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Mary O’Sullivan’s new release ‘Thicker than Water’.

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I’m delighted to welcome author Mary O’Sullivan to my website today as part of a tour for her gripping thriller from Tirgearr Publishing, ‘Thicker than Water’.

Mary has offered to give us her perspective on ‘people watching’  and why it is such an important skill for an author.

 

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Observing People

 

Advice frequently given to authors is to write about what is familiar to them.  This, to my mind, imposes too many limits. The vast majority of us live normal , humdrum lives, cooking, cleaning, running up bills, paying bills, struggling to fit quality family time into a schedule that is drawn so tight it twangs when an extra five minutes, to chat or just put feet up, is stolen. The miracle of imagination is that it knows no limits. It can take you to sunny climes while rain pelts off the window panes of your home, allow you to be momentarily young again, to be a long haul airline pilot, a politician, a ballroom dancer. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts human beings possess. Creative writing, or fiction if you prefer to call it that, is far more about imagination than familiarity.

It is possible, of course, to combine fact with fiction and to allow imagination bind the two. People are as mysterious as they are fascinating. No matter how well you believe you know somebody, you really can’t be certain what they are thinking. You cannot see into their soul. Not physically. But your imagination can bring you there, give you an insight into what it is like to be that person. All you have to do is quietly observe and let your imagination do the rest. As a writer I find that studying people is the richest source of research and inspiration.  My novels, now nine in number, are all about how people behave in challenging situations. I believe that when life deals us a bad hand, we find our true strengths and weaknesses.

In my experience, the most mundane daily chores can be used as inspiration.  Overheard snatches of conversation, people walking on the street, sitting in café’s- observing people is an essential, and fun, part of writing fiction. One of my favourite observation spots is in the supermarket. I get bored while I queue at the till, waiting my turn to be served. I entertain myself by trying to second-guess the circumstances of the customer ahead of me – all my guesses based on their shopping and my imagination. Here is an example of how my grocery queue entertainment might play out.

The person ahead of me is a  dark-haired lady, middle-aged , slightly  agitated  judging by the way  groceries are being thrown on to the conveyer .  As the shopping piles up, I discreetly check out the purchases.  A tin of black cherries. Hmm. Must be for a black forest gateau. A twenty four pack of toilet rolls and a bottle of indigestion remedy. Oh dear! Somebody in that household is not feeling well.

Cat food next. Twelve packets of mixed flavours. Chicken and salmon, tuna and beef. Imagination begins to flesh out this cat-loving, tummy-sick family. There is just a single spoiled cat. White, one of those beautiful squashy-faced breeds. I know this as fact because I notice a fine, snow white hair on the sleeve of her black coat. This woman is a homemaker, a baker of black forest gateaux. She has children – teenagers.  She is rushing to get back home in case they are drinking, doing drugs, having sex , while she is unloading this bottomless trolley in the supermarket. I already have an image of the father of the children. I don’t like what I see. He left this poor woman to cope alone with three children. I now notice how rounded and bony her shoulders are inside the black coat.  I shiver as my imagination allows me step for one moment into her fraught life. I feel such pity for her that I want to reach out and give her a hug, tell her I understand.

The woman is stooping over now as she lifts six packs out of the trolley.  She is frailer than I thought, her knuckles white as she hauls yet another six pack of beer on to the counter. I wonder if I should offer to help but something about the stiffness of her back tells me she would not welcome the offer. Four six packs are unloaded. Twenty four bottles of beer. No wonder the children are drinking. And what about food for them?  I check for Cheerios, biscuits, pizzas, minerals, Lynx deodorant. Things that teens demand.  There are none. Obviously she does not have children. She lives alone. Or with the husband who didn’t, after all, leave her.

Clanks and rattles sound as she lifts bottles out of the trolley. Six of them, Wine, both red and white. I see her sitting on a couch in her one bed apartment, the cat on her knee, a glass in her hand, tears in her eyes. A drunken, beer swilling husband sprawls beside her, in a vest of course, drool leaking out of the side of his mouth. They have no children. And that, I conclude, is their curse and their saviour. And then it is my turn to unload my shopping. I pack my imagination away for a little while.

 

This wonderful human gift of imagination can lift us out of the mundane and into a magical world of our own creation.   It’s free and not bound by race, creed or gender. Without it, there would be no space exploration, no telecommunications, no poetry or music. No novels.  It is a life-enhancing resource, and not just for the creative writer.  To quote Carl Sagan: “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

So go on, give your imagination free rein and see where it takes you.

Thank you to Violet Fields  for hosting me on her blog  and thanks to Lucy Felthouse (Writer Marketing Services) for organising the event.

 

Excerpt

Excerpt from Thicker Than Water

Maeve Crocker liked to have the radio tuned in as she worked about the house. She didn’t always pay attention to what was on but she was concentrating now as she listened to a renewed appeal for information on the whereabouts of a missing girl. The fourth to disappear without trace in the past eighteen months.  This girl was a student named Andrea McGee. Nineteen years old. Two months ago Andrea had caught a bus from the college in Waterford city to her native Dungarvan in the county.  Witnesses and CCTV proved that she had arrived safely in the square of her home town at five fifteen in the afternoon.  She then left the town on foot to walk the mile to her house on the coast road.  But she had not reached home and there had been no contact from her since. A cold shiver crept down Maeve’s back. Andrea, unlike the other girls, was not a prostitute. Her fleeting thought, that the disappearance of the student was more tragic than that of the prostitutes’, filled Maeve with self-disgust. All the girls had parents, siblings, people who loved them. All had a right to be safe.

She switched off the radio, picked up her phone and keyed in her daughter’s quick dial number. It rang a few times before she heard Evelyn’s voice deliver her ‘sorry I can’t take your call. Leave a message, please,’ recording.

 

 

 

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Blurb

When local teenager, Keira Shannon and her father, business man Gerard Shannon, go missing, the town of Ballyderg unites to search for them.

As the search continues rumours of domestic violence, extramarital affairs and criminal behaviour grip the town. Families and lifelong friends begin to suspect each other.

The only certainty left is that the town has been visited by evil. Or has it? Could it be the evil one has always lived there sharing history, laughter and tears? And if so, who could it be?

 

Buy Links

Amazon buy links:                      http://authl.it/3st

Tirgearr Publishing:                          http://bit.ly/1J6E7ZV

Amazon Author Page:                        http://amzn.to/1RpGnhf

 

 Biography              maryosullivanauthorpic  

So much has changed since Mary first scribbled childish poems in her copy book. One thing remains the same though, and that is the thrill of writing the opening sentence of a short story or novel.

Mary lives in Carrigaline, County Cork, Ireland. While she worked as a laboratory technician, her hobby—her passion—was writing. Busy with her family and job, she grabbed some moments here and there to write poetry and short stories. Gradually, the idea of writing a novel took shape. It was a shock to discover that enthusiasm and imagination are not enough. For the first time, she learned that writing can be very hard work!

Now time has moved on and Mary has seven published novels and a short story collection. All are available in ebook format. Writing is a demanding way of life but one so full of challenge and fulfilment that she cannot imagine a better way to spend her days. The hours speed past as she writes—and re-writes—always in the hope that people will enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoys writing them.

 

 

Social Media Links

Please visit my web page:                http://www.maryosullivanauthor.com

Chat to me on Facebook:                http://www.facebook.com/authormaryosullivan

Follow on Twitter:                              https://twitter.com/authorosullivan

 

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GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/mary-osullivan/

5 Responses to “Mary O’Sullivan’s new release ‘Thicker than Water’.”

  1. Angela says:

    Great blog post. And yes I’ve stood at the supermarket checkout and let my mind wander free about the person in front. Haven’t yet found a story to put any of those people in, though!

  2. Hi Mary O’Sullivan,
    I’m getting ready to engage my book in a blog tour and decided to check out some of the blogs on those upcoming tour sites. I absolutely loved you piece – brilliant. I too observe the little things in check-out lines, cafes, on the train, airplanes, etc. All those bits of conversation have resulted in numerous poems and character ideas for stories. Bravo for presenting the concept so well. Your book looks amazing and I will definitely check it out. Wishing you continued success.
    Aleigha Siron

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