Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi everyone! My name is Philomena Barry and I’m 32!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Well I’m from Scotland originally – a town called Glenrothes in Fife. My dad is Irish though and we moved to Ireland when I was 7, we lived just outside of Mohill in Co Leitrim. When I was 19 I moved to Athlone in Co Westmeath and have lived here ever since!
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’ve been married for four years, my husband is from Gambia – I met him in Gambia five years ago when I went there for a holiday. We have a little boy, he’s almost 3 now. Taking care of my son doesn’t leave me much time to write but I try to write every evening when he goes to bed!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Well I’ve just returned from Venice where I spent a week with my mother and sister. As I was going there on holiday I decided to turn it into a research trip! I’m already in the middle of writing my second book so my third one will be set in Venice!
I’ve also recently made friends with a local business owner and, after reading the manuscript for my first book, she’s keen for me to do a reading at her restaurant! So that will hopefully be happening later this summer!
Also, one of my absolute favourite authors, Farahad Zama, was kind enough to read my manuscript last month and I got some very positive feedback from him! He gave me some ideas on a couple of things I could change to improve the novel, but he also really enjoyed it – he said he found it “exciting” and that “there was suspense and action”. He also said my writing is “very assured and well excecuted” and that I “don’t come across as a debut author at all”! That was so amazing to hear!
So lots of things happening – all I need now is a publisher!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I had a teacher in high school called Art Ridge, he was my English teacher. He taught me how to write well, and helped me develop my talent. I started off writing poetry and that’s all I wrote for years. Then someone asked me if I’d ever considered writing a book. I hadn’t, and dismissed the idea at first. But then I thought about it and thought that maybe I could do it! So I gave it a try and found that I really loved it!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably last year when I finished the first book. Once it was finished I started thinking about sending it off to publishers so my friend Vicky Hulston – I call her my editor – has been helping me to format it into the correct layout for submitting to publishers and agents. As well as submitting I’m also writing Book 2 and, as I said, I’ve just been away researching Book 3. I also have ideas for about four more! In my opinion, being published doesn’t make you a writer –writing makes you a writer! I read and write as much as I can and my books are always on my mind.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to see if I could do it. The genre was a no-brainer – murder mystery was the natural choice, I didn’t even have to think about that. I had also just returned from a year in Australia so that really inspired me to set my books there. My murder mysteries are a series following the same characters, they live in a fictional beach-side town in Victoria called Koala Beach.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It took me so long to come up with a title, the book didn’t have one until it was finished. My editor, Vicky, suggested a title and I just shortened what she’d come up with. It also has a sub-title, which every book in the series will have. So it’s called Murder Down Under: A Koala Beach Mystery.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is thereanything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I guess I would find it difficult to write really grisly stuff, that’s not my style. I don’t like to read books that are gory or gruesome so I definitely don’t want to write books like that! I’m more Murder She Wrote than Criminal Minds!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well the actual murder stuff is all made up as I have absolutely no real-life experience of anything like that. But a lot of things that happen to the characters would be based on things that have happened to me or a friend. The heroine of my books, Wade Kennedy, is based on me, so some of the things that happen to her, and some of her thoughts and feelings, would be based on mine. I figure that if something has happened to me then it’s not far-fetched or unrealistic, and also that if something has happened to me then it has happened to other people. So I think that people will be able to relate to Wade and the other characters.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My novels are set in Australia because it’s an awesome place and because I’ve been there. If I hadn’t been there then I wouldn’t have used it as my setting as I wouldn’t be confident I could make it realistic. If any of the books are set outside of Australia, like Book 3 being set in Venice, it will be because I have visited that place and can therefore make an authentic portrayal of the place I’m writing about.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My murder mysteries follow the traditional story arc of good triumphing over evil, so I guess that’s the message. Good always wins out in the end. Nice guys don’t finish last. I really believe in Karma, I believe that you get back what you give out. If you’re a good person, if you’re nice to people and try to help them, if you do good deeds without wanting anything in return, then good things will happen to you.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I don’t think I’ve read any new authors lately, but my favourite writers include Maya Angelou, Jack Kerouac, Alexander McCall Smith, Bill Bryson, Farahad Zama, Sue Monk Kidd, Deborah Rodriguez, Vaseem Khan and Donald Bain. The reason I love these writers is that they really engage me, they create characters that I care about and tell stories that stay with me long after I’ve finished reading them.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Ten or twelve people have read the manuscript of my first book and only three of them were family members. The others were friends – apart from three, who are other authors that I don’t know personally. I’ve gotten really positive feedback from everyone who’s read it so that’s really encouraging. My friends and family are a great support, they really believe in my book and can’t wait to see it published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do. I’m not published yet so I’m not earning any money from it at the moment but I definitely see writing as my career, it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I hope that I will be able to make my living from writing, but money isn’t why I do it. I write because the alternative would be unthinkable!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Based on the feedback I’ve gotten from FarahadZama, and also Irish crime writer Declan Hughes, I will be making some changes to my first book, specifically the first chapter. Both felt that there was too much going on, too many characters are introduced in a short space of time so it might be a little overwhelming for the reader!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I think I learned how much I really enjoy writing. It took me quite a while to finish my first book so I also learned how hard writing can be, and I guess because of that I felt a real sense of achievement when it was finished. Then when people read it and loved it I think that showed me that, not only do I enjoy writing, but I might actually be pretty good at it too!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Emily Deschanel – she’s about fourteen years older than Wade Kennedy but I’m sure she could pull it off!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Write what you want to write, not what you think others will want to read. Write because it makes you happy, not because you want to be rich and famous – because it’s very unlikely that that’s going to happen!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Well at the moment my readers are a very exclusive group – exclusive as in small! I guess I’d like them to know that it means the world to me that they’re so supportive and really want me to succeed. I feel really lucky to have them behind me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
There’s an old TV show called Quantum Leap and it’s one of my all time favourite shows, so at the moment I’m actually reading a Quantum Leap novel called Random Measures. I’m also reading a non-fiction book about Ancient Egypt.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, that was much too long ago! I started reading Nancy Drew books when I was 10 or 12, but I’m not sure what I read before that.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything makes me cry – sad adverts, sad movies that I’ve seen a million times… I’m a very emotional person so it’s not hard to make me cry! But I laugh a lot too, at all sorts of things. Cheesy jokes, Jim Carey movies, my son, lots of different things.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
If I could only pick one it would have to be Maya Angelou. She was such an inspirational woman and had so much wisdom and knowledge. Everything she said was worth hearing and remembering. I have all of her books and really treasure them.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Aside from reading I love to travel. I also love spending time with my friends and family.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Some of my favourite TV shows are Quantum Leap, Due South, Friends, Bones, CSI, Monk, Murder She Wrote, MacGyver, Diagnosis Murder, Buffy and Perry Mason. My favourite movies include Ghostbusters, The Shawshank Redemption, Clueless, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Back to the Future, Stigmata, and anything with Tom Hanks!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favourite food is probably pasta. I love all colours, especially bright, vibrant colours. I love all kinds of music – Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Duran Duran, Adele, Sarah McLachlan, Alicia Keys, The Who etc etc.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I guess I’d find other things to do – travel, charity work, I’d love to do a parachute jump! But not being able to write would definitely suck!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Wow, there’s a question! I really don’t know. I hope that by the time that becomes an issue I’ll have done some worthwhile things and made some kind of a difference in the world, but I guess I’ll just leave that up to the person who gives enough of a crap to want to have something written on it, hopefully my son.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
All I have right now is my facebook page – Philomena Barry Author. People can add me and follow my journey from obscure nobody to published author!