Interview with an Author: Mary T Bradford


I’m pleased to welcome Mary T Bradford to my blog today. Please click on the links below to find out more.


??????????My Husband’s Sin
is the debut novel from Mary T Bradford. She is an Irish author, married and mother of four children. She has been writing short stories for many years with which she has enjoyed publishing success in Ireland and abroad. While working on a story it happened that the story kept getting longer and the word count continued to climb, resulting with Mary having her novel. My Husband’s Sin is published by Tirgearr Publishing.

Recently Mary has dipped into play-writing and one of her plays was shortlisted in the Claremorris Fringe Festival in April of this year and was performed by the Half A Breakfast Theatre Group. Another of her plays had a Staged Reading in July at Friar’s Gate Theatre in Kilmallock, Limerick in Ireland. Her short story collection, A Baker’s Dozen, is also available on Amazon.com. Or in local bookshops.

When not writing, Mary enjoys crafts. In particular, she enjoys crochet and cross-stitch and catching up on her reading from the stack of books on her bedside locker.

My Husbands Sin by Mary T Bradford - 500

LINKS

http://marytbradford-author.blogspot.ie/

http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Bradford_MaryT/my-husbands-sin.htm

https://twitter.com/marytbrad

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-T-Bradford-Author/464343040298924?ref=hl

INTERVIEW

What are the main themes in your book?

In my novel, My Husband’s Sin, there are a few themes but the main one is loss. Losing a parent or indeed any family member is a difficult time for everyone concerned. In my  book, the main character, Lacey Taylor, suffers loss greater than the others when after her mother Lillian’s funeral, a letter she is given destroys her life further. She now suffers betrayal as well. But it only takes a small crack to appear in a family for it all to come crumbling down.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas?

Lacey, the main character is the one who has the most to lose and when her life crashes down around her, she has a choice, either to lie down and accept what has been dealt to her or get up and fight. But whichever decision she goes with, her siblings are also dragged into the mess Lillian Taylor creates. Willow is the eldest of the Taylor family and her mother was her best friend, accepting the truth proves very hard for her and so her marriage suffers. Robert, Lacey’s only brother, reels from the revelations and questions all his relationships, especially when it comes to trusting others. Sally Taylor, an independent strong woman, tries to heal the rift that has been created but struggles to keep it altogether in her own life. So there you have the Taylor family.

Why did you write this novel?

I always promised myself that I would write a novel. I have written many short stories and had tons of ideas but none of them ever stayed with me and nagged me like this one. It started as a simple story and just kept growing, the word count grew and the characters kept insisting on me sorting out their dilemmas and after some moments of writing delights and writing disasters, I ended up with My Husband’s Sin.

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or a complex process?

Wow what a question! I am not a plotter when it comes to writing in general. I have either an idea or a name to begin with and after some thought, I may have an end. Then to get from the start to the finish, I have no idea, honestly. I put down on paper whatever is in my head and take it from there. As I am writing, the characters or indeed objects pop into the writing and it is they that lead my stories. In My Husband’s Sin, a black metal box appeared. I had no clue why or what it represented until much further on, it turned out to be an essential part of the novel.

Whether writing a novel is a simple or complex process I think depends on the writer. Some like to do a lot of research and make maps and plans and know each detail before they commit to paper. Others, I suppose like me, put it down and get it out and then when doing the next draft, and the next, and the next… finally get to the end.

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

I would say, stick with it. All the hard work we put in to our writing pays off when every time we complete a project. Turning up to greet the blank page every day is important too, so discipline is a key factor. If it is only a few sentences that you manage it is better than nothing. All those sentences add up and soon you will have a story.

What are you working on currently?

I have my fingers worn to the bone at present because I have three projects on the go. Yes I am a nut to take it all on. I am writing my second novel which is totally different from My Husband’s Sin; it is not even in the same genre. It is a good versus evil story about a priest who is sent to do battle with the devil and it all takes place inside a locked room.  So who wins?

I am also writing a western novella for a group that I am involved in. The group are called Writers of the West, it is an exciting project. Finally, I am busy seeking a home for a play I have ready for production.

Name a book/film that means a lot to you?

I love the film, The Green Mile. It is such a good story and the actors are all fantastic. Of course I cry every time I watch it. When it comes to books there are too many to pick from.

What would be your perfect day?

A perfect day, let me think, it would be warm, not too hot, by the sea, with a picnic of cold meats/ white wine/salads. A book of course and would I want company? Well if, Kevin Costner or Charles Bronson were available, or maybe Michael Bublé, he could serenade me, right?

I want to thank Jeff for hosting me today and helping me promote my debut novel My Husband’s Sin. I enjoyed the variety of questions and my visit immensely.

 Thanks, Mary.My Husbands Sin by Mary T Bradford - 500

Interview with an Author: Yvonne Marjot

I’m delighted to welcome Yvonne Marjot to my blog. Her new novel The Calgary Chessman is an insightful exploration into human emotions and relationships, with a very strong sense of place. Below is an interview and extract from the novel. Please click on the cover images and links to purchase a copy.

TCC first copy at Green Rooms Aug 2014 croppedYvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and
now lives on an island off the West Coast of Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a crate of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

She has worked in schools, libraries and university labs, has been a pre-school crèche worker and a farm labourer, cleaned penthouse apartments and worked as amanuensis to an eminent Botanist. She currently has a day job (in the local school) and teenage children, and would continue to write even if no-one read her work, because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. In her spare time she climbs hills, looks for rare moths and promises herself to do more in the garden.

You can follow her work via the Facebook page and group The Calgary Chessman, @Alayanabeth on Twitter, or on the WordPress blog The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet.

Blurb for ‘The Calgary Chessman

On a windswept beach on the Isle of Mull, Cas Longmore is walking away loneliness when she unearths a mystery in the sand. To Cas, torn between Scotland and her New Zealand home, the object seems as odd and out-of-place as herself.

Intrigued, she begins to search for its origins, thinking it will bring a brief respite from isolation. Instead, the Calgary chess piece opens the door to friendships and new hope. Her son, meanwhile, brings home his own revelation to shake her world.

TCC cover art front

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What are the main ideas or themes in The Calgary Chessman?

The main theme of The Calgary Chessman concerns the process of overcoming feelings of loneliness and isolation, the healing period that a person goes through following the end of a relationship, and the need to re-discover feelings of strength and self-worth. There’s also a theme about parenting, and the journey a young person takes as they enter adulthood. The chess piece of the title introduces an archaeological mystery, and it is the solving of this mystery that provides the main plot strand of the novel.

Why is the setting so important?

The Calgary Chessman’s setting on the Isle of Mull, and particularly the isolated and very beautiful Calgary Bay, and its secondary setting at the equally beautiful Huna Cove in New Zealand are critical to the story. Not only does Cas Longmore discover a mysterious chess piece in the sand at Calgary Bay, its location stands for her own sense of loneliness and isolation following the breakdown of her marriage. The unearthing of a mystery from the distant past leads to a journey of discovery. Longing for her past is reflected in the magical and rose-tinted memories she has of Huna Cove, the bay near her grandparents’ farm in New Zealand.

What else could you tell us about your main characters and their dilemmas.

Cas Longmore, my main character, is a New Zealander who finds herself living on a Scottish Island, after separating from her husband. She is lonely and plagued with self-doubt as she begins the process of learning to live independently again. She feels out of place and confused, and isn’t sure what will give her life meaning. While searching for the origin of the Calgary chess piece, she comes to realise that she does have friends, both old and new, and that she is fully capable of leading her own life.

 Her son, Sam, has played a major role in her life, but he is almost ready to take on adult responsibilities. In the meantime, though, he has one last revelation for his mother – one which will create ripples that spread outward throughout their family, and will echo down the years to come.

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

That’s a simple question with no easy answer! I would say that the germ of an idea that sparks a novel is easy to find – you know the moment you have one (it’s a good idea to write it down straight away, though. Otherwise you may find it has slipped away). The two most difficult parts are, firstly, working out the major events of the book (I like to know my beginning and ending before I start to write the middle) and, secondly, having the willpower to sit down and write when there are so many other distractions. This, for me, is the hardest thing of all. You wouldn’t believe how many ‘more important’ things there are in my life. But when the writing impulse strikes and the fingers are flying across the keyboard, then it’s like taking dictation from my subconscious. The words just flow. There’s no better feeling in the world than that.

You are also a poet. How important is poetry to you?

 Writing poetry is a vital part of my life. I have written poems as far back as I can remember. Poetry is a very intimate art, though – it’s really a conversation with myself, and choosing to share it with others can be a difficult decision. I have found, though, that since I began sharing my poetry I have become a better writer, and I have received a great deal of support from readers and other poets.

 Novel-writing is different. I write my books specifically for others to read, and to that end I have opened myself up and invited criticism. If readers don’t enjoy my books, then I have failed in my task, and it’s up to me to get better at it. I’ve only been writing prose (apart from odd short stories) for the last ten years, but I’ve become completely addicted. I can’t imagine ever wanting to stop.

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

 Write, write, keep on writing. The more you do the better you will become at setting your thoughts down on paper. Think as you are writing about who will be reading your words – a story aimed at ten-year-olds will have a different style to one written for adults. There are lots of books about writing, some better than others, and each writer has his/her own favourites. I have found that if one of the writers I love to read has produced a book about the writer’s art, I enjoy that book more than many other textbooks about writing.

 Above all else, you must read. Read things you loved as a child, read new books that catch your eye, read great classics that you’ve always meant to read but didn’t get around to. While you are reading, observe how the writer speaks to you, how they use language to get their point across. Other writers are our best teachers, and the better the writer the more you can learn by reading them.

What are you working on currently?

I’ve just done a bit of editing of the sequel to The Calgary Chessman (The Book of Lismore). It’s likely to be published in 2015. In the meantime, I am working on a dark post-apocalyptic vision of New Zealand, interweaving the life stories of three people living in very different circumstances. Its working title is Fire Under the Skin which is a quote from the poet Sappho.

What would your perfect day be?

I’ll wake at sunrise from a good sleep, to a day free from work and family commitments. I’ll win the battle against the temptation to stay in bed and read other peoples’ books. I’ll sit at the computer and begin to write, and the ideas will flow onto the page like ink pouring from a bottle. At about 11.30am I’ll walk down to the waterfront of Tobermory, buy a newspaper, and sit in The Chocolate Shop with a latte, read the paper and do a puzzle or two (usually Sudoku or a crossword). If I’m really lucky, a poem will occur to me and I’ll jot down the beginnings of it.

 When I get home I’ll spend an hour or two replying to emails, social networking or planning a blog post. Then I’ll spend an evening with my sons, eat a nice meal, watch a bit of telly, or if the weather’s especially warm and I feel energetic, drive over to Calgary Bay for a swim in the sea. I’ll fall into bed at around 11pm feeling comfortably tired and fall asleep instantly, and while I’m asleep an idea will come to me for the next stage of the work-in-progress.

 Of course, this marvellous scenario never actually happens!

Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

My favourite film is Blade Runner – still the best SciFi film ever made, and an astonishing creation based very loosely on the Philip K Dick story ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’. It’s darkly beautiful, endearingly bleak, a harsh vision of a future world in which humanity can be found in surprising places. It’s about how human beings judge those who are different from us, about how we find hope in the most dismal situations, about how redemption can be achieved through the smallest of actions, the world changed by the most insignificant of decisions. I never tire of flogging its merits to anyone who is foolish enough to grant me the opportunity. I suspect I’m in safe hands here, though – hey, Jeff?

You certainly are, Yvonne. It’s a masterpiece that I never tire of watching. Great choice. If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

Take care of yourself; you are your own best advocate. Believe in yourself; you are a worthwhile human being. Take care of others: we show our humanity best in how we treat other people, be they in our own local community or on the other side of our tiny, fragile globe.

 If there is one ‘lesson’ contained in The Calgary Chessman it is that we cannot control how others behave towards us. We can only decide how we are going to respond.

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Extract

I quartered the beach, down to the water’s edge and back to the machair, gradually becoming calmer as I wandered. I kept my head low, glancing out to sea occasionally when the waves came close, not focusing beyond the headland where haze on the horizon prevented me seeing even the closest islands. The greenish grey of the sea blended imperceptibly into the sky, and all the colours of the landscape were subdued. For a moment, I felt disorientated, as if gravity had inverted and I was walking upside down on a great curved dome, feeling that at any moment I might fall into the flat, featureless surface above me. I shook my head and kept my feet moving.

Slowly some memories seeped into my mind; images of a small boy flickered across my inner vision, like photos in an old album. It’s easy to forget what treasures are tucked away in there, behind the grey divide. Sometimes they feel so immediate that they shock me right into that other world which was once so real. It’s so much easier to live in the past than to face what is in front of me.

My foot scuffed against a tuft of grass and I came back to myself. I’d walked the beach up and down, and fetched up against the edge of the machair again. Last night’s high tide and wind had dislodged a whole chunk of cliff edge, and the lump had slid down the dune-face, exposing a vertical slope of fresh, white sand. In it was a dark hollow, a deep space about the size of my fist. I put my hand in to see if it would fit. My knuckle grazed something hard. Scratchy. Not like the rounded pebbles and wave-smoothed pieces of driftwood lying on the beach.

I pulled my hand out quickly and shivered, thinking of sheep bones. Okay to look at, found scattered on the grass while out walking. Not so nice to touch, unseen. With a faint hiss, the little hollow collapsed and something rolled out of the hole and landed at my feet in a damp clump. I bent down to dig it out. My fingers closed on a pale ivory-coloured handful, a little darker than the sand, squat and squarish and about eight centimetres tall. Not a sheep bone. I pulled out my hanky, spat on it and rubbed the object. I stared at it.

Calgary Chessman covers

Read an extract from ‘TREADING ON DREAMS’.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 1800-300dpi

Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.

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Chapter One

The marriage service seemed to go on forever.

Long, monotonous choruses accompanied the strumming of two guitar chords. The prayers began with ‘Lord I just wanna…’ followed by the obligatory praying for the bride and groom with laying-on-of-hands. When the bearded elder pressed his hand on Selena’s bosom, it occurred to Donny it was an excuse to touch the bride.

Then the photographs took days to complete, while the guests, ensconced at a nearby posh hotel, starved to death with only small glasses of Schlöer to stop them from dehydrating.

The dreaded speeches followed.

‘Thank you, so much, everyone, for sharing our special day,’ said Melvin, the groom.

Donny couldn’t help staring at Selena. She looked stunning in the simple ivory dress. It showed her magnificent figure in all its glory, unspoiled yet by the swell of pregnancy. Her hair curled in ringlets at the side of her face, falling from her veil and framing her lovely cheeks. Donny continued his gaze as her hand caressed her lips. The desperate urge to touch her became an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and loss.

The people at his table laughed at Selena’s father’s comments.

‘Does anyone remember that time my new son-in-law nearly burnt my house down last year when he lit the barbeque?’ Everyone laughed politely. ‘But anyway, we’re here to celebrate the love this couple clearly feel for each other. I can see how much they are in love from the joy in their eyes.’

Donny swallowed bile.

Then Melvin stood up to speak. ‘God has blessed me today by letting me marry the most wonderful woman in the world. With Jesus beside us, we aren’t so much a couple as a threesome.

A few guests sniggered.

Donny looked around with narrowed eyes. Scowling, he wrung the tablecloth as if it was wet.

The best man took his turn. ‘As a doctor, Melvin saves lives every day; as a Christian he works tirelessly for charity. He also finds time to help lead our church, preaching and ministering to the sick and infirm…’

Why did nobody mentioned Selena’s baby? As if it wasn’t why they were there today. Did they not know or were they ignoring it? He wanted them to know Melvin wasn’t the great shining example they assumed, but a total hypocrite—shagging his girlfriend whilst preaching morality. Could no one else see the hypocrisy?

Once the speeches were over, the servers poured more wine while the happy couple mingled. Donny sat back and listened to the clamour of myriad conversations. Voices buzzed around him until the hubbub became a grating irritant. Every sound intensified behind his eyes, which he momentarily closed.

‘Melvin truly is a holy man of God.’

‘Amen.’

‘They make such a perfect couple—so young and in love.’

As Donny sat listening to the inane conversations around him, they began to reverberate in his head and squeeze his temples like a pincer. Something uncomfortable stirred, churning his insides.

‘I was feeling quite depressed and then I remembered Melvin prophesied about Jesus healing the sick and that afternoon I made an amazing recovery.’

He didn’t know how much more he could take. The cacophony of voices became a crashing wave of atonal sound. Every sound was a spike hammering through his brain.

‘…Isn’t Melvin just the best…?’

‘…I’ve never seen a couple so in love…’

‘…and they’ll have such beautiful children…’

With a roar, Donny stood, his chair crashing to the floor. He grabbed the table with all his strength and knocked it on its side. The dishes hit to the floor, shattering. He had their attention.

‘Fatuous bullshit! You’re talking absolute, fucking bullshit. Can’t you see what’s going on? Melvin ‘goody-two-shoes’ got her pregnant, and you still think he’s wonderful. Selena doesn’t love him, but she’s too scared to say.’

His sister, Hazel, tried to stop him. He pushed her away. ‘I can’t bloody stand it any longer. I’m in love with you, Selena.’

People sat, speechless.

Some other guests got up, moving quickly towards him.

‘You can’t marry him…what’ll happen to me?’ He stopped, breaking down completely and slowly melted into an indistinct blob on the floor. ‘Who the fuck am I kidding? Why would she ever love me?’

Melvin, his father, and a few other men grabbed Donny. They carried him like a rolled up carpet. He kicked and struggled to no avail as they took him from the room.

‘Leave me alone, you bastards!’

Where the hell were they taking him?

His head ached. He was getting hotter and hotter while the world outside burst into flames. Finally, he tipped into a burning abyss.

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Buy Treading On Dreams:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Tirgearr Publishing

The Writing Process

DSCN3955Thanks to Zanna Mackenzie for tagging me in The Writing Process Blog Hop. Read about Zanna’s writing process here.

At the end I’ll be tagging a few other authors, so please do follow those links to their blogs and interviews.

Click on any of the book covers below to purchase them or go to my webiste at www.jeffgardiner.com

 

What am I currently working on?

I’ve just finished a new YA novel, and now I’m writing a screenplay. This is an adaptation of somebody else’s novel, which is a new thing for me. It allows me to view the source material objectively and add my own interpretation. I’m working closely with the author, so she’ll let me know if I’m way off-beam. Adapting, as opposed to creating, is a different (but fun) activity, requiring a sense of self-discipline (as opposed to self-flagellation).

Igboland cover6

What makes my writing disctinctive?

I have books published in a number of genres, which is both good and bad. In artistic terms, I like to work in a variety of styles. I’ve written horror and slipstream stories; young adult fiction; romantic and contemporary novels, and non-fiction.  The reason why this might be bad is that it makes marketing my work very complicated. Perhaps I’d do better just to stick with one genre? On the other hand, I like to try my hand at different projects.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 1800-300dpi

Why do I write what I write?

Because I have to is the annoying and elusive answer. Writing has me by the throat now and won’t let go. The creative process is the most inspiring feeling. When I’m in the middle of something I get a kind of tunnel-vision, which is difficult to break from. It could be a form of self-indulgence, but I feel I understand that old cliche of being ‘in the zone’. It’s a great place to visit…

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How does the writing process work?

I’ve been lucky enough to work part-time (as in a real job) for a few years now, so I have had two days a week to concentrate on my writing. Going part-time was like being given the gift of time. I think I used it well – although procrastination and distractions were always there to tempt me. I have four books published with two more to be released later this year, and two others completed, so I think I’m relatively prolific.

I also have a young(ish) family who are my pride and joy. Balancing my time between family, day-job and writing has been a struggle. I want to spend time with my kids, and when I don’t I feel guilty, so that’s something I’ve had to work on and improve. It means evenings and those few hours when the children are at clubs (dancing, gymnastics, Brownies) that I can steal some time to write.

A typical writing day will involve me taking the kids to school, then answering emails and doing some marketing on social network sites (something else I need to improve on). Once those admin-type tasks are done then I can settle in to the writing. If I’m in the middle of something I’ll check through what I did yesterday and then plan the next section before getting my head down. I don’t stick rigidly to word counts but 1000 words a day would be a basic minimum.  Then just before 3 o’clock I walk up the road to collect my kids.

ML Jeff2

What next?

I’ll continue to write novels (particularly YA) and am hoping to find success with screenplays too. I have lots and lots of plans and notes and scribblings and dreams. My big news is that I am able to give up the day job (for a while anyway) so the gift of more time has been granted to me. Now I must resist the urge to waste that time … (perhaps self-flagellation is the answer?)

A Glimpse of the Numinous

And now I’d like to tag the following authors. Please visit their blogs to read about their writing processes:

Ailsa Abraham

Sarah Louise Smith

Kemberlee Shortland: www.kemberlee.com

IGBOLAND: what the reviews are saying

Igboland cover5

  • “enchanting, heartbreaking and uplifting.”
  • “A riveting read.”
  • “a tender portrayal of change and growth… Poignant, yet uplifting, this novel opens the mind to ourselves and the world beyond.”
  • “An immensely worthwhile read.”
  • “difficult themes are handled skilfully and sensitively … thought provoking.”
  • An, interesting and engrossing read.”
  • “a cracking tale that would translate to the medium of film extremely well.”

 

Click here to buy Igboland
Click here to buy Igboland

 

Blurb

A new life begins for her thousands of miles from home.

Lydia and Clem Davie arrive in an Igbo village in Nigeria in July 1967 just as civil war breaks out, but Lydia has trouble adjusting to life in West Africa: a place so unfamiliar and far away from everything she truly understands.

Initially, most of the locals are welcoming and friendly, until one or two begin a frightening campaign of anti-white protests.

Lydia’s life is changed irrevocably after she meets enigmatic Igbo doctor, Kwemto, and war victim, Grace. Through them Lydia learns about independence, passion and personal identity.

Conflict and romance create emotional highs and lows for Lydia, whose marriage and personal beliefs slowly begin to crumble.

Will this house in a Nigerian bush village ever seem like home?

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News about my novels, short stories and non-fiction.

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