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?
My name is Almandyne and I’ll be turning twenty this September.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Lived in Bangalore, India, since I was six.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m somebody who likes human stories better than human biology and yet is somehow stuck in med school. It’s complicated.
I have a small family. Dad, younger sister and me. Lost my mother to suicide six years ago. Life’s changed ever since. I don’t know if it’s for the better, but I did discover writing after that. So.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My book I Like Sunflowers is FINALLY OUT. It’s a contemporary literary fiction novel about a 24-year-old college dropout who has never had a job before, and has forever been living off of her great-grandfather’s massive inheritance. And how things change when she’s forced to volunteer at a mental asylum in the name of a favor.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I mostly wrote to feel less lonely. Slowly started to show it to a couple friends. They liked it so I created a blog to keep doing it. I deleted that blog when I jumped into writing novels but came back to blogging this year to find a little hope to keep going on as a human being.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I never called myself writer until I Like Sunflowers. I guess I was just afraid to be called one when I didn’t have something legit to prove that I was one indeed. I don’t know.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A lot of things. Maybe it was my awful childhood that pushed me into finishing it. Maybe it was the fact that I felt like I owed it to the people who lived and died around me. Maybe it was just something I had to do to keep myself alive.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
That’s a secret. You’ll have to read the book to know what it means. All I can say is this – it’s not literal. It’s more metaphorical than you might think.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m still discovering my writing style. For now I would say I write pretty simple and direct. People say my books sound like a really long, deep, meaningful conversation hidden in a story. But I don’t think I’ll ever confine to one kind of style of writing. I wanna explore it all.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
That’s good question. I think towards the end the book has a lot of parts that were drawn out of real experiences and events.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Haha. I wish I could afford to travel, lol.
Most of my writings are written in a little room with bright yellow walls and a tiny window through which you can see a wall. Yeah, a wall. My neighbor didn’t think I deserved to see anything but a long dirty green wall of his house.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Me. But it’s kinda obvious when you look at it. I’m mostly accused of making it look “too childish”. But I do have a reason for why I did that. Here’s me trying to explain –
The whole point of the cover of ILS is that though to somebody who hasn’t read the book yet it might look “childish”, once you start reading and you look back at the cover every time you’re turning the pages you start to realize how your perspective of the word “childish” has changed.
From oh that’s so naive, to – wow, why aren’t more people talking about this.
You start to realize how these little things matter. How it matters to you more than you used to assume. And how you miss those days when you didn’t let the world change your thoughts on what’s important to you and what’s not. And how we’ve only reached a point in our lives where we just consider them “childish”.
And that I believe makes a reader sigh and look outside their window, feeling different. That’s why it’s the perfect cover. You don’t need anything but the cover to remind you of all that change that took place in your heart.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
So many. So many that I hope they’d read to get them all. But most importantly the book speaks of certain aspects of suicide and the way we see it in our world. Here’s a quote from the book to show you what I mean –
Because I think for every person who’s ready to believe that people who are suicidal aren’t cowards, there’s somebody out there who’s finally okay with telling the world, “YES, I AM SUICIDAL. BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED OF IT.”
Because the very fact that they’re still alive makes them a survivor, and they finally get to see it too.
And that matters. To someone, it does.
– Almandyne, I Like Sunflowers
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 wish I knew a couple new authors as well, but I guess I’mnot that avid a reader. I’m more of a girl who fell in love with stories through movies than I did with books. Did I tell you I write screenplays too?
But books definitely have played a huge role in my life. Authors like Paulo Coelho, John Green, Harper Lee, and currently Charles Dickens, are very important to me. I guess something about these people made me wanna believe in my own stories a little more.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Akchara Shriram. She’s a friend. And she’s the only reason I got this far. I wouldn’t have survived a single day as a writer if I didn’t have her by my side to support me through both the bad and the good times.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I don’t get paid for it yet. But I will keep calling myself a writer even if I’m never recognized as one forever. It’s the only thing I’d ever want to call myself.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think everyone would want to make changes in something they’ve published earlier. We all grow as artists and I think it’s important we grow out of our previous works to become a better artist. But I think one thing I wish had been different in I Like Sunflowers is the typos. I did get an editor and everything. But I guess it was just meant to be. Maybe my book was just meant to be one of those imperfect novels with typos. At least that’s how I console myself.
I’ve kinda just used this whole experience to teach myself to embrace my flaws. And I guess that’s good.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Of course. So much about the art of stroytelling and more importantly, so much about myself.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Lol. I love this question. I think I would want a new actress to play the lead role. ‘Cause even if they see her anywhere else I want people to go like – “Oh, look, that’s Jordan Blackwood.” (which by the way is the name of the lead character in I Like Sunflowers)
I would want the character of Jordan Blackwood to be immortalized in people’s head. And yes, other actors with more experience could probably pull it off pretty well too, but I distinctly remember watching Divergent the first time, after TFIOS, and going like “That’s Hazel Grace Lancaster with longer hair!” Also the whole Augustus being the brother was very disturbing. I don’t want that ever happening with my book if ever somebody wanted to waste their money on it.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I’d say believe in yourself. Don’t wait for somebody to have done it, or said it, before you to believe in your art. Your voice matters and you wouldn’t have people reminding you that a lot in your life. So, you’ve gotta do it yourself. Wake up every day and tell yourself you matter. That’s all the advice I’ve got for all the storytellers out there.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Uh, I hope my book leaves a beautiful mark on your soul. That’s all.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
David Copperfield. I’m struggling my way into it. But I’m determined to finish it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Wow, I don’t. Wait. I think it was The Little Prince. But I didn’t like the book back then. I came back to it years later and here I am, so deeply in love with that book that no other book can ever replace its place in my heart. I kinda keep misspelling the author’s name though.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Stories. To me, stories are all that matters and all that lasts in our trivial lives. Stories help me like people better. So I think stories are what that make me laugh or cry or even feel anything.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Probably David Mamet. If I can survive him insulting my writing I think I can survive any criticism. 🙂
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Studying medicine. That’s presently my hobby. Not something I do out of love. More to do with social pressure and such. But the amount of time I currently am spending on it on a day to day basis will definitely push it into the category of hobbies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Now that’s a list that will never end. But I think Grey’s Anatomy will top the list ‘cause no matter how much I loathe medicine, keeping in mind that I’m stuck in med school, I think that show manages to make me fall in love with its people and their stories nevertheless.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Color – Orange.
Music – Lorde forever 💙
Food – Nutella. Does that come under food? I can eat it three times a day.
Also I have a favorite planet – Neptune. Just thought you should know.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Hahahhahahhahahhah. Don’t ask.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Staring at a sunset; climbing tress; watering gardens; running and rolling over grass; breathe in and breathe out watching birds fly.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She didn’t know what she was doing either.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Link for reading more about the book – https://realalmandyne.com/i-like-sunflowers/
Link for buying the book – https://realalmandyne.com/get-your-copy /
Link for Amazon author page – https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07CK3PVKT?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Link to the goodreads page of the book – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39918593-i-like-sunflowers
And let me tell you a secret – my next novel will be published there soonchapter by chapter on a daily basis. So follow me there to stay updated and read more of my works.
Also can we take a moment to appreciate how wonderful these questions are?
Thanks for this. Made me smile.