The JR Bunnies are happy to welcome Author Lorraine Pestell
Part Three of my novel serial “A Life Singular” was released in August, deep in the Australian winter. Well, as deep as winter gets down here… It’s self-published via CreateSpace, for sale via my website and Amazon. Sales proceeds go to two Australian children’s charities.
Tell us a little about “A Life Singular – Part Three”, what inspired you to write the “A Life Singular” serial?
A novel in six parts, “A Life Singular” is my life’s work, telling the story of a successful rock star writing his autobiography after the tragic loss of his wife. Part Three takes readers back to the début of his spectacular career and sees him reunited with his dream girl, from whom he was separated at the end of Part Two.
I have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with its various debilitating symptoms, for most of my life. Therefore, using the universal theme of love and our fascination with celebrity, I hope to achieve two main goals by writing these books: first, to inspire fellow sufferers to triumph over mental illness; and second, to encourage non-sufferers to tolerate, support and even love us as we try to live a “normal” life.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Since the idea for this story has been with me since my teens, I have all six parts plotted to varying levels of completion. In fact, I have already written “THE END”! I’m currently working on Part Four (How predictable! J), for which most chapters already have a clear structure.
However, whenever I dig deeper into the characters’ reactions to each situation, I am always amazed by the journey of discovery I take with them. Sometimes I look back on a particular passage, knowing I had absolutely no intention of writing it when I first sat down at the computer.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
Before becoming serious about publishing “A Life Singular”, I had only ever written business documents and the occasional non-fiction piece in support of various good causes. I have always loved writing; even being told several times by clients and colleagues that my project plans and business cases are compelling! I have too much respect for readers’ precious time not to put significant effort into crafting the message into something readable and interesting, particularly when the topic is dry.
As mentioned above, my inspiration to write contemporary fiction, romance and tales of conquering life’s challenges comes from a desire to de-stigmatize mental illness in the wider community. A recent World Health Organisation report quoted that as many as 350 million people in developed countries are suffering from some sort of mental health problem at any one time, all of whom are struggling to fit into a world that often prefers not to acknowledge these statistics.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The trickiest character to portray is the heroine whose devotion transformed our handsome rock star’s life of addiction and nightmares into one where he becomes a great leader and advocate for the marginalized and disadvantaged. She is a strong, independent woman who loves her man deeply and is driven to support his quest to be the man he seeks to be, which means she needs to strike a balance between indulging his damaging behaviour and standing up for herself.
Sharing some of my protagonist’s impaired judgment and many similarly-flawed thought processes, I have focused the attributes and actions of his leading lady’s character on giving her lover what he needs rather than what he wants.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Inspiration surrounds me every day, whether at work, while volunteering with disadvantaged people, in the entertainment world or even walking my dog! I have woven many an accentuated trait – both good and evil – into my characters, primarily from overly pompous bosses or from hard lessons learned during my personal battles.
Whenever I choose names for peripheral characters, I usually select from my friends and acquaintances, so they can find themselves in my books. However, I took the decision early on that it would be safer if they couldn’t recognise their own personalities in the character, leading me to match names with a contradictory persona. For example, my good friend Maggie, who’s not a fan of young children (to put it mildly J), has kindly donated her name to a midwife in Part Four!
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The only part of writing that I find hard is being able to devote sufficient time to it! Working fuller-than-full-time, volunteering for several non-profit organizations and looking after my gorgeous Belgian Shepherd dog leaves little time for the pastime I love so much.
I have been lucky never to suffer from writer’s block, often waking multiple times during the night to write down plot snippets or dialogue ideas that come to me while I’m on the cusp of sleep. By the time I’ve incorporated these scribbles into whichever section of the story they best belong, it’s almost bedtime before I can actually make any real progress.
Promotion and marketing are also quite difficult, both due to the time constraints and because, like many other writers, I’m an introvert who finds “blowing my own trumpet” very uncomfortable. Also, living on the bottom of the world, often the time difference between writer and reader is not conducive to live communication!
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Something people don’t know about me until they read my books is that I believe that suicide ought to be a basic human right. Society tells people that they should love life, but what about those who can’t? What’s so wrong with wanting to make a little more room for the ones whose conscious desires conform to popular expectation?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
That depends on the time of day: coffee, coffee, coffee until around 2pm; then a smooth, dark Tempranillo wine after 6pm; and of course, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate no matter the hour, weather, season…
What TV Show/s are you addicted to?
I rarely watch TV, apart from getting my world news fix after work. The few shows I like tend to be political dramas, such as “House of Cards” (original UK version), or sophisticated comedy like “The Alternative Comedy Experience” or the anarchic quiz show “QI”, which stands for “Quite Interesting”!
Do you have a hobby that you like to try and squeeze in?
I love listening to music, which I can do while I’m fulfilling my social media obligations but not when I’m writing my books. Also, I try to read for pleasure (rather than work-related) for a short time every night.
Most of my down-time is spent walking in wild places, chasing rabbits and frightening seabirds with my dog, Nikki. I’m an inadequate hunting companion, unfortunately for Nikki but fortunately for her prey J.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I have difficulty stemming the flow of creative juices, to be honest. I do need to have completed all higher priority activities before I sit down to write however, otherwise I would have no food in the house, no clean clothes to wear and a very hungry hound!
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Yes! My books all have a soundtrack, and music is woven throughout due to the fact that my protagonist is a songwriter and rock guitarist. My favo(u)rite songs always have complex lyrics, often by Don Henley, Billy Joel or Bernie Taupin, although my musical taste is extremely broad.
Rather than a theme song, each of my books has a “theme book”. I grew up with European literature, particularly French and Russian, and have linked my serial with six classic novels. “A Life Singular – Part Three” pays tribute to “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Do you write one book from start to finish or are there multiple works underway at any given time?
As mentioned in a previous question, I have all six parts of my serial mapped out. I normally concentrate on the next part to be released, since I have set myself the fairly aggressive deadline of six months per book. I often dip into Parts Five and Six in the process, in order to maintain the plotline’s integrity, since my protagonist’s autobiography occasionally needs to relay teasers to memoirs not yet explored in full.
And, for all those random nocturnal thoughts and any other inspiration that comes to me out of sequence, there’s always my trust Extras.docx J.
Where were you when you got your first contract? What was the book and who did you tell first?
N/A – I’m self-published.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Probably around 16 or 17 years old, but I don’t exactly remember. Too long ago!
Do you have an all-time favorite romance book (not written by you J)?
“Tanamera” by Noel Barber, set in Singapore in the 1930s, has stuck in my memory for many years. It has everything: an exotic location, a steamy romance and the battle of love versus duty.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Sorry, have never “gone fan girl” – yet, anyway!
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
For my sins, I am a thirty-year veteran of the IT industry and am currently responsible for the technology strategy of a toll road operator in Australia and the US. If anyone wants to know about driverless cars, tunnel-inspecting drones or the ethics of vehicle platooning, you’re welcome to drop me a line… J
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and an all-time favorite?
My all-time favo(u)rite movie is “Crash”, directed by Paul Haggis and released in 2004, which stars Don Cheadle and is a masterful labyrinth of backstories which have all collided by the closing scenes.
The most recent movie I saw was Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”, starring Cate Blanchett as an outwardly-beautiful, inwardly-scarred woman who is forced to learn extraordinary things about herself.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m in the middle of “A Life Singular – Part Four”, which I hope to release in December 2014, though I fear I’m running a little behind schedule. Part Four sees our healing rock star marry the love of his life and reconnect with his estranged father. The bereaved author continues to document the couple’s extraordinary achievements under the watchful eye of their two children, who watch and learn as life before they existed is written into their father’s autobiography as lessons of love and wisdom.
And yes, you’ve guessed it… In the wings are Parts Five and Six J
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Undoubtedly Victor Hugo, although this would be slightly impossible! If I were to pick someone still breathing and providing he would entertain the prospect, Paulo Coelho.
How did you hear about the “bunnies” at Joyfully Reviewed?
I heard about Joyfully Reviewed during my exploration through the blogosphere, trawling other authors’ sites and discovering the most eye-catching book review blogs. The US and Europe are so far ahead of Australia in all aspects of self-publishing and the use of social media for promotion, not to mention gaining access to populations far greater than our tiny, far-flung 23 million people!
Where can readers find you?
Thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog, and I’d love to hear from readers and potential readers through any of the following channels:
- My serial’s website http://www.ALifeSingular.net, where the books can be purchased and proceeds automatically go to my two supported charities: The Smith Family (http://www.thesmithfamily.com.au) and the School Volunteer Program (http://www.svp.org.au)
- My blog http://ALifeSingular.com, where I post about writing, PTSD, depression, random acts of kindness and any other material which might be of general interest
- The books’ Facebook fanpage https://www.facebook.com/ALifeSingular
- On Twitter, via @LorrainePestell
- My Authors Den profile is at http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?authorid=180548
- At the Independent Authors Network http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/lorraine-pestell.html
- “A Life Singular – Part Three” is available from all Amazon regional sites with the ASIN of B00LLB9LIO, and my author profile is http://amazon.com/author/lorrainepestell
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of ice cream?
I have to confess to being a Ben & Jerry’s Choc Chip Cookie Dough addict, after living in the US in the late 90s. Ben & Jerry’s only arrived in Australia last year, so I’m making up for lost time…