Tonight’s featured author is Darcy Conroy. Want to connect with her? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog/website URL http://www.darcyconroy.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarcyConroy where she co-hosts #storycraft chat on the first Sunday of every month, at 6pm US Eastern with the lovely Kim Koning
Writing blog “As Long As She Writes” at www.darcyonroy.net
Book Title (s) As Long As She Lives (Available at Wattpad, posting chapter-by-chapter[links at website])
As mentioned, Darcy’s latest work is As Long As She Lives, a contemporary romantic suspense set in and around Melbourne, Australia. She explained, “This is my first romantic suspense, I am usually drawn to fantasy tales, but this story came to mind and there was no other genre for it.”
Darcy explained she did a lot of research. She said, “Though the entirety of the novel takes place in Australia, my protagonist has recently returned to Australia after four years working as a teacher in a (fictional) central African country which falls into political chaos soon after her return. That chaos forms the geopolitical background of the story, so research into Central African cultures, conflicts (with Western powers and internal) and into aid and corruption was essential if I was going to create a fictional country that was both realistic and respectful.
There was also a lot of research into various injuries, trauma and PTSD and Interpol and the workings of the International Criminal Court.
Of course, I am careful only to put into the manuscript what is necessary for the reader to know to follow the plot – it is a romance, as well as a suspense and my main aim is to entertain, after all.”
She spoke about her characters also: “I have two minor characters I love to write and wish I could justify writing more – the niece and nephew of my protagonist. Daisy and Toby are seven and ten years old, and it’s always fun (and sometimes downright handy) to have them around to say things and ask questions which adults are too polite to utter!”
Balancing her time does’t seem to be a challenge. She said, “I am lucky enough to be able write full time, so stopping myself from writing is the trick. Like anyone who works from home, my desk is always right there and it’s too easy to sit down and be working again – especially when you enjoy it so much. I do try to take breaks to re-charge and to make sure my husband doesn’t feel that I care more about my characters than him!”
Authors that inspire Darcy? This is what she had to say about that: “Of course! All of them – good, bad, everything I read inspires me in some way. The one author who first inspired me to want to explore how to write (rather than just inspiring ideas I wanted to write down) was Susan Cooper, author of The Dark is Rising sequence. My grade 4 teacher introduced us to the series and its five books became my back-to-back reading for the next three years. I’d always been a bookworm and, though I tried, I couldn’t find another world that I wanted to disappear into in quite the same way – Narnia was too young for me by then, and the mix of the contemporary world and ancient mythology was more fulfilling for me than Tolkien (though I did love The Hobbit.) After reading the series twelve times, and trying to write something which came close to it (I had always written stories for myself) in 7th grade I went to the school librarian and ask her if anyone ever wrote books about how to write books. I wish I could remember that librarian’s name because she was very good to me – at lunch time she took me to the senior school (which was a drive across the suburb) and stood me in front of a section of shelf filled with books about how to create stories. That was not only my first foray into trying to improve my writing (though I still had no desire to write for anyone but myself) but a life-time love of the theory of Story and fascination with the creative process of all sorts of artists. I have my own shelves of similar books, now, to which I am constantly adding.”
Her perception of being published? Darcy said, “Publishing would mean the opportunity to work with an editor to polish my manuscripts and, of course, to have my work available to readers (beyond Wattpad).”
Like most of us, she is working on other projects. She explained “I will be spending November on a quick first draft of an idea which has recently formed (while trying to finish As Long As She Lives) and insists on being given some attention. The story is set in Bar Harbor, Maine and is a relatively simple romance between a ballet dancer and a photographer – I don’t have a working title, yet. After that I’m pretty sure I’ll be working on a paranormal suspense, The War of Wind and Moon, set largely in Japan, with detours in New Zealand and Hong Kong planned, so far. The “paranormal” refers to a mixture of European and Eastern pagan philosophy (and energy magic) and reincarnation. The story asks (and answers) the question: how do you combat evil when death is not an end?”
When I asked her how long she’d been writing, she said, “I’m just one of those people for whom writing is their most comfortable form of expression, which is my own definition of “being a writer”, but “being an author” or publishing for the public was a late decision, for me. I’ve always written stories for myself, sometimes for my friends or kids I was looking after, but I didn’t really think of publishing for a larger audience until my twenties (and even then, I started out thinking I’d be a screenwriter.)”
Her one wish: “That readers find my stories to be an intelligent, entertaining escape for whatever precious time they have to read.”
When we talked about charities she supports, she told me “I try to support charities that I know help when needed but don’t try to push communities into doing things in a particular way, or undertake one-off projects then leave them to fail when they have gone. Medecins sans Frontier is an important charity and one which I think people don’t realize needs donations – it’s not just a stream of rich, Western doctors donating their vacation time! On a local level, in Australia, there is a particular project I like called “Triple Care Farm” run by the Sir David Martin Foundation and Mission Australia which helps young people who haven’t had a good start at life to rehabilitate their health and self-esteem and find a better path for a healthy, engaged life. (http://www.sdmf.org.au/)”
I asked Darcy how she comes up with her ideas. She said that her ideas are “everywhere.” She explained it like this: “Every ‘what if’ that crosses the mind is an idea. Every now and then pursuing those ideas leads to enough information to flesh out a story. The idea for As Long As She Lives started as research into which international charities to donate to. We have friends who have worked in NGOs and various diplomatic positions who have shared stories about aid, good and bad, and I wanted to be sure our meager funds would be helping rather than harming the communities they went to.
I came upon the book Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo and it was an eye-opener – even when we try to help, so often the money is mis-used – even with the best of intentions – or ends up in the hands of big, western businesses or corrupt politicians. A blind eye is turned under the guise of not wanting to “interfere with the culture” but selfishness and greed are not cultural, they are universal, human flaws. I have long been curious about people who seem to show no compunction in exploiting others for money and it’s appalling in every society, but this entitlement behavior manifests in such extreme ways in societies prone to violence, and has such extreme consequences in the developing world, that I became more than usually angry at how much power and arrogance these men have – and how little could be done to stop them. That lead to my ‘what if’ – which I can’t share because it would be a spoiler!”
The most important thing she wanted people to know about her? “That I hope that they enjoy reading my work, and if they do, they can be assured that I’m working on something new for their reading list. ”
Thanks so much Darcy for talking to me about yourself and your work!