Friday, 26 November 2010
Author Interview - Vivian Oldaker
You say you like big dogs. Do you have any and can you tell us more?
We had a Bernese Mountain Dog a few years ago. He was the most stubborn, wilful, destructive and beautiful dog I’ve ever had. We don’t have any at the moment but maybe one day, when I get that house by the sea….a couple of Leonbergers by the fire would be nice.!
I understand you have a passion for Greece. When and why did that come about?
I suppose you could say it was chance, or fate. In the early 1980s, my father was looking for a very-last-minute holiday somewhere, anywhere. He ended up going to Corfu and, within, a few months he had emigrated there. (He was a somewhat impulsive man!) I went to see what all the fuss was about and fell in love with the island, the landscape, the people and of course the weather. Since then I’ve been to other Greek islands and loved them too. I’m a definite Hellenophile!
You would like to live by the sea. Presumably in Greece but anywhere in particular
Corfu would probably still be favourite; the NW corner. Though I also like Cornwall and am fond of Mallorca and The Vendee region of France too!
Most authors have had to do other occupations to keep the wolf from the door until they manage to get published. Is this true in your case and if so what occupations were they?
In my long and glorious career(!) I’ve had a number of jobs These include working in a factory; a betting shop; in local government; a children’s hospital; the Civil Service; in a chemist shop; as a hotel receptionist; an office worker for a PR company; a Learning Support Assistant; and, my favourite job, as Deputy Manager of an independent bookshop.
Where did you get the idea for "Killer's Daughter"?
That’s quite difficult to say. I suppose I’ve always been interested in the idea of individuals, particularly young people, battling with difficult circumstances. Emma finds herself in a situation not of her own making and beyond her control; that is, until she decides to try to change this. Where ideas come from is always a bit of a mystery – to me anyway!
How long did it take to finish a manuscript you were happy to send to publishers?
About a year.
Rejections are a fact of life for starting out authors. Did you find this hard to take at all?
It’s always disappointing, but only to be expected. It’s really valuable if the publisher/agent can tell you why they didn’t like your manuscript, and few have the time or resources for that. Of course it isn’t enough just to write a “good book,” or one that your friends and family tell you they like. An author must write a “sellable book” if s/he wants publication. I’d always advise any aspiring author to read carefully any comments made by publishers/agents. They aren’t always right – one famously told J K Rowling that Harry Potter was too long, I seem to recall. But, generally speaking, they know the business.
Did the manuscript change at all, and if so how much, between acceptance by a publisher and actual publication?
Yes, several alterations to the manuscript were made; by me and my editor at Andersen Press. I actually found the editing process very interesting and useful. Publishers (generally!) know what they’re doing and, while I was sorry to see some cherished scenes go, I have to say I think “The Killer’s Daughter” is a better book because of the changes we made.
Emma becomes the victim, of what would be considered today as bullying because of the rumours about her father. Would you see this as bullying, because I find everyone sees a different definition of this hugely topical issue?
Yes, I certainly would see it as bullying. Emma is victimised because of the rumours about her father. She is bullied verbally and physically and psychologically. The bullies use mobile phones to intimidate her too. Emma has little internet access, but if she had she might well have found that there were social network sites where the persecution continued.
The reasons why people are bullied can often be complex. The rumours about her father certainly spark the bullying, but Emma’s academic ability and “outsider” persona make her an ideal target too.
“The Killer’s Daughter” has just been featured in a book review blog as part of Anti-Bullying week.
Emma kicks back at the bullies and so might be seen by some as a bully herself. How do you view her?
I don’t see her as a bully at all. She tries her best to stand up for herself as, like most people, she doesn’t wish to be a victim.
Many authors write about children who stray from the route their parents would have them follow. Some have the child 'duped' into it, some just blindly wander in to it and some, as in the case of Emma, walk into it with their eyes wide open. I found this approach to be hugely open and honest but wonder how you, as parent would have coped had one of your children done it?I would have been terrified and dismayed, probably! While Emma’s father loves her dearly, he doesn’t realise the extent of what she’s going through; this is partly because of his own pain and also, it has to be said, because his artistic temperament makes him somewhat self-centred.
I found Emma's approach to relationships extremely mature for one so young. Is this how you have seen young ones behave or is it how you would like to see them?
Both. Young people are often more level-headed when it comes to relationships than they are given credit for.
I understand you are writing a sequel to The Killer's Daughter. Is there a publication date yet and can you tell us a little about it?
The sequel is called “All Shook Up.” It takes up where “The Killer’s Daughter” left off. Emma is at more-or-less happy at her school in Kalos, but she’s haunted by bad dreams of what happened. To her dismay, George comes back into her life in a surprising way. Many of the characters from KD re-appear. Hamish, Dino, of course Bruce.
Unfortunately, it won’t be published until sales of “The Killer’s Daughter” have reached a certain level, yet to be achieved, and the publishers can be sure of demand. For those reasons, writing a sequel can often be a difficult undertaking. (For anyone who hasn’t read it, “The Killer’s Daughter” is the ideal Christmas present?!) I really hope the sequel will be published one day.
I’m currently working on a book set in the future, where to be different from the perceived physical ideal is to know true isolation and danger.
Many thanks to Vivian for her time in talking to us and her kind offer of a competition we will be running shortly for a signed personalised copy of The Killer's Daughter.