I’m re-blogging this piece from Rebecca Bradley’s crime blog since I’ve recently finished Louise Phillips’ Last Kiss. You might remember that Louise was a guest on The Landing last year after the publication of The Dolls’ House. Last Kissis another griping read featuring Dr Kate Pearson, who is helping the police to find a killer before she (Kate is convinced that the killer is female) strikes again. Lots of unease, darkness and twists and turns, but also compassion and empathy in the story. More on this book to follow…
Today’s First Draft Guest is crime writer Louise Phillips.
Red Ribbons, the bestselling debut novel by Dublin-born crime author Louise Phillips, was nominated for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year award at the BGE Irish Book Awards in 2012. Louise won the award in 2013 for her second novel The Doll’s House. Louise returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. In addition to her three published novels, Louise’s work has been published as part of various anthologies and literary journals. She has won the Jonathan Swift Award, was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform, and her writing has been shortlisted for prizes such as the Molly Keane Memorial Award and Bridport UK.Last Kiss is her third novel and she is currently working on her fourth.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing…
Here as promised is Louise Phillips to add a touch of darkness to The Landing as she answers a couple of my questions about delving into loss and deeply buried emotions. I also couldn’t resist asking a question about Louise’s experience with her promotional video and if you click on the link below you can enjoy a chill down your spine.
I met Louise perhaps not surprisingly, through my job as a bookseller but I have dear old Twitter to thank for enabling us to keep in touch, thus paving the way for this opportunity to have Louise as a guest. Many thanks to the future ‘Grande Dame’ of crime for including me in her Blog Tour and for the thoughtful answers to my questions.
Now, on with the Q & A:
CM: In both of your novels you’ve dealt with the themes of lost children/childhood. Can I ask you what drew you to examine this kind of emotional and physical loss?
LP:I think the ‘who’ of ourselves is found in childhood. I had a challenging one, and it’s made me very aware of beginnings and how the past forms us. With Red Ribbons, I dealt with the loss of a child, and as a mother, this was particularly difficult for me to write. However, just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean you should back away from it. Being a mother certainly helped the writing, and many of the reviews focused on how the narrative dealt with the emotional bond between a mother and her child. I must have done something right, seeing as how it was shortlisted for Best Crime Novel of 2012 in the Irish Book Awards, and despite the difficult nature of the story, it was a story worth telling.
The Doll’s House is very different, and is a story which questions the notion that the past cannot harm you because it has already happened. In The Doll’s House, the main protagonist, Clodagh Hamilton delves deeply into the area of hypnosis and regression. The child and the adult Clodagh Hamilton get to meet via her fragmented recall of memory whilst under hypnotic regression – this was a fascinating concept to me as the writer, the idea that the child self and the adult self could meet. By and large, stories pick you, and it’s not surprising to me that I use a character’s childhood as the backdrop to the ‘who’ of themselves, and also, why they do the things they do. But a great question, and one I will reflect more on.
CM: Psychological thriller novels such as your own work can be very unsettling to read, leaving the reader somewhat less sure of his/her own world. How does the writing process affect you, as you are so involved in the material?
Dare you enter…?
LP:In many ways, the fictional world is totally real to me when I’m writing it. It has to be, because if it doesn’t feel real to you, it won’t feel real to the reader either. Without wanting to sound over the top about it, I’m drawn to stories and emotions that force me to question and examine things. It nearly always starts with a question ‘why?’ and then ‘how?’, until I become utterly gripped. In some strange way, there are times when it feels like someone else is writing the novel. Despite being close to the material, I also have to separate myself from it. Readers want a great story that is well written, it’s not my opinion that counts, or what I feel about an individual character or what they’ve done. Maybe that protects me in a way, it certainly doesn’t frighten me. The only thing that frightens me about the writing, is first drafts – they are scary, but thankfully a long way from the finished story!
CM: Moving on to a different aspect of writing: You’ve been involved in producing a publicity video for The Doll’s House and I was just wondering whether you enjoy being a part of the promotional aspect of being a writer.
LP:It’s very different from the writing side of things, and I certainly can’t do any major promotional work while I’m writing. Do I enjoy it? Yes, in the main, but it can be hard work too. You have to put yourself out there, and that means taking risks. I was petrified the first time I was on radio, and then on television. When I did my first newspaper interview, it was the same. Now, I’d still be apprehensive, but I don’t let the apprehension stop me, and once I don’t make a mess of it, I’m happy enough. Things like making a book trailer or looking at other imaginative ways of promoting the novel are great fun. I write, so I love coming up with new ideas. The bottom line is that in today’s world it’s very difficult for a new author to get noticed, and the reason you look to be noticed, is that you want readers to read your book. If they do, hopefully, they will return for more. The recession has hit the book industry in a very dramatic way and readers when making their purchase will usually buy a novel by a writer they are familiar with and trust, namely the well-established names. As a new player in the field, it’s an uphill struggle, and anything you can do to encourage others to read your work, is a positive thing, even if it means asking your son-in-law to pretend to be a dead body in the canal!!
And here is that video….be warned…it’s rather creepy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Dublin, Louise Phillips returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. That year, she was selected by Dermot Bolger as an emerging talent. Her work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. She has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and long-listed twice for the RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. Her bestselling debut novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Irish Book Awards. The Doll’s Houseis her second novel.
In the next couple of days, The Landing is moving away from the foggy distant past and right bang up to date with a new #LandingAuthor guest spot. My guest this time will be psychological thriller writer Louise Phillips who has published her second novel The Doll’s House (Hachette Ireland) on the 1st August. If the reviews are anything to go by, The Doll’s House is looking to be as gripping a read as her first novel Red Ribbons.
Louise Phillips held a very successful launch party at Bob Johnston’s Gutter Bookshop on 7 August which I sadly missed as I was away on my hols. Arlene Hunt did the honours on the night and I gather a good time was had by all.
#LandingAuthor Louise Phillips
I am very pleased to be involved with Louise’s promotional blog tour for her follow-up to Red Ribbons and to have the opportunity to put a couple of questions to her. Look out for The Landing leg of Louise Phillip’s blog tour on Thursday 29th August.
Just to whet your appetite, here is the blurb for The Doll’s House as a little taster before Thursday:
Dare you enter…?
PEOPLE SAY THAT THE TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE. BUT WHAT IF THE TRUTH IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO HEAR?
Thirty-five years ago Adrian Hamilton drowned. At the time his death was reported as a tragic accident but the exact circumstances remained a mystery.
Now his daughter Clodagh, trying to come to terms with her past, visits a hypnotherapist who unleashes disturbing childhood memories of her father’s death. And as Clodagh delves deeper into her subconscious, memories of another tragedy come to light – the death of her baby sister.
Meanwhile criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is called in to help in the investigation of a murder after a body is found in a Dublin canal. When Kate digs beneath the surface of the killing, she discovers a sinister connection to the Hamilton family.
What terrible events took place in the Hamilton house all those years ago? And what connect them to the recent murder?
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