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?
Hello everyone. My name is Trevor D’Silva. I am in mymid 30s.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I currently live in Charlotte, in the state of North Carolina, UnitedStates of America.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was born and brought up in India in a Catholic family. I did my schooling in a catholicinstitution run by the Jesuits.I obtained a bachelor’s degreein Mechanical Engineeringand then came to the U.S and obtainedmaster’sdegrees in Engineering Management, and in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I also got an Associate in Applied Science in Accounting. My early childhood days were not very exciting like some people.I spent my time reading a lot of books and improving my vocabulary. I spoke English(British)at home, and my late grandmother and parents always insisted that I spoke proper English; no slang or casual language was encouraged. I also got thelove forreading novels and history from my grandmother, and military and WW-2 history from my late father, sitting on his lap and watching war movies with him as a child.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I work full time and I am busy marketing my first novel ‘Fateful Decisions’. I am also in the process of writing my second novel, which partly takes place in Scotland, but mostly in England. I will be introducing a new detective in this novel. It is in a way a historical fiction novel, since it incorporates some history of the British Empire.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started reading at an early age and I always wanted to write stories. I actually started writing short stories as a child – probably around nine or ten. I startedwriting my first novel,‘Fateful Decisions’, in 1999/2000, while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. After that, I came to the U.S. and started with my graduate degrees. I did not have a lot of time other than focussing on my studies, but I wrote whenever I could. I did do research and kept the information to use at a later date. After finishing my studies, I taught for two years and then I decided to finish what I hadstarted. It was always atthe back of my mind to finish the novel and I did not want to prolong it any longer. I finally completed it in 2017 and got it published the same year.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I alwayswanted to write books because I had so many ideas. That started when Iwasaround nine or ten years old. Reading books from various authors, watching movies and also reading magazines gave me a lot of ideas. I felt that writing gave me an escape from the pressures of everyday life. I think I was destinedto be a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I always loved World War-2 stories. I got the love for military history, stories, and movies while watching World War-2 movies with my father. I love old Hollywood movies and I watch a lot of them. I decided that I would write a novel on the history of the early twentieth century betweenWorld Wars I and IIand also include the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression, and Prohibition. It took me seventeen years to write this novel since I was busy getting my degrees, but all the while I kept collecting material which I felt would give me ideas. Some ideas came from watching historical documentaries and also historical dramas like ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Godfather’. Therefore, it was just not one idea but a collection of various ideas that inspired me to write this novel. I also wanted to blend history and fiction to make history interesting for people to read and learn history froma novel. Most people find history boring and this was a good way to make it interesting for the readers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I actually went through many titles for the book. When I started pitching to agents, some gave me feedback about the chapters and why they did not want to take it up. I did not think that the title I had at that time was very catchy. So, I wanted to change it and decided to find a suitable title. It was when watching a Sherlock Holmes movie that I caught the phrase ‘Fateful Decisions’, and I thought, ‘what a wonderful title for my book. It fitsthe theme of my novel perfectly.’ So, I madethat as the title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
When I am trying to build up on the story and not sure about the details, I just try and write an outline. That is the skeleton of the novel and then gradually I add and delete stuff. It is very crucial that I know what I want the ending to be and I write the ending after being sure about it. I then manipulate the various twists and plots within the novel to come to that ending. Sometimes, all that has to be changed if they do not fit. It is all by trial and error.
The uniqueness of historical fiction is that it can be a blend of various kinds of genres. Therefore, connecting everything together, whether historically or for the sake of the reader, is a challenge. You do not want to miss out on interesting historical facts, but at the same time, you do not want to bore the readers with too many details and sohavetoconcentrate on writing the story to make it interesting. Also, if you are writing about any historical event, care should be taken to get the accurate details. There are many websites which are misleading or have the wrong information. So, you have tocheck and cross check those details before you write them. I remember while editing just before submitting the novel, I had to contact a school in Paris, France, to check the yearwhen it closed during WW-2. The website I referred to had thewrong information and it was no longer available later. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?’
My book is a historical fiction novel set between 1915 to 1946, with a flashback to 1912. Therefore, it is based on history of that time period. The historical events are real, while the characters are of my own making. I used the names of some people I know, but it is nothing to do with the characters themselves.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not for this novel. I have been to England, France, Italy, and Long Island, which are featured in my novel, but since it is based in the past, and what I wanted was well documented especially online, I did not have to travel. I used historical research to find out about the places and events in my novel. Therefore,the information was all obtained from researching books and the internet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I came up with the idea for the cover, and the design came to life through the talents of Chris Jefferies, who is also my webmaster. He is an American wholives in Germany. Here is his website in case anyone is interested in contacting him.http://alphi.xyz
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The novel is filled with morals. It helps the readerto learn not to make light of their decisions and to think carefully about the consequences. Also, it has a lesson about how good things come back later to help you or your family and that forgiving others, especially when they ask forgiveness, is what will bring peace.
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 read novels ofmodern authors like Brad Thor, James Patterson, Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, and others.
I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Jack Higgins, Franklin W. Dixon, Enid Blyton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others. Agatha Christie and Sidney Sheldon played an important role in inspiring me to write novels. I liked the way they weaved mystery and suspense to produce an interesting book. Agatha Christie is my favourite writer.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
No one, other than my parents, knew that I was writing. It took me seventeen years to write this novel and even they did not know about ituntil the last two years. I just wanted it to be a surprise and so kept it asecret until it was published.Actually, after the book was published, many people were surprised and admitted that they did not know that I was writing a novel. I would like to thank my publisher, ‘Black Rose Writing’,for getting my novel published and for getting my foot in the literary world.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to make writing as a career and if I could write full time for a living, that would make me very happy. Until then, I have to work for a living. I have just published my first book,and I amlearning the ropes on how to market the book and also build a fan baseso that I can make it a second career eventually.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not really; maybe justone or two sentences.It took me seventeen years to write this book, and I made sure that I put all I wanted into it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a lot about grammar, history, culture and the publishing industry. I also learned to figure outwhat exactlyagents are looking for and how difficult it is to get your first novel published. While researching the novel, I also learned a lot about history of the early twentieth century which is not always taught in school and shown in TV documentaries. It is always good to learn from other peoples’ experiences and perspectives from that time period. I would say thatwriting this novel educated me in many ways.It helped me grow as a writer and also avoid pitfalls when I write any future novels.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Not sure. I am kind of tied between an American and a British actress playing the lead. However, my lead character grows older in the novel and I think that part could be played by someone like Jenna Coleman, (since she makes a good Queen Victoria) or Claire Foy, if a British actress is chosen for the part. I imagined my lead to be around 5’7”, a brunette with blue eyes. Since my lead is American, Alexis Bledel could be another actress that would be a good fit if they chose an American actress.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Always research the subject matter you are writing about thoroughly and make sure you have an interesting start.An interesting start is the KEY.Also, make sure your novel is concise and easy to read.You do not want to bore the reader with too many details. Get to the point quickly. When seeking a publisher or a literary agent, many of them may not tell you the reason they will not pursue your project but will write a generic statement in an email rejecting it. Those that do tell you, please listen to their constructive criticism and do as they say. They may not take it up again after turning it down but somebody else may. Therefore, it is important to take advice. Place your best foot forward when trying to get an agent, publisher, or while marketing your book.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I wrote ‘Fateful Decisions’ to incorporate history with fiction and also to make it a fun way for the general public to learn about history while reading a novel. My novel is also filled with messages about how love and forgiveness triumph in the end. It also makes the reader aware that making decisions is not to be taken lightly, as there are consequences that arise from every decision we make. Therefore, there are many lessons to be learned from ‘Fateful Decisions’. I also want to add that this book is not only for women, but also for men, as it contains genres like romance, military history, suspense, thriller and murder, which all come under the umbrella of historical fiction. So, a little bit of everything for everyone. I am sure that people in England, Italy, Germany, and France would like the book as well since the novel is set in those countries, especially during WW-2.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading ‘Kaisers Last Kiss’. I have just begun reading it. The novel isabout the former German Kaiser in exile in the Netherlands during WW-2 and his relationship with the SS guards that have replaced his staff. It is interesting so far and I recommend it. I understand thatit has been made into a movie called, ‘The Exception’, starring Christopher Plummer.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Oh boy, that was a long time ago. I think it was a ‘Hardy Boys’ book (cannot remember the tile) or maybe ‘The Reader’s Digest.’
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Funny jokes or stories make me laugh. I guess sad events in life, like the death of a lovedone, will make anyone cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Agatha Christie, since her books gave me a love for reading and writing. I used to read a lot before I discovered her books at the age of fourteen, but her books were the ones that really instilled in me to take up writing as a hobby and maybe make it a second career. Her books also helped me build my vocabulary as she wrote her books at a time when people spoke better English.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, being a lover of history, I collect a lot of things which are old and rare. I collect stamps, coins, and also books;watch movies which are interesting to me; listen to music; and of course writing novels.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I mostly watch old films. I find that older films from the 30s to the 70s (British andHollywood) have many great actors and in many cases, interesting stories. People dressed well, had a lot of class, and spoke well. I also like old TV shows and some foreign language films. I do like some modern films, especially action packed adventure films, films based on true events, and films that have a lot of drama and suspense. If I watch TV at all, I watch the TV shows on PBS. I like the British and Australian TV shows. Dr. Blake Mysteries, Fr. Brown, Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders, A Place Called Home, Doc Martin, any shows related to Agatha Christie especially the Poirot series, and others if the episodes are interesting. I do not watch any of the modern American TV shows. I do, however, watch older American TV shows.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favourite foods are Chinese, Indian, and Italian. I am not picky;I love to eatanything that tastes good. I also cook my own food and like trying out different recipes. I try and lean more towards vegetarianism since it is good for health.
Colors – I guess blue and red.
With regard to music, I like music from yesteryears. I feel people had a lot of talent back then and the music really uplifts your soul and makes you feel better. Besides, I can always sing along since I can followthe lyrics which I cannot do with most modern music. I know I am an old soul!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I can no longer write, I would spend my time reading books. I would also love to travel and start my own garden. Of course itwill depend on my age and healthat that time.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘Writing was in his blood and he loved writing’. Besides that, obviouslymyname, birth and death dates.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, they can go to my website and there are links to my FB page which they can ‘like’ and get updates and also links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads websites where they can purchase the book digitally and online. They can also follow me on twitter and instagram as well, and they can also read my interviews in the interview section.
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