Author Interview with Marianne Holmes
Hello everyone! How have you been this October? Hope all is well with y’all!
It is my pleasure to invite and introduce Marianne Holmes today at Syllables of Swathi! She is none other than the author of the best selling Literary Fiction A little Bird Told Me, that released earlier this year! Click here to read my full review of the book, and enjoy the blurb of it! Read further to learn more about this Marianne and her lovely book. She also shares her writing experiences, and talks about her inspiration, favorite authors and her pet fishes – Infinity Flame and Mars!!!
Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.
A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.
A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne’s first novel.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
As a little girl I read anything I could get my hands on and dreamed of being an author. There weren’t any exams in writing books at the time so I concentrated on languages and have a BA (Hons) in Classics from Royal Holloway, University of London, and an MA in Linguistics from University College, London. I’ve spent most of my working life in Marketing, in some form or another, but I’ve also done a number of fairly random jobs, taken time off work to travel when I could and been at home with my kids. It was when my youngest started playgroup that I had a little space to start writing regularly. A Little Bird Told Me is my first novel.
Where were you raised? Where do you live now? Do you have any pets?
My father was in the RAF so we moved around a lot. I was born in Cyprus but we moved between the UK, Germany, the Middle East and Belgium and, as a result, I attended boarding school in the UK as a teenager. Now, I live in London with my family. It’s a wonderful, diverse city and I love it. My children have been asking for a pet for ages so we recently bought them two very small goldfish and they live in a little pond in the garden.
The fish have been named Infinity Flame and Mars but they seem to spend most of their time hiding in the plants!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The characters of Robyn and Kit in A Little Bird Told Me started life in a slightly spooky short story that I wrote to read out at my writing group. The story about an emotionally damaged Robyn and her brother Kit returning to a town that felt full of menace and secrets prompted a lot of questions and I thought it would be fun to answer them in more short stories. So, I set about working out exactly what Robyn was up to, how she had got her mysterious scar and why Kit was against their return. I wrote pretty much as the fancy took me and out of the sheer joy of writing and creating.
The part set in 1976 was primarily written as backstory but it gradually expanded and wormed its way into the book. I chose the heatwave of 1976 for the younger Robyn simply because I had very strong memories of how that summer felt as a child. It was particularly vivid for me because we’d been living in Germany for two years and it was a shock to return and find the green fields of Sussex so parched. It was thrilling for us children to be outside so much but over time it drained the energy of anyone with work to do and tempers were easily frayed.
It was also the year of the UK Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976 that first provided legal protection to female victims of domestic violence, five years after Erin Pizzey opened the world’s first refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, London, in 1971. The setting is not based on any one place but rather represents the general claustrophobia and conservatism of some small towns.
Robyn’s family were identified as being ‘different’ by the rest of the town and this sharpens her feelings of disconnection when she returns. I used my own experience of moving between RAF bases as a child to understand her conflict; should she try and conform to fit in or stay apart and protect herself from the loss she’ll feel when she and Kit have to leave?
What genres do you write on? Is there a particular genre you want to try writing in the future?
I didn’t intentionally write this book in a particular genre, although it’s a mystery or domestic noir.
I suspect my stories will always have an element of mystery to them because that’s what I enjoy. It would be lovely to write a nice big fat epic love story but I’m not sure that’s quite my style. Yet!
What do you think will be the initial thoughts of your readers while reading your book?
I hope that readers will feel intrigued about what has happened to Robyn and Kit. Part of the story is told from the viewpoint of Robyn at the age of nine and she doesn’t always understand what the adults around her are saying or doing, so I hope in those passages the reader will feel some of that vulnerability and confusion that children feel when they’re not told the truth. Of course, little Robyn grows up to be adept at hiding the truth too, even from her brother, even ‘though learning the truth is the one thing that she desperately wants to do.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you follow a unique way for writing Fiction?
When I started writing about Robyn and Kit, I didn’t know that it would become a novel and I was just having fun. When I finally decided that that’s what I wanted to do I had a lot of work to impose some structure and consistency on the story. As I write other things, I’m trying to plan ahead so that I can save time later!
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
This is such a difficult one and changes every day. I love The Secret History by Donna Tartt, All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and anything by Iain Banks, Umberto Eco, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood… I could go on for pages! I’m starting to make a record on Goodreads of all the books I’ve loved – as and when I think of them – but it’s going to take a long time for me to even scratch the surface!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write for your own pleasure, because it makes your heart sing and brings joy to your life. But take it seriously because there will never be a better time to start unless you find it and guard it fiercely. Sometimes your house will be dirty. This is normal. Read as much as you can and without discrimination, you never know what unexpected treasure you’ll discover. All the time you’re reading you’re also effortlessly absorbing the beautiful variety of language and story. And, finally, persevere! It can feel like a very slow process but the pleasure of writing is worth it.
About the Book:
Publisher: Agora Books (13 September 2018)
Genre: Mystery Thriller/ Literary Fiction