Sunday, 18 May 2008
Author in the spotlight: Ask Orna Ross!
Orna Ross is a writer. She's no ordinary writer, though. She's the author of Lovers' Hollow (Penguin 2006) and A Dance in Time (Penguin Sept. 2008). She's also a literary agent (Font Literary Agency & Writing Centre) and creative writing coach. As such she is uniquely placed to share her insights into the craft and business of writing and publishing.
Her blog tour began last month and continues here today with an interview and question session. Visitors have all day today to ask her about her books, about writing, about literary agents and publishing. Just post your questions in the comments trail and Orna will answer them by the time Monday comes around!
Orna, welcome to the blog! I've read Lovers' Hollow and it was truly a treat for me. There was so much that I could identify with, so much that I recognized: the Catholic schools, the urge to rebel and assert, the complexities and ambiguities of relationships, the pop culture references. I identified with Jo Devereux from the start, if not experientially then certainly emotionally. And the plot kept me hooked to the very end. Congratulations on an impressive achievement! Tell us about your journey to this point.
Orna: I had been working in freelance journalism for 15 years and my 40th birthday was looming. Having always wanted to write a novel, I knew the time had come - I had to make a start. At first I thought I would be able to combine fiction writing with my journalism work, which I loved. I didn’t know then what I know now – that the writing makes deep demands of you. It is such a big thing to want, it can’t just be fitted in on the sidelines. Not the kind of fiction I write anyway. So it soon became evident that I was going to have to stop my journalism and academic writing, not to mention TV watching and other pursuits, if I wanted to make this happen.
Who is your target audience?
Orna: My target audience is women, although I know men read my books too. Women who want to read stories that reflect the complexities of their lives. Mine are not simple boy-meets-girl novels, although of course I write about love as well as murder and mystery and many other things.
How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
Orna: I grew up in Ireland where there is great focus on history but where the stories that are told about the past – our 800 years of oppression by the English, for example – never seemed satisfactory to me. Too simplistic. Lovers Hollow grew out of my own family experience. My father’s uncle was shot in the Irish Civil War but nobody in the family ever talked about it. Our village was still divided about this conflict, with families not speaking to each other, when I was growing up, 50 years after it happened. The silence that swirled around the topic drew me to it. Wherever there is silence, there is pain and concealed truth and that draws me, like a magnet.
Orna, I'm hopping over to the comments trail now to continue the questions. See you there!