Interview with 'Dominic's Park' Author Anne Callanan.
Anne, for those people reading this that haven't read your book could you without giving too much away tell us a little bit what this book is about?
Dominic's Park is a story about individuals who try to follow their dreams and create better lives for themselves. As the plot develops their stories intertwine on many levels even though the characters may not necessarily be aware of this. It’s about human strengths, weaknesses and foibles, about decision making and living with the consequences of it. The plots begins with the disappearance of the protagonists eight-year-old son who has autism and grows from there.
How did you come to the decision to write a Mystery novel?
On a very practical level, I needed to find a more flexible career and writing fitted that brief. Although I really enjoyed English in school, writing as a career option didn’t appear on my radar back then… now however, I am hooked!
If you had asked me what kind of book, I thought I would write before I started to write Dominic’s Park, I would have told you something funny with a soft and cuddly feel to it. That’s probably what my friends expected too! I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed writing about the darker side of life in Dominic’s Park and think I might stick with it!
What were your inspirations behind writing this book?
The main inspiration behind this book is the adage ‘you can be anything you want to be if you try hard enough.’ The book is all about disproving this! I’ve heard it used to dismiss the struggles of those who are ‘not successful’ in the conventional sense. “If I can do it, so can they, they are just lazy,” etc. with no acknowledgement that sometimes life circumstances and the absence of luck can negate the path of hard work. It sounds like a very negative starting point, but my aim was a positive one… to evoke some empathy towards others. Throwing blame may wash clean the conscious but it also maintains the inequalities that exist within society. It’s my view that blame won’t create positive change, understanding will.
This book has somewhat of a 'hidden meaning' - that there are consequences to our actions. Away from the enjoyment of your creative writing, how important is it for you to feel people are genuinely aware of this?
Absolutely this is important. Regardless of circumstances people need to own responsibility for their actions. On a massive scale, Global warming is a prime example of when we haven’t. There are always consequences to actions… good and bad. If we were better at owning responsibility for that I think we would think more carefully before we made unsavoury decisions.
Going back to the writing of the book, how did you find writing your first ever book?
In all honesty it was harder work than I imagined but the pros far outweighed the cons. On the good days it was a very enjoyable experience allowing my brain to wander to develop the plot and characters, but there were bad days too when I’d spend hours trying to expand an idea and then scrap it. I’m fairly self-motivated so giving up was never an option and the best part - the satisfaction in finishing - has been immense. The scariest part was giving the first draft to the two people I trusted enough to read it and honestly assess it! The second scariest part was waiting for the reaction after publication. So far so good on that score. It’s been a steep learning curve and I expect my second book will be too.
Did the whole process for writing and releasing a book be what you thought it would be?
Not at all. I thought I’d start at the beginning and end at the end. When in fact my beginning became my end and the plot changed numerous times before I was happy with the result. The editing process has been the most enlightening experience and I hope I will take forward what I have learnt from that. Who would have thought that others wouldn’t necessarily understand my Irish cultural background references… That is said in jest!
For you, what were your biggest lessons you learnt during the process?
The importance of not giving up and continuing to write even when the inspiration is low. Nothing is wasted even if it does not make it into the final book. I have also learnt to have much more patience with myself, quickly discovering frustration led to a blank page and that the editing process although not the easiest task is vital when it comes to the final product. As always, it’s important to get differing points of view if you’re going to create something good.
Would there be anything today you can divulge to us about any new books coming?
I’m in the early stages of a second book so things my change but it’s another mystery/thriller. Its focus is on toxic relationships and how damaging they can be in your life. As with Dominic’s Park, I’ll take the idea to the extreme to make a point!
Something we always ask authors we speak to, if there's one piece of advice you can give to any budding authors what would it be?
I’d tell them to start, don’t keep procrastinating, feel the fear, do it anyway and tell someone you are doing it to keep you motivated. It's harder to give up once you’ve made a public commitment!
Anne, thank you for your time.