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EXCLUSIVE: INTERVIEW WITH L.M Brown
L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.
Q: Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know about? Like your hobbies?
A. I took up mountain biking recently. It’s a lot of fun, though there’s been more than a few scratches. And I am about to start horse riding, my twin sister does it in Ireland, and I hope in summer 2021, we will be able to ride together, but who knows what travel will be like then.
Q: When did you write your first story and how old were you?
A. I was ten or eleven when I started my first book, or at least the beginning of one. It was about an orphan. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember how disappointed I was with my lack of originality.
Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A. At one time I wanted to be a pilot for the American air-force. My mother was distressed with the idea though we lived in the West of Ireland and the chances of me joining were slim.
Q. What inspired you to start writing?
A. I don’t remember any particular moment when I realized I wanted to write. It was there all the time, I think.
6Q: What is your favorite book from your childhood?
We didn’t have children’s or YA books in the house when I was growing up so I read a lot of my neighbors Mills and Boons, which was probably not the best, but it beat cornflakes packets. I would read anything that was there. I would say that having no books was my one regret, but if I’d been surrounded by books, I may not have felt the need to travel and I wouldn’t want to change that.
Q: What do you like doing when you're not reading?
A. I like spending time with my family, mountain biking with my husband and watching movies with my daughters, though I’m not allowed to pick them anymore, since I go for 80’s movies, that are not appropriate at all. Sixteen Candles, I was shocked watching with them.
Q: Where do you get your writing ideas from?
A. You only need to start reading headlines to get ideas. Many of my stories in Were We Awake, were taken from news stories. Hinterland was eight years in the making and that started with the image of Kathleen’s dresses hanging in the wardrobe after she disappeared. For a while, she took over the story. I had to write many drafts to get her back into the corner.
Q: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A.They come from my imagination, though I think every piece of fiction has some truth in it.
Q. Can you describe us your ideal writing space?
A.I love my study because it has large windows and a lot of light, with trees outside. When it’s quiet, it’s ideal, but I have also learned to write amid the chaos of three girls.
Q. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
A.The first line of any story or novel. Sitting down to a blank page can be daunting, but more for a short story than a novel, as with the short story you need to know where you are going and what you are doing. Novels, there is more room to maneuver.
Q. How do you handle a writer’s block?
A.I don’t get writers block as much as a dry spell, and in those times, I allow myself to step away from the computer and read, which always helps, especially when it’s the likes of Alice Munro.
Q. What advice would you give to a new writer, someone who’s just starting out?
A.Make time every day. Sit in front of the computer even if you don’t feel like it. Write your heart out and then decide exactly what you want to say. Edit and erase. New writers tend to overwrite, I know I did, and I found it hard to accept criticism at first. Now, I am always grateful for the feedback because it makes you a better writer.
Q. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
A.Since March I have been writing a lot of flash. I’ve fallen in love with the form, for the way it can surprise and linger. I am also nearly finished my first draft of a novel set in Ireland spanning 1916 to present day, The story follows three generations of women who are part of the Sidhe line and trusted to keep the peace between the Fae and human world. Their way of life is put to the test when one woman rebels, and secrets and betrayals start.
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