Today on the blog I'm joined by Irish author Sophie Rose Williamson to talk about her latest book Gypsy.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book Gypsy?
Gypsy is an easy read. It is set in the coastal town of Palm Cove. The principle character Amber leads a solitary life. A decade of illusiveness, mystery and suspicion surrounds her existence. Gypsy is the second instalment in this series. The first book “Here Come the Girls” was a roaring success. Yet at the end we are still unable to unearth the real Amber McNulty. What exactly happened in her life to lead her into the heart of the country? Why has she led such a strange life? We are left wondering who she is. It just so happens at her prom she was
dumped in an unquestionably cruel fashion. Feeling fat, frizzled and an ugly dumpling has been the staple of her life. Amber seems perpetually the reject, the last to get picked, the last to get adopted, the last to get a divorce, the last to arrive at the publishing house.
Wildly a few decades later, Amber is still running from her past. We catch up with her mid-way through the book. Amber is living a comfortable life in high society. Yet sex and the city comes at a heavy price. Amber remains trapped in herself. She longs to flee the country and gain some perspective. She longs to live in a warm climate, away from the gaze and scrutiny of the press and media. She doesn’t feel the need to explain her existence anymore. Why should it matter where she comes from or who she really is? Gypsy is full of sex and secrets. It is perfect for cold winter days, with a cup of your favourite coffee.
In Gypsy you have three completely different female characters, Emma, Amber and Katie, which one would you say is most like you?
I would say there is an eclectic mix of my personality mixed up in all three characters. But I have never kidnapped a little poodle and shaved it, putting a party planner card attached to its dog collar. Katie, who has relatively undiagnosed high spectrum autism, is known for her clinical acts of vengeance. It’s not very nice but she never means any harm. I would like to think when I was younger; there were traits of Emma in me. I was care free, I had little or no wrinkles, my veins didn’t protrude and my skin had more elasticity. I had a bit of bounce and wore nice little hot pants. I went to clubs, concerts and loved to dance the night away. Maybe that girl will come back someday. I’m sure that fun girl with a bubbly personality is lurking around somewhere. Yes I have been in therapy for years; yes there has been depression, suicide attempts and mystery surrounding my life. That would put some of Amber into my personality. While I write fiction, of course it is only natural that I draw from my own life experiences, that of my surroundings, country and home.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
I am working like a Trojan on two books at present. I am a self-proclaimed workaholic. Learning to switch off is impossible. I am involved as a ghost writer on a biography which I think has the potential to reach the dizzying heights of top ten, it is phenomenal. We need to get it to the final stages. As a writer, successful author, PR, Public Appearances, and the celebrity publicity machine has to work. But as writers we must lock ourselves away and actually write. So one must find the discipline to get up at 5.00 in the morning and switch the computer on. Alternatively pulling a late night is another option. The other book I am working on is the third book in the series of Here Come the Girls. The book titled Wishlist is a deep dark story about battling cancer, a bone marrow transplant patient that covers depression in men, suicide and intervention by social services.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I have actually. I have been putting on plays and productions since I was a little girl. I danced for years, entering competitions all over the country. My mom would decorate my bedroom beautifully, and it was filled with gold medals, trophy’s and awards of all descriptions. I began writing poetry in Cyprus, where I had the luxury of living for a year. Following on I began to research, pick subjects which struck a chord with me and as my mom would say, immerse myself in a fantasy land of characters, settings and the world of literature and books.
“Get your head out of fantasy land and get a job” mom would say. Of course my dad was just ashamed of his with the mention of the word sex.
How long did it take you to get your first book published?
Not long actually. I was picked up fairly quickly by an internationally renowned publishing house, Maverick House. Together both Jean Harrington and John Mooney took me under their wing, nurtured me and gave me the tools to carry on. I still feel incredible gratitude to them and a sense of obligation not to let them down. From there I went to the dizzying heights of world critically acclaimed Poolbeg Press. My first book was a bestseller and my writing has flowed since. It has been a rollercoaster ride. But my family and friends keep me firmly on the ground.
Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I am in college studying art at the moment at Trinity. I absolutely love it. I do have a written routine. I pack it in whenever I can. I have a dream job which gives me so much pleasure.
Have you ever had writer’s block?
Yes without a shadow of a doubt. If something is deeply upsetting me, I cannot write. For instance when my children go on holidays without me, I feel so alone. Even though they are big grown up men now, they are still my boys. The void in my heart is unfillable. Of course they carry on without me. But I love them hovering around my computer, saying, “Mom, how many more words” “Mom did Eason’s take your book” “Mom don’t quit”
Oh they are absolute incredible and the greatest achievement of my life.
If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I would have chosen to be a hairdresser, without a doubt. I am a qualified beautician, makeup artist, hairdresser and barber. But I would have chosen to be a full time hairdresser. I love the job. I love the creativity it offers. I love the work. I love mixing with the clients and enjoying the day. The calendar days just flick on by. I love it.
If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I am currently writing a children’s book also. It is so beautiful, I love it. I take on a lovely personality. I get back to being a child and explore the world through the eyes of a child. Of course I may also dip my hand into Celtic Art History, and Theology.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Never quit. What knocks you down should make you stronger.
Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so do you consider the influence of social Media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hindrance?
I find a little bit of both actually. What I find annoying is when there are no likes on your Facebook status, is that a form of hindrance, it makes me feel unloved. But it is also a very successful marketing tool. I don’t like when it is used to degrade another, or demean them. We are all human after all. I love twitter and I love linkedin. I hope to try Vimeo soon. But Facebook is where I’m at most of the time.
If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who would you chose and why?
Jean Sasson because her record on Human Rights for woman in the middle east has paved the way for huge progress across Islamic and European Countries. I would choose Monica Loughman co-author of Ballerina. I feel her writing and Ballet Academies her thirst to open up and fund the arts and athletic world in Ireland would only be matched by GAA or Rugby Clubs. Her ballet companies tour Ireland and maybe Europe. It is unseen previously in Irish Culture. Monica has brought Russia to Ireland and their love of the arts. I would bring Tom
Cloonan as his love of military and espionage is exciting. The dinner table would be full of Russian, Middle Eastern and British Food, plenty of wine, and lots of laughter.
Do you prefer to read physical copies of books or e-books?
I like a bit of both actually. I love softback books, hard backs, and also the e-book.
Are there any books you’ve read that you wish you’d written?
Possibly Ballerina, it was a page turner without a doubt. But I have now golden opportunities in terms of books landing on my lap.
What’s the last book you’ve read that has made you cry?
Would you believe it was my own? The first chapter of Wishlist had me in floods of tears. I think I drank a glass of wine afterwards and cried until I could cry no more. It is the saddest and most powerful storyline which triggers the heart and tears in unison. The ghost of your deceased husband, telling you he loves you as an angle, and one of the greatest and tragic love stories of all time, mixed together as one. Tom follows abbey everywhere, his ghost, his love haunting her every movement. Meanwhile Amber is telling her deceased grandparent to please go away from the end of the bed when she wakes from her bone marrow transplant.
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Yes I like to go away for a few days, relax, and watch the soaps at home with my sisters, E entertainment, Dallas, and the latest reality TV Shows. I like to go to Wicklow to a friend’s house and just relax, take in the country air and enjoy my love of the mountains.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
Actually it is at home or in my local café. It’s so tranquil. I love it. I live in the seclusion of the country in the middle of nowhere and I love it. I love writing at Trinity. But I have to get through the year in order to pursue my dream of getting the graduation hat and going on to do a second year.
If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
I would take my own books to remind me of my own life, what I wrote. I would take Ballerina to encourage me to find a way to get back home again, steely determination and courage. I would choose any number of Jean Sassons books, to encourage me to never allow anyone to kick me or degrade me, put me down and tell me “You Can’t”.