Today at the Conclave we are talking to Liz Doran, author of the newly released novel Where she Belongs. Welcome to the Conclave, Liz.
Hi everyone. Thank you very much for your invitation.
Let’s get started. Tell us something about your book.
Where She Belongs is about an Irish woman who decides to return to her homeland after life with her Spanish husband becomes unbearable. After the recession hit Spain, her husband, Javier, has fallen into an abyss of depression and is threatening to drag her down with him. To save them both, and in an attempt to gain control of her life, make a new start and finally follow her own dreams, she has to make the cut. With a mixture of sadness and anticipation, she moves back to Ireland, rents a house by the sea, and has a fortuitous meeting with Maggie who runs a craft boutique.
At first everything runs smoothly. Maggie offers her a job and people are more than kind. Too good to be true? The last thing on her mind is another man. But then she meets Tom, the irresistible Irish man. When Javier, her Spanish husband, follows her and tries to woo her back, what does she do? After perfect beginnings where she meets some of the helpful and colourful characters who live there, things begin to get complicated. The first cracks appear on the façade. Why is her old neighbour, Mrs. Walsh, being threatened? What is she afraid of? Why are people suspicious of Maggie, her new friend and boutique owner? And what is love anyway?
It sounds very intriguing! A lot going on in your story. Where did the idea come from?
I was working on a Supernatural/Mystery novel and got stuck in the plot somewhere around 170 pages, so I decided to try something different.
You tell a tale of an expat and a search for identity. As an expat yourself, are you putting yourself in the story?
Yes, I probably am. Although the novel and the characters are completely fictional, I think it is often difficult for certain people to completely find their place in the world. I know a lot of people who have moved borders and, while some have the ability to feel at home no matter where they are, others will always be searching. It’s like straddling different worlds. I’ve lived in the USA for five years and in Germany for over twenty-five years, with several months in London and Tuscany. I think people basically want the same type of things, and I’ve attempted to address that aspect of searching in my novel. It is particularly relevant now with the huge fluctuation of people being forced to leave their home countries.
Very true, sadly. I must say I am interested n how you explore that inner search, as someone who also knows how it feels to live abroad.
Now, going back to your novel. I detect a hint of mystery and romance in the story. Is this an important element?
Oh yes! This is why it was difficult for me to classify it in a particular genre, which answers your next question. It’s all about longing and how it is almost impossible to plan what happens to us. We might go searching for one thing, only to find something completely different.
Do you feel that your book fits into a particular genre?
I think Contemporary Women’s Fiction is the most appropriate genre for my book.
That is a very broad category. But it might help to appeal to other women. What other things have you written? Tell us about any other work.
I’ve written oodles of poems, some funny, some quirky, some thoughtful. At some stage I’d like to publish a collection of my poems. I’ve also contributed a short story to an Anthology of Short Stories called You’re Not Alone.
This project was the brain child of Ian Moore of the most supportive Indie Author Support and Disscussion Group, of which I’m a member. IASD for short. All proceeds go to the Pamela Winton tribute fund in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support for the MacMillan Charity. I’ve also contributed a poem for another Children’s Anthology for Charity. The charity has yet to be decided upon, but I believe it will be out sometime this year.
Did you choose to self-publish your own novel? If so, why?
Yes, I chose to self-publish. Having read a lot of information on the new face of publishing, I decided that if I have to do most of the marketing myself anyway, I’d rather keep the reins in my own hands. I have never sent queries to an agent or a publisher, although I did have one in mind–I think she would have been perfect for my book. Perhaps other authors might understand. When you’ve spent so long getting your novel in good shape, you don’t want to wait another couple of years before it hits the shelves.
I can certainly relate to that! Now, let’s hear a little bit more about you as a person. What kind of books do you like to sit down and read yourself?
I like mystery, supernatural, women’s fiction, thrillers, humour. I don’t generally read horror or fantasy, although I have read The Lord of the Rings and loved the Harry Potter films, the ones I’ve seen. I also read a lot of non-fiction and love a good auto-biography.
Are there any authors in particular that stand out for you?
Amy Tan. I loved One Hundred Secret Senses. Amy is so smart with great wit and insight.
Gregory David Roberts: I absolutely loved Shantaram. The writing was exquisite and there was never a dull moment.
Elizabeth Strout: Olive Kitteridge.
Deborah Muggoch: Tulip Fever.
Howard Spring: My Son, My Son. I read that when I was about seventeen and loved it.
Anne Rice: Interview with a Vampire.
Jane Austin. Well, she’s just the best!
Maud Montgomery: I’m revisiting the world of Anne of Green Gables with a German friend. What appears to be a simple story is really quite amazing.
Stephen King: Although I said I don’t read Horror, I think he’s a fantastic storyteller. I particularly liked The Stand and wouldn’t consider it horror. He didn’t kill all his darlings though.
Phil Rickman: The Merrily Watkins Mysteries.
Julia Cameron: Very inspiring. The Artist’s Way
Joseph O’Connor: Star of the Sea. I really enjoyed it.
Phillip Marlowe. I read a lot of his stories when I first came to Germany. He entertained me for days.
And so many more I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
Well that is quite a good list. Some old favourites on there for me too. What’s next? Are you planning a new project
Yes, I’m working on a novel I started a couple of years ago. It’s set in present day, but has some mystery, supernatural, romance and historical elements. It is loosely based on a true event and a real place. It drifts from the present to the past, almost like two books in one. I really like it!
Thank you for being here today, Liz. I wish you every success with your novel and of course any further works to come.
Where she Belongs is available here: