Monday, November 5, 2012

Author Chat with Kerry Dwyer About her Ramblings in Ireland

We welcome author Kerry Dwyer to the ludis today! She's here talking about her book Ramblings in Ireland and her life in Europe. Relax and enjoy our visit. 

Tell us who Kerry Dwyer is:
Kerry was born in the North of England and educated in the South. She worked in finance for more than two decades in the UK, USA and various countries in mainland Europe. She now lives with her husband and daughter in the South West of France. She gave up finance and retrained as an English teacher (TEFL) after her daughter was born as she wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. She currently teaches English as a foreign language to adults by telephone and internet. Ramblings in Ireland is her first novel.

What inspired Ramblings in Ireland ?
The book was inspired by our walking holiday in Ireland. I was so enthralled with the place and the people and the different sort of relationship I had with my husband whilst we were there. We hadn’t been in each other’s company quite so intensely for a long time. It started of as a diary or memoir of the holiday and by the time it was finished had metamorphosed into its current state.

Was it difficult to translate your travels into pages in a book?
Not really. As we were walking ideas for the book kept developing. When you are walking it is a wonderful time to reflect. There would be some incident or some conversation and that would set me thinking about a related, how ever tangentially, subject. The book had almost written itself by the time we got back to France.

Is there a place in Ireland a traveler shouldn’t miss? Why?
That is a difficult question. I haven’t visited all of Ireland yet but everywhere I have been is absolutely lovely. It also depends on the traveler, whether they are a town person or a country person. The season can make a huge difference as well. The Dingle peninsular is stunning and you get a chance to see the dolphins there, it can get very crowded in high tourist season though. The highlight for the holiday in my book was Sheep’s Head. I loved it but it is quite barren and bleak in places so not for everyone.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you write everyday or just when inspired? Is there a special place you write in or method you use?
I write something everyday. It is not always something towards a goal. I should be trying to finish my second novel but I am easily distracted. I find it very hard to focus on one thing at a time.  If I have a deadline approaching I am much better. For example a short story or flash fiction competition. I then focus and can finish the story. I wrote a lot of my second novel for NaNoWriMo last year. I just had to get the 50k words out during the month. I did the 50k words in one month, a year later and there are only 10k more. It is in a lot better shape though and has some structure.
I write on my laptop so that I can write wherever I am. I find train journey’s particularly good for writing because there is very little else you can do. There are fewer distractions like emails and facebook.

Tell us about …. The Slut’s Guide to Housework J
That guide was the starting point of my blog. It started out as some words of advice to a friend. She wanted to go out but felt that she had to do her housework first. I simply gave her a list of some of the shortcuts that I take when I am in a hurry. I really hate housework and particularly ironing. They seem such a waste of time. But I also hate a dirty house. How I reconcile these two is an ongoing struggle. My guide addresses part of it. I think everyone has to get the balance that is right for them. I am quite happy to spend a lot of my life in crumpled clothes to avoid ironing. For me the fun part of the Slut’s guide was investigating the word and its many meanings, how it has changed throughout history.

Do you have any projects you’re working on now or coming out soon? Please tell us about them.
I am still trying to write the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. The working title is ‘The Book Exchange’ and it is a fictional novel about expats living in France. I have a few things on back burners as well. I want to write a story about the viscous storms that raged through France at the end of 1999. The storms destroyed huge amounts of property and nature. I think the stories of people who were here and effected would be interesting.

What is your preference in the Nook/Kindle/ iPad discussion and why?
I have never seen a Nook so I really can’t comment on it. A lot of French people have a Kobo. I believe that more French books are available for the Kobo than for a Nook or a Kindle. The iPad for me tries to be too clever. For example if I want to look at something from another perspective I turn the iPad round but it turns the image round. Of course an iPad has a lot more functions than a simple e reader so it is not entirely the same thing.
For me the original simple Kindle works very well. It doesn’t try to anticipate what you want from it so it is very much like a book. It has the advantage of being lightweight and you can carry a whole library with you very simply.

I don’t have any of these devices. My mother has a kindle and an iPad so I have tried both of them. My husband also has a Kindle. I will soon be the only one in the family who reads from dead trees. My dad is putting up strong resistance too.

Was there something you learned about yourself in writing Ramblings in Ireland?
This might sound odd but until I had finished the book I hadn’t realized what it was about. I hadn’t realized the change in our relationship and the importance of investigating each others roots. That realization came with the finish almost as an after thought and yet it was the most important thing. I learned that writing can make you realize things about life that you hadn’t noticed in the living of it.

Can we have a little taste of your book?
There is a lovely French expression “il ne perd pas le nord.”  Literally this means “he doesn’t lose the north.” It means someone who knows exactly what they want and where they are going. They are focused on their target and don’t lose track of it. 
That doesn’t describe me at all.
I can’t read maps. They always seem to be printed the wrong way up. I can turn them the right way but then the names of places are sideways or upside down. I never know which way is north. Bertrand does, and he knows how to read a compass. Makes you wonder why he trusts me to navigate. Maybe he likes getting lost.

It annoys my daughter when we are talking about something and get stuck on a word. Bertrand gets out his French encyclopaedia and I get out the English one. Then we look it up and discuss its usage and history, which seems to her to take ages. She has to bring us back to the story, which was more interesting than the word. Sometimes she doesn't wait, but shrugs and leaves us with our encyclopaedias.

 I can get bogged down with grammar too. I can spend hours researching when to use “many” instead of “a lot of” in positive phrases or how many tenses you can use to make conditional sentences. Luckily my job allows me to correct other people's vocabulary and grammar, otherwise I would lose all my friends! As so many professionals do, I spend my working day telling people how to perform to a standard I rarely achieve for myself outside the office. It's almost like word blindness; I simply don't see my own mistakes.

Life feels quite a lot like that, really.

Where can we find Ramblings in Ireland and Kerry Dwyer?

3 comments: said...

Thank you Elise for this opportunity to tell people about my book and myself.

Joel said...

Kerry, I love your comment that you didn't know what the book was about until it was written. Having just finished my second mystery and made the same discovery, I know what you mean. Stephen King talks about that in his "On Writing." Great advice for while you're writing "The Book Exchange." said...

Joel - I am so glad it is not just me that starts out without really knowing where I am going.

Elsie - Thanks for being such a top host. I appreciate your interview and the interesting questions.