Author Interview – Angela McPherson – Norah & Emma and The Alice Band

Hi there everyone.

I have an interview for you today with a very intelligent, witty and funny lady.

Author Angela McPherson has kindly agreed to chat about her books and writing processes.

So without further ado, let’s find out more about her and the advice she has to offer.

 

Hi there Angela, thank you for participating in this author interview today and we appreciate your valuable time.

Let’s start with your first published novel Norah & Emma. This is a fictionalised biography of Norah Dacre Fox (AKA Elam) and her life as a suffragette, who subsequently became a fascist. Please tell us more about this historical fiction novel, the struggles that Norah and her family faced and how you came to write this book.

Norah was my grandmother and my family lived with her for several years before my eighth birthday. Norah was possessed of a formidable and difficult character, which made living with her an uncomfortable experience. She spoke freely of her suffragette connections and commitment to the anti-vivisection cause, but it was only in later years, when I researched her life in an attempt to lay to rest ghosts from my childhood that I discovered her fascist career. Once this came to light I was driven by a desire to explain Norah’s political and psychological journey from suffragette to fascist. My novel is an attempt to unravel this conundrum.

I began writing with feelings for her that ranged on a spectrum from admiration to incomprehension. After grappling with her life and pouring my efforts onto paper, those feelings had not changed as I realised I could never fully understand what drove her. Undertaking the exercise, however, did help me to finally accept her uniqueness and contribution to my life.

Annie_Kenney_and_Christabel_Pankhurst

You have also published a book called “The Alice Band.” Why is it called this? And what genre would you say that it finds itself in? Tell us more about the setting, the characters and the comedy in the story, which I believe makes it much lighter in tone than the seriousness of Norah & Emma!

After my wrestle with the troubling issues in Emma and Norah, I wanted to write a tongue in the cheek fun novel. The Alice Band is the result. An ‘Alice Band’ is a pretty piece of frippery used to hold unruly hair in place. I used this as a metaphor for my character Alice, a quixotic individual who ‘bands’ her friends together through a mixture of guile and affection. Based around Carole and Alice’s lifelong friendship, Carole, the practical one, observes and records the exploits of their mutual community of friends, a group of expats who divide their time between the UK and France. Poor language skills and a set of circumstances driven by Alice’s quest to marry her daughter off to a rich banker form the basis of the story.

If your novels were to be made into movies, who would you cast in the lead roles?

Norah and Emma would need careful casting as the novel follows two women through a thirty/forty year career. I believe Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Thompson could carry this off, although I suspect Norah’s later career would make this a difficult film in terms of attracting anyone into the lead role.

As for The Alice Band I would love to cast Jane Horrocks as Alice, with Jenny Agutter as the more practical and sober minded Carole.

Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?

I am an indiscriminate reader who loves all forms of literature. The authors that inspire me range from Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Thomas Hardy to Mervin Peake (Gormenghast), WG Sebald (Rings of Saturn), Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby), Kafka (The Trial), Hilary Mantel, Murakami (Kafka on the Shore), Jackie Kay and Robert McFarlane (The Wild Places). There is a mixture of novelists, travel writers and psychogeographers here, but this is only a small selection of the amazing and skilled writers we are lucky enough to have access to through our rich and resourceful language.

Norah&Emma

What sort of research do you do to write your books?

The volume and intensity of my research depends on the subject and genre. Emma and Norah involved long hours at the National Archives at Kew, as well as visits to archives in Dublin and Belfast. Other university libraries and public records offices also had to be visited to establish the historical accuracy of events my characters took part in.

My fictional novels are less demanding of research as they are set in ill-defined periods of time. I rely heavily on Professor Google to supply a lot of answers to immediate factual issues like the visits to Glyndebourne and Hay festival made by the characters in The Alice Band. I remember being privileged to attend a talk given by Hilary Mantel on how she undertakes research. This occurred when she was in the middle of writing Bring Up The Bodies, when she revealed that as she had been unwell she relied heavily on the internet to help her research. I feel, therefore, that I am in good company.

Finally, I must heartily recommend a series of books by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, The Emotion Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus. These three gems have saved me hours of research into behaviour patterns and their potential effects on characters actions in my stories.

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

For me writing serves as a catharsis. I find great release getting onto paper stories, difficult scenarios or ideas that plague me. My inspiration originates from my grandparents who valued reading, writing and the power of words. While they used them for propaganda purposes to promote their causes, my own experience of losing myself in wonderfully written stories became a joy I learned to value.

Through reading, I developed understanding, empathy and the ability to imagine standing in another’s shoes. Now I hope to use my scribblings to bring smiles, happiness and understanding through stories that people enjoy reading.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

I can’t say I have ever endured a prolonged creative slump or full-on block. I do find my concentration levels dip and that I’m most inspired creatively early morning. In that sense I classify myself as a lark and not an owl. I can revive myself through going for a walk or simply scrolling through some of the lovely pages of Pinterest. I tend to structure my day around writing first thing, taking a walk/doing chores midday, then using the afternoon/evening for editing. I think that understanding my natural rhythm and accepting that helps me impose discipline myself.

TheAliceBand

How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

As indicated above I love to get out and walk. Miles and miles. Forests, trees, sandy beaches, open countryside, up and down hills. The sights and sounds of birds singing, the smell of new mown grass are all life affirming and inspirational. I also love theatre and music and enjoy a wonderful circle of supportive friends with whom I meet regularly. Weekends are spent as a volunteer Room Guide at a National Trust house where the construction of the Great Hall dates from circa 1320. The atmosphere from the seven hundred years of history that stalks the place and the building is something I relish intensely.

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

I have three projects in the pipeline currently. First is a novel that has been completed and is in the hands of beta readers currently. While I await their feedback, I have recommenced work on a memoir of my adolescent years spent growing up in Africa. My third project has been inspired by the seven months I spent crewing on a yacht sailing around southern Italy and the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece. I will have to be careful when writing that one as I could become fixated on toilet humour since life on board seemed to be dominated by marine toilets and the etiquette surrounding their cleanliness and usage!

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

Never let a day pass without writing something creative. Whether it is fifty words or a couple of thousand, get them down. If you have stuff to edit you can progress. If you have nothing, you will end up staring at nothing.

Bio:-

AngelaMcPherson

Verity Short is the pen name of Angela McPherson. Angela has led a peripatetic life, but now resides in Kent in England. Angela’s early education was disrupted by her family wanderings and it was as an ‘adult’ student that she gained an MA in Creative Writing. The power of words to enhance or undermine has always obsessed her and is why writing prose and poetry have played an important role in her later life. Her other great obsession, history, is why she volunteers at a National Trust property that dates from 1320, where the stained glass windows in the Great Hall – installed circa 1520 – commemorate the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Such things help keep life in perspective.

You can contact her via these Social Media platforms:-

Twitter:- Verity Short (Twitter)

LinkedIn:- Angela McPherson (LinkedIn)

Her website can be found at:- Verity Short – Leaving a footprint in words

You can buy Angela’s books here:-

Norah & Emma by Verity Short

The Alice Band by Verity Short

Furthermore, Angela mentions in her interview some very useful Thesaurus Guides by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi that can enrich and enhance your writing, all of which you can buy via the following links below:-

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.

Still want more? Angela’s first book was all about the struggle and confusion of understanding her grandmother and how the writing of the book helped her to put everything into perspective. This can be true of all writing, which can be confusing at times until we put words on paper (or computer screen!) and gain some kind of structure that finally makes sense and brings meaning to our lives. For more blog posts around the theme of ‘Confused’, check out the links below:-

1. That Bacon Pic – London Vegan Bunny
2. Fly on the wall – MyBlog
3. Harley Quinn my kindred spirit?
4. Confused – Cynthia Goes Online
5. The Big Day – Making Sense of Complications
6. If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock (part 7) – Uma’s life and thoughts
7. The Beginning – The Cliffhanger Chronicle
8. I’m Sorry – A Letter to My Kids – Lori’s Life and Other Stuff
9. The Rules of Thoughts – jessicasblog45
10. CONFUSED – artifiswords
11. AN OCEAN OF NOTIONS – help
12. Consideration – zorazebic
13. You and me song – Confused
14. Dialy Prompts August 2016 – My Garden Biodiversity
15. burntbreakfast – Day 28: Confused
16. not knowing – Love it Now
17. Confused – Nomadic Adventurer
18. Narutomath96 – Carry the confusing love
19. Not That Confused Again – Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored
20. “Christians” or Christians: Shine Brightly Or Flip the Switch – Lance Price Blog 2016
21. kwesi – Confused
22. Eden of Knowledge – Confused
23. Le Drake Noir – Prompt response
24. Confused… – wanderlust007wordpress
25. dinamicdynasty – Confused
26. My Mixed Blog – Spider Paradise
27. The Human Spirit – icicle
28. This is Another Story – The Strangest Dreams
29. Mainline_Matter – Confused Message
30. Wanderlust – A new chapter – Complicated & Confused Switzerland vs. New Zealand
31. Love never dies – Life at 17
32. Confusions are Common! – Positive Reflections
33. LOVE vs MARIJUANA – thepunkpenblog
34. prose & poetry – Confused – pinkwoods
35. Confused By My Owner – Apparently I’m Funny
36. April’s Perspective – What is Going On?
37. Leaves me so confused! – kaurpuneetblog
38. tuckedintoacorner – change + mind + confused
39. Not confused – Words in verse…..
40. helen meikle’s scribblefest – Daily prompt: Never let it be said
41. The Lazy Wanderer – Confusion
42. To Be Independent in Body, Mind and Spirit #India – Aussie Curries
43. Avid Thinker – Mr Confusion and I
44. Confused – StrangeLander2015
45. The Amma and her Maid! It’s Complicated! – The Constantly Puzzled Mind
46. Purposive Writer – Victory Over Confusion
47. The Sucko Year – doghouse1623
48. kindergartenknowledge.com – Avoid Confusion. Avoid Freeways.
49. Indira’s Blog – Confused- The Daily Post
50. Annette’s place – Daily prompt/confused/8/15/2016
51. The Hidden Chalkboard (The HC) – The He Said, She Said Problem in Bible prophecy
52. It’s all a blur – evil is the blending tool – 5beatspersecond
53. How I Met Your Mother – Mac’s World
54. Wither Or Thrive – Confusion should lead to enlightenment. But does it for you?
55. The happy Quitter! – An unusual Loan
56. panda1717 – Confused by Daily Prompt
57. Wait Too Long – A Short Conversation
58. Shell Games – Dazed and Confused
59. The Daily Post-Confused – juantetcts
60. Willow’s Corner – My tongue is confused
61. The Daily Post – Progressing into Solitude – Confused
62. Alexia Jones – Confused
63. Cryptic Clandestine – Confused…or Not?
64. The Well-Informed Namer – Violet, Azure, and Emerald: Cool Color Names
65. Life in a Few Words – Past vs Present
66. Ruminations of an Old Soul – In Search of Direction
67. Bittersweet Sensations – The Thing About Humans
68. Derelict Heart – Same-Day Confused
69. Lisa’s Journal Blog – Confused
70. Giggles & Tales – The Daily Prompt – Confused!
71. Everything Happens for a Reason, Duh! – Bolognese’s Blog
72. The home is Confused – Writcrit
73. waterlooseneca – Lost and Confused. Wandering around Taichung, Taiwan.
74. 83 Unsung Heroes – Confused and Excited (By Aliens And Milk)
75. a bud – What does nelkumi think?­
76. The Complicated Business of New Blogger Identity – A mile in my shoes
77. Inspiratie – @Peter’s Blog
78. The Reading Room: Episode 2 – calliemm
79. A Surprising Revelation that I don’t Know What to do With – Dreamer’s Paradise
80. If a Fly on the Wall Could Talk: A Glimpse From “Out Damned Spot” From the First Season of Fox’s Empire – Bienestar Miami
81. No fear… – It Is Still Real
82. A word on confused – ioanaazoica
83. Wish Me Luck – Onto My Next 40 Years
84. FORM Holdings Corp. (FH.O) for Monday 8/15/2016 – vet67to82
85. Confused – Postcard from a Pigeon
86. wordsareallihavesite – Confused
87. ‘Taking Turns’ – The Last Blog Available
88. Axis of Action – The Dreamers: Must See
89. The Black – A Short Conversation
90. manvsloneliness – Day 44 Supplemental: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Confused’
91. Lemurian Light Oracle – Awake and Confused
92. Joy Write – The three wishes…
93. What Are We – Who I Was
94. The Unknown Unknown. Confused? – PsychPerspectives
95. Writing and Works – Silent Storms
96. Gregor is Trapped And They are Coming to Get Him – Justus Books
97. Confused – Mrs Reckless Writes
98. Fluffy Pool – The Enforcer
99. Turning American I really think so – Geek Ergo Sum
100. From Fog to Clarity – Heaven’s Sunshine
101. Trying To Breathe – Who? Why? Just Smile!
102. Confused – disue
103. Your Self-Editor Is Your Worst Enemy. It Makes You Afraid to Write! – Blog to Memoir
104. Confused – Caillen James –Author
105. Carmela Snelbaker – When You Don’t Have a Pool And It’s Hot You Simply Make Due With What You Have 🙂
106. Aly Said What – Step 01
107. LOVE WHAT YOU DO – Confused
108. Social Network thats controlling us now – Eman Sherif
109. They, You and Me – no reason…haiku
110. Awl and Scribe – Confused
111. Common Pursuit – Abraham
112. websaladbar – Today’s Prompt: Confused
113. B_ up to date – Locked up minds
114. There is a Time to Write and a Time to Edit – Don’t Try to Mix the Two – Blog to Memoir
115. rhymeagination – CLARITY IN CONFUSION
116. Serendipitousbloom.com – Positive Quote Monday # 1
117. Don’t be scared of being confused. – Journey
118. Rediscovering Life – WOW, Writers’ Obscure World
119. the15thday – 36 seconds of sporting masterclass. or not.
120. Crossing Colorado – Do You Burn More Calories Lifting Weights or Cardio?
121. Once Upon Your Prime – Must You ALWAYS Cross Your Eyes And Dot All Your Teas?? YES!
122. insomnia. – lemonadeletter
123. Confused – Covert Novelist
124. Lack of confusion – Pete Gardner Psalms
125. Musings of a Random Mind – I Wanted To Believe
126. SERENDIPITY – WHO ARE YOU CALLING CONFUSED?
127. Normal – Ayoka
128. A quarter of a Dream #2 – PLEXIUS
129. Lowland – The All Important Sunday
130. Scribbles from the other side – Afterlife Love Story
131. Flowers and Breezes – Confused
132. Light & life – Intolerance
133. But… Now I am Confused – Single Mom In Dallas
134. Le Happyone – Being overly smart is really, unbelievably painful
135. multiplemyelomaandme – It’s Just Simple
136. Cloud of Confusion – rupalislale
137. Mental festival brawl – Kriti K. Gupta
138. Confused About My Direction in Fitness – IronCrossLiving
139. Think About It – The Mandala
140. Confused Is Prompt For Day – Saint P. Blogging
141. I need to get off this confusion roller-coaster… – Insidious Temptation
142. ATG Successful Living – Confused? Why It May Be Good for Your Relationship or Career
143. From The Memories of A Confused Child – How I Learned To Dance In The Rain
144. Is this love? – Bum Tales
145. w3ishrightnow – Confused – Finding yourself
146. MY ENDURING BONES – Skin
147. Just A Simple Country Girl – Confused
148. And That’s The Way
149. Confused – Verwarrend
150. Take Time Out if Confused – eddaz
151. why? – themanbehindtheglass
152. Black mirror – ink and toast
153. Writer Sanctuary – 10 Reasons Why Your Site May Not Be Making Money
154. Little Zyphira – Odyssey In Atlantis
155. NOT AT ALL CONFUSED – breathingpark
156. Martha L Shaw – Can’t Take A Yoke?
157. Courting – Rose Glace’s Blog
158. Suddenly Single… Minded – Dating newbie? Bewitched, bothered and bewildered?
159. Living in the Age of Blasted Hopes – atrangizindagieksafar
160. Confused – A Thomas Point of View
161. Following? – Bum Tales
162. The Inquisitive Mind – Cure for a confused mind…
163. Confusion – Emotional Spaces
164. The Backpacker’s Guide to Taiwanese Food (Part I) – The Looking Glass
165. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Roundabout
166. All Once Was Well… – Dreams within me.
167. Michael J. Fite – How Can You Learn From Your Confused State Of Mind?
168. That Movie Night – writemebad
169. kStan(ly) kSays – in confused exhilaration
170. Confused dogs – citySonnet
171. Follow – Bum Tales
172. Summer – indisputably inconclusive
173. Charron’s Chatter – Issue (mine is) Cloud
174. He Did – A Short Conversation
175. Looming on your horizon – speaking up for myself
176. I Have No Idea What’s Going On – Where’s the Windmill?
177. Random Brain Musings – Road Trip
178. Counting Down – A lot from Lydia
179. Replace Confused with Clarity – passiondesignerblog
180. Confused – Beautifully Alyssa
181. Confu(she)d – karamaatithaila
182. I Will Fight Site – Seeing Things in a New Light
183. It’s [Not] Complicated… – Eagle’s Wing Ministries
184. HarlemATL Inner City Blues – Love & The Spreadsheet
185. Confusion- all photos – regina
186. Queen of a Full House – Confused
187. Confusion is Nothing New – SUCCESS STRATEGIES
188. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: The complicated feline
189. Coloring Outside the Lines – Confused
190. I am human. – 1withthepen
191. kristinakoti – Summer Vacations in Albania
192. Dress-code – Sithu’s
193. Hate or Forgive? – dorkyglassesblog
194. Making it write – Weekend bender
195. The suffering of the faithful – My life…or so I think
196. Musings in the Middle… – Confused? No Overloaded…
197. prompt: confused – extra[SPECIAL]terrestrial
198. Confused – Sushant Srivastava
199. Confused – Just Come With Me
200. The Grand Plan – A Devious Mind
201. thelonerose – Confused by fashion rules
202. I used my Depression to Inspire me – mySestina
203. To The Here and Now – My Second Act, Scene One
204. Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents – Went to Podcamp Pittsburgh 11 and Made History
205. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Confusion is no longer possible
206. The Cat Chronicles – Confusion is no longer possible
207. Post-Surgical Persona Poem – Bits of Poems
208. Are You an Instagramer or a Snapchater? – Eman Sherif
209. Where the mind is without fear . – sheetalbravon
210. Zombie Flamingos – A little dinner, and kitties!
211. Devil Doll Musings – How to confuse a shark
212. dotdos – Confused?
213. imagined america – Time Traveler
214. Jacki Kellum Juxtapositions: Read My Mind – There is a Time to Write and a Time to Edit – Don’t Try to Mix the Two
215. Deserts Versus Humans – The Corporate Fawn
216. In happy disarray – Slippery Roads
217. He’s a cat… – It Is Still Real
218. charlesewaugh – A Confused Start
219. You’re confused? Take a look at this. – Your d vibes
220. JonahzSong – Confused
221. DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society – Look, The Thing Is …
222. Any other Alienoras out there? – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
223. Original-Dante – What I Am.
224. Daily Prompt – Confused
225. Science Traveler – Little Tommy Edison and All the Rest
226. CONFUSED – My QuotesVilla
227. We Do Complicated – wanderlustandcoffeelover
228. Frank Prem – the other one
229. kStan(ly) kSays – seeing stars
230. Passion through Poetry – Beyond Confusion
231. On forgiving myself for loving and feeling too much – LIVING AND LEARNING
232. Frank Prem – imagination without sun
233. Tempus Fugit – Just Writing!
234. The Wandering Poet – One tree is confused about the season
235. Designer Sophisticate – Don’t muddy the waters.
236. Frank Prem – a small correction
237. Independence From Inhibitions – Specscladeyes
238. ….on pets and prisoners….. – daily prompt: confused
239. Show me the money! – The Mono-Economy of the New Millennium
240. Glorious! voice coaching – Any Man Speaks – a poem by A. S. J. Tessimond
241. domestic diva – 25 Money Saving Tips for the Wise HomeMaker

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