Author Interview - Isobel Blackthorn
I am happy to have award-winning author, Isobel Blackthorn as my guest this week.
Isobel has published several novels across a range of genres from biographies to psychological thrillers.
Thank you, Isobel, for sharing a little of your writing and personal life and for participating in Author Interviews.
About Writing/Books/Being an Author
1. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?
I adore every aspect of the writing process, although the initial composition can be fraught. There is always the need to reach the finish line. For this reason, my first draft is short, generally below 40,000 words and with a very raggedy ending. I love the genesis, incubation and plotting, and also the crafting and editing phases. The final polish is always exciting. Writing should be a joy. Maybe not the first few projects when a writer is still learning the craft, but after that writing should be thrilling. If it is not, then give it up and find something that is.
2. Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come straight from the various passions or obsessions that have grown in me over the years and decades of living. I have two main areas of interest, the Canary Islands and the esoteric. I have a pool of characters who live in my literary Canary Islands world and they eagerly supply me with plots. When it comes to the esoteric side, I draw on real figures, ideas and themes and I write with a particular purpose in mind. With The Unlikely Occultist, I wanted to portray mother of the New Age movement, Alice Bailey to those who had never heard of her and right some wrongs along the way. With A Perfect Square, I wanted to explore the intersection between art, creativity and esoteric ways of knowing.
3. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?
All my characters are completely made up. I draw inspiration from people I meet, but that is always indirect. I would never formulate a character based on a real person unless that is the intended purpose of the work, such as a biographical novel or a family history novel.
4. How do you come up with titles for your books?
This matter of titles gets harder and harder. I might have a working title, but when it comes to the crunch, a title sells a book and needs to have some compelling hook to it. A title needs to sit nicely in a genre, too, or have something striking about it. I brainstorm, ask friends, tease out themes and characters. I try to focus on the emotions in the story and build something out of that.
5. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?
I am working on a family history novel based on my great grandmother who lived a very interesting life. I have been immersed in genealogy and a lot of research of the 1914-1920 period which is when the book is mostly set. The work takes place in London, Colorado, Singapore and Japan, and there is even a chapter set in Hawaii. My ancestor sure did get around! For me, the novel helps me understand who I am and some of my motivations. It is uncanny how our lives can mirror those of our ancestors.
6. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?
Yes, I was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize for a biographical short story this year. And my horror/thriller, The Legacy of Old Gran Parks, has just won the Raven Awards, 2019.
A Little More Personal
7. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?
I adore the Canary Islands, and specifically one small village on one of the smaller islands. It is my spot. I lived there in the late 1980s and I never wanted to leave and when I did I had every intention of going back. Instead, I chose on impulse to return to my family in Australia. I did go back in 2016 and spent two weeks there, and I had the same feelings of belonging that I had the first time around. Only, I was saddened to see so many tourists. The islands have become a bit too busy for my liking, although if you wander off the beaten track you can still find isolation.
8. What makes you happy?
Writing! What else is there? Well, there are people, and while writing satisfies my creative soul, it is people who make me happy.
9. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?
Falling asleep on the couch! Seriously, I might be taking a walk or chatting with family or having coffee with a friend. I might be travelling and visiting friends, which is my favourite pastime as it takes me right away from my desk.
10. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?
There are all kinds of ways of being famous and I guess degrees of fame too. A household name everyone has heard of, or someone only a few million know? My daughter is a famous Instagram celebrity fashion model. So, I guess I have to say yes. I have also met the very well-known Radio One DJ John Peel and managed to insult him by telling him I rarely listened to his show because I was always out having fun.