Today I am lucky enough to be hosting a Q&A with Suzanne Daniel. This Q&A is part of a blog tour for Suzanne’s novel Allegra In Three Parts.
So without further ado, lets jump in…
Where and when can we buy your book?
‘Allegra In Three Parts’ is being launched by Pan Macmillan on May 28, 2019 and will be available in bookstores throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is also available as an Audiobook and EBook.
Knopf is publishing it as ‘A Girl In Three Parts’ in the US & Canada in April 2020.
Give us an insight into your main character?
Allegra is an eleven-year-old girl being raised by her two very different grandmothers, and her rather removed father, in North Bondi during the second wave of the women’s movement in the 1970s. Her mother is off the scene for reasons that are a mystery to Allegra. None of the adults in her family speak to the others, so she has become the quirky, lovable, sometimes wise, often naïve ‘go between’. She wishes they could all love her a little less and like each other a little more. Allegra sees herself as being made up of each one of her relatives so much so that her feelings are amped up by theirs, and she finds herself split by their contrasting ways of being in the world.
Allegra is clever and empathetic with a pulsing imagination and tendency towards self consciousness.
Was there a particular moment or smell that spark your idea for this book?
I came to be fascinated by what was happening for women during the second wave of the women’s movement. Not just the street marches and the mobilising actions of the ‘sisterhood’, but for women out in the suburbs, some staying in marriages they were disillusioned with, others leaving them to carve out a new identity. Many women ended up leading double lives: feminist uni student by day, then a second shift as homemaker, wife and mother. Conversations were starting to change among women and between women and men. Women were opening up to one another in a new way, starting to understand through sharing their private thoughts, responses and feelings, that it wasn’t ‘just me’ but that what they were experiencing was almost universal.
I wanted to honour those feminist women who went before me and encourage younger ones coming through.
I’m also interested in how a child carves out their identity when there are multiple options put before them by members of their own family. Family conflict can go straight to the heart of a child.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character/s from this book?
United Talent Agency is representing me with a view to my novel being made into a film or a TV series. I met with them earlier this year in LA. It was tremendously exciting to discuss the prospects and the actors who might play my characters but it would be premature for me to nominate anyone in particular. Stay tuned!
When did you decide to become a writer?
I always loved reading, listening to, watching and writing stories. I studied for a diploma in drama, a degree in communications and a masters in journalism and worked as a journo in newspapers, television and radio. I did short courses in creative writing, scriptwriting and playwriting which I squeeze in around work, family and life. I decided about eight years ago, when we had ‘half a gap year’ living in France, to finally try my hand at writing a novel.
Do you have a special time or place where you like to write?
I usually write in my study at home in Sydney overlooking the water, or at the dining room table at our little farm in Berry on the South Coast overlooking the mountain. Sometimes I write from my bed in both places, especially if I get started early in the morning or work late into the night.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
On my writing days I shoot for 600 words, banked. Of course I usually have to write a good deal more than that to reach that goal.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
While researching or interviewing people I take copious notes with a pen and paper. When I’m writing creatively, I use a computer. I’m in awe of people who write in longhand.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere and sometimes out of nowhere. From deep within me and then from outside of me. On occasions they come through me!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
A combination of both.
I tend to work with themes, big and small. For most of ‘Allegra In Three Parts’ I wrote chronologically because I like to build the story and have consequences flow from what has gone before. But three quarters of the way through the ending came to me, clearly, so I jumped ahead and got it down. It was then a matter of writing towards getting to that.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Sitting down for long periods
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Having a sense that leading a full and interesting life really helps your writing
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Sure, but mostly when I’m not working. Once I’m researching, interviewing or at my computer screen and writing, something comes to me
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Make yourself sit down and push through. Finish the day’s writing at a point where you know how it will go on when you come back to it next
What book/s are you reading at present?
I usually have some fiction and non-fiction on the go all at once. Right now I’m reading ‘The Moment Of Lift’ by Melinda Gates, ‘Unfettered and Alive’ by Anne Summers and I’m finishing ‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I’ve been a conscientious objector until recently. Now that I’m embracing it I understand the upside but am nervous about the downside, especially the time-sucking element
How do you relax?
Walking with family and friends, especially in the bush or by the sea. Spending time at our farm. Yoga, meditation, cooking, reading, film and theatre
What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t like to play favourites
Which writers inspire you?
Those that keep going in the face of rejections from agents and publishers
What advice would you give to your younger self?
There’s a huge amount of good life to be lived on the older side of your youth.
Accumulate experiences and wisdom rather than ‘things’ and regrets
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Jesus Christ…just so I could know for sure
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you think you have a book in you, make it your job to get it out of you!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Linkedin: Suzanne Daniel
Well that’s it from me. I hope you guys enjoyed today’s Q&A. Don’t forget to check out Allegra In Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel.
Until next time…