Good morning lovely readers! I have a treat for you today – it’s an interview with Moïra Fowley-Doyle, author of YA magical realism novel The Accident Season, which was released in June last year. You can find my review of it here.
Moïra is half-French, half-Irish and lives in Dublin with her husband, their young daughter, and their old cat. Moïra’s French half likes red wine and dark books in which everybody dies. Her Irish half likes tea and happy endings.
Georgie: Could you give us an introduction to your YA novel, THE ACCIDENT SEASON?
Moïra: The Accident Season is the story of 17-year-old Cara & her misfit family who, for one month of every year, become inexplicably & dangerously accident-prone. Cara’s practical older sister Alice thinks this is just a coincidence, but their purple-haired artist mother is convinced it’s a family curse, & wraps her children in layers, locks away the knives, & covers every hard surface in the house until October’s over.
Cara herself is more concerned with the fact that a girl in school – mysterious Elsie, with whom she was once friends – appears in all of her photographs, including ones she couldn’t possibly have been present for. But when Cara & her best friend Bea go to confront her about it, Elsie has disappeared, & nobody seems to really remember who she is. The search for Elsie leads Alice, Bea, Cara & her ex-stepbrother Sam to an abandoned house on the edge of town, where they decide to hold a chaotic Halloween party. It’s there that all her family’s secrets will finally come out, & that she’ll discover the reason behind the accident season.
So it’s a book about mishaps but mostly it’s about secrets. It has tarot cards & antique typewriters, forbidden love & mysterious girls, abandoned houses & a masquerade ball, & lots of whiskey & magic realism.
Georgie: You get to go on a day trip with one of your characters: who do you choose, and where do you take them?
Moïra: I’d take Bea, because she is wild & witchy & unpredictable & would make any daytrip an adventure. And I don’t think I’d take her anywhere – I’d let her take me!
Georgie: THE ACCIDENT SEASON is about the boundary between real life and the supernatural. How blurred is this boundary in your life? Are you sceptical, like Alice, or trusting, like Bea?
Moïra: I’ve always considered reality to be subjective. Unexplained things happen all the time & life is so often like a story. Details blur & memories can be contradictory & things are always different in the telling. I think it’s very easy find the extraordinary in the everyday, whether it’s of the eerie or the dreamy variety. I suppose Bea – & The Accident Season in general – was created with that side of me in mind.
Georgie: This totally reminds me of what Dumbledore says to Harry in Deathly Hallows:
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
Georgie: How did THE ACCIDENT SEASON evolve from an idea to a polished manuscript? Do you have a writing process?
Moïra: I start with snippets rather than a whole idea (for The Accident Season it was tarot cards & pencil cases, a doll on a mousetrap, a house going up in flames), then I usually just jump in feet-first without checking how deep the water is. The snippets often get mixed in with ideas I steal from my younger self (parts of The Accident Season, especially Elsie, started life in a short novel I wrote when I was 16) but generally I just follow the characters. Often writing is like reading the words as I go rather than actually creating – the characters lead me & tell me their story, so I won’t know what’s about to happen until it’s typing itself out on the screen. This makes the first draft a bit of a wild ride. When the words are down & the characters & ideas & places are all there & chaotic & nonsensical & dark & dreamy, I rewrite with my editors until the dark & dreamy chaos becomes something more like a story.
Georgie: What are some other magical realism novels you’ve loved and would recommend?
Moïra: Oh do you have a couple days? Of course I’d recommend anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & Isabelle Allende, where magic realism began. But I also have a lot of love for contemporary YA magic realism, like the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block, anything by David Almond, Nova Ren Suma, Sarah McCarry, AS King & Alice Hoffman.
Georgie: Are you able to give us any details about your next book, SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND?
Moïra: Spellbook of the Lost & Found is a standalone magic realism novel set in the west of Ireland. I can’t say too much about it just yet, but it has tattoos & rusty keys, poteen & patron saints, two silver lighters & a lot of cycling down country lanes. It’ll be published in May 2017.
And then some shorter questions…
Summer or winter? Summer forever.
Tea or coffee? It’s a close race, but tea.
Films or TV programmes? Films.
Team Edward or Team Jacob? Team Bella!
Hogwarts house? Proud Ravenclaw.
Thanks so much to Moïra for agreeing to chat with me!