Interview with Best selling Author Denise Deegan

28Oct09

SUBMITTED TO MODERN MOM MAGAZINE

Best selling author Denise Deegan talks to Mary Kelly Godley

Author Denise Deegan

Interview with Best Selling Author, Denise Deegan .

BEST SELLING AUTHOR DENISE DEEGAN TALKS TO MARY KELLY-GODLEY ABOUT WRITING AND MOTHERHOOD.

‘I love dealing with the big issues we struggle with in life as this makes us who we are.’

(Q). Did having young children influence your decision to make the transition to full-time writing?
(A). Yes, absolutely. I don’t think I would have considered giving up my career if I hadn’t had my kids. I would have tried to continue working and wrote in my spare time but with the kids I couldn’t hold down my full-time career and still find the time to write my first novel, ‘Turning Turtle.’

(Q). You had your first delve into writing when you wrote a non-fiction book, was this good practice for progressing to a fiction novel?
(A). While writing a non-fiction novel and a fiction one are two completely different disciplines, it wouldn’t have crossed my find to become a
fiction writer before having the experience of writing, ‘Managing Activism.’
Once I had written a non-fiction book I was bitten by the bug.
A non-fiction book is a process of beginning with a skeleton and adding
on from there whereas with a fiction book it is a completely different type of a skill.
Although the two are very different forms of writing ‘Managing Activism
definitely gave me the confidence to begin, ‘Turning Turtle.’

Q). Your Debut novel, ‘Turning Turtle,’ deals with a woman who discovered that relinquishing her business to be a full-time mom and author was not as straight forward as she had believed. Did you have a similar experience?

(A). Although there are some similarities with my own experience the real life version of events wouldn’t have been nearly as dramatic as my character in the book.
In ‘Turning Turtle,’ I explore how the balance of power shifts between
a husband and wife when one partner gives up a successful career to be a full-time parent.
My character in the book didn’t succeed as a writer. She didn’t have an inner belief and doubted her ability to succeed as a novelist. To be successful in this field you need absolute determination and have to be prepared to continue against all the odds.

(Q). When you started your writing career you had no publisher or agent lined up how did you find both within six months?
(A). I think five years ago my book was seen as being one of the first ‘mom-lit,’ books and this was seen as a new approach at the time.
‘Turning Turtle,’ was perceived as being quite different.
My individual approach and the fact that the main character spoke in a
rather sassy voice got me noticed and I got a publishing deal.
It was felt the voice in my story was true and honest and a contemporary Irish voice of the time.

Q). Your next book, ‘Time in a bottle,’ deals with the issue of a single mom whose young son is diagnosed with leukaemia, what inspired you to use this theme in your book?
(A). Although my plot device was the son’s leukaemia this was not meant to
be the overriding story in the book.
I also wanted to put a lot of emphasis on the other plots. The primary
one being a single mom being forced to confront issues in life that she
certainly does not want to face but because her son Charlie now has cancer she has no choice but to confront a dilemma she has tried to bury, i.e, who is Charlie’s father?
She also has to deal with another difficult issue in her life, i.e, her disastrous relationship with her mother.

(Q). All of your books have dealt with the ever evolving theme of the modern family, is this an intentional pattern?
(A). I love dealing with our struggle with the big issues in life as this makes us who we are. I think it is, this question reminds me of an old saying of my granny’s, ‘All the world’s queer save thee and me and even thee is a little
queer.’ Every family has their own secrets and unique qualities.
I love exploring the relationships within families, there are so many
different one’s to be explored, mother and daughter, sibling rivalry, its
a subject that’s endless and one that people are infinitely fascinated by.

(Q). ‘When Love Comes Tumbling,’ deal’s with the very difficult subject of a father struggling with bi-polar disorder while his fiancé is thrown head-long into the role of being a surrogate mother. During the course of your research did you find that people who have suffered from mental illness are discriminated against as parents?
(A) I would say more in life in general than specifically as parents. They’re afraid if they reveal their Mental Illness people will judge them.
There is still very much a stigma attached to depression in many aspects of life especially in the work environment or when you are looking for Insurance.
Many people may have the good intention of coming clean about their illness but it’s impossible to gauge how other people will react to you.
When my book, ‘When Love Comes Tumbling,’ came out I was deeply
moved by people’s revelations to me.
Many people spoke very openly to me about their experiences of family
members suffering from Mental illness.
Still in today’s society many people can handle the subject very well and love the exposure but others still cannot discuss the issue at all.
A lot of other people thanked me for writing about the subject and say
that otherwise they would never have thought about it.
I was delighted when people told me my book had helped them to have
a better understanding of Bi-polar disorder.

(Q). Your new novel, ‘Do You Want What I Want?’ deals with the dilemma of a couple who are divided on the issue of parenthood. Do you think more couple’s today are choosing not to have children?
(A). There does seem to be more of a move in that direction, it is now a
more accepted option. Also people now feel its okay to wait until well
into their thirties to start a family only to then find that there are problems.
Although there is also a new trend starting where people are actually starting to have bigger families and this is also becoming more acceptable.

(Q). ‘Do You Want What I Want?’ is also your first book written from the man’s point of view, did you find this more difficult or more fun to write?
(A). I didn’t think it was as difficult to write from this point of view as I had feared it would be.
In ‘Do you Want What I Want,’ I use a third person voice as I thought
this would be more authentic when I was using a man’s voice.
After all 50% of the people I am surrounded by are men so I have quite a lot of interaction with them.
I tried to explore a man’s viewpoint when it comes to children. The softness that men can have towards their children isn’t encouraged in our society.
We don’t seem to give men as much sympathy as women when it comes to issues regarding their family.
Men don’t have that much say in pregnancy or cannot make the choice on whether a pregnancy is to be ended or not. Neither are they given much comfort if there is a miscarriage even though they are often just as upset if not more on some occasions.
Our society still perceives that men should act in a certain way and we
expect them to always keep a stiff upper lip.

(Q). What advice would you give the strung out mom who works full-time and has always dreamed of being a best-selling author?
(A). I would say dreams are great things and trying to fulfil them is what
makes life interesting.
To succeed determination is the greatest asset required. You also
need great ability and great reserves within yourself.
You have to be able to value your work but most of all you have to be able to, ‘Enjoy your Writing.’ If its no longer fun then it’s very difficult to
continue or succeed.

(Q). Do you think your career compliments motherhood in a way other’s wouldn’t?
(A). I certainly wouldn’t have the same flexibility in another full or part-time job. There’d be a lot more pressure on me and I’d see less of my kids.
When the children are very young it’s difficult to find the time but when they’re older the hours that they are in school allows me to write in the
mornings.
Then I get a mental break from my writing while I am collecting them from school. Often good ideas come to me in the afternoon while I am
with them or carrying out household tasks. This break from my writing often clears my mind and gives me extra thinking time.
It is a nice balance.

(Q). What’s next for Denise Deegan?
(A). There are a few things in the pipeline.
I am working on my fifth novel.
There is a possibility of, ‘Do You Want What I Want?’ being made into a film.
Am doing a little pitching for TV work and am working on the movie idea with a friend.
Also I plan some more freelance journalism.
It would appear whatever the future holds for Denise the plan is definitely to keep writing.

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