Saturday, October 17, 2020

Inside the Mind: L M Brown


Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is L M Brown, the author behind Hinterland.

Lily: ​ Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview LM I couldn’t put ​Hinterland​ down. I’ll do my best to not ask any questions that could lead to spoilers! What was your inspiration for this book? 

LM:  I started this book eight years ago. Back then, I’d start writing and see what ideas would come. (I plan a lot more now) but what I remember clearly about starting Hinterland was Kate being haunted by the image of her mother’s dresses hanging in the wardrobe after she’d disappeared. The story sprang from this image, and from me wondering why the dresses had not been taken.    

Lily: ​ That was really a chilling image, and probably one of the most vivid for me when reading the book. Did you always know where the book was going, or did it take any twists you weren’t expecting as you wrote? 

LM:  I always knew it was about Nicholas keeping the secret from his daughter and finally having to tell her, and I always knew what Kathleen did. But there were many drafts of this story. In one Kate was much older when she learned the truth. In another, I wrote about Kathleen and Nicholas meeting, their first months together and his realization that she was mentally ill, and I worked my way toward the terrible event. In some, I wrote extensively about the neighbors, especially Mrs. Jacob and how she helped Kathleen when Kate was born. There was also drafts where I wrote about Nicholas and Ina’s childhood, and why he had to leave her, and many versions where Ina’s return coincided with Nicholas meeting Kathleen. Finally, I realized the story had to start when Kate was five, and Ina had to return then. Once I realized this, I knew the characters so well and their lives so intimately that it was easy to understand how the story would go. Every draft helped in the writing of the final one, but the ending came as a bit of a surprise to me too. When I started to write those pages, it was very exciting.

Lily: ​ I think it's great that you went through so many drafts and it helped you get to know the characters and their lives better. You convey a lot of emotion in the pages of this book - did you get very emotional while writing?  

LM:  It took so long to write this that the emotional reaction has changed, but there are still moments throughout the book when I really feel for them.  At one time, Kate refuses to speak to Nicholas; he has never loved anyone as much as Kate and no-one has ever made him feel so small. I think any parent can relate to that situation of feeling helpless and tiny, so it would be hard not to feel for him. Ina too, when she realizes the precariousness of her situation, having loved the father and daughter so fully and keeping nothing in reserve. It’s hard to read that and not feel a drop in your stomach. And Kate, for all her defiance, she’s just a hurt little girl. There is a scene when she is speaking to her best friend Christine and all she needs is Christine to ask the right questions, but Christine doesn’t, and I just want to hug Kate then.

Lily:  I can definitely see how those moments would get to you, even after so many drafts. Were any of your characters inspired by someone? 

LM:  Tennessee Williams says it beautifully-“If the writing is honest, it cannot be separated from the person who wrote it.”

But at the same time the characters are very much their own people, who have developed over time. The question, can a person change, was a driving force behind this novel. From the start, Nicholas’ childhood was marred by his father’s drinking and violence. He loved and hated that man. Nicholas would have wanted acknowledgement from his father, but he was also afraid of becoming a man just like him. This duality is what drives Nicholas. This aggression that simmers under the surface and his gentle love for his daughter are two very separate parts of him, though both scare him. While with Ina, she needed to overcome her fear of feeling too much, brought by her mother’s protectiveness. She chose Stefano years before because he was safer, but she realizes her mistake in thinking safe is good. And of course Kate-she is a product of everything that happens to her, but I think too she has Kathleen’s fierceness and if Kathleen had not suffered from schizophrenia the mother and daughter would have been very alike. 

Lily: ​ They're such rich characters, and it really sounds like you're talking about people I might meet if I were walking down the street, or moved into their neighborhood. Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. When did you first consider yourself a writer? 

LM:  I always wanted to write, ever since I was a child. I started my first book at eleven or twelve-but I had little originality, I thought. I studied psychology and then traveled for five years to gain experience and came back to Ireland in my late twenties. The first time I said I was a writer, I was out with a good friend in Dublin, and someone asked what I did. I remember grabbing my friend and telling her that I’d said I was a writer. She laughed said well you are. I would have been thirty then.

Lily: ​ I love that! It's always fun to see how writing evolves over the years as we gain experience and confidence. Where do like to write the most? 

LM:  My study

Lily: ​ I have to know, how do you deal with writer’s block? 

LM:  I don’t call it writer’s block, for one. Its more a need to take a break, so I allow myself a day or two away from the computer without guilt or worry and I read a lot. 

Lily:  Reading is the perfect escape and sounds like a good way to let your brain relax. Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. If you could spend hours with a character from any book, who would it be, and from what book? 

LM:  Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and in the 70’s too.

Lily:  That would be an interesting time! ​If you could go back in time as an observer, no one could see you, and you couldn’t interact with anything, when would you want to go back to?

LM:  Greece when Leonard Cohen first met Marianne.

Lily:  That would be an amazing thing to watch unfold! What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?

LM:  Guns, I suppose.

Lily:  Serious question now, would you rather your only mode of transportation be a lion or an ostrich?​

LM:  Haha- the ostrich probably-its faster

Lily:  I'm giggling at the thougt of people commuting to work on an ostrich, but I love it! If you could come back to life as an animal what animal would you be?​

LM:  Well I love horses and dogs but don’t know if I’d want to be one, probably a cheetah.

Lily:  I'd definitely be seeing how fast I could run places if I came back as a cheetah. What’s the best flavor of pie?​  

LM:  Cheesecake, but is that a pie? Pumpkin then.

Lily:  I'm all for cheesecake, but I do love pumpkin pie too. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?​  

LM:  Thanks so much for reading Hinterland and the wonderful questions.

Lily:  I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, I try to keep it fun. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

LM:  I am on Twitter and Instagram. Please find me there. I also have author pages on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
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