This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Patricia Murphy will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
I am the eldest of six children. I grew up in a noisy, creative, active family in Dublin Ireland and I really enjoyed being a kid! There were lots of children in our neighborhood, and we would organize big games and activities – like football matches with fifteen on each side. But I also vividly remember the pains of being a child. The frustration of not having any say in the adult world, yet the expectation that you would always do as you are told. I identify with children and even though I’m all grown up on the outside I’ve continued my fascination with how children make sense of the world. I’ve also made lots of documentaries about children in difficult circumstances, such as children with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses. These include Born to Be Different for Channel 4 in the U.K. following six children born with disabilities in the twenty-first century and Children of Helen House about the world’s first children’s hospice in Oxford UK for the BBC. So I still feel very close to childhood.
I’m particularly drawn to creating characters about 12-13 years old, on the edge of puberty. It’s a very interesting age. You still have a foot in both camps. Still enjoy imaginative play but are increasingly drawn to but bewildered by the adult world. It’s a sort of magical threshold when your impressions are fresh and insightful and experiences sharp and keen. I guess, I write fiction that might have appealed to my younger self – remembering that time when I felt I didn’t have a voice but was desperate to be heard and understood.
Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?
For Dan, the hero of Deadly Shot set in Ireland in the 1920’s as the War of Independence rages – a whole load of balls would come tumbling out. A soccer ball, an oval shaped rugby ball, a tennis ball. There might be a battered diary and a secret message in an envelope concealed in a history book with a false compartment.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
I was a voracious reader as a child. All my family loved to read so for me literature is a shared experience. Sharing books continues to be a source of joy. I love reading with my daughter and giving presents of favorite books to my nieces, nephews, and godchildren.
I loved Alice in Wonderland – the anarchy and inventiveness of Lewis Carroll’s world. It’s a book I constantly re-visit, and now that I live in Oxford in the U.K where it was written, it’s a tangible, living thing. Reading it aloud with my seven-year-old daughter, I am struck by how lost and bewildered Alice felt a lot of time. She literally cries rivers of tears. It captures a lot of the bafflement and anger that children often feel at the adult world, and I think that’s something I intuited as a child.
I often read aloud to my brothers and sisters and Emil’s Clever Pig by Astrid Lindgren was a big hit in the Murphy household. Emil is probably Sweden’s naughtiest boy and every time he gets sent to the woodshed as punishment, he carves a little wooden figure. He had hundreds of them! The stories of Emil getting his head stuck in a soup tureen and his locking his father in the lavatory made us all howl with laughter.
The Search for Delicious by Nathalie Babbitt was another huge favorite. The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary and when no one in court can agree the definition of “delicious” the King sends his 12-year-old messenger Gaylen to poll the kingdom. But he discovers a country on the brink of civil war and worse still, something is happening to the water supply. He must make a magical adventure to save the day. A wise and prescient novel about conflict, the importance of the environment and valuing the magic of nature.
What would you write in a letter to your teen self?
Don’t worry – we will make it! Lots of the stuff that bothers you now won’t be an issue in the future. You won’t always have pimples, and you will find a good hairdresser to sort out your fuzzy hair. Much better hair products will be invented soon. You won’t be alone. You will find true love; have a beautiful daughter and lots of great friends. You will have a really interesting career in television and fulfill your dream of becoming an author. I won’t go into too many details so as not to spoil the surprises. But you will travel all over the world and go deep into the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and see Ayers Rock in Australia at sunset So keep studying. It will be worth it!
Cherish Mam and Dad. They won’t last forever, and when you get older, you’ll realize they know a whole lot more than you can credit. They are brave, noble people and they love you more than you can ever repay. Those brothers and sisters that drive you up the wall? They will be your best friends when you grow up. Trust me. So try to cut them all a bit more slack. There will be heartaches ahead beyond your control and the love of these wonderful people will be the bedrock of support you can rely on.
I know you feel imprisoned and constricted, but enjoy the things that get harder later. You have other freedoms now that you don’t appreciate – a healthy young body, and boundless energy. Go run in the park and get outside a bit more! Life is a journey, not a destination and yours will be a fascinating one, rich in experience.
Oh and there’s going to be this amazing thing invented soon, called the Internet. You will use it on a computer, communicate with everyone all over the world and access all sorts of pooled knowledge. If you come across these companies called Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Apple – invest every penny you have!
Love from Big Me
What candy do you give out at Halloween?
I love Halloween! It’s a big event in Ireland where it was adapted from the Celtic festival of Samhain marking the beginning of Winter and a time when the veils between the world and the otherworld were thin. We often go to Dublin for the festival, where there's a carnival atmosphere on the streets. If I’m in the U.K, where it’s growing in popularity, we usually have a kids party full of traditional games like bobbing for apples and snap apple. I give out lots of candy, jellies, lollipops, chocolate bars and supposedly healthy options like fruit strings. One year I ran out of candy and gave out money instead. I had a lot of callers after that!
What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I would love to be a shapeshifter like the characters in my Celtic Fantasy trilogy – The Chingles, which are just being re-issued as E-books. The characters, Cassie, Thomas and Nancy journey to a remote island off the west coast of Ireland and discover they have the magical ability to shapeshift – which means they can turn into animals. But Nancy who was born on Halloween also has the talent to communicate with any animal.
I would be happy to be able to transform into an eagle or an owl. Imagine being able to soar over the earth! Then swim through the ocean as a salmon or a dolphin.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
As guerilla war rages in 1920’s Ireland, rebel messenger Dan clashes with a sinister British spy. But can he outrun a war?
Favorite hot beverage. Why?
I don’t drink caffeine, so herbal teas are my brew. I love rooibos from South Africa, chamomile and lavender at bedtime and all kinds of decoctions in between. I spent most of this year living in Provence in the south of France while my academic husband was on sabbatical. One of the joys of the markets was discovering the range of herbal teas on offer featuring everything from rosebuds to licorice. Superbe! My cupboard is like a fairy’s pantry.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?
That’s an interesting question, especially as my historical fiction for children involves real historical characters. I have met Dan, the hero of my current novel, Deadly Shot, because he is loosely based on my late maternal grandfather. He was a lovely man, a talented footballer who in his youth played soccer for Ireland. He was also a member of the rebel Boy Scouts during Ireland’s War of Independence against Britain, a bloody guerilla war 1919-1921 that resulted in the foundation of the Irish State. He used to tell stories of being a messenger as a young boy, hiding guns and working as a lookout. As an adult, he was very anti-violence, and I often used to wonder what experiences might have scarred him or influenced him. Deadly Shot is my imaginative recreation of that tumultuous period of his life. I hope he would forgive my storytelling liberties! But I would love to get into a time machine and go back to when my grandfather was twelve years old to meet him at the age he appears in my book. I think he would have been rather amazing. Self-possessed, smart with a wry sense of humour. It would be really fascinating and scary to re-visit Ireland at that time to see if I did justice to the atmosphere of fear and danger.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
I would love to have Molly from The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary. She knows First Aid and is incredibly resourceful and inventive. She survived a rebellion in Dublin, so I reckon a desert island would be a piece of cake for her. She’s also funny, gossipy and good company and would make me laugh.
You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?
600,000 on charities that help children caught up in conflict – particularly with educational needs. Then the remainder on adapting some of my books. There has been interest and attempts by prestigious production companies in the past, but they ran out of time and money. Now that one of my brothers has grown up to be a film producer, I’d give him the investment to start the ball rolling!
Enjoy an excerpt:
The mean-faced Tan moved forward and cocked a gun in my direction. “You with the ball! Stop, you little Fenian brat, or I’ll shoot!”
He advanced towards me, his eyes flaming down the barrel of the gun. I thought I was going to wet myself with fear.
On impulse, I skied the ball straight up to heaven. It soared higher than the rooftops. Everyone tilted their heads. From the corner of my eye I glimpsed the young rebel making a run for it towards Saint Andrew’s church on the opposite side of the road.
“POW!” a shot rang out.
I prayed it wasn’t the rebel. But the lifeless thud of my ball was almost as bad. The Tan had shot my dearest possession. But they hadn’t even seen the gunman!
About the Author:
Deadly Shot Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deadly-Shot-Dans-War-of-Independence-1920-22/852536338133795
Molly's Diary Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising/277254289106782
Publisher Website: http://poolbeg.com
Buy Deadly Shot – Dan’s Diary at Amazon, Amazon UK, or Poolbeg.
Buy Molly’s Diary at Amazon UK, Amazon, or Poolbeg
a Rafflecopter giveaway