MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR MAUREEN JOYCE CONNOLLY
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Maureen Joyce Connolly. Psychological Suspense
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is a prismatic exploration of how tragedy can transform lives. Focusing on the aftermath of child abduction, the story unfolds through the viewpoint of four characters: Claire, the devastated yet strong-willed mother; Moira, the transient who finds herself thrust into instant motherhood; soulful Jay, whose grisly discovery brings him to the center of the tragedy; and Andrea, the scrappy and wildly talented tomboy.
I’m not absolutely certain where the idea came from. I do know that I wanted to explore the theme of self-rescue – of how, given very difficult circumstances, people manage to survive, even thrive, in the aftermath.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I love almost every genre and this book just came to me in its current form. I may write others in different genres!
What kind of research did you do for this book?
A great deal of reading and research into Shelta, the language of the Irish Travellers, as well as Lakota.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I never set daily writing goals as I know I will never meet them! Currently I am very caught up in the activities associated with launching my debut novel so there isn’t much time to work on my next book. But that will change soon – April 2, to be exact!
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I have another book in my head and just need to get it onto paper. Sorry, but I never discuss my book-in-progress as I feel as though it causes blocks in my creativity.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Interesting question! Some character names are more important than others. Some pop right into my head and others require tossing about in my imagination. My character Andrea is tangentially tied to friend of mine. Andrea, of course, ends up with a very special name given her by another character, Jay White.
Where do your ideas come from?
I have absolutely no idea! Seriously. I let my imagination much about and ideas marinate. I have learned the latter is super important. I don’t act too quickly to write my ideas down. I let them ping at me for a while to see if they are worth keeping. The ones that are the most persistent get realized.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Yes. Memoir. That will happen when the time is right.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Ugh everything. But seriously, it is scheduling uninterrupted time. I am hoping (fingers crossed) to have my own studio one day because writing at home presents the challenge of so many distractions – family members coming and going, the dog and cat pleading at the doors, package delivery – you name it. The smallest of things can set me off concentrating because I truly have to focus so very hard to make progress.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My three children and a many –year successful marriage (also, I’m a pretty darn good cook!)
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Actually, I’m not sure yet. I want to say it is the freedom to write as I wish but since I am still in launch mode, that won’t happen for a while. I also love, love, love talking to people about my book . I find it really interesting to hear their take or questions about this project I’ve been working on for so long and am so passionate about.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Writing for sure!
Have you always liked to write?
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t share your ideas or show anyone your work too soon. Input, even positive input, can be damaging to the creative process early on. Focus on completing your first draft at all costs – let it be messy – you can’t edit something if it isn’t on paper.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I had a truly awesome career in the pharmaceutical industry. If I weren’t an author I would still be doing that!
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read reviews. I have been warned not to, but I think I needed to see the first early responses. This ties into my curiosity as to how people perceive my characters, themes, etc. I have also been told not to respond, but have broken this rule already simply to correct a misunderstanding. I will try not to do it again!
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Truly anything that keeps me away from the creative aspect of writing. Contracts, scheduling, etc. are all very necessary but drain my imagination in subtle but very real ways. I think every writer has this complaint.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
As mentioned above, I really can’t. But I have others things such as poetry that I can share. Poetry was my first love and I was recently chosen as a finalist in a poet laureate contest. Here is my poem Anatomy Lesson if you are interested!
My father taught
me the anatomy of quaking
the two dimensional
flatness of their stems,
set entire trees
shimmering like mirages
in the slightest breeze.
He also taught
me the slim beauty
of a silver-trunked stand
of birches pale as the faces
of frightened children,
not unlike my own.
The anatomy of good-bye
was delivered in silence –
taillights fading like embers,
in the moonlight
collapsing into silent applause.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
The genre chose me. I intend to right in different genres and am not concerned about balancing them as they will be completely different stories.
Where did your love of books come from?
I think I was just born with it. I remember being super eager to read when I was a child. And then when I started, it very quickly became a passion. Also, from a young age, I was always making up stories in my head!
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
So many!!! I think it is almost unfair to mention them because I inevitably leave someone out! Elizabeth Strout comes to mind often, as does Anthony Doerr and Gillian Flynn. But please, please – there are so many others…
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Ooooh, that’s very tough! It is truly a tie between Jay White and Andrea Rawlings with Jay perhaps nudging ahead by a hairs breadth! Jay is so special. He came to me fully formed – which is super unusual – and I basically let him dictate his story to me. Although marginalized throughout his life, he remained so sensitive and filled with compassion – I wish more people were like him.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Distractions, distractions, distractions.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Original. Readers know what they like, they don’t need me to feed it to them.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Jenny Milchman is one – she is such an amazing writer and so far ahead of me! She offers such kind advice and is a great person to talk ‘writing’ with. She is safe to bounce ideas around with or openly discuss areas that I feel need improving.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Caution: Sharp Turns
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Who is my favorite character – thank you for asking it already!
Where can your fans find you and follow??
firstname.lastname@example.org (best way to reach out!)
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
Thank you so much for asking me!!!!