I recently discovered a new author, Laura Elliot – new to me, she’s been writing for a number of years. I found her novel The Prodigal Sister a gripping and poignant story. The characters in the novel were a mix of ordinary people you might meet on the street and ones who live lives outside the realm of many people’s experience – and all of them were believable. I marvelled at the array of characters she included and wondered where she met people in real life who inspired some of them – I think I may have a rather sheltered life here in the country in Northern Ireland.
I enjoyed the novel immensely and am looking forward to reading her latest novel, Deceptions.
Here’s what the publisher says about Deceptions: “When the effects of an illicit love affair destroys Lorraine Cheevers’ marriage, the artist and mother uproots her teenage daughter from their comfortable city-centre home to make a new life for themselves in the small seaside village of Trabawn. She is determined to forget the past but it is following her and catching up.
As Lorraine adjusts to her new surroundings, Killian Devine-O’Malley, the young victim of the hit and run, lies in a coma. His father, the well-known screen writer Michael Carmody, is determined to find the person responsible for his son’s accident.
His search brings him to Trabawn where he comes into contact with Lorraine. Though she has resolved to be alone, she cannot deny the strong attraction she feels towards this troubled stranger who has appeared so suddenly in her life.
But why has Lorraine turned her back on friendship and love? What lies behind her flight from all that was once familiar? As the bond between her and Michael grows, the stakes rise. Because what neither of them know is just what the other is running from. Or why it matters.”
Are you intrigued? I am and I’ve invited Laura here today to talk about Deceptions.
Welcome Laura. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel.
LE: Deceptions – as its title suggests is about lies and betrayal – and explores the theme of adultery. A couple who are having an affair are involved in a hit-and-run accident. The consequences of this accident have far reaching effects, not only on the couple but on their partners and the family of the hit-and-run victim.
What prompted you to write about this subject?
LE: The seed for the story was sown one night when I was working as a journalist and had been commissioned to do a series of features on night life in the city. One feature involved homeless people. I did an interview on the South Wall – an industrial area in Dublin’s docklands – with a young man who lived in a make-shift cement shelter. It was dark and desolate that night and when I finished the interview I noticed the dimmed headlights of a car. A second car pulled up beside it. A man and a woman emerged from both cars and embraced before disappearing into the deeper shadows of the pier. As I drove away I wondered why they had to meet in such an isolated, secret location. The reason seemed obvious and I wondered what would happen if they were together in one car and involved in an accident.
What research did you do for this book?
LE: It’s set in contemporary Dublin and in Kerry so there was no historical research involved. I went back to the Great South Wall a number of times at night and absorbed the atmosphere. The North Wall is on the opposite side, full of light and movement as the ferries sail in and out of the bay – and such a contrast to where my couple are seeking their privacy.
Part of the book is set on the Dingle Peninsula where I holiday every year. There’s an old, abandoned house almost hidden from view along a country lane and always, at some point during the holiday, I visit it to see if anyone has taken it over. No one ever has and it’s slowly decaying. I decided to give it new life by incorporating it into my novel and housing my main female character there.
How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
LE: In the beginning my hit-and-run victim was an old alcoholic tramp. After working for a couple of months trying to bring the story to life, and failing, I realised he was the wrong character. Sadly, but truthfully, I knew that the death of a troublesome, old hobo was not going to engender a massive amount of energy and emotion from police or his family – but if it was a young, troubled boy with parents it would be different. Almost immediately the story took off and developed a shape I had not even envisaged.
In some fiction genres there often seems to be more scope for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
LE: I don’t have a preference. I suppose it’s always easier to write from a female point of view. In Deceptions I wrote from both points of view. The male voice was very immediate as it was the father speaking to his unconscious son. The book I’m currently writing is told equally from a male and female point of view – it’s slightly more challenging but I’m enjoying exploring the male psyche
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Deceptions?
LE: Yes. It was a difficult book to write. As the author I was also engaged in deceiving the reader for part of the narrative. Also, as character A believed he was being deceived by character B – who had no awareness of this – I had to create innocuous dialogue for character B which was then misinterpreted by character A to feed his suspicions. Not easy!
Thanks for answering my questions, Laura. If I disappear for a few days now, you’ll know I’ve got my nose buried in the book.
About Laura Elliot: Laura is an Irish novelist and lives in the coastal town of Malahide, Co. Dublin. Her three novels are The Prodigal Sister, Stolen Child and Deceptions. Aka June Considine, she has written many books and short stories for children. She loves travelling. The beautiful South Island of New Zealand was the inspiration for her setting in The Prodigal Sister. The Burren, a karst-landscape, rich in history and archaeology in the county of Clare became the mysterious setting for Stolen Child. She gives regular creative writing workshops and is currently working on her latest novel. She has also worked as a journalist and editor.