Guest Author Interview – Annemarie Neary

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Title: The Orphans

Genre: Psychological Mystery/ Thriller/Suspense/Family Life

Synopsis: Eight-year-old Jess and her little brother were playing at the water’s edge when their parents vanished.

For hours the children held hands and waited for them to return. But nobody ever came back.

Years later, Jess has become a locker of doors. Now a lawyer and a mother, she is determined to protect the life she has built around her. But her brother, Ro, has grown unpredictable, elusive and obsessive.

When new evidence suggests that their mother might be alive, Ro reappears, convinced that his sister knows more than she claims.

And then bad things start to happen.

Annemarie Neary, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest International Author is Annemarie Neary. She has been inspired to write a number of short stories. Welcome to my blog, Annemarie.

CH: This book is about abandonment and loss. Why should we read this psychological mystery?

AN: The book would interest those fascinated by family dynamics, and by the secrets families keep. It is a suspenseful mystery, but the drama of the orphaned siblings, Jess and Ro, is at the center of the book. As young children, Jess and Ro found themselves seemingly abandoned on a beach in Goa, India, at that time a kind of New Age paradise. As adults, they have been indelibly marked by that experience in quite different ways. When their mother’s passport is found and it appears that she may have survived that Goa beach and left India soon afterwards, the plot is set in motion.

CH: How did you come up with the premise for this book?

AN: Actually, the premise was inspired by a story I was told by a friend who had met someone who’d experienced something similar. I’m interested in orphans in fiction, of which there are very many—Superman, Jane Eyre, Pippi Longstocking, the Baudelaire family—to name just a few. There are (very broadly speaking) two basic fictional types—the orphan figure who yearns for structure and a conventional place within society, and the adventurer or outsider. I played around with these ideas when conceiving the characters.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book or is it all imagination?

AN: I did quite a lot of research on Ro’s psychology. He is the more damaged of the two siblings, and his actions are what drive the plot. A couple of decades on, he is still following up random sightings of his mother, convinced she is still alive and has decided to live her life without him. He is burdened by a compulsion to tell and re-tell his story in the hope that one day he might remember a detail that might provide the key to the mystery. I also researched the life-style his parents would have experienced in the commune, mainly through anecdotes told on New Ager reunion sites.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

AN: I think my readers will be the best judge of that, but I’m aiming to grip the reader, move her/him, and evoke time and place.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

AN: Apart from the initial set-up, the story is entirely imagined. However, most of the book is set in London, and is inspired by the Common where I live. I don’t know that you have many Commons in the US, but in London they are large areas of open space, some wilder than others, which are remnants of ancient wilderness in the heart of the city. This lends them a certain mystery and I thought it would be a good place to play out a drama made up of absence and memory and threat.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

AN: I didn’t find any particular character hard to write. They are all hard!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

AN: I suppose Ro is the closest to a ‘baddie’ in this book, and I think they are always the most fun to write. He is very far removed from me—different gender, personality, preoccupations—and I found it fascinating to try to wear his shoes.

CH: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?    

AN: I don’t tend to consciously base my characters on real people. These are amalgams of aspects of people I’ve imagined, met or read about. I listen hard, though…

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

AN: Not really, other than that childhood trauma can have terrible consequences, and that we should be alive to that.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

AN: I think most readers find it atmospheric and suspenseful, and a sharp portrait of a certain kind of London family. I hope some of them also feel empathy for its characters, too. A lot of people love the Common (as do I)!

CH: Since this is your third novel, can you tell us a little about the other novels?

AN: My first novel, A Parachute in the Lime Tree is a wartime story about love and neutrality and the consequences of war told from the points of view of four people, Irish and German, in 1941. My second, Siren, is a post-Troubles thriller set partly in late 1970s Belfast and partly on a remote Irish island about 15 years ago with a strong female protagonist, who is both perpetrator and victim. It’s about identity, revenge, redemption, and how someone is always watching.

CH: What is your next writing project?

AN: I’m about to deliver the first draft of my fourth novel to my agent, hopefully next week!  It’s a thriller set at the shadowy margins of the oil industry in contemporary Algiers—full of skullduggery and intrigue. At the center of the book is an alliance between two women, a young Anglo-French geologist, who stumbles into a web of corruption, and her much older Algerian interpreter.

CH: How to Find Annemarie Neary:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

AN: All three books are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other US booksellers.

CH: Any closing remarks?

AN: Many thanks for having me on your blog, Cheryl. Happy to answer any other questions your readers might have via Twitter or on my website messaging service.

CH: Thank you so much, Annemarie Neary, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Annemarie Neary and Cheryl Holloway.

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