I have a visitor this morning that I've been looking forward to hosting on Brant Flakes for a few months, the lovely Therese Walsh. She's the founder and president of our new RWA Women's Fiction chapter (yay!) and an incredibly talented writer. Her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Shayne Areheart Books) is out TODAY, and it's a book Publishers Weekly praised as being a "pleasing blend of mystery, romance, and the supernatural."
1. Can you tell us the premise of your book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy? First off, thanks for having me, Marilyn. It’s a pleasure to be here at Brant Flakes!
The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a women’s fiction novel that borrows liberally from other genres: psychological suspense, mystery, family saga, romance and mythical realism. It’s about a woman who lost her identical twin--and a large portion of herself--about a decade ago, but reconnects with her former life after purchasing an artifact from her past. Through interwoven narratives, we see Maeve Leahy as she was and what led to the tragedy with her sister, Moira; and we travel with her in the present day as she unravels the truth about the artifact--who's following her and leaving her notes. We see her transform as layers of her past are peeled away and the course of her future is forever altered.
2. What was one scene you especially enjoyed writing and why? One scene is particularly special to me, because it was my touchstone when I began rewriting the manuscript in 2005. (I’d worked on a previous version of the book from 2002-04.) Before tackling the rewrite, I had to decide which elements to focus on; there’d been too much going on and the narrative was confused. I realized I couldn’t live without one scene, which I can’t describe in detail but features the twins Moira and Maeve Leahy. That scene is one of the very few to survive the mass slaughter of the first version of the book and—happily—is reflected pictorially on Moira’s cover.
3. What's your writing background like? Was Moira the first novel you wrote or have there been others? The Last Will of Moira Leahy is my first novel-length fiction. Since I wrote it twice, though, and the stories are so different, maybe you could say that I have a manuscript under my bed.
I worked as a freelance health writer while writing my fiction, mostly for Rodale Press. I’d previously worked as a researcher and writer for Prevention Magazine, and Rodale is Prevention’s mothership.
4. Your group website, "Writer Unboxed," has won a number of Writer's Digest awards for being one of the 101 Best Websites for authors. It's a great informational site for writers. How did it come into being? Thank you! Kathleen Bolton, who was one of my trusted critique partners, approached me one day and asked if I’d like to form a blog with her. I agreed. We weren’t sure of the blog’s focus at first. I remember telling her Rodale Press’s secret formula: provide empowering info, and they will come. We wanted readers, so we agreed to give it a try: provide empowering info to writers with posts on the craft and business of genre fiction, and interview a wide array of authors and other publishing pros.
5. What's your favorite and/or least favorite thing about being a writer? My favorite thing is engaging the muse. I love it when she surprises me—when a scene twists in a way I’d never envisioned or when the words come effortlessly. (That last is a rare but much appreciated phenomenon!)
My least favorite thing is the solitude—the number of hours you must spend alone before the computer screen to accomplish your goals.
6. What other art form inspires you as much as writing? Music. I was once a music major and still sing occasionally with a local performance group. That phenomenon with the muse I just described? When you’re singing some pieces—like Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium—you can experience that same sort of high, grateful just to be in the moment. The nice thing about music though is that you can anticipate those moments, phrase by phrase; they keep you coming back for more.
7. If you could have lunch with one author, one actor and one musician (these three people can be living or dead), who would you ask to join you? This took some thought!
Author: Barbara Samuel O’Neal, because I love her dearly and she adores food as much as, if not more than, I do.
Actor: Johnny Depp, because my children say so.
Musician: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, just because.
8. What's your next novel about? Is it related to Moira in some way? The next book won’t be a continuation with the same characters or setting, but it will be another work of women’s fiction melded with mystery, psychological suspense, family saga, love story elements and mythical realism. It’ll take place entirely in West Virginia , as the characters travel the state on foot. There is so much about this book I am falling in love with.
9. Any tips for aspiring writers that you'd like to share? I think many writers send out their work prematurely. Take your time, and polish, polish, polish. It’s too easy nowadays for agents and editors to say, “no,” so make it impossible by giving them something that’s both fresh and finely crafted.
10. What's one question you wish you could ask your readers? I’d feel happy with an affirmative response to this: Did The Last Will of Moira Leahy make you laugh, did it make you cry?
Thanks again for having me, Marilyn, especially since I know this is a crazy month for you as well. Congrats on the release of According to Jane!
My pleasure, Therese! :)
**Also in the Blogosphere today, I have the super-duper extra fun of being Heidi Betts's October guest on WIPs and Chains...in The Dungeon! Part one is up now, but I'll be back for the next two weeks, too. (Thanks, Heidi. ;-) I've also got an AuthorBuzz contest up this week for anyone interested in that. AND I've had a few new interviews and book reviews pop up online from some fabulous people, including Joni Rodgers, Nadine Dajani, Kristi at Books and Needlepoint, VVB32 Reads and Michele from The Rewrite Cafe. Thanks, everyone!!**