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Interview with Christine Dibley

January 12, 2017

Have you ever finished a great book and wished to discuss your most burning questions with the author? 

 

That is just what happened to me! I recently read and posted a review of the debut novel by Christine Dibley - To The Sea and was given the great opportunity of interviewing her.

 

But before we get to the interview, I wanted to give you a chance to WIN a FREE copy of this 5 star book and read the story for your self. 

 

Pan Macmillan gave me an advanced copy for the review and now they would like to share the love and offer one lucky winner a FREE copy.

 

How do I win you ask?

 

Well it's really simple, all you have to do is sign up to my mailing list, here on the left hand side. By giving me your name and e-mail address you will go into the draw to  WIN.

 

There is no better way then to start the new year on a positive note, a FREE copy of a book and an enchanting story to measure up agains all other stories that follow it. 

 

I will draw the winner on the 22nd of January 2017 and will contact them directly via e-mail. Good luck!! 

 

 

 

 

Without further delay here is the interview with Christine Dibley [W], I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it. 

In your acknowledgements you said that your late mother told you many stories in your childhood which mesmerised you. But what was the muse or inspiration to writing this story and in this way?

 

Ireland. There is something about being in Ireland that brings out the story teller in me. And every story you can imagine is believable in Ireland. Mythical legends sit comfortably with day to day life. The quote I used by Ernie O’Malley at the beginning of the book captures this beautifully. And being in a place where the unreal and the real co-exist frees up the imagination. I am profoundly influenced by place. You spend a lot of time inside your own head writing a book and all the characters are created somewhere in there but place dominates for me. I guess I could try and create a fictional world but there are so many real places that cry out to me to be included in my stories. And when those places speak to me, they deliver me characters who belong so perfectly in that place. I happily let Ireland, especially Mayo, and Tasmania speak to the reader in To the Sea. 

 

While reading this book I identified my self as Tony and was reading into everyone’s story with a magnifying glass, in fact I re-red several sections after reading both Eva's & Tony's stories. I loved that Tony draws a line between mystery and crime. What were you hoping the reader would experience as they read this, i.e. did you hope for them to want to solve a crime or a mystery?

 

Firstly, I think I wanted the reader to acknowledge the difference between the two. I don’t believe To the Sea is a typical crime novel but neither is it strictly a fantasy story. I think Eva making Tony think about the difference between solving a mystery as opposed to a crime was her way of getting him to open his mind to what may have happened to Zoe. She wants him to look beyond the only logical option, that of Zoe drowning. When Eva is satisfied that he does understand the difference, she feels confident in telling him the tale. I was hoping the reader would see that there are many ways to look at something, even the tragedy of a young girl’s disappearance. Tony’s policeman ways are not working in his search for Zoe and he allows himself to be offered an alternative. From the point of Eva telling Tony the tale, I was able to take the book to a satisfying conclusion. Well, it was satisfying for me. I hope readers enjoy it too. 

 

By about page 350 I had a light bulb moment where I found that there were some not so co-incidental references of the selchie right at the start of the book before we are exposed to any tales of sea men- "Down on Table Rock, a lone seal was lying on its side with a flipper in the air, catching the last of the sun's rays. It would take off before dark and head out across the channel to one of the islands" and again when Tony is on the scene "He caught a quick movement out of the corner of his eye on the rocks near the divers - a black flash as a seal slid into the water from he flat ledge of a rocky outcrop……He (Tony) smiled to himself that he may just have let his only eyewitness leave the scene" I'm taking this to be Zoe after her transformation because it's a lonely seal. What methods did you use to bind the story together? Is it something you knew was going to be there upfront or did you scatter subtle hints after you had written the bulk of story already? 

 

A bit of both. That scene you describe on Table Rock is an interesting one as I am not sure that I did consciously write it as you read it. At my shack which runs down to the water and is the setting for Rosetta, seals often come up onto the rocks to lie in the sun. That said, you could be right and I didn’t even realise I was doing it! I did end up consciously placing some breadcrumbs for the reader to follow as part of the editing process. My editor wanted the reader on board from the very beginning (even if they weren’t aware of what exactly it was they had boarded). So, by following the breadcrumbs, we can see Tony slowly move towards the position he finds himself in at the end of the book. The breadcrumbs allow us to follow his inevitable journey, even if he can’t quite see where he is going.

 

Considering this is your first book if you look back at the first time you had the idea to the day the book was finally published what are the stand out emotions or feelings between the two? What have you learned from writing this book? 

 

The first emotion was one of excitement. I had decided to write and I threw myself into it. If I failed, I failed but I was going to give it my complete attention for as long as it took. The second, and recurring, emotion was  bewilderment. Every now and then, I would think ‘where am I going with this?’ or ‘what the hell am I doing?’ These moments were never enough to make me stop but they gave me pause and made me think critically about what I was trying to say and whether it was worth a year or more of my life to say it. Seeing the book sitting on a shelf in a book shop was an astonishing moment. I could see that my efforts, and all the efforts of my editors, had been worthwhile. I have learned to go where my mind takes me. If there is a story in my head that beguiles me, then I want to use all my energy and skill to try and beguile others with it. It doesn’t matter if the story seems a bit strange or doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. It’s my story so I am the only one who can tell it. That is tremendously exciting.

 

 I'm always interested in finding where people find inspiration and motivation, so if you had to pick one author or one book whose story will stay with you for ever, who would that be?

 

I’ve got a few of these: authors and books that knocked me into a different way of looking at the world and at myself. Today, I will say The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was the most fantastical, tragic, disturbing book I had read up until that moment in my life. And I love how readers disagree so vehemently about what happens in the book and why, or if, the girls did what they did. It is a book that tells an incredible, inexplicable story and Eugenides doesn’t try to explain it to us. Most books that try this approach fall apart in the nihilist chaos of such an attempt but The Virgin Suicides is a touching, perplexing masterpiece. It made me think about writing in a completely different way.

 

I am an aspiring author, what advice would you give someone like me about writing a book?

 

My answer is going to be the one we have all heard a thousand times from authors. If you want to write … write. Don’t think about it, don’t plan out an entire book in your head, don’t wonder whether you can do it or not … just write. I don’t know that I aspired to be an author. Maybe in my dreams but I had no real belief a publisher would want to publish what I wrote but I did want to write. Believing that no-one would ever read it enabled me to write whatever I wanted. That was liberating. I think if I had had an advance from a publisher and I knew I had to ‘deliver’, I don’t think I would have written the same book. I think the magical realism elements would have died as I would have been too self-conscious to just let the writing go where it needed to go. Once you’ve written your story, then comes the hard part … finding a publisher who thinks you really might be an author after all. 

 

 

 

Published by Pan Macmillan.

 

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