Today I’m pleased to welcome Lyn G Farrell to the blog. Lyn is the author of The Wacky Man, which was published by Legend Press on 2 May 2016.
Lyn kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Wacky Man
Amanda is an intelligent, articulate teenager fighting to overcome the violence and abuse that has consumed her childhood. When the reader first meets her, she is fifteen and holed up in her bedroom, having cut herself off from the outside world. The novel is a raw, no holds barred, depiction of what it feels like to be a battered child and the lifelong consequences of it.
2. What inspired the book?
It’s autobiographically inspired. I wanted to write something that would make the reader feel what it is like to inhabit the dangerous and horrifying world Amanda is trapped in. I had a passion to increase understanding of what life is like for such kids and a passion for fiction. The idea for this book just haunted me until I finally got it written down.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
To start with I was very much ‘sit down and see where the words take you’. However, that led to seven years of trial and error with my writing before the final three years of writing the actual novel. I didn’t do any creative writing course so just wrote and rewrote until my writing began to take shape. After publication I took the UEA Intermediate Writing course which opened my eyes to the fundamentals of writing. So I’m trying the ‘plan, plan, plan’ method for my second novel. My notes are still all over the place so I’ll never be perfect at organisation.
4. What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
Some of the characters started resolving plot problems in ways I wouldn’t have thought about! It was as if they were telling me ‘Do you really think somebody like me would do that? I’d do it this way’. I often found that as I was just falling asleep, something I’d struggled with all day would offer a solution. I can’t say I was always grateful as I had to sit up, grab my note pad or phone and start scribbling/typing things down, usually leading to an hour or more of extra work when I was really in need of sleep.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I don’t have a lot of spare time at the moment so other things, like reading, studying Tibetan and my allotment are all dreadfully neglected. Just recently I got away from it all at a Buddhist centre in County Cavan in Ireland. I’m not Buddhist but was made really welcome and I slept like a log each night and then wrote in the day. We even got chance to speak Tibetan with the Rinpoche though I couldn’t understand that much! I heartily recommend a holiday like this, make sure you check it out properly – the UK unfortunately has some dodgy places purporting to be Buddhist.
6. You were the winner of the Luke Bitmead Bursery for 2015. What is the bursary and what did it mean for you to win?
Legend Press say it best:
“The Luke Bitmead Bursary is an annual award set up to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers. It includes prize money and a publication deal with Legend Press.”
It’s given me a wonderful opportunity to work as a writer. I’m building new author networks and friendships and learning a whole raft of new skills every day thanks to the wonderful team at Legend. Elaine, Luke’s mother is now a close friend and so supportive of my work. The Luke Bitmead Bursary has done all that for me and the prize just keeps giving. I was recently long listed for the Guardian’s Not the Booker – without the award behind me, that would never have happened. I’m also delighted to announce that I’ve got an author talk at my home borough’s literature festival and will be at the Ilkley Literature fringe festival. Amazing.
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I’ll need a long book in this case so I’ll choose Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. As a novel in seven volumes, it certainly fits that description! I’ve got it on my Kindle and have read about three pages so it should keep me amused for some time. And it’s meant to be the definitive modern novel so it would be good for me in a technical sense too.
8. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
What’s your favourite Tibetan word?
This changes all the time, when I find out new words that make me laugh, but at the moment it’s Ngo-Tsa. It means ‘shy’ and translates as ‘Hot face’ which I think describes it perfectly.
Thanks very much for answering my questions and for appearing on my blog.
About the book:
The 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?”