It’s my pleasure today to interview Carol Oates, author of Shades of Atlantis! See my review here.
Jennifer Lane (JL): You live in Dublin but Shades of Atlantis takes place in Maine for the first half of the story. What made you choose Maine as the initial setting?
Carol Oates (CO): Ireland may be the land of saints and scholars but I’ve found it very difficult to fit in with the publishing industry here. The type of paranormal romance I write is available in Ireland but generally it is by authors from outside Ireland. This is even more apparent with Young Adult.
When I started writing Shades of Atlantis I knew I was writing it to submit outside Ireland and I wanted to include locations outside Ireland. There are specific reasons for every location in the book. There is rarely anything random in anything I write. Camden, Maine is south of a town called Belfast. Dublin, Ireland is another location and my home town. Dublin is also south of Belfast. Part of the story takes place in London in an area near Camden.
JL: What do you do for a day job?
CO: I work in an office that deals with people who have been refused financial help from the government. It is the person’s legal entitlement to appeal that decision and we put those people through the process. Before that I worked in welfare fraud prosecution for twelve years.
From August I will be taking two years leave to concentrate on caring for my son. Eric is autistic and requires full-time care. I want to be with him for his last year of school and as he transitions to after school life. It also means that while I’m at home I will be able to give more time to writing.
JL: I’m glad you’ll have more time with your son. How do you squeeze in writing with work and family?
CO: There is a lot of juggling involved. I am extremely lucky to come from a close family. My partner lives and works in Fermanagh while I am in Dublin with Eric until he finishes school. Places in good special needs schools are hard to come by. My dad cares for Eric while I’m at work and my partner, Rodney often takes Eric out for boys days with my dad and brothers at the weekend. This gives me a chance to catch up on writing. My brother has a secluded house in Cavan, if Eric is away for a night I go there, hide out and write. I can also be found during any coffee-break with my notebook and pen in the canteen at work.
JL: What’s it been like to live in Ireland and publish with a company in the U.S.?
CO: There are a lot of e-mails. I suppose the biggest difference between me and someone living in the US with the same publisher is timezones. I don’t find this much of a problem because Eric isn’t a good sleeper and I am a chronic insomniac so I am usually awake to speak to people when they need me.
I am asked why a US publisher quite often. I would like to be published in Ireland one day and I actually had this conversation with a man who has been involved with Irish Publishing for the last thirty years. His advice to me was to go where my largest market is. I write because I love writing but I publish because I want my work to reach more readers.
JL: I’m a huge fan of U2 (With or Without You is my favorite song!) but know very little about Ireland. What would you like folks to know about your country?
CO: I live a short walk from the school where U2 met and Croke Park where they hold their Dublin concerts. When they were doing sound checks for their last concert in Croke Park my dad complained about the noise they made during rehearsals before they were famous. So some things never change.
U2 doesn’t even scratch the surface of the talent that has come out of this country in all forms of entertainment, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, The Cranberries, W.B. Yeats, Bram Stoker, Christy Brown. Ireland had and still has a thriving movie industry and my dad has met some of the greats who filmed here including Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Kim Novak. Ireland is well known for lush scenic locations as well as the grittier city ones.
We have a very rich and colourful history in Ireland with archaeological sites including The Hill of Tara that pre-date the pyramids at Giza by 600 years. In one version of the history of Stonehenge it was originally erected in Ireland and moved to England by Druids under orders from Merlin. Ireland has been invaded by the Spanish and Vikings among others, more recently we were under English Rule. The buildings and monuments of Ireland reflect influences of all these eras.
After the war of Independence, Ireland became a free state in 1922 and in 1948 became the Republic of Ireland.
I should also give a mention to one of our most famous exports, the good ole pint of Guinness. The Guinness storehouse was originally leased by Arthur Guinness in 1749 for £45 per year and began brewing porter in the 1700’s using water from the Liffey River in Dublin. It was a good thing for him that the business was a success since Arthur had 21 children.
Thank you, Carol. Please visit http://artisttrust.ie/ Carol supports the Sean Lawlor Trust.
Go and get yourself a copy of Shades of Atlantis!