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?
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m Irish, born in Dublin, now retired to Kilkenny.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m the third of four girls born to Dublin parents. We were largely raised by our father following our mother’s early death. Educated by the Holy Faith nuns, and later a two year stint in secretarial college, and six years of piano study at the Irish College Of Music, I launched into the real world at the age of sixteen. A guy in the company where I worked played bass guitar and wanted to form a band. Soon, I was playing keyboard and singing with my sister onstage. A couple of years later, I met my future husband and spent some time in the UK, before settling down to motherhood and domestic life. I took up painting and after a few years of evening classes, I joined an arts and crafts group, and, through that, became the organiser of an annual Christmas Craft Gift Fair in Dublin. This in turn led to my return to the commercial world as PA to the display contractor who built the stands for the annual show. I continued to work within the exhibition industry until I retired to Kilkenny, where life is both reclusive and blissfully peaceful.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Like many others these days, I’m watching the world stage and wondering about the future. Concern for children and grandchildren stunts my creative flow. I’ve only just finished a painting that has been on the easel for eighteen months. The new canvas isn’t faring well.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Back in the day when people wrote letters, I penned many weighty tomes. When I retired, and had time to fill, it was a natural progression. Crime fiction has always been a favourite so I decided to try some with an Irish flavour, but without the heavy emphasis on drugs, sex and expletives. I wanted to create a sexy Irish private detective working in a modern Irish environment – the kind of character I’ve had the good fortune to meet a few times, who, to me, represents the best of the Irish male. He’s open, warm, friendly, empathic and a warrior for justice. Matt Costello is tall, dark and handsome, with nose for trouble and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He’s also a separated father of two teenagers, Stephen and Clare. At nineteen, Clare manages his office on the outskirts of Dublin city.
Fiona: When did ityou first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t, really. To me, writers are gifted with beautiful language. Just as I call myself a painter, rather than an artist, I’m a storyteller. It’s a common trait of the Irish, I believe. There’s nothing we enjoy more than swapping stories and it is the reason a solitary drinker in an Irish pub is an oddity.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I ran into trouble in business. It was a power struggle. Even though it caused great stress and financial loss to me, it was a fascinating experience I consigned to print, and it proved to be valuable therapy. There’s a lot to be said for committing bad experiences to paper and filing them away. Later, I decided to create a fictional novel and was both surprised and delighted with the achievement. I was hooked. I had created my own reality, into which I could escape whenever I chose. While painting is a wonderful distraction, it’s purely visual in its creation. Writing engages the brain and the emotions. I’ve been known to become weepy while reading something I made up.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Watchers is the first in the Matt Costello series. As a mother of three, one of them a daughter, their vulnerability was always my prime focus. Watchers comes from that. Wherever we go, whatever we’re doing, we’re oblivious to those who move among us, watching with ulterior motives.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Because my books tend to see Matt involved with a couple of cases, it’s a challenge to keep them separated while sustaining the reader’s engagement with both. They are fast reads, primarily due, I think, to my own impatience with overly descriptive writing. I hate to have to plough through a travel brochure when arriving at a new location in a novel.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
We all draw from our life’s experience. Watchers is partly based upon a theory I hold about a number of missing women in Ireland in the 90s. It would be amazing to see the culprit exposed to discover how close, or far removed, I am from the truth. I shared my belief with the cops, who smiled benignly and dismissed me.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No. I’m gifted with a good memory and a vivid imagination. Much of Matt’s work involves past history – unresolved cases or overlooked events. They excavate memories I have, or episodes in the lives of others that were told to me.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kudos to Tirgearr Publishing for excellent graphics and editing.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Life throws up many injustices. I’m personally outraged by events that affect humanity, leaving us without recourse because there is nobody, or no avenue, to redress them. The world needs many Matt Costellos to pick up the people mown down by the ambitions of others. We’re in danger of losing our humanity through t manipulation by powerful forces. If we don’t stand up for each other, we’re doomed. Sometimes there is a price to pay, like the attack on my books on Goodreads, which reduced their overall rating from five stars. So be it.
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’m out of touch with modern writers. The book that had the greatest impact was Catch 22. I loved the writing. I had to read it twice to fully ‘get’ it. Another is a very old book by JP Donleavy called ‘The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B’. I bought it at a school fundraising fair. His ‘Ginger Man’ didn’t appeal at all, but this is hilarious. It’s about student life in Trinity College, Dublin.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
One precious friend, who makes up part of the Matt Costello character, made me a gift of a laptop to encourage me to write. He is forever in my heart.
Fiona: Do you see writing as career?
Writing is difficult career without a day job. It’s more about the fulfilment achieved by a finished work. Conventional publishing is almost out of reach as contracts are invariably awarded to writers of high profile rather than based upon the merit of the work. I’m still hopeful of a paper release but, unless I become notorious, I’m about as likely to win the lottery. I was comforted when a leading Irish publisher said I ‘deserved’ a publishing contract but…
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book is a work in progress. It’s the sixth in the series, though only three are published as ebooks. There will, no doubt, be several changes before it’s finished.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Every book is learning curve. It’s only when we try to explain how something works we realise how limited our knowledge is. Plausibility demands research so writing involves constant learning.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’ve thought about that a lot but I haven’t been able to come up with an actor. Matt is a very similar character to James Gandolfini’s representation of Tony Soprano. Matt is described as looking more Italian than Irish, he’s of similar build without the extra weight and while he’s tough and ‘cool’, there’s a slight shyness and vulnerability to him. I don’t know of an Irish actor who would fit the bill.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Same as for anyone investing in their own abilities; do it for the love of it. If you can make a living from it, you have been blessed.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Just one. If you really enjoy a book by a struggling author, say it in a review. It’s important to all authors but especially to those seeking recognition.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Not. Considering a Bible study.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain around the age of ten or eleven. He created my interest in tales about the ‘deep south’.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Children make me laugh. The current world situation makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Nikola Tesla. He was a genius. Despite being squashed by the greedy elite, and replaced by others perhaps less gifted, he remained quietly dedicated to his research. So little is known about him as a man.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Painting, movie watching, quiz programmes.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
These days, science fiction and political thrillers.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pasta. Red/mauve. Chopin.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Nothing. I’d have to be dead.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘Everything in its time’.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I’m not a blogger. I have an author page which, I regret, is somewhat neglected. I am on Facebook – when I’m not blocked, which is almost bi-monthly now. How long before book burning in public begins, I wonder.