I’m very pleased today to be sharing an interview with author Ellie O’Neill. Ellie’s debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed, was released earlier this month.
Reluctantly Charmed brings together the lithesome world of Irish folklore and long-forgotten fairies and the cynical and obsessive nature of a world addicted to online technology. There’s some romance thrown in for good measure and (importantly) a bit of a moral to the story so – in a sense – it’s like a modern day fairytale. (Oh and I almost forgot… there’s chocolate. And The Hoff!!!)
Irish-born Ellie moved to Australia to join her (also Irish) husband about five years ago and is currently working on her second novel. I’ve taken the opportunity to ask her a little about her writing.
Q You obviously have a knack for storytelling and you’ve mentioned dinner-table battles to regale others with entertaining stories. Have writing and the telling of tales always been of interest to you (and/or your family)?
Absolutely. There’s nothing quite like listening to a story well told. It’s mesmerizing. We had a noisy, full, household growing up with four kids, cousins, friends drop ins and outs, and I think that’s where we all learned to hold court with adults and kids alike, telling stories. My sister is also a writer, she was published a few years back with a very funny self help book, Babyproofing your Marriage. I guess it’s in the genes!
Q Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plan your plots in advance or start writing and see where your characters take you?
I find plotting and planning very difficult. I have a big imagination so when I get an initial idea for something I let myself dream away at it. The idea has a tendency to get very big and grow long speedy legs on me, which is a good and a bad thing, the good part being I’m never out of ideas, the bad part being I can get myself into knots and tangles, with plot lines that seem to run on.
I read that Stephen King just writes, he likes the story to unfold before him, and is excited to see what will pop up on the page. I love that idea, but so far it doesn’t work for me. For now, I work off a lot of loose ideas and an overarching story. And as I write I wait for them all to fall into line.
Q I know the road to publication is never smooth and I’m sure you’ve learned a million lessons along the way. What hints or advice would you share with other budding authors?
The first bit of advice I’d give, which was given to me, is to finish it. There are thousands of people out there that are writing a book, how many of them actually finish it? You can’t be in the running for publication until you have a finished product so, that’s the first goal.
Secondly, get tough. This is hard. On finishing my manuscript I knew I needed an agent, so I started firing Reluctantly Charmed out and I was devastated when the rejections came piling in. Stunned, battered and very bruised, I ploughed on.
Thirdly, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Your book will get better, your writing will be sharper. I took criticism when I felt it was deserved but I didn’t make changes that I felt were unnecessary. I stayed true to my original story. Only you can write your story, someone else’s ideas projected onto your manuscript may not be right. Trust your instincts. (That’s kind of two points isn’t it?)
Finally, try very hard to get a good agent. They are priceless.
Q The book to movie thing is oft-discussed nowadays. Have you thought which actors you’d like to see bring your characters to the big or small screen?
Oh I have, many times. I have lots of ideas, but you know what I wouldn’t want to impose them on anyone who is going to read Reluctantly Charmed. I’d love to know if any of your readers have ideas too, and if we match up?
(Deb’s note: I am *ahem* somewhat partial to an Irish accent so Jamie Dornan – soon to be seen in 50 Shades of Grey – comes to mind, as does Stuart Townsend and Michael Fassbender – who’s half-Irish. And as for our book’s lead character, Kate, I’m thinking Sarah Bolger – a Once Upon A Time co-star of Dornan. As for Kate’s delightful parents, Liam, Gabriel or Pierce would do nicely along with…okay, I’ll stop there!)
Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill was published by Simon & Schuster and is available at all of the usual places.
My mother tells me I’ve always loved spinning a yarn or two. Are you a natural storyteller?
If you were casting Reluctantly Charmed which Irish actors would be on your list?