AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lisa O'Donnell
Lisa O'Donnell's dark, comic novel The Death of Bees had us intrigued from the first page, and we're delighted to have Lisa at Trashionista to tell us more about the book, and the inspiration behind it.
You can find out more about Lisa over at her website.
Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer.
Social. Loud. Contemporary. Compassionate. Dysfunctional. Utilitarian. Dark. Comic. Kind. Horrific. Tender. Shrewd. Grisly. Appalling. Warmhearted.
What inspired you to write The Death of Bees?
Living on the North East Side of L.A., I see the same level of poverty I experienced as a child during '80s Thatcherism. I was in my car recently when I saw this little girl, maybe about 7, walking in front of her mother and pushing a stroller. The mother was also pushing a stroller and holding the hand of a small toddler, but it was the young girl that caught my attention. I thought to myself "She's a wee mother" which later translated in "The Death of Bees" as "Wee Maw" when referring to Marnie raising Nelly.
Later, my sister sent me a docudrama about families in Scotland living with drugs and poverty, and again, the maturity of the children immersed in such a heartbreaking situation struck a chord. One child in particular was talking to the journalist about a father who might not return with the groceries for the week and go on a "bender" instead. She worried about Welfare Services getting involved in her life again. I wondered what the girl who waited for her father to return home with the groceries would do if she had had the money to go for the groceries herself, I wondered what she would do if it was in her power to get the electric bill paid, and what lengths she would go to in order to survive parents who had essentially vanished from her life. The thought then occurred to me that these children would be better off raising themselves. That's when I came up with the idea of "The Death of Bees" and had two children bury their parents in the yard making them disappear forever, leaving the girls to their own devices.
Where do you do most of your writing?
On my dining room table so I can keep an eye on my kids.
What is your favourite book?
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is also a favourite.
Which part of The Death of Bees was the most enjoyable to write?
The burial scenes. Though grueling to write, they made me laugh while writing them. I went to town writing the burial of Eugene in particular. I just hate those movie deaths where people get all stiff immediately when the reality is they're all slimy and leaking and disgusting and you can't really handle them without bits of flesh wasting away in your hands.
What are you currently reading?
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Who is your favourite heroine?
Brenda from Six Feet Under played by Rachel Griffiths. The character is so strong, able and flawed. I love her and the actress Rachel Griffith who plays her knocks it out of the park.
Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Be patient and DON'T focus on being published, focus on the work. You'll find a real commitment to your voice and your story that way. Worrying about who wants to read it is distracting and breeds dishonesty because you're writing self-consciously. Just get it down. Write it like no one except you is going to read it.
Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I come from a small island in Scotland where everyone knows everything about everyone and so I love the thought of things that are actually kept secret in a world like that. My next book will focus on a big secret having repercussions for everyone who keeps it.