Monday 3 October 2016

BLOG TOUR ~ All Fall Down by Cat Hogan Q&A

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for All Fall Down by Cat Hogan & I'd like to welcome Cat to my blog today where Cat has very kindly taken part in a Q&A for me as part of the Blog Tour. I was thrilled to be asked by Cat to take part along with some other fab book bloggers too.  You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour below & you can also read my review for They All Fall Down at the end.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I always knew I was meant to write but it took me until two years ago to sit down and think about it seriously. I did a creative writing course, just to see if I could get the nuts and bolts of constructing a novel. I wanted to learn about the more technical stuff- the tools of the trade. Plot development, characterisation and the likes. I already had a story in my head and the characters would not go away. I was working part time and raising two children and although the creative writing course gave me a good grounding, the epiphany didn’t come until that October. I was at a friend’s book launch. Billy Roche and Eoin Colfer were on the panel and it was their passion about storytelling and writing that caused the penny to drop. I quit my job a month later, got started on the book and finished it a few months later. The gamble paid off! 

Inspiration for stories in general for me generally comes from a snippet of conversation or more prominently, song lyrics. I’m a huge music fan and always have been. I’m juggling two book ideas in my head at the moment ( apart from the one the Publisher is waiting on) and they have both come from songs. 

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

Right at this moment, I am working on two. One is a follow up (of sorts) to They All Fall Down. I am wandering and hiding in the alleyways and the Souks of Marrakesh- up to all sorts of mischief. 

The other is another dark tale of mystery, madness and mayhem. We will just have to wait and see which one goes to print first!

It wasn’t by design I ended up writing dark fiction- I always thought I would be more light hearted. They All Fall Down got dark very quickly but I think I may have censored myself to a degree. I have unleashed the beast for the second and third book. Darker and more twisted but there’s a very slight chance there might be a bit of black comedy in there too- all will be revealed!

What books have most influenced your life? 

The Big Friendly Giant was my constant companion as a child and now as I read it regularly to my own boys, it never fails to transport me back to my childhood days. The BFG was responsible for my lifelong obsession with Roald Dahl- my first introduction to the author and to the wonderful work of Quentin Blake. This magical book has brought adventure to little boys and girls the world over. Sadly, the book was dedicated to his own little girl who died in the 60’s.

The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexander Dumas

This novel was possibly the first of the classics I read as a child/teenager. The story involves every element a good novel should have. Romance, hope, adventure, loyalty, betrayal, ugliness of human nature and justice- all revealed through characters and their true nature. A man is wrongfully imprisoned- he escapes, acquires a fortune and becomes hell bent on revenge- what’s not to love about that epic adventure. The language, the imagery and the overwhelming adventure makes it easy to see why this is an absolute classic and one I still have on my shelf. 

I could actually sit here all night and write about books that have shaped me and books I love. I am a complete book addict. I can’t stop buying them – paperbacks and books for Kindle. If I love a book on Kindle, I buy the physical copy to add to my collection. I love books. 

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and Asylum by Patrick McGrath are two I tend to re-read time and again. Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is a masterpiece and I couldn’t live without Wally Lamb. Oh- Ken Follet deserves a mention too. I read for the love of a good story and great characters- that is my prime motivation. I’ve never read Ulysses but it makes no odds. I won’t pretend I’ve read it either ;) 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life? 

Time and balancing family was a challenge. I usually write in the mornings when my oldest is at school and the baby is in playschool. For the afternoon, I get back to being a mammy and all that it entails and when I’ve tucked them in bed- I get back to it. 

As regards research- I love it. I’m a bit of a nerd in that respect. I love learning anyway, especially about the mind and the human condition. When researching They All Fall Down, I read a lot of psychology books- just to understand sociopathy, psychopathy, different condition and how we are conditioned to react to situations, dependant of course on so many factors. Jon Ronsson is a very entertaining writer but my favourite research book so far has been ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ by Martha Stout. It will make the hairs rise on the back of your neck! 

The biggest challenge came for me a few months back. For one of the books on the back burner, I contacted the Irish Prison Service in the hope of organising a visit to Wheatfield Prison for research. They were incredibly obliging and I got the pass to go up. On the day, I had an Officer assigned to me. His job was to bring me around the prison- twice. Once as a visitor, and then as an inmate. It was a really interesting day and such an eye opener. It’s not an exercise I would necessarily like to repeat but the interviews with both the staff and the inmates were astounding. I should really write a blog about it! Of course it gets back to the nature/nurture debate and the idea that in some cases, less than you might think, you are dealing with actual sociopaths- another story for another day.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

The hardest part for me is time management. It has been a real whirl wind since They All Fall Down was published. It takes a lot of time and energy to promote a book and because it’s such a busy and competitive industry, you have to maintain visibility- while writing another one and raising a family. By day, I also run my own business from home- writing content and marketing material for business start ups. That has been shelved for now as I have a deadline ( nearly passed). Writing can be a lonely profession and like any industry, it has its share of politics as well. 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

They are not new authors but I am captivated by both Donal Ryan and Liz Nugent. Liz is in a league of her own when it comes to writing dark fiction. Both of her novels are absolutely fantastic and no one comes close to her talent. She’s also a very lovely and down to earth person- that helps!

Donal Ryan is the master when it comes to weaving a story with beautiful prose. He captures the essence of rural life and characters we all know. Stunning writer… The Spinning Heart is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. 

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