Welcome to the latest FFI.
I’ve had a wonderful response from the Friday-Fortnight Interview series that has encouraged me to do more. If there are any authors out there who fancy a spot contact me and we’ll have a chat.
Today’s guest is Bronwyn Elsmore, a great friend and another member of the excellent and highly supportive online writer’s group, eNovel Authors at Work. Go check out the site, you’ll find a bunch of great authors in the group who produce fantastic books in a wide range of genres: Crime Thrillers, Romance, Fantasy, etc.
And without further ado, hello Bronwyn, come on in. Settle yourself down in the comfortable chair and let’s get started. You’re from Auckland, I understand. Kiwi, eh? I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, preferably when the Ireland Rugby Union team is touring and the All Blacks aren’t so damned invincible.
BE: You’ll have to wait a while for that to happen, Kerry.
KJD: Yeah, right. You can go off people you know. And that’s the end of the interview. Goodbye Bronwyn …
Kidding. Tell the readers a little about yourself and Aotearoa, the Land of the Great While Cloud, New Zealand.
BE: Aoteroa? I see you’ve done your homework. Nicely done. Well, I’ve lived in several towns in North Island New Zealand, as well as some memorable short residencies in other exotic parts of the world – Singapore, Fiji, Hawaii, and Cook Islands.
Auckland is where I live now. It’s New Zealand’s biggest city, but it’s not large by world standards. I’m not a city person but this is a beautiful place set around two stunning harbours, with sub-tropical plants, and a (usually) good climate.
KJD: Oh wow, I love it already. What do you see out of your studio window?
BE: My office at the front of the house looks over the front garden and allows me to see when the postie puts something in the letterbox, though that’s not so often these days since I do all my correspondence via email. And it gives me warning when to ignore the doorbell and pretend I’m not in.
KJD: I’ve learned to hate the postie. It’s scary as an adult to think that the brown envelope is going to be yet another bill.
BE: I know, but having an office overlooking the front means that I can also see what needs doing the garden. Sometimes I nip out and do small jobs while I think about the next chapter or some character.
KJD: As for your reading, what genres do you follow and do they differ from the ones you write? If so, why?
BE: In the past, of necessity, I’ve read a lot of non-fiction. These days I prefer a range of fiction. This includes fantasy and sci-fi, which I don’t write myself—simply because I already stretch myself so far and really can’t cope with yet another genre. That’s not to say I won’t try it in future.
KJD: I know what you mean. I had to read a load of non-fiction books during my studies and during my professional life as a scientist. I read purely for pleasure these days. As for a change of genre, I recommend it for clearing out the cobwebs. I did that for my novel fantasy sci-fi novel, The Transition of Johnny Swift, but I’ll always return to the good old crime thriller, my comfort zone.
Let’s move on to your writing practices. What’s the first thing you do when starting a new novel? Do you research and write a detailed plot outline, or are you a pantser?
BE: This has varied, but usually, I make lots of background notes so the setting and time come through as authentic.
KJD: Excellent; you’re a plotter and a planner. I like that, wish I could do the same thing. So, what excites you about writing?
BE: Oh Kerry, that’s an easy one. I love the chance to create new lives and situations. To see them taking shape is a great thrill. After my experience writing short stories, it is still a great feeling to complete a new one and see what I have produced from my imagination.
KJD: I’m with you there, Bronwyn. Writing ‘The End’ at the back of a manuscript has to be one of the most exciting things in my life these days.
BE: Exactly, better than sex.
KJD: I wouldn’t go that far Bronwyn, I am a bloke after all. By the way, I only ever write “The E*D” until I’ve completed the final draft; it’s a sort of ritual of mine.
Looking at your bio, I see that, like me, you have a PhD. In what field is your doctorate? I have a doctorate in Sport and Exercise Sciences and like to use the information I learned when writing action and gore scenes to keep it accurate. For example, I’d never write: “The blood pumped through her veins,” because blood pumps through arteries, not veins (which are passive). Does your higher degree inform your writing in any way?
BE: Good question, Kerry.
KJD: Tee hee. I thought so.
BE: My MPhil and PhD theses were on Maori religious movements, and I lectured in world religions for many years—a wide coverage including Indian religions, Chinese & Japanese religions, women and religion and more. I have 3 books on Maori religious movements—and though I chose to leave academia a few years ago I still get people asking for information and advice. My titles Like Them That Dream, the Maori and the Old Testament, and Mana From Heaven, a Century of Maori Prophets in New Zealand, are regarded as seminal works on the subject.
I would hope that I know enough about many religions to avoid making obvious errors equivalent to your care over veins and arteries etc., though there are so many traps with differing views and interpretations it is a minefield!
I’m not sure how well that info would fit into the interview though!
KJD: Hey Bronwyn, my interview, my rules. I just love getting under the skin of my writer friends. So let’s move on, tell me a little about your latest work. Where did you find the inspiration? What’s it about? When can we expect to see it on the bookshelves? How about a sneak preview?
BE: I have a new novel going through pre-production stages. Though it’s fiction, the background is small town New Zealand like the place I grew up. I’m hoping the nostalgia will appeal to the baby-boomer generation. No title yet – I’m getting my pre-readers to vote on possibles.
Further across the yard, closer to the gate, the Marakihau was on its trailer. When Hemi went across the bar and out to sea the two craft went together, the dinghy tied behind. …
Mary thought it was the most romantic boat she’d seen. Others using the river were shinier and more modern, with chrome railings around the side, but the Marakihau made her smile. The wooden hull was painted blue, with several big yellow flowers added at irregular intervals. When she asked Hemi if they were sunflowers, he said sunflowers, sunny-flowers, whatever anyone wanted them to be – so after that she always thought of them as sunny-flowers. Even better, on either side of the prow he had painted a large eye. It was something he had seen in pictures of fishing boats in the Mediterranean. He made his large and lavish, with curling lashes above, but they were not a pair. The one on the right side – starboard Hemi called it – was brown, that on the port side was blue. When she asked him why they were different, Hemi just laughed, “I ran out of paint,” he said, but the way he laughed told her there could be another reason.
KJD: That’s sweet Bronwyn, thanks for sharing. What’s next in your life?
BE: Fame and fortune would be good! Actually, I don’t know how well I’d handle extreme fame, so moderate fame will do. And a small fortune will allow me to employ a PA to do all the writing-related jobs I dislike doing. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
KJD: Absolutely not, I’m with you on all of that apart from the moderate nature of the fame. Tee hee.
I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you today, and to wrap this up, is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask that you’re desperately keen for my readers to know?
BE: Yes, here’s something. Writers write because we want to communicate thoughts and feelings to our readers. If you read one of my books or stories and it moves you emotionally, or makes you laugh or cry, I have achieved my purpose. Tell me this, and you have given me a great gift.
KJD: Wonderful sentiments indeed. Thanks so, so much for your time, Bronwyn. It’s been great chatting with you. Best of luck with your next book.