Thrilled to be today’s stop on the Blog Tour for The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney. For my stop, I had the opportunity to ask Patricia Gibney some of my burning questions about her novel and about life in general!
Keep reading to see what Patrica had to say about writing about tough issues, her writing process and The Missing Ones!
The Missing Ones is the perfect blend of thriller and police procedural. It also tackles several tough issues including child abuse and loss. What type of research goes into this?
I’ve always read crime and thriller novels so, as my interest lay in this area, I ended up writing in this genre.
As regards research, over the last number of years, many abuse scandals involving the church (and state), have been discovered and brought to the attention of the general public. Even today, stories are breaking in the media. Based on what I have read over the years, I imagined the scenes from this horrendous period in Irish history and created a fictional depiction of it, for The Missing Ones.
I have first hand experience of dealing with loss due to the death of my husband eight years ago at the age of forty-nine, following a short illness. Grief affects each and every one of us in different ways. In my case, I had to give up my job due to my inability to cope with anything and as a means of therapy, I rekindled my love of painting and writing.
I love reading crime and police procedures. However, personally, I don’t like to be swamped with too much procedural information. For my book, I bent the ears of two detective friends to get the basics of how an investigation works. But in the interests of my story and the pace of the novel, I tailored it to suit my needs. I do hope I achieved in making it all believable.
Lottie is a stellar protagonist. What’s the inspiration for her character?
I grew up among very strong and colourful women — my sisters, mother, mother in law, grandmothers. My paternal grandmother died when she was just fifty-five but she ran a farm in difficult circumstances and worked extremely hard to rear nine children.
My maternal grandmother lived to be eighty-five and was widowed in her early thirties. She raised two daughters and buried a son and daughter. She singlehandedly ran a household including a B&B and baked brown bread for local hotels to bring in an income. This year sees the twentieth anniversary of the death. I admired her greatly for her courage and determination while never losing her cool or her charm. She was a stellar character and I’d like to think some of her stamina and grit have made its way into Lottie Parker.
Were there any sections that you decided to edit out of The Missing Ones?
I sought a manuscript appraisal of The Missing Ones long before it saw the light of day. I was advised to take out a character to help the pace of the novel. I found this extremely difficult…killing one of my darlings! But I retained the ‘cut-outs’ so they may appear in another book. ‘Waste not want not’ is a great saying of my mother’s.
Why did you decide to start writing thrillers?
When I started writing my novel, I had no idea what genre it was going to fall into. I created a set of characters and had the premise of a theme and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. I have always read crime, thrillers and detective novels. My early readings (after Ladybird books) were taken up with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew. From there I progressed to Ruth Rendell and P.D. James. In later years my tastes include Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Jeffrey Deaver and many, many, more.
So I think my reading pattern led me directly into writing in that genre.
Do I read book reviews? How do I deal with good and bad reviews?
As I am new to publishing, I really have no idea how I will deal with good and bad reviews. As a reader, I sometimes read reviews but I don’t necessarily buy a book based on a good review. I like to see a review that is fair even if it is critical.
I know everyone has individual likes and dislikes, and I’m sure that my book won’t be to everyone’s taste. I do hope, however, that the good reviews will outweigh the bad reviews, fingers crossed. And I hope that fair and balanced reviews will help me become a better writer.
What does my writing process look like?
Oh, what a question!
Up until I got my agent, Ger Nichol, followed my book deal with Bookouture, I was a sporadic writer. I was always talking about writing, thinking about it and writing when I was ‘in the mood.’ Then all that changed. Deadlines do that to you!
Now I try to write everyday. Usually in the mornings before I get distracted with all the other things I think I should be doing.
When I wrote The Missing Ones, I didn’t to do an outline…I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I became serious about writing and I participated in numerous courses and learned as much as I could from excellent tutors.
Today, I try to have a clear idea of where the story is going, I write a short synopsis, which is prone to change. Sometimes I write the book’s ending after I’ve written the prologue and first chapter. However, once I get into the story I generally ‘go with the flow’ and let the characters and their situations lead me along. This has the clear disadvantage of leaving me with a lot of editing after I have the first draft completed. But as the saying goes, ‘you can’t edit a blank page.’
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When I am writing a new story I am definitely energised. I love the buzz I get from creating something or someone from absolutely nothing. It’s like creating a painting – starting off with a blank canvas, and slowly building up a picture with layers of colour. It might not be a masterpiece, but it is something I have created and that gives me the energy to continue.
Writing emotional scenes can exhaust me. I actually become quite emotional myself, though it might also be a sigh of relief because I’ve managed to write something that day!
Edits exhaust me. Enough said.
What you do when you are not writing?
When not actually writing I think about it and talk about it and generally bore the ears off anyone who will listen to me!
My deadlines are very tight, so I could be editing a book while writing another, so writing is always number one in my mind.
But I do like to walk and paint when I can. I painted in acrylics for a number of years and then I took up watercolours, which I find extremely relaxing and soothing. I think perhaps I should do more of it.
Thanks so much for answering my questions, and if you haven’t already, be sure to get your copy of The Missing Ones!
Be sure to check out all the stops on tour!