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The Wonders
"A surreal and exotic thing, a finely wrought interrogation of the ways we...
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Author Biography

Questions for The Author

Created: 01/28/15

Replies: 6

Posted Jan. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1335

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Questions for The Author

Please post your questions for Paddy O'Reilly, author of The Wonders, by Feb 17, and we will send them to her to answer and post her answers back into this conversation. Thank you!


Posted Feb. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 27

What motivated you to write this book?

When I start writing a book, I try to allow the words to come unbidden. There's a state in any kind of creative work where you create without really knowing what you're doing. Time passes so fast you wonder where the hours went. At the beginning of the writing process I try to work in that state as much as I can. Then when I have a mass of material, I go back with new eyes and think hard about what I am writing, where it has come from, and what it means.

When it came to redrafting The Wonders - shaping it and teasing out the subtleties - I realised that I was responding to things that had been intriguing, fascinating and concerning me for years. We have so much control over our bodies in the contemporary world yet our bodies continually surprise and sometimes dismay us. Are we in control? How are we to respond to difference in other people? Why do we long to stare at difference? How have we become so separate from our animal natures? Why is it that our mortality defines us, but death is one thing we still can't predict? How much technology can we absorb before we become cyborgs?

For me a book is a research project. I write to uncover questions and to think about who and what we are, and how we are to live. I don't pretend to have the answers. I want to explore the questions, to open them up and look at them from different angles. The questions are what drive me. Then I become deeply involved with my characters and so the book begins to come together.


Paula J
Posted Feb. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AntoinetteC

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 20

Was there a reality or popular figure you had in mind while crafting Kathryn's character? If so, are you at liberty to reveal the person?

In the old circuses, "wolf " men and women (victims of hypertrichosis) and bearded ladies were common. I visited America when the book was published in February this year, and to my astonishment I saw a bearded lady touting a "freak show” on Venice Beach. Are those sideshows coming back into fashion as retro entertainment?

Some of the sideshow people in the old days were quite handsome/beautiful, but that was never exploited by the circus owners. Instead, all the emphasis was placed on the invented narrative of their exotic origins. I wondered what would happen if a woman who seemed to be part animal was attractive enough to become a celebrity not only for her difference but for her allure, in this age of celebrating beauty and perfection of the body.

So the answer is no, I didn't base Kathryn on a specific person, but please allow me to ask - is there a reality or popular figure that Kathryn makes you think of? I would love to know.


Posted Feb. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AntoinetteC

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 20

Why only three Wonders?

Three is a magic number. Across all cultures, in mythology, religion, mathematics, geometry, stories and life, three appears as a number of power and mystery. Three wishes, three witches, the Holy Trinity, the triangle, lucky number three in China, three dimensional space, the three Babylonian classes of society, right down to the three little pigs ­- the list is endless. Three people in close proximity day after day can form a powerful team, but there will also be tension.


Posted Feb. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JoannaM

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 15

Do you have personal experience with people with disabilities? A medical/therapeutic background?

I think it's an unusual person who doesn't have some period in their life when they are ‘disabled' to a degree. Most of us are lucky enough to recover. I do know people with permanent disabilities, and I have heard them speak often about how they feel that they are perfectly capable of doing most things but they're hampered by their environments, which can't accommodate wheelchairs or provide computers with disabled access. The other personal aspect of my book is that for some years I was the object of much staring because of a disfigurement which made my eyes bulge and seem like I myself was staring. It was a strange time where I was both the apparent starer and the person stared at. I wrote a short piece about it that you can read here:
http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/real-life/what-it-feels-like-to-always-be-stared-at-by-strangers-20141016-3i5ww.html


Posted Mar. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1335

Expert

Are you working on anything now?

I'm always working on something new but I'm terribly superstitious about discussing it. I always feel that if I talk about it too much I won't need to write it. So I hope you don't mind if I pass on this question…


Posted Mar. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JoannaM

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 15

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

I mentioned in the first question that I try not to think too consciously about the work in the early phases of writing. I explore and try to push deeper, writing to see where the work is going. I imagine that for a planner, writing is easier because they have a path to follow. But I've never been good at following set paths. I love to get lost and discover new places and things. It's the same for me in the writing process.

What this does mean, though, is that there is a lot of redrafting, shaping and rewriting involved in any project. Luckily, I love that part.

In terms of time management and structuring my days, I am also hopeless. I don't wait for the muse to come and sit on my shoulder, but I do have a hell of a lot of cups of tea, visits to the garden, and chicken care in my writing time. If I feel I've lost momentum in the early stages, I'll take a break and dither about with something until I feel like I can slip back into the semi-conscious writing mode. In the later stages, when I have to use conscious thought to get the work into shape for readers, I can spend a longer time at the desk.

I think everyone has to find their ideal writing process. The most important things are to keep at it until you do, and not to punish yourself because you don't conform to someone else's idea of how a writer writes.


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