The January Flower, was published in 2012 – what was the evolution of Orla Broderick, the author?
I have always written stories. From as far back as I can remember, I have been inventing and documenting alternative realities to my own. It was only when I moved to the Isle of Skye that I really tried to write, and of course, found I couldn’t. But, when my daughter was born I had postnatal depression and was in counselling. From that counselling I started to write what I saw around me. I put The January Flower together from bits of all the women I saw and met. Pete Urpeth [writing and publishing director at Emergents] took me on, coached me, nurtured me, tried hard to keep me on some sort of trajectory.
When did you first define yourself as a writer?
It’s only now I would even begin to describe myself as a writer and I am tasting the word author.
How would you describe your style of writing?
I do a pretty poetic prose thing that covers humanity, one eye always on love.
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a novel. It’s about lesbian drama. I do as much research as I can and feel I have fully researched this topic in particular.
Do you plan your books, or are you a seat-of-the-pants writer?
I plan and plot and scheme. Sometimes this keeps me awake at night.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me years and years to finish writing a book.
Best writing moment so far?
My best writing moment was having almost everyone wet their pants listening to me read The Surf Board. This is a story loosely based on another nun incident, when I was caught passing a tampon around a religious education class. I read this on stage in Edinburgh as part of the Scottish Book Trust New Writer’s Showcase in January .
What are your ambitions, writing wise?
I would love to be prolific.
What is the Orla Broderick writing method?
If the cat wakes me at 4 am, I will get up. I meditate. I make coffee. I write and write. I try and focus on getting the story to work and what needs to happen. Then I shape it. I try to find words, to say the thing in the way I want to say it.
Do you have any particular writing habits?
I smoke a lot. Sometimes I make bread or soup.
What inspires you to write?
The heart inspires me, acts of kindness, beautiful souls, natural stuff.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Just write, just one word after the other, every day, just write.
Is there any one book you would like to have written?
James Joyce, Dubliners, wow, I wish I could write humanity like that.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin
If there was one person you could spend a day with, who would you choose and why? How would you spend the day?
If I could, I would spend an entire day meditating with his holiness the Dalai Lama, to know love and compassion.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you, Orla. Thank you for taking part in the Literary Smorgasbord.
Orla Broderick received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2014. Her novel, The January Flower, was long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. You can follow Orla on Twitter and find out more on her website.
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