Monday, February 25, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: L.M. BROWN




ABOUT THE BOOK


The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In "Amends," we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.


Book Details:


Title: Treading The Uneven Road


Author: L.M Brown

Genre: Linked short story collection

Publisher: Fomite (March 2019)

Print length: 206 pages








INTERVIEW WITH L.M. BROWN


Q: Lorna, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

A:
I got the title from a William Butler Yeats poem.
An old man cocked his car upon a bridge; He and his friend, their faces to the South, Had trod the uneven road.

I love poetry. Most of my titles come from poetry, since in poems feelings and atmosphere can be conveyed with so little words. Debris was taken from a Lola Ridge poem of the same title where she conveyed exactly the atmosphere of the book. As to the collection, the title is from a Yeats poem ‘Phases of The Poem,’ and the line is from of nostalgia and a sense of overcoming hardship.

Q: Do you have another job outside of writing?

A:
Yes, I teach the Pre-Master’s program in Merrimack College.

Q: Who are you?

A:
I am an Irish mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend to some, a teacher, and a writer. Also a bit of a traveler, and a dreamer, though I take some things seriously like raising three girls to be the best they can be.

Q: Where’s home for you? 

A:
When I hear the word home, I think of Ireland straight away and especially Sligo, though it’s been many years since I lived there. Before coming to Massachusetts, we lived in Galway for ten years. Our girls were born there, and I love Cloughanover in Co, Galway where there is music and art and a lot of good people. I’d consider that home too. It’s funny because some of the members in my family are more Irish at heart, while others, like my oldest daughter, love it here, and I couldn’t picture her living in Ireland. We bought the house in North Andover three years ago, and I really like it here. We are really lucky with the people we’ve met here too, but I don’t think we will be here forever. I guess it’s hard for me to stay put for too long and forever is a very long time.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A:
We moved around Ireland a fair bit, but arrived in Sligo when I was ten.

Q: What’s your favorite memory?

A:
That is a really hard question. There are too many different parts of life, the innocence of childhood, living in the country and running through the fields with dogs, then traveling for years, then meeting my husband, the girls' being born, my first publication, getting accepted into Emerson- to pick one memory is impossible. And I’m aware I kind of cheated there.

Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?

A
: A camper van when I couldn’t even drive. My friend, Ruari, was with me, and he drove the test drive. We bought the van, and it broke down within minutes of us driving away.


Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

A:
Nothing beats persistence and hard work, and if you have a dream, follow it. I tell my daughters that all the time.

Q: Who would you pick to write your biography?

A:
My friends Sharon Lynch of Sarah, because they are never judgmental. 

Q: What do you love about where you live?

A
: I love Weir Hill where I take my dog to hike often, and I love the people I live beside, and that it’s close enough to Maine so we can go there every summer.


Q: Have you been in any natural disasters?

A:
I experienced a small earthquake in Japan. I didn’t experience the tsunami in Indonesia, but I was in Bande Ache months before the tsunami hit, and it’s very sad to know that place was destroyed.

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done?

A:
I traveled Southeast Asia for three months alone. And I flew from Australia to New Zealand with $300, alone, with no idea what I was going to do. I knew no one there. I ended up hitching around the country and working on farms for three months. It was the one of the best times of my life. New Zealand is amazing. 


Q: What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

A:
The stupidest thing I’ve ever done is probably not something I would admit to here, to be honest.  Recently I was going through Dunkin Donuts drive thru, and I actually got out of the car to give my order. The attendant wasn’t too happy with me. And my friend came over for St. Patrick’s Day. We went to Boston, and she had a headache, and I bought her Advil PM. She was so tired all night (and grumpy), and it wasn’t until the next day that I saw that Advil PM was to aid sleep. It was ridiculous because she’d come over all the way from Ireland to celebrate Paddy’s day.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now? 

A:
I wish I read more as a teenager, but I don’t know if I wish I had known anything different. That suggests that I would like to go back and change something, and I’ve gone past that kind of regret.

Q: What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?

A:
The answer to the previous question holds true to this. I can’t think of anything I should have known.  When I was younger, I needed to travel to gain some experience and feel I had something to write about. I didn’t start writing until I came back home to Ireland after five years, and then I took it seriously. I wrote any chance I had and read loads, so I don’t think I’d wish my  younger self knew anything in particular, especially not that it would take fifteen years before my first book got published. My younger self was way too impatient to deal with something like that, though I know now that it just took that long for me to hone my art.

Q: What makes you bored?

A:
I don’t get bored usually, but anything to do with technology, usually, or gadgets. I’m really not a gadget person. 


Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A:
My husband laughed when I asked him this. He said I had to have a boat load, but we can’t think of anything now. I cry at everything: movies, America’s Got Talent, my daughter’s last day at elementary school, so that can be embarrassing, but I know I’ve done some embarrassing things that escape me now. 


Q: What makes you nervous?

A:
It’s nerve-wrecking when my books are being read for the first time. Reviewers have the collection now, and its awful waiting for the verdict. 


Q: What makes you happy?

A:
Spending time with family and friends, my sisters and mom, cousins, writing, camping, good food and wine, a pint of Guinness at home, swimming, beaches, Coffee pond with friends, campfires, good books, readers, poetry, music, fires on snowy days, hikes with my dog.

Q: What makes you scared?
A:
Not doing the right thing as a mother.

Q: What makes you excited?

A:
Finishing a book, getting it out there, and starting a book after the weeks of planning.

Q: How did you meet your husband?

A:
We met in Japan. We taught English in the same school and arrived a week apart from each other. Matias was supposed to go to Kyoto, but they called him days before he left Massachusetts and asked him to go to Mito, and he said yes.

Q: What are your most cherished mementoes?

A:
A postcard I found when we were moving to this house with my brother’s handwriting. He passed away 18 years ago, and my daughter found the postcard when we were packing books. I’d never seen it before, not in Galway or when we moved two times in Massachusetts, so I feel it was a message from him.

Q: If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?

A:
That postcard, the photos are saved on my computer.

Q: What brings you delight?

A
: Dinner time with the family.

Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes? 

A
: I don’t have a favorite quote. There are too many great lines out there.
But I like this one from the poem ‘Our Wandering.’ I titled my newest novel after it:
 “Look what I am holding! Not desire, but infinite multiplicity, the mouth of existence.” -Dawn Lundy Martin

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

A:
I have no idea, maybe Ireland, but there is a lot I haven’t seen.

Q: What would you like people to say about you after you die?

A:
Ha, it all depends on who says it.

Q: What’s your favorite line from a book?

A:
I recently read Beloved. There are so many wonderful lines in that book. Today I will pick: “The threads of malice creeping toward him from Beloved's side of the table were held harmless in the warmth of Sethe's smile.”

Q: What would your main character say about you?

A
: Dick would say that I was a good one to have a pint with.

Q: How did you create the plot for this book?

A:
This book took many years to form. I started writing the stories when I first arrived here around eight years ago. At first they were set in USA and Ireland. While I was working with an editor at Emerson, I started thinking of having the characters from the same place, and then it hit me that they should live in the village I grew up in. Each story started as its own, but they became entwined, so the characters weave in and out of each other’s lives, and the collection has the feel of a novel.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A:
No, though some of the action is inspired by my life.  In ‘The Sacred Heart’, the brothers print out a book with a list of shops and services that offer a 10% discount for anyone who buys the book. My father did that, and my sister and I went door-to-door trying to sell the book for five pounds. As in the story, it was the 80’s, and there was very little money in Ireland.

Q: Are you like any of your characters? 

A:
I don’t think so. Dick is one of my favorite characters because he is such a dreamer, and I suppose I’ve always been a dreamer, but I am more realistic than he is.

Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

A:
Fun one. Let’s see, Hagan, the school teacher would have, years ago, run me down by a car, but she’s not as cruel as she used to be, so she might balk at the last minute.
Dick might push me off the bridge, but he’d try to grab me then. He’s too soft.

Q: With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

A:
Toni Morrison, Glen Hansard, George RR Martin, if they don’t have to be alive, Leonard Cohen, and Maya Angelou.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A:
Toni Morrison, Michael Odjante, Margaret Atwood, Flannery O’Connor, William Trevor, George RR Martin, Most Latin American writers, Anne Enright.

Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format? 

A:
Philip Roth-The Plot against America, paperback. I don’t read e-books.

Q: What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

A:
Bad books/ characters that sound too alike.


Q: Do you have a routine for writing? 

A:
Yes, I have a routine for when I start a book as well as when I am writing. When I start to think of my next project, I read at least five books that are similar, and I take a good many weeks to think about what I want to write. I won’t write a word without having a clear outline and plan. Then I start. and I like to write in the morning more than anything, and edit and revise later.

Q: Where do you prefer to do your writing?

A
: In my study.

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?

A:
I just got a wonderful review for the collection from US review of Books. They wrote: "Brown is an author who understands that what is implied is often more impactful than what is detailed. The white space between her words and lines speak volumes. They ignite the reader's imagination and create involvement that additional words would not."
I really believe in the subtlety for writing, so it was wonderful to read this.



Q: What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?

A:
That it was confusing, and they had no idea what was going on, I kept writing and practicing and did a masters. But I wouldn’t think of it as the worst thing someone said. Criticism is important to improve. The more you write the more you understand this. Writers starting off always hate it.


Q: You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be? 

A:
For today, I’ll say queen of dragons.


Q: What would your dream office look like?

A:
Not much different to the one I have, large windows and space, but I’d have the sea outside.


Q: Why did you decide to publish with Fomite?

A:
I really liked their list of publications.

Q: Are you happy with your decision to publish with them? 

A:
Yes, I am really delighted that I did. They were fantastic to work with.
Debris was published with an Indie publisher too. It was a hard book to market as the main characters were fourteen and fifteen. I wrote it with adults in mind, but Ink Smith read it and liked it, and it has been getting good reviews. 
I sent this collection to Marc Estrin because of their interest in short stories, and he replied quickly. The whole journey has been a wonderful collaboration between me and Marc and Donna. They really listen to the authors, while also giving great feedback and advice.

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
I just finished a novel titled Our Wandering, which is about an older sister who is looking for her missing sister while remembering things that happened when they were younger. It’s a book about memory and how we choose to remember.

At the moment, I am reading a lot of non-fiction about the current political climate in the US, and I want to write something about what is happening here, but it’s very early days. I also want to write another collection using Irish folklore and magical realism.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



L.M Brown grew up in Ireland but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters. She has a master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College and is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have been published in over a dozen literary magazines.

Connect with the author:
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
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