Sunday, September 07, 2014

Author Interview: DEBORAH MCKINLAY: Real Life And Fiction Can Never Be Separated

DEBORAH MCKINLAY is the author of two novels That Part Was True and The View From Here and several earlier non-fiction titles. She lives and works in south West England.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

My happiest childhood memories mostly involve beaches – that hasn’t changed much since I grew up.

About your education?

I had a very ordinary schooling until I was in my forties when I decided I wanted to go to Cambridge. I did an undergraduate degree then and applied – I got in.

What career did you plan during your education days?

I never knew what I was going to do when I left school, but I always loved to read – I think most writers start that way.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I think there is a difference between inspiration and drive – many times I have been driven by practical needs, like finances or the responsibilities of parenting – but I find I am inspired more and more by art – painting in particular. At some point looking at good paintings started to move me – I don’t know when. I’d like to be able to move people that way with my writing.

What hurts you most in this world?

I am distressed, like everyone, by the great injustices of the world – mal-treated children, cruel poverty – but the small, local issues (the loneliness of an elderly neighbour) are just as affecting for me now.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge for self-employed artists of any type is the in-head voice – Am I good enough? Can I survive? Is it worth it? I cope with it by working constantly. It is the only thing that drowns the nay-saying out.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I started writing for money in my twenties – magazine articles mostly – but fiction is where my heart is. I write because I cannot imagine doing anything else, or not doing it. It keeps me sane.
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

In the past few years I have had two novels published; the most recent THAT PART WAS TRUE will come out in paperback in 2015. It is a romantic story, but not a romance, about two, initially unhappy, people who correspond across an ocean, and are bonded by their mutual love of cooking and food. 

What are your future plans?

To keep writing.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

Well, I should take care of my back and neck, but I don’t. I walk a lot when I’m writing, and if I am organized I make soup, so that I won’t live on toast. Often I am not organized enough.

How much real life goes into fiction writing?

I don’t think that real life and fiction can ever be separated.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

I’m not sure about imagination, although many authors demonstrate a lot of it. I think you need good observation skills, though.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I was born in New Zealand and travelled a lot in my youth. I like a lot of places, but have a particular affinity for Spain.

Your favorite time of the day?

Times: early morning and early evening – all the promise is there.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?

I recently read, and loved Mrs Bridge by Evan Connell and Art and Fear ,by David Bayles and Ted Orland which I recommend for anyone who is trying to make things.

Your favorite book and why?

Too many…

Your favorite movie and why?

I’m not sure I have a favourite movie, but I re-watched All That Jazz (1979) a couple of weeks ago and thought it just as terrific as it was when I first saw it.

The last line of your autobiography would be…

I hope it would be… ‘She gave it her best shot.’

Twitter: @YourAuntLola
That Part Was True has been translated pretty widely (including): French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Polish and has been optioned by the BBC Independent Film Unit.

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