Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Iris, and congratulations on the release of ‘New Beginnings”. Can you tell us a little about your newest release?
I wrote “New Beginnings” while visiting Hobart, the beautiful capital of Tasmania. I love Tasmania and as I did the tourist bus tour in the red double-decker I wondered how it would be to move to this southern city. The book begins with two sisters sitting in an office across the road from the old post office building and that is where I came up with the idea … as I was waiting for the bus.
The story is about Sophie and Mia Levesque inheriting a house in Hobart from a lady they had never heard of. While 8-year-old Mia settles into the new city with ease, Sophie, the 20-something-year old sister and guardian, worries about it all being a mistake.
Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favourite and why?
It’s a hard to pinpoint one character, because with each book I “live” the characters and they become close to my heart. I loved Mia and Sophie Levesque in New Beginnings. Loved being Mia’s voice when she’s a teenager in “More Beginnings” (out soon). Absolutely love writing about Oliver, the baseball player in my current WIP. He’s so sexy, indulgent and over-confident.
But deep down inside, I’d say my favourite character is possibly Daniel from “Sweet Dreams, Miss England” – Irish, a charmer, kind, sexy … the complete package!
From where do you draw your inspiration for your storylines?
Daily life. The Newspaper. And my imagination going wild. But I’m also a daydreamer. I listen to beautiful music and my mind just wanders off in its own world. This world then ends up on paper 😉
You set your stories in a variety of locations – Ireland, Melbourne and Tasmania – how important is setting to you?
As I found out recently it’s very important to me. “Innocent Tears” is set in Melbourne, and although I don’t mind the metropolitan city down the road, it was no inspiration for me at all. I struggled along and was close to moving everyone to a different place.
I love Ireland. I always have. The main plot for “Journey to her Dreams” is based on dreams – and where better to set a “dream story” than in Ireland, the land of magic, fairies, leprechauns and rainbows. Perfect!
When I visited Tasmania a few years back driving along the north coast, I had lots of story ideas popping up in my head with every little place we visited. It’s a very special place here in Australia.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
NEVER EVER GIVE UP and believe in yourself!
What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?
I’m a mum! I suppose that says it all.
And I still have a day-to-day job which takes up most of my time during the day. I also present a German program on 99.9 VoiceFM here in Ballarat every Wednesday. It’s fun checking out what’s happening in the “Homeland” and fun searching and researching German music. Hey, their music is not bad at all, I’ve got to admit. LOL.
Is there any particular author or book that has influenced your writing above all others?
I honestly don’t know, but I wouldn’t deny it. I love the books by Jill Shalvis and Cecelia Ahern and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bit of both of them in my books. But I do hope that after the few books I’ve written I’ve finally found my own voice.
Do you use critique partners or Beta readers?
I’ve recently found a wonderful critique partner and couldn’t be happier. I often use sentences or words which make perfect sense in German, but translated into English they make no sense at all. Many friends are used to it and had never noticed. My critique partner is great and leaves messages like “Rework. No idea what you’re saying”.
What difficulties do you have to overcome to write a novel in English when it is not your first language?
In all honesty, I don’t think writing a novel is the problem. I do have blanks sometimes when I know exactly what I want to say, but struggle to find the words or the expressions. That’s when my husband gets involved … and he’s got no idea what I’m talking about. It can be frustrating. LOL. But after 17 years in Australia, I feel more comfortable writing in English than in German. I think when it comes to difficulties, it’s submitting a novel. I feel like saying, hey, please read past the sentence structure and base your opinion on the actual story. Grammar is usually good, but the sentence structure can be up-side-down.
My current publisher Astraea Press has been extremely good in regards to the editing and I’m really grateful for that!
Have you released your novels in Germany?
Nope, but wouldn’t it be nice (…now I’ve got the jingle stuck in my head J)…. For mum to read my books. No I haven’t. I probably need to have more of a name in the business to even think about it. I keep wondering, though, whether to get out the old phone numbers of former colleagues I worked with at the TV station and film production company … I’d feel odd though to get in contact after all these years to sell a book. I’m just not inclined like that … *sighs*
Can you please give us an excerpt from ‘New Beginnings’?
Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.
“Clara Catherine Bellinger.”
“Who is she?” Mia asked.
Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old.
Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.
Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. “I wouldn’t have a clue.”
Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of Aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.
“I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details,” he replied.
Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education?
With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, “Why not?”