Monday, 25 July 2016

Interview With The author "Bernie McGill"

Today we are interviewing "Bernie McGill" 
Bernie is author of the very successful and highly acclaimed novel, "The Butterfly Cabinet". This book tells the unforgettable story of two women linked by their roles in a horrific tragedy at the end of the Victorian era. I'd like to thank Bernie for her input and for kindly agreeing to be interviewed. 

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written scraps of things but I started writing seriously about thirteen years ago. The move was prompted by a lifestyle change: we had two small children then and I was working part-time but a childcare crisis began to loom. My husband and I agreed to a trial period in which I gave up my job, managed the childcare and did some part-time teaching in the evenings. To begin with, I had about an hour and a half of child-free time each day in which to write. That time was like gold dust.

Where did you get the idea for The ButterflyCabinet?

The idea came from an article I read in a local parish bulletin. It mentioned the aristocratic Montagu family in Portstewart and Mrs Montagu who had been imprisoned for the killing of her child in 1892. Cromore House, where the child died, is about a mile from where I live. I was intrigued. I began to research the story in local newspaper archives and the more I read, the more intrigued I became. At first, I thought I’d write a short story based on the incident, but the story kept growing and in the end I had to give in to the idea that I was writing a novel.

You write short stories too, and you’ve written for theatre. How do the forms differ from each other and from novel writing and do you have a preference?

Lately I’ve been thinking that the link between short stories and theatre is quite strong. They’re both very self-contained forms that, for the most part, are experienced within a relatively short time-frame. Most theatre performances take about two hours, most short stories can be read within that time, in one sitting. Granted, the theatre experience is a public one and the short story (unless you attend a full reading) is private, but there’s something about the sense of an ending they both have that really interests me. The novel, on the other hand, tends to be experienced in serial form. Most people will read a chapter or two a day. The reading experience is interrupted by work, by family, by all the things that occupy us in our daily lives. I love the sense of completion you get when you’ve written a short story. You need much more stamina to write a novel, or a full piece for theatre, but that delayed gratification can be very sweet.

Have you anything in the pipeline?

A new edition of The Butterfly Cabinet will be published in Autumn 2016 by Tinder Press. It will include new material on the origins of the story, as well as the first chapter of my new novel, The Tailor’s House, which will be published in 2017. I also have a short story in The Glass Shore, edited by Sinéad Gleeson and due to be published by New Island Books in October this year. This is a new anthology of women writers from the north of Ireland, a follow-up to the very successful The Long Gaze Back which was published by New Island last year and won Best Irish Published Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

What advice do you have for budding writers?

You’ve heard this one before, Seán, and it doesn’t change: read, read, read. Go to events, listen to what your favourite authors have to say, act on their advice. Find other people who are interested in writing the kind of thing that you like to write. Hang out with them. Help each other out. Read each other’s work. Share information on competitions, submissions, bursaries, events. Support each other. Write as much and as often as you can. 


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