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Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview with Beatrice Gormley

Hey, everyone! I'm bringing you another awesome historical fiction writer today. Ladies and gentleman meet Beatrice Gormley! Gormley's latest book is entitled Poisoned Honey and is the story of young Mary Magdalene. Filled with bouts of fantasy it is a beauitful and creative book by an amazing author. Here is my interview with the wonderful Beatrice Gormley. Enjoy!

1. What really inspired you to write about Mary Magdalene?

I guess I felt protective of Mary, as a remarkable person who had been so thoroughly misunderstood. First the Church mixed her up with other women in the Gospels and turned her into the iconic Repentant Prostitute. Then Dan Brown wrote her into The Da Vinci Code as “Mrs. Jesus,” the mother of Jesus’ imagined child. I believed that Mary was an extremely gifted young woman with a fascinating story of her own, and I wanted to tell that story.

2. How did you go about researching for this novel?

Many different ways. Since so little is known for sure about Mary Magdalene, I set out to learn what was plausible to assume about her.

I read up on biblical and archeological scholarship for details of daily life in Galilee—specifically, the town of Magdala—in the early 1st century CE. I collected pictures of scenes on the west side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee), where my story takes place. I watched many movies and documentary re-enactments of the period.

Since I was assuming Mary was a visionary from an early age, I consulted a child psychiatrist about to what extent a child might hear voices and see visions and still be mentally healthy.

Since Mary becomes entangled in the occult arts, I read up on the practice of magic at that time. Whew! I did a whole lot of research for this book. Not all of it turned out to be useful, like my extensive research about parrots. Ramla’s parrot turned out to be very minor in the finished story. But you never know--and parrots are interesting anyway.

3. Who is your favorite character in the book, and why?

Next to Mary, I’d say my favorite character is Matthew. I sympathize with his struggle to sort out his conflicting values: to please his father, to make a good living, to understand his brother, to behave ethically. He has some difficult decisions to make.

4. What was the publication of this book like?

I was lucky to have the support of my editor at Knopf, who had already published Salome. She gave me invaluable constructive criticism through several revisions of the manuscript.

5. What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

“You can do better than this. Write the whole thing over again.”

6. Any favorite cures for writers' block?

Lots! There’s the famous principle of BIC (Butt in Chair). There’s taking care of yourself, like an athlete in training: healthy food, exercise, sleep, regular working hours, avoiding distractions. There’s sleeping on it, telling yourself you’ll have new ideas in the morning. There’s doing something that lets your mind wander productively—for me, that’s long walks.

7. Did you learn anything about yourself while writing Poisoned Honey?

Oh, yes. At the beginning of this project, I wasn’t at all sure I could write about a girl who a) was possessed by demons, or believed she was; and b) was a personal friend of Jesus of Nazareth. But I could, and I did. To me, the challenges of writing are part of the pleasure (as well as part of the pain).

8. Any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing, keep getting feedback (classes or critique groups can be helpful), keep working to write better. Good luck!

Thank you so much Mrs. Gormley!

Check out my review of Poisoned Honey here.
To find out more abuot Beatrice Gormley and her book check out her website!


abitosunshine said...

Excellent author interview, thank you!

Blessings & a bit o' sunshine!

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