Friday, 6 May 2016

Blog tour: The Wacky Man by Lyn G. Farrell - Author Q&A

Today I am delighted to welcome to my blog, Lyn G. Farrell, author of the Wacky Man and winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead bursary.

My new shrink asks me, ‘What things do you remember about being very young?’ It’s like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone… Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised. As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape? 

The Wacky Man is published by Legend Press and was released on 2 May.


Did you always want to be an author?
I’d say authorship has crept up on me. I’ve always liked writing but never really expected it to go anywhere, especially as I struggled initially with how to translate my ideas onto the written page. I went back to education instead and then tried out a raft of different jobs (Housing, IT, academia). All the time I was writing in my spare time and reading books on creative writing and this novel would just not go away. I was always thinking about it and started the very first notes on it about ten years ago.

If so did you always want to write fiction or did you ever have a different genre in mind?

I knew that I’d write a novel before any other kind of writing (except for academic writing which is part of my day job) and I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life on learning how to do it as well as I can. I have another two novels in mind to write and I fancy experimenting with other kinds of fiction writing, perhaps a theatre or TV play. I can’t see myself writing biographies or history books though I love to read them but a travel book sometime perhaps?

Writing about the subjects in the Wacky Man must have been upsetting at times? When you are writing something dark or disturbing do you often find the need to escape?

If I realised in time the effect it was having on me I could get away from the computer and relax for a while, to watch Bargain Hunt or water the plants, before coming back to it. Many times I was ambushed by emotion and just had to ride it out, or I couldn’t switch off despite the feelings bubbling up because they – along with my own memories - actually helped shape the work.

There is one part of the novel that I still can’t read without sobbing. You might think it’s unfair to unleash it on the reader, but the novel is inspired by real violence and terror, I couldn’t leave it out.

If so what is your favourite way to ‘get away from it all’?
Pottering about on my allotment. I wish I had more time to spend there as I can only snatch a few hours here and there. I love growing vegetables and it’s helped cure me of my fear of beetles (almost). I sometimes just sit in a chair without doing very much, surrounded by greenery. I always come home at peace with myself.

Do you have a favourite author?

I have a whole raft of favourite authors. It would take days to list them. Cormac McCarthy, Roddy Doyle, Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, Michelle Roberts, Dorothy Allison, Barbara Kingsolver, Elif Shafak, Carol Shields, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Lionel Shriver, Sebastian Barry, John Banville. They’re the names that spring to mind but there are just so many that I love. 

Is there anyone that particularly inspires you – literary or otherwise?

The Dalai Lama. I’m not Buddhist but I think his ideas on the mind and heart being more connected could really help us all. And I particularly admire the way he has managed to keep his Tibetan people in the spotlight despite almost impossible odds. On a personal level, I wish I could laugh as much as he does – life would be easier. I laugh a lot but I get grumpy at times over things that don’t matter.

If you could have written any novel what would it be?

Woman on the Edge of Time. It was a life changer for me, as a teenager, and I remember reading without sleeping so I could finish it. I think I’ve read it about four times now and it’s one of the books I used to buy and give away to other people.

Do you have any peculiar writing habits or quirks?

I sometimes get up in the night to go write something, especially when I’ve been working on the same thing in the day. If jotting notes doesn’t work, I have to leap out of bed and get the computer switched on and all the ideas written out. It’s very irritating actually, especially when I’m really tired. However, the few times I’ve not done it I’ve lost the thread of the idea by morning and been even more annoyed with myself.

What are you reading at the moment?

A diary of interrogations and Fifteen Dogs (just started the latter).

Have you read anything that made you think differently about how you write?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The prose was so bare, so stripped to essentials of communication. It was a brilliant use of language to convey the story of the fight for survival. I would love to be able to mould language around a story the way he has. It’s one of my all time favourite novels.

Do you prefer an E-book or a physical book?
Both. I love sitting in bed reading a physical book and I love the fact that I have shelves and shelves of amazing books. E-books are great on the bus or train and they’re great for the research I’m doing at the moment. I can flip between books so easily on my Kindle app and then I can make notes on my phone immediately to. I couldn’t live without it to be honest.

Is there another novel on the cards? If so can you give anything away yet?

Yes there is! I’m working on my second novel at the moment. It’s about the healing power of unusual friendship.  

A huge thank you to Lyn for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can read my review of the Wacky Man here.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour;

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