This is International Month with authors and illustrators from other countries.
Title: A Life Singular- Six Book Serial
Synopsis: So this was it…Lynn and Jeff, two celebrities driven to change the world together, had grasped their life singular with both hands and were not about to let go. They had the Midas touch, gifted through the virtues of reciprocity and a deepening understanding of right versus wrong.
The prospect of turning two into four, mirroring the black jetstone ring that lived on the handsome man’s right hand, filled the couple with excitement. Never in his wildest dreams had the no-good street kid imagined himself as a father. His own had given him nothing. So much less than nothing, in fact.
Should Jeff settle that score? Was it worth disturbing the paradise they had planned, where their well-established careers showed no sign of slowing down and their hard work yielded so much for so many? Surfacing past wrongs and holding people to account for setting them right were part and parcel of letting go, his dream girl had insisted. And who was he to argue? She had been right all along.
As the book’s extraordinary chapters continued to document the achievements of their life singular, the solitary author cried and smiled in equal measure through the arrival of a small boy with blond, curly hair and the sultry gipsy girl, who could see inside his soul from the moment she was born. Lynn had given him two new friends, who must now be steered through their young lives, learning their own lessons about the endless pursuit of love and wisdom.
Author: Lorraine Pestell – representing Australia
Note: This interview has been edited due to space availability.
CH: Welcome Lorraine Pestell. Thank you for joining us and sharing your writing world and publishing journey with my audience.
CH: Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read a serial book with six parts, essentially one story written in six books?
LP: I’d love readers to learn about one of the 21st century’s most pressing social issues, and at the same time discover a little more about themselves, while joining my protagonists on their sometimes challenging and always spectacular journey to love and wisdom.
CH: Tell us a little bit about Part Four to be released in March.
LP: First, if I may, a very quick synopsis of the serial in its entirety… Essentially a love story, A Life Singular, follows a highly successful rock star as he writes his autobiography after a rogue gunman kills his wife. Its themes are triumph over mental scars; the choices we make between right and wrong; and how one affects the other through the relentless passage of time.
Part One covers the aftermath of Lynn’s death, how Jeff and their children come to terms with their loss, and his plans for setting their very public record straight. Parts Two and Three take us back to how the lovers first meet as teenagers, are torn apart by her parents and then find each other again as adults. The pair’s independent careers take them all over the world, experiencing the best and worst of what life has to offer.
Part Four sees the reunited soul-mates leave their home in Australia as two highly successful celebrities who hope to make their mark on the world’s stage. It begins in London, taking the reader from London to New York, and from fame and fortune to two adorable children, finally ending up back in Jeff’s home town of Sydney to settle the score with his father.
And Parts Five and Six? We’ll have to wait and see, although I promise a few more radical changes of direction before the serial’s conclusion.
CH: Why did you decide to write this book?
LP: The idea for A Life Singular has been with me since my mid-teens, where an innocent romance about a rock guitarist and a pop star became the vehicle through which I unearthed and explored my own chronic depression and sought to make sense of myself and the world around me.
As my own life took its own violent and challenging twists and turns, the story developed very much as therapy and a comfortable retreat from my daily struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its various debilitating symptoms.
With depression-related illnesses now affecting half of the developed world’s population, I have two main goals for my serial: first, to inspire follower sufferers of mental illness to understand themselves and make a success of their lives; and second, to encourage the other 50 percent of the population to tolerate, support and even love those afflicted in our quest to live a “normal” life.
CH: How long have you been writing this book?
LP: Well…having already mentioned that I started A Life Singular at fourteen, I will have been writing it for four decades by the time I finish Part Six of the serial!
Of course, this has not been forty years of slaving over a hot computer! I work full-time in the IT industry and also volunteer for several non-profit organisations, which meant that my writing has proceeded in fits and starts over this period.
Although, these books are not my own story, by any means, they have grown with me, similar to my protagonist’s own autobiographical account of how his beautiful best friend helped him conquer his own inner demons.
CH: When you wrote the first part, did you know there would be six parts?
LP: Most certainly not! I only made the decision to publish in 2008, after several friends and associates began to encourage me to write my own autobiography. Having become an advocate for mental health, particularly of young people and in the workplace, and having experienced first-hand the discrimination and lack of understanding that still exists around the topic, I chose to pour the knowledge I’ve gained and real-life scenarios I’ve either experienced, witnessed or been told, into a work of contemporary fiction that I hope stands as a fulfilling read in its own right.
CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?
LP: The writing process is a catharsis for me, a solitary craft which allows me to create something meaningful and entertaining while I figure life out. I often say that writing is the only place where I can be myself, given the smiley-face mask I’m required to wear everywhere else!
The areas of challenge come with promoting the books, as an unknown author from a faraway, southern-hemisphere country the size of North America but with a population of only 23 million. With a full-time job, volunteering and my writing deadlines, the amount of time required on social media, doing radio interviews in the middle of the night and exploring new avenues for exposure are all somewhat exhausting!
This is why the opportunity to be featured on this blog is so valuable, so it is much appreciated, Cheryl, and thank YOU for reading also!
CH: The book is being published over several years, why does the story continue to grab the reader’s attention?
LP: Yes, Part One was published in June 2013, and I hope to release Part Six in 2016. Heading into 2015, we are increasingly seeing vast areas of the world embroiled in conflict and discrimination, where our ability to understand those different from us is regularly put to the test.
I deliberately chose the universal theme of love and our endless fascination for a celebrity as basis for the A Life Singular serial because I seek to reach the widest possible audience. Always fascinated by the backstory to every event we see reported through the media, I hope by slowly unwinding the various plot-lines and immersing themselves in my story, readers will look forward to developing an affinity for characters with whom they know both inside and out.
CH: What time period does the book span?
LP: The whole serial spans around fifty years, from the early 1970s. My ambition is to finish the final part in contemporary times. Throughout the serial, readers are transported back in time with the widower as he reconstitutes the couple’s amazing life into his autobiography. I also use flash-forwards to return us to Jeff and his children as they piece everything together and proof-read the upcoming book.
CH: Which part was hardest to write?
LP: I am not a medical professional, qualified counsellor or psychiatrist, so the hardest thing for me when writing about alleviating the symptoms of mental illness is not to be seen to recommend specific clinical treatments.
There is definitely no “one size fits all” approach to mental health, since such a wide variety of causes and effects exist. However, I am confident that educating ourselves further and enabling a loving, supportive environment cannot fail to help in the vast majority of cases.
CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book? How do they feel about the book being in six parts?
LP: I’ve been fortunate to receive many complimentary reviews, which has been edifying as a début author. As with all art-forms, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I certainly understand that my serial will not be to everyone’s taste.
On the whole, readers who have followed all three published parts are eager for Part Four. One such faithful reader recounted that she had a classic love-hate relationship with the handsome widower in Part One, then fell hook, line and sinker with a dangerous adolescent in Part Two. As a chart-topping rock star, he drove her crazy in the first half of Part Three, but by the end she wanted to marry him!
A 5-star reviewer wrote of Part Three, “the story in the first book and second book meshes very smoothly with this one and all the dots continue to connect. This is not just a story of the past being retold but one also sees the life of the storyteller himself as he works hard to move forward in life and also keep his beloved wife’s memory alive.”
CH: What is special about your book that differentiates it from other books in the same genre?
LP: My books don’t sit comfortably in any one genre, which is a challenge in itself! Since I am attempting to reach as wide an audience as possible, I tend to use the broad genre of “Contemporary Fiction.” I wish to attract male readers, as well as the predominately female contingent of “Romance” consumers, for whom the story has its fair share of fast cars and sports. It is also written from a male perspective.
I’m reluctant to describe my serial as pure romance because I’m hoping to live up to the “love story with substance” accolade to spread my more serious messages.
CH: Do you have any other plans for this serial book?
Certainly, even more grandiose, if I dare, I always write with the visual in mind, and I’d absolutely love to see A Life Singular made into a television serial or set of movies, in order to reach the non-reading audience, too.
CH: Is this your first writing project? If so, why did you choose this story?
LP: My backstory obsession began very early, where I would sit in my bedroom for hours dreaming up hidden secrets to explain things I had seen on the news or current affairs programs. Although, I didn’t know it at the time, A Life Singular was born during this time!
Similar to my belief that depression chooses us, rather than the other way around, I am convinced my story chose me
CH: Book sales proceeds go to two Australian Charities for disadvantaged children. Can you tell us a little about why these charities were chosen?
LP: Absolutely! People with chronic mental illness, especially those without a support network around them, tend to be excessively inward-focussed and can become quite selfish in their search for that elusive thing called happiness. My main method of avoiding this fate is to volunteer my time to charitable causes, either by serving on arts organization Boards or through providing business skills on a pro-bono basis.
I became involved with both The Smith Family (http://www.thesmithfamily.com.au) and the School Volunteer Program (http://www.svp.org.au) a number of years ago, when I became a mentor for school students at risk of dropping out through financial disadvantage or an unstable family situation. These children often have no role models to help them visualize a positive future, whether by continuing their education, staying out of trouble or not succumbing to substance abuse or early parenthood.
The people who work at organisations such as The Smith Family and the School Volunteer Program are incredibly committed to helping those who wish to help themselves, often with very few resources and at the mercy of funding politics.
Since several students I have mentored have already been affected by mental health issues, whether themselves or through members of their family, I decided to channel sales proceeds from my books into their coffers. By giving young people resilience strategies for when life throws them the inevitable curve-balls, hopefully they will go on to live happy and productive lives, able to cope with stigma and rejection.
CH: Last but not least, why do you write, and what do you want readers to take from your novels?
LP: Fundamentally, I write because I can’t not write! I express myself way more fluently using fingers on a keyboard than my voice will ever manage. I’m fortunate never to suffer from writer’s block, and regularly wake to find six or seven yellow sticky notes on my bedside table, covered on both sides with nocturnal scribbling!
I hope that readers will primarily love the story of A Life Singular and its journey into the world of super-stardom. If they also assimilate the anecdotes and increase their understanding of the mind’s complexity and fragility, perhaps we can all make our world a happier and more tolerant place.
CH: Do you have a website?
LP: My serial’s website can be found at http://ALifeSingular.com and I blog on the topics of mental health and writing from http://ALifeSingular.com/postings. I’m also active on Twitter as @LorrainePestell.
CH: Where is your book sold?
LP: If readers are interested in purchasing the books, the percentage the charities receive is greatest from my website: http://ALifeSingular.com/purchase-new/, for e-books worldwide and paperbacks within Australia. (Unfortunately, with postage being so ridiculously expensive, it’s not cost-effective to send physical books overseas.) The books are available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon. A Life Singular – Part Four will be released in March 2015, with Parts Five and Six appearing over the following 18 months.
CH: Any closing remarks?
LP: Thank you, Cheryl, for giving me this opportunity to showcase my books on your awesome blog! Your readers are welcome to contact me for more information via the Contact Form on my website or by e-mailing Lorraine@ALifeSingular.net.
I wish you all the best for 2015, from a very hot Melbourne summer day!
CH: Thank you Lorraine Pestell for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you. We look forward to following your career.
Note: Photos are compliments of Lorraine Pestell and the Internet.
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