The Next Big Thing

My writing place, on the beach, Sussex, Sierra Leone

My writing place, on the beach, Sussex, Sierra Leone

Recently, Helen McClory of Shietree tagged me in The Next Big Thing that is going around the blogs. Helen’s prose and photos are so consistently lovely I read every one of her posts. My answers pertain to my upcoming novel, My Heart is Not My Own.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A trip to Freetown Sierra Leone in 2,000. I was in a refugee camp for civilian amputees. The idea came from looking into the eyes of a young woman. Her eyes live with me.

What genre is the book?

Literary/commercial fiction

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

An easy question: Halle Berry for the role of Mariama Lahai. Dan Stevens (Mathew, in Downton Abbey) as John Rourke. Either one of President Obama’s daughters as the little girl, Kabande…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’ve never understood the one sentence synopsis thing–and I’m the worst at it, so stop reading after one sentence if you must.

Haunted by the trauma of events during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, a Canadian physician, Dr. John Rourke realizes that before he can commit to his future, he must confront his conscience and the pain of his past. After receiving a package containing the diary of his ex-lover, Mariama Lahai, he embarks on an odyssey that takes him into Mariama’s world of a child soldiers, bush-wives and African secret societies. It is a story of love, courage and resilience that is brought to life by the powerful voice of Mariama Lahai.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’m an editaholic so it’s hard to know whether I’m on my first draft or fifteenth. Probably two years for a ‘first’ and two years of rewrites.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In general terms, the women of Sierra Leone. It is difficult to conceive of an entire nation of women suffering through such a holocaust. I’ve journeyed across Sierra Leone three times to create the story of Mariama’s trek as a bushwife, and Rourke’s quest to find her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by a publisher?

It will be published by Penguin Canada in August, 2013.

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